Bobwhite quail chicks are usually hatched in May through July. This is Summer Time and in Texas, the weather get’s Hot and Dry.
There are 3 environmental factors that you MUST manage to avoid killing the bobwhite quail chicks.
1 – they must be protected from predators. The Surrogator does an excellent job of this. As long as you set it up properly and keep it closed and locked, you should be fine. I’ve used my Surrogator since 2010 and have never had anything enter the Surrogator or harm any chicks.
2 – they must have water. Bobwhite quail chicks depend mostly on metabolic water and dew – with an occasional visit to a waterhole or bubbler. In the Surrogator, they depend on You to provide all of their water. You must make sure they have clean water available at all times. They will die quickly in the Summer without access to clean water.
3 – they must have food. Bobwhite quail chicks need 20% – 24% protein in their feed during the first 5-6 weeks of life. Scratch grains and Layer Feed are not sufficient. You must feed Chick Starter (24%) or Check Grower (20%) while they are in the Surrogator. 125 Chicks that are started at 1 day old and held for 5 weeks will eat almost exactly 50# of Chick Starter. Chicks that are 10 days old and held for 6 weeks will eat 75# – 90# of Chick Starter. Don’t run out – always keep a spare bag of Chick Feed.
The feed bin in the brooding end of the Surrogator will easily hold 50# of feed and dispense it to the chicks as needed.
Use Chick Starter or Chick Grower – not Scratch Grains while the chicks are in the Surrogator. I prefer using the same chick feed my quail breeder uses so they don’t suffer from a diet change.
Wildlife Management Technologies, the makers of the Surrogator, recommend an additional green Chick Aid starter jelly. I tried it for a year but didn’t notice any difference. Likewise, I didn’t find the practice of placing feed on paper plates to be helpful either.
After 6 years of use (and cleaning), the lid of my brooding end, where it covers the feed bin, began leaking during hard rains. Wet feed is a disaster and a terrible mess to clean – especially when you still have bobwhite quail chicks in the Surrogator! I jerry-rigged a cheap tarp to keep my feed dry and flowing.
Water is provided to the bobwhite quail chicks via a hose from a 15-gallon holding tank through a small tube into a nipple waterer. I have a spare nipple waterer just in case. 125 1 day quail chicks will drink almost exactly 15 gallons of water during a 5-week cycle. 125 10-day old quail chicks will drink 30 – 45 gallons of water during a 6-week cycle in Central Texas. Check and fill your water every time you visit! The nipple waterer needs to be tested Every Time You Visit. Small air pockets can stop the water flow from the barrel to the waterer and can be released with the stopcock on the end of the nipple waterer.
Unless you have a hose spigot near your surrogator location, you’ll need to be prepared to haul water. And, if you have to haul water, a helper is helpful!
Lastly, related to food & water, make sure the divider flap is well-secured when you raise it after the first week. I recommend using a bungee cord to hold the divider lever in the Up position, just to make sure it is not accidentally tripped and closed by a varmint. This happened to me once and I lost 60% of my quail chicks because the divider flap fell closed (wasn’t secured properly) and those chicks were trapped in the loafing end without access to food or water. I never want that to happen again.