Timothy Markus

pollinator
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since Mar 28, 2016
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duck tiny house chicken composting toilet homestead
New Brunswick, Canada
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Recent posts by Timothy Markus

I lost my last Ancona male a couple of days ago and there aren't any posted for sale within 1000kms of me.  The joys of living in the Maritimes...

I was just about to start incubating and now I can't.  Anyone have an Ancona drake somewhere near me?

Thanks
2 weeks ago

Skandi Rogers wrote:

Eggs, it takes 5 quail eggs to equal one chicken so I need 5-6 times the number of birds. (a production chicken lays around 320 eggs per year quite a bit more than the 200 expected from a quail) I also need to crack 5x the eggs every time I make a recipe I also need to pick up 5x the eggs and wash 5x the eggs. that production chicken will lay well for 1 year  after coming into lay while a quail starts to slow down at 7 months, so yes a quail starts 14 weeks before the chicken but it also slows down 5 months before the chicken, meaning I need to raise more more often (or buy them)

Size, quail are TINY they are hardly a mouthful so if I wanted to eat them I need to kill, gut, pluck 10 meat quails for every meat chicken (160g vs 1.6kg) it's not going to be much faster if at all to kill and clean a quail than a chicken.



My experience is that production hens need to be coddled to lay 320 eggs; in a free-range setting I've found that they tend to give more like 5 a week, or about 250 a year.  All of my heritage hens have laid at that rate but they keep better condition, especially in the winter.

My quail have started laying at 6 weeks (not many of them) and all are laying at 8 weeks.  My quail have laid pretty much an egg a day, every day until I butcher them at about a year, so I'm not sure where 200 comes from or why you experienced a drop-off after 7 months.  I've also been able to stop taking allergy pills when I'm eating quail eggs, so that's a huge benefit to me.  Also, people with egg allergies can usually eat quail eggs.  The cracking is a pain, even with scissors, but I find they taste quite a bit better than even my chicken eggs.

My quail are around 320-420 grams liveweight.  I find quail are very easy and quick to butcher, but I skin and butterfly them.  

I've tried movable coops this past year.  I think it's great to get them on grass and they may eat a little of it, but not much.  They also stopped laying because the moves upset them.   I also ended up free-ranging some and they loved it.  No eggs and no quail after a week or so, but great quality of life up until it ended.  

I think that, if you have limited space and can't have chickens, quail are a great option and an easy way to get into keeping animals.  
1 month ago

echo minarosa wrote:I have been interested in Coturnix quail since I read an old Mother Earth News. But I don't know if either is right for our situation.

Points to consider:

1) We are VERY urban. Quail are quieter. Chickens could process waste faster though.

2) We get frequent visits by hawks...especially sharp-shinned hawks. We also have a fair amount of raccoons and opossums.

3) space - absolutely an issue. And it seems to me more space equals healthier aniimals in general.

4) We're weirdo vegetarians. Any birds here would die from old age rather than meeting the stewpot. With that in mind, how long are they living past the age of egg productivity? Any health issues you don't find with chickens?

5) I think I remember reading they need a feed with 30% protein content. My access to spent brewery (wet) grain is sporadic but spent brewery grain runs 25-34% according to:
https://spentgraindirectory.com/nutritional-value-of-spent-grains/

6) We live in an urban heat island. The summer temps here are long, HOT, and we have a LOT of humidity. How do they tolerate heat?



1.  I think that male quail can be louder than chicken hens.  I had both at a semi two blocks from downtown and never had any noise complaints.  The quail won't process waste unless it's minced and they won't eat much anyway, not like chickens can.

2.  They should be kept in cages or an enclosure with 1/2" hardware cloth on all openings.  

3.  This is one area that quail excel at.  They don't need a lot of space.  1 sq ft is OK but in smaller pens you need to allow space for feeders and waterers.  They also love a dirt bath.  You can stack cages for more quail.  Go with minimum 16ga wire on the floor; the plastic coated wire is even better on their feet.

4.  I usually butchered after about a year so I don't know how long they lay, but I'd be surprised if it's not 3-4 years.  

5.  A lot of people around here feed them 20% chick starter, though I like to start them out on 26% turkey starter or 30% game bird starter.  Feed's brutally expensive here and I drive over 100 miles each way to get cheaper feed, but I can't get better than 20% at that mill.  Spent mash may be in the protein ballpark but I don't think it would make a complete feed.

6.  I've had quail stop laying when it got too cold, too hot, I moved them, or a cloud passed over.  If it's a gradual increase in temp they may not mind.  For the record, my chickens stopped laying in that heat, too.

I enjoy quail, I love the eggs and they don't take up much space.  They can be vicious with each other, though, so have a hospital pen ready.  I've often found that, if I have to take a quail out that's being picked on, you can't return it to the same pen and sometimes not to any pen.  Then you've got a bird that doesn't fit in anywhere but the pot.  My experience with keeping animals is that it's a good idea to have a plan for dead stock, because you're going to get it at some point.  Good luck!
1 month ago
Hey Andrew, I'd recommend building your own as it's so simple and much cheaper.  I originally built a small incubator out of a Styrofoam cooler, a computer fan, light bulb and socket and a thermostat.  Because I'm Canadian, I had to pay an insane amount to get the thermostat shipped from The States, which you don't have to worry about.  It was still under $60 with a quail tray and easily accommodated 96 quail eggs.  I had the tray pivot on a rod through the side with another rod coming out the top to tilt it up and down.  Worked like a charm, though it needed manual turning.  

This year I wanted a bigger incubator so I bought a 2x8 sheet of 1.5" XPS rigid foam board.  I made it 2x3x1' high and you can get that out of 1 board.  I had the stat, fan and bulb mounted to the top of the cooler so I plopped that on top and used a spare piece of XPS for the rest of the top.  This time I used cartons and turned them manually, which sucked but worked fine.  I don't know how much the XPS is, but it'll be pretty cheap compared to buying one.  You could also get an automatic turner and put it in, which I'll do.  I had around a gross of eggs in there with room for water containers for humidity.  I did have to go to a larger fan with the bigger incubator.  I initially had horrible hatch rates which I originally attributed to temp fluctuations as I'm in a camp with only a woodstove to provide adequate heat.  Turns out it may have been the eggs but I'll never know.  I ended up using a 175W heat lamp bulb in there and had ok hatch rates with it and new eggs.  

I think I'll make some changes to it this year; I'll see if I can do a rolling turn on the bottom and then a platform above that for hatching.  I haven't worked out how many eggs I could fit on the bottom, but I could always turn on the top floor too in a staggered hatching.  It might take a bit more headroom than I have, but I can always add a strip to the top.  I'll also but more insulation around it.  I think I should've gone 2.5" thick, but you don't have to if it's not going to be -25 or so where you keep your incubator.  I bought a couple of digital stats for about 13 of our Canadian dollars each, so I'll use of of those instead.  

I have been thinking of finding a broken freezer to make a larger incubator from and, as luck would have it, my upright packed it in a few weeks ago, so there's that.  I don't think I'll need it this year for hatching, so I'll just keep using it as a freezer outside and putting ice in it if we have warm days this winter.  



What is your plan for hatching?  Are you going to be collecting eggs for 7-10 days and then do batch incubations?  I think that's what I'll do to avoid constant hatching.  This year I bought 10 day old commercial poults and brooded them with my chicks and ducklings.  The poults seemed to learn a lot from the chicks about scratching and later foraging, though the poor girls had their toes and beaks clipped.  I'm going to do a hatch of chicks first so they're a week or so older than the poults to give the chicks a bit of a head start.
3 months ago
If you don't need Goldie for reproduction, I'd get rid of Runner and see if Goldie bounces back.  Runner isn't doing anything for you except look pretty.  If Goldie regains his old form, you're set and, if he doesn't, he'll at least not get picked on.  

It might be time to start looking for another tame roo or see about raising one up.  Good luck!
6 months ago
I was trying to have a pleasant conversation with my daughter when she interrupted me and said we'd been speaking for 4 hours and 47 minutes and she had to go.  

How rude!  Kids these days...
6 months ago
I'm really sorry to hear that, John.  It's heartbreaking to lose a pet.
6 months ago

Skandi Rogers wrote:Put them in the oven on a low heat for 10 minutes they will crisp back up when they cool down and be as good as new.



Put them in the oven on a low high heat for 100 minutes.  They will become biochar when they cool down and be as good as better than new.

Honestly, I get the feeling that nobody here has ever actually eaten wasa bread.  It's a fact* that 73% of all cases of Giardia infection (Beaver Fever) is a direct result of consumption of wasa bread.  A 1993 study by the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB documented that the majority of giardiasis cases started like this:

Brenda:  "You shouldn't drink untreated lake water!"
Infected:  "I already drank all the treated water that I have!  A whole gallon and I'm still thirsty!  It's that damned wasa bread!"

Seriously, folks.  Have we not become much more virus savvy?

*possibly** not an actual fact

**definitely
6 months ago
I've had wasa bread on many a canoe trip.  I found a better substitute for it that is roughly the same visually, weighs a little less and tastes much better.  Also, it's a good use for excess corrugated cardboard.  

Hope you find a way to use them.  
6 months ago