Quail Surrogator Maintenance

Quail are messy, stinky birds. Your Surrogator is going to need cleaning regularly. The instructions say to power wash it after every cycle. I used to do that but transporting and resetting it every cycle was a PITA. Now, I only clean the Surrogator once yearly after the season.

Your bobwhite quail are going to leave a big pile of poop under your Surrogator. They are also going to make a big mess of the inside of your surrogator.

Fortunately, the Surrogator XL fits nicely into the back of a pickup. A helper is very helpful.

I use a small, cheap power washer to clean mine and it works fine.

It will inevitably pit and rust so use caution with the power washer to avoid washing off too much paint.

I use a side angle grinder with a wire wheel to remove the rust and peeling paint.

I use Rustoleum Flat Black Heavy Duty paint to cover the bare spots after washing and buffing with the wire wheel to protect the bare metal.

I also check, tighten and replace any missing screws to prevent unauthorized entry by varmints and critters.

I’ve used my Surrogator for 8 years and can foresee using for another 20 years. It is very well built and if you take reasonable care of it, it should last for many years!

2018 Winter Maintenance
This year it was easier probably because I only run 2 cycles/summer rather than 3. I did the work while it was on the trailer and that made it that much easier. Powerwash, a little wire brushing and a lot of heavy duty paint to cover rust and bare metal. Ready for another Season!


2019 Season

A good game cam is really helpful. It allows you to see and act on things that will impact the quail. Unfortunately, most game cams don’t last more than a year or two so I got a replacement.  Cheap and functional are my requirements. It’s working nicely but this bird had some objections!

I always have some raccoons around the surrogator at night. If there are no more than 2, I don’t mess with them and they don’t bother the chicks. (The surrogator is very tightly built) But, if there are more than 2, I start some predator control until they’re back down to just 2. I’ve done this since I started and it seems to be a nice balance.

But, there’s not much I can do about this type of predator. I’m always impressed at their intelligence to find the chicks under a tree and then come in and land to investigate. This hawk visited many times.

I started with 100 10-day old quail chicks from a new supplier. I was very impressed with the “skittishness” of his adult birds when I used them in December for dog training. I kept these chicks for 6 weeks and released 95. They ate almost 75# of feed and consumed over 30 gallons of water during that time. 

I’m pretty sure that hawk is pleased with my work as well…..

Start of Cycle 2 with 125 14-day old chicks (they’re flying already) from the same supplier. The last batch performed as expected – they were extremely skittish and flighty when released. I hope these do as well.