Bobwhite quail are the most numerous quail across North America. The name bobwhite quail actually covers a number of subspecies, all of which display vivid white head markings and piercing calls. Considered to be the simplest of all quail to breed, bobwhites are popular with both beginner and experienced quail enthusiasts. Successfully breeding bobwhite quail requires few tools and can be accomplished by even first-time quail owners.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Feed and water pans
- Quail scratch
- Nest boxes
- Brooding box
Prepare the coop before buying your quail. Place a feed pan at one end of the coop and a water dish at the other, filling each with clean quail scratch and fresh water. Add your nest boxes to the floor of your coop, padding the bottom of each box with fresh straw. Bobwhite quail are small birds and will squeeze out of small gaps in the fence, so repair holes to prevent any quail from escaping.
Purchase young bobwhite quail from an established breeder. Quail breeders carefully monitor their flocks, eliminating sick or injured birds that might pass on genetic illnesses to their chicks. One cock can successfully mate with five or six hens, so purchase as many quail as necessary to fit your personal breeding program.
Introduce the quail to the coop, observing them closely during the first few minutes to make sure they cannot escape. Bobwhite quail are curious birds and will quickly explore the entire coop. It can take up to 24 hours before they settle down enough to eat, so don't be alarmed if it takes a while for them to adjust to a new space.
Watch the birds for signs of successful mating. A receptive hen will coo quietly to the cock, lying on the ground and moving her tail to the side. The cock will mount her, holding her neck feathers in his beak to keep from falling off. Successful matings can result in as many as 15 eggs per hen.
Allow the hens to sit on their nests themselves and transfer any eggs not being sat on to an incubator. Set the humidity to 70 perfect and the temperature to 37.5 degrees Celsius, turning the eggs once a day to keep the growing chicks from sticking to one side of the egg. Bobwhite quail hatch approximately 23 days after fertilisation.
Move newly-hatched chicks to a brooding box. Brooding boxes are small enclosures that protect young quail from aggressive adults and keep them from dying of hypothermia in cool climates. Turn the heat lamp on inside the box and keep the lid closed to prevent the chicks from getting cold.
Transfer the young quail to the coop after 15 days in the brooding box. After 15 days bobwhite quail chicks are large enough to regulate their own body heat and protect themselves from larger birds.
Tips and warnings
- If the outside temperature drops below 21.1 degrees Celsius, place heat lamps in the coop to keep the quail warm. Bobwhites press together to conserve body heat and can crush each other while trying to stay warm.
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