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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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Quail Feeder Update – Success and Failure

Lot’s of new information to report on my quail feeder.  The new model – buzz bucket – worked well to deliver feed and attract birds while repelling varmits in the quail habitat.  It did experience some problems with durability in the wild.  The old model – pvc pipe – showed new signs of value in a particular use right after a release at the surrogator.  I had some issues with the buzz bucket model so I’ve taken it down and brought the buzz bucket quail feeder back to the shop to rethink the purpose and methods as part of my strategy to raise wild quail.

 

Buzz Bucket Quail Feeder Damage

White Plastic Quail Feeder Showing Damage from Gnawing Squirrels
Quail Feeder Damage from Squirrels

The buzz bucket quail feeder suffers from a lack of robustness.  The lid shows signs of animal gnawing – I suspect squirrels – and this leads to water getting inside the bucket and harming the feed.  It’s curious that the electric fence on the buzz bucket did not repel the squirrels nor did the game camera capture them. This is a set back in my efforts to improve the quail habitat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feed Flow in a Quail Feeder to Support Raising Wild Quail

Quail Habitat Improvement with a White Plastic Quail Feeder and Red Grain
Quail Habitat Improvement with a Partially Empty Quail Feeder

The feed delivery speed from the buzz bucket quail feeder was optimal.  Feed flowed smoothly but at a slow enough rate that it didn’t normally attracts any varmits.  A 50# sack of scratch lasted well over 5 weeks.  The feed flowed smoothly around the internal battery compartment and wires. It is important to manage costs downward in my efforts to raise wild quail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quail Feeder Success!

Wild Bobwhte Quail Near a White Plastic Quail Feeder
Wild Quail Using a Quail Feeder

The buzz bucket quail feeder regularly attracted wild bobwhite quail to feed.  The feed flow rate was sufficient and the feed delivery holes large enough that gravity and wind continued to deliver feed on a daily basis.  The primary purpose of this quail feeder is to conduct ongoing quail counts of the wild bobwhite quail population.  Rains have been sufficient this year to produce very healthy stand of wild grasses and seeds that the wild bobwhite quail do not need supplemental feeding in the quail habitat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Impediments to Quail Habitat Improvement

Brown Whitetail Deer Eating From a White Quail Feeder
Whitetail Deer Raiding a Quail Feeder

I did have occasional varmit raids on the buzz bucket quail feeder.  It is my practice of raising wild quail when tending the feeder to hand scatter feed which produces an abundance of feed on the ground.  What is curious in this picture is that the electric fence that protects the buzz bucket appears not to be working.  This was my first indication that the buzz bucket feeder needed to be brought back to the shop for a rethink and redesign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Varmits Raiding Quail Feeder

Whitetail Deer Eating from an Early Model White PVC Quail Feeder
Improving Release Habitat with an Early Model Quail Feeder

The PVC tube quail feeder works very well as a post release attractant to support the newly released wild bobwhite quail.  Since it lacks any varmit protection, it is subject to varmit raids.  The PVC model quail feeder is simple, inexpensive and very easy to use.  I maintain a T post at each surrogator spot specifically for the PVC quail feeder.  Upon release of the quail from the surrogator, I take the remaining feed and put that into the PVC quail feeder.  I then fill it to the top with scratch feed and let it trickle out over a few weeks.

 

 

 

 

Improvements to the PVC Quail Feeder

Simple White PVC Quail Feeder Showing Yellow Grain Works Well
The Early Model Quail Feeder Still Works Well

The size of the feed delivery holes in the PVC quail feeder is important.  I’ve finally gotten them large enough to consistently deliver feed via gravity.  I started with a 1/2″ drill bit and then generously wiggled it around to enlarge the feed delivery holes.  This results in a slow trickle of feed via gravity and wind that takes approximately 4 weeks to empty the quail feeder. While this does not have a big impact on quail habitat, it does improve the chances of newly released wild bobwhite quail.
 

 

 

 

Summary of Quail Feeder Update – Success and Failure

The buzz bucket quail feeder worked well but needs improvement to serve it’s purpose in my quail habitat management plan.  It has problems with being water tight and protected from varmits.  The buzz bucket quail feeder also has an unreliable electric fence.  The quail feeder does deliver feed nicely and a full feeder can last as long as 4 weeks.  The PVC quail feeder also showed new promise as a specific tool to support newly released wild bobwhite quail from the surrogator.  The enlarged holes deliver feed reliably for approximately 4 weeks.  The PVC quail feeder has no varmit protection but the feed delivery is slow enough that thee varmits are usually only there for the first round of extra feed scattered on the ground after filling the quail feeder with the remains from the surrogator.  Both feeders are showing signs of value and improvement in my long term strategy to raise wild quail.  I’m making progress on my quail feeder and very pleased with the result and what I’ve learned.

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You can also read a bit about our initial experiences designing the surrogator and figuring out how to raise these chicks the most efficiently.

Starting A New Season of Raising Quail

Welcome to Raising Wild Quail

Love the process of raising quail?  We do, too!  Whether it’s repairing a surrogator, maintaining a healty environment for the quail, preparing quail feeders and more, we know that there is a lot to do and learn about.  If you are looking for help and guidance or just to share your experiences, explore our site and bookmark us so you can check in and see how things are going as we raise our wild quail.

 

It’s that time of year to start raising quail again. It’s been a nice resting season between October and May but I’m excited to get started with my quail restoration again. The quail surrogator has been sitting in the barn waiting of repairs and my previous surrogator locations have been growing weeds and brambles during the rest period. It’s time to get my prep work completed and get the surrogator ready to load some baby quail and begin my third season of raising quail.

Equipment Maintenance for Raising Quail

Black and Red Quail Surrogator Rust Damage
Fix Your Quail Surrogator Rust Damage Every Spring

The surrogator that I use for raising quail is very well painted and protected but any piece of equipment that sits out in the weather exposed to animal feces and urine is going to show signs of rust. Most of the rust on my quail surrogator occurs along the bottom support pieces. It isn’t bad rust, mostly just surface rust. I think that may be because I do have an annual preventative maintenance program to clean it up and get the quail restoration surrogator repainted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Equipment Restoration for Quail Restoration

Black and Silver Metal Quail Surrogator Repairs Started
Wire Brush Away Rust to Start Your Quail Surrogator Repairs

I use a wire wheel and a lot of elbow grease to grind off all of the exposed rust spots from the quail restoration surrogator that I use for raising quail. Rust has generally been to extent of my maintenance problems. I have had to replace a hinge or two but usually do that in the field as the need arises. I don’t try to perform rust and paint maintenance between cycles because I usually empty, clean, move and refill the quail surrogator all in a single day. With the hot Texas Summers, I’m anxious to get the work done and the surrogator refilled. In this case, I had more rust than last year and spent a couple of hours working with a wire wheel buffing out all of the visible rust spots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Final Maintenance Touches Before Raising Quail

Quail Surrogator Repairs Finished with Black Spray Paint
Use Black Rustoleum Paint to Complete Your Quail Surrogator Repairs

After I buffed out all of the rust spots, I used Rustoleum black paint to repaint the exposed areas. I used this same paint last year (same can of paint!) and it held up well over the past year. I did a better job of buffing this year so I expect my repairs to withstand the elements even better this time around during another cycle of quail restoration. There were also a number of nicks and dings in my quail surrogator that exposed bare metal so I used this opportunity to cover those as well to prevent any additional rust from occurring during this season while I’m raising quail.

 

 

 

 

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New Transport for the Quail Surrogator

Camoflage Wild Quail Surrogator Loaded in a Green Mule for a New Season of Raising Quail
The Wild Quail Surrogator Fits Loaded into a Mule for a New Season of Raising Quail

We moved the entrance gate at the ranch and built a barn so the roads out to the quail surrogator locations aren’t as easily accessible via truck as they have been in previous years. So, I loaded the quail restoration surrogator in the mule to see if everything would fit – and it did with the exception of my water barrel to fill the surrogator water barrel. I love that the surrogator XL breaks down so easily for transport. This makes it even easier to manage my operation of raising quail.

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to Begin Raising Quail – Again!

Camoflage Quail Surrogator, White Gas Bottle and Green Water Tank Show a New Season of Raising Quail Ready
Quail Surrogator Locked and Loaded for New Season of Raising Quail

I am going to reuse previous year’s quail restoration locations this year. I have 5 previous locations that I’ve used for raising quail and of those, three seem to perform better in the long run than the others. Since there are already wild birds from previous releases in these areas, I can assume that the habitat is sufficient for the quail and that releasing new birds into that habitat with the existing populations will help them survive even better after release. Just seeing my quail surrogator installed and ready makes me excited to begin the raising quail season again.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Starting A New Season of Raising Quail

I’ve begun my annual cycle of raising quail and scheduled and completed my annual quail surrogator maintenance. My quail restoration maintenance mostly it involves buffing out rust posts and repainting with a rust proof spray point. I’m using a mule this year instead of my truck to move and install my surrogator. The surrogator XL fits just fine in a mule with the exception of my water supply barrel. I’m reusing past locations that have proven to hold wild birds after release instead of starting new locations and running the risk of higher mortality after release.

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