I started using a Surrogator to raise wild Bobwhite Quail in 2010. I chose the Surrogator XL because it is relatively easy to disassemble and move.
The purpose of a Surrogator is to provide a safe and secure environment out in the wild for quail chicks during their first 5-6 weeks of life.
It is only necessary to tend the Surrogator once per week. In fact, it is recommended that you do not bother the Surrogator or quail otherwise, as this increases their tolerance of humans and degrades their ability to survive on their own in the wild.
This Surrogator has been loaded with Bobwhite Quail and assembled in the shade of several trees and is protected by ant bait.
The Surrogator consists of 2 halves – a loafing half (left-side with wire mesh sides for breezes) and a brooding half (right-side enclosed and protected with insulated walls).
The top of each half is easily removable for loading and cleaning. This loafing half shows the wire mesh sides and the wire mesh divider panel in the middle.
The brooding half also contains the feed bin. The bin is sufficient to hold 50# of chick feed.
The two halves are secured together with tension clamps.
The tension clamps need to be secured with zip ties.
The gravity feed bin holds 50# of chick feed. This is usually sufficient for 125 quail chicks if they are started at 1 week old and held for 5 weeks.
The surrogator includes a watering system with a 15-gallon barrel, hose and nipple waterer suspended inside. The Surrogator also includes a heating unit and regulator for a propane bottle.
The water barrel holds 15 gallons and has a measurement tube to see the water level.
In practice, this level tube should be secured because it is a weak point in the system and a loss of water can be catastrophic.
The water barrel mounts on the top of the Surrogator and is secured with straps.
The nipple waterer is suspended from the surrogator inside in the middle near the divider. It is connected to the water barrel with a small green hose.
The heating unit is the magic/secret sauce. The heating unit includes a regulator but you must provide the propane bottle. Quail chicks require external heat for the first 2-3 weeks of life. Otherwise, they will pile up on each other seeking heat and will smother most of the chicks on the bottom of the pile.
A full propane bottle is more than sufficient to provide heat for 3-4 weeks. This is more than sufficient in central Texas.
General instructions are included on the inside of the lid. Very helpful!
Always get a helper. It’s much more fun!
I had a trial run with my surrogator prior to loading with chicks.
One of the big benefits of the Surrogator XL is that it disassembles and transports in the back of a pickup.