Monday, 10 May 2010

Me and my Quail

I love my little Japanese quail, they are such cute little things.

I was planning on having them in the field with the chickens in a little coop but I've decided to keep them in the garden for a two reasons, security and the fact that since all the chickens have moved to the field its quiet in the garden.

The quail live in a rabbit hutch ark with an attached run on my patio with a nice deep layer of wood chips. I feed them layers pellets and canary seed mixed with some grit and oyster shell. I've tried hanging up some greens in there for them but they don't bother with it so I tear up bits of grass and dandelion for them. I also pop a little seed tray with compost in for them as they love dust bathing. Had I have put them over in the field I would have fixed some mesh or chicken wire to the bottom of the run to stop rats digging under and getting them. Being so tiny they are particularly vulnerable to predators. As they are so good at flying vertically they need to be kept in a covered run. Their little wings are sort of triangular shaped, perfect for soarng upwards and gliding.

I really thought they would be really flighty little things but they are actually really calm and chilled out, they kind of shuffle about with the occasional leap and they make the loveliest noises, like little frogs a sort of gentle murmurings ribbet ribbet noise. They look and sound like they've just stepped out of a Studio Ghibli film.

Mine are all female, as I'm not to looking to breed them getting a cock was pointless also I'd heard that the fellas have large sexual appetites for there tiny size and can hassle the so much that they lay less eggs. I've also heard they make rubbish broody mums. They lay an egg a day through spring to late autumn but as the daylight hours shorten they stop unless light is provided for them. They reach POL between 6 and 8 weeks old (so the breeder told me), mine are now 8 and 1/2 weeks old and haven't laid anything yet. One of them looks like she may be thinking about it but as they are very hard to tell apart I have no idea if the one I think is thinking about it is the same one (if you know what I mean). I'm going to get them little tiny coloured leg rings.

One last thing, I think they are slightly nocturnal. They avoid being outside in the middle of the day, they all poke their little heads outs of the house half asleep. At dusk they are much more active I'm sure they would happily stay out all night but for my own piece of mind I pop them all in the house and shut them up till morning.

They such sweet little poppets I would definitely recommend keeping them, but John if your thinking about getting yourself some for your field, reinforce the run to within an inch or keep them in the garden, I'm sure you'd be equally charmed by them.

Jess x

P.S my little ducklings are getting so big, but I wish someone had told me just how messy they are, I reckon they are all drakes too well they're bound to be..

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