Week 3 of Cycle Two of Wild Bobwhite Quail

The quails have completed week 3 of their 5 week cycle. The wild quail chicks are doing well. During the first week, 12 died and during the second week, 14 died. I suspect that this is a natural phenomenon of losing weaker birds. Nine birds died during the third week. Raising quail has many challenges!

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The bobwhite quail look healthy and active after completing their third week in the quail surrogator.
Wild Quail in a Surrogator
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I continue to find nightly visitors by using the game cam. This hog didn’t cause any damage but they are certainly a growing problem in Texas.



Loading the Wild Quail Chicks

I ordered 125 1 day old wild quail chicks from a supplier in Mountain Home, TX. He graciously met me in Kerrville to deliver the birds.

The wild quail chicks were delivered in a small cardboard box. Hard to believe that there are 125 of them in there.
Well, maybe not. One day old wild quail chicks turn out to be rather small!
You can actually hold about 6 in your hand at a time.
Here are the wild quail chicks, loaded in the Surrogator.
The surrogator is divided into two sections – a brooding end that is completely enclosed where the heat, food and water are and the loafing end that has mesh wire sides. During the first week raising wild quail, the wild quail chicks are confined to the brooding end.
This is the surrogator locked and loaded with the first batch of wild quail chicks.


Update 9/2012

I’ve now raised two finished seasons of quail and am on my third season now.  Although the break over winter is nice, the challenge of figuring out the best way to care for the quail chicks is enjoyable and definitely worth the efforts.  Browse our different posts on raising wild quail here and read about our most recent season here.


Wild Quail Surrogator Parts & Pieces 2

Baby quail need 95 degree temperatures and adequate protein feed to survive for their first few weeks of life in a quail surrogator. There are a number of studies about how to raise quail that show that wild quail can’t be supplemented using a quail surrogator. There are a number of different approaches to building a quail feeder as well. That hasn’t been the case for me. Since they are going to live in the quail surrogator for their first five weeks, they need a heat source. Without a heat source, they will “clump” together and smother the ones on the bottom. The easiest way to provide the heat that wild bobwhite quail need in a quail surrogator with a propane powered heating unit. A small tank of propane provides enough gas to power the heating unit in the quail surrogator for the two to three weeks that the baby bobwhite quail need to survive in the quail surrogator.

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Quail Surrogator Heating Unit Details

Propane Heating Unit for a Wild Bobwhite Quail Surrogator

This is a picture of the heating unit supplied with the quail surrogator for raising wild quail. It also contains a ceramic disk that sits on top of the large round part of the quail surrogator heating unit that disperses the heat. The propane tank requires a regulator and a well protected hose to run from the tank, which sits outside the quail surrogator to the heating unit which sits inside the quail surrogator in the brooding end. The heating unit also has a pilot light (which never really works very well – I use a gas grill lighter), a thermostat and flow regulator.

The Quail Surrogator Does Not Work

It’s worth noting here that there are many people that will tell you that a bobwhite quail surrogator does not work. There are a number of things, especially proper heat management, that have to go exactly right. Following that, even if you do get a high percentage release, there are a lot of people and research that says that they don’t survive after release. My real world experience is much different than that though. Maybe I have different goals. My goals are to reestablish and then monitor the wild bird populations. I use the surrogator to help me reestablish the wild birds and then a quail feeder and game camera to help me monitor my success.

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Summary of Wild Quail Surrogator Parts & Pieces

Baby wild quail in a quail surrogator need supplemental heat to survive their first few weeks. The quail surrogator comes with a heating unit and the propane tank is readily available at most hardware stores. The 40 pound propane tank is sufficient to provide heat for three weeks for the quail – which is enough until they can regulate heat on their own.


Read about building our quail surrogator part 1

Read about building our quail surrogator part 3

Or read about our updated and more experienced surrogator design and maintenance and how it all relates to our most recent season of chicks.