Young Bobwhite Quail

Summer is the season to load and raise young bobwhite quail in the Surrogator.  What I’ve learned in the past about how to raise quail, I’ve run 4 five-week cycles but it’s really a push and you can’t miss a single week and pick-ups of fresh wild quail chicks has to be carefully timed.  My bobwhite quail breeder has chicks available from approximately May 15 through mid September.  I’ve decided that it’s much easier and more fun to run 3 cycles per Summer and not try to rush things.  It also helps that I don’t have to be tending wild quail chicks during September and October when I’m trying to hunt other birds while I’m waiting for my natural population of wild bobwhite quail to grow.


Fresh Bobwhite Quail Chicks

Brown and White Bobwhite Quail Chicks in Yellow Straw and Cardboard Box
One week old Bobwhite Quail Chicks in shipping box

My bobwhite quail breeder delivers 125 week old bobwhite quail chicks nicely packaged in a cardboard box with pine shavings.  I prefer week old birds instead of day old quail chicks since the mortality can be higher during their first week of life.  I’m always amazed how quick and active the chicks are even at one week old.  It has become a ritual in my process of how to raise quail to invite friends with small children to help me load the baby bobwhite quail chicks as kids always seem to love catching them from the box and loading them into the Surrogator.  Since I typically release a batch of wild quail and reload the batch on the same day, they also enjoy seeing 100 or so wild bobwhite quail released from the Surrogator.






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Clumping Wild Quail Chicks

30 Brown and White Wild Quail Chicks Clumped Near a Silver Feeder
Wild Quail Chicks will clump together to stay warm

Young bobwhite quail chicks can’t generate sufficient body heat to keep themselves alive.  Without an external heat source, they will clump together and smother the chicks on the bottom.  Heat regulation is a critical aspect of successfully raising wild bobwhite quail in a surrogator.







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Heating Unit for Young Bobwhite Quail

How To Raise Quail - Silver Metal Heater with White Ceramic Dispersion Disk
How To Raise Quail – Heaters are required for bobwhite quail chicks younger than 3 weeks old

The heating unit for young bobwhite quail that is supplied with the Surrogator is ingenious.  It is absolutely critical in how to raise quail.  It has a temperature regulator, a thermostat and a heat dispersion disk.  While you can build your own Surrogator, this small piece is definitely the big secret to the success of the Surrogator.  The wild quail chicks don’t need much heat beyond 3 weeks of age but without it during those first 3 weeks, the results can be disastrous.









Young Bobwhite Quail Eat Grasshoppers

Green Grasshopper is Food for Wild Quail
Food for Wild Quail consists of all manner of high protein sources – including bugs and grasshoppers

Young bobwhite quail eat mostly bugs to satisfy their need for a high protein diet.  Bugs generally need rain and moisture to reproduce.  I use the grasshopper/windshield method of measuring the natural food available to young bobwhite quail.  During last year’s drought, we literally had ZERO bugs.  This year, we’ve been fortunate to have some rain and moisture and the bugs have returned.  Part of my habitat plan is to expand our rain water collection systems to provide additional moist areas around the ranch so that there will be more moist bug reproduction areas to support the wild quail that are reproducing on the ranch.






Summary of Young Bobwhite Quail

Summer is the time to get busy and run batches of wild bobwhite quail chicks through the Surrogator.  In my method of how to raise quail, I prefer 3 five-week cycles but 4 cycles is possible and if you start with week old quail chicks instead of day old quail chicks you can shorten your cycles from five weeks to four weeks.  I don’t do that because I prefer to have them more fully fledged when they are released.  The heating unit is a critical part of the Surrogator’s success.  Wild quail chicks need an external heat source during their first 3-4 weeks of life and the Surrogator’s heating unit is a champ.  Young bobwhite quail rely heavily on bugs to fill their need for a high protein diet.  Bugs need rain and moisture to reproduce and a casual survey of the number of grasshoppers is a good way to estimate brooding success for you previously released wild bobwhite quail.



Bobwhite Quail Habitat Management – Two Leaved Senna

Two-Leaved Senna










Bobwhite quail need seeds in their quail habitat to survive.  Habitat management is critical to retaining wild populations of bobwhite quail.  The identification, preservation and propagation of seed bearing perennials is one of the easiest and best habitat management practices you can implement.

Two-Leaved Senna

Dry, open flats and hillsides are the home of Two-Leaved Senna.  It may have 1 or several erect stems averageing 1-2′ high.  The leaves grow up to 3″ long with petioles up to 1″ long.  Each leaf has a pair of leaflets 1-2″ long and 1/4″ wide.  Peduncles 1-2″ long rise from the axils, each with 2-5 yellow flowers 3/4 – 1″ across.  Blooms April – October.  Not to be confused with Lindheimer’s Senna which has wider leaves and blooms Sept – Nov.

Seed Bearing Plants as Quail Habitat

Two Leaved Senna (Senna Roemeriana) is Texas native perennial that grows in a mound shape up to approximately 1-2 feet tall.  It has small yellow flowers on long stalks. It grows in well drained limestone soil in dry, open flats and hill sides.  The leaves are long stalked and divided into two leaflets. Due to it’s somewhat toxic nature, it is highly deer resistant and produces seed pods that attract wild birds.

Quail Habitat Management Practices

I make it a monthly practice to identify and document a potential beneficial plant as part of my quail habitat management plan.  The goal of my quail habitat management plan is to provide a habitat and environment that is attractive to the wild bobwhite quail I release from my surrogator.  Bobwhite quail will migrate significant distances to find the most favorable habitat.  Once I’ve identified and documented the plants beneficial to bobwhite quail habitat, I then develop an easy and sustainable program to promote the continued growth of that plant.




Management of Two Leaved Senna

Since the two leaved senna prefers open, well drained limestone hillsides, my plan includes the following steps

  • identify and GPS mark areas on the ranch where two leaved senna already exists
  • trim and remove bushy plants in those areas subject to the “softball rule” for the distances between “quail houses”
  • research the best times of the year and methods for planting additional two leaved senna seeds
  • locate and purchase two leaved senna seeds
  • plan for planting

Quail Habitat Summary

Managing and improving the native plants and quail habitat on our ranch is critical to preserving and improving my investment in the quail I’m raising in the surrogator.  One of the best lessons I’ve learned from my quail habitat management mentors is “don’t start anything you can’t sustain”.  Thus, my quail habitat management plans proceed slowly but diligently each month.