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We’ve got new quail hatchlings!  If you check my Twitter page, I’ll be posting one photo of them a day, so you can watch them grow with me.  It’s really amazing watching them get larger from day to day.

For instance, here is one of our 3-week-old quails next to one of our day-old quails.

Well...sort of side by side.  This is as close as we could get them.

Well...sort of side by side. This is as close as we could get them.

We moved the three-week olds out to the quail hutch on Thursday.

Each of those water bottles is 32oz.  They drink a lot of water, and we want to be able to leave for a weekend without worry.

Each of those water bottles is 32oz. They drink a lot of water, and we want to be able to leave for a weekend without worry.

Eating food, yawning, running around.  Feed them weeds - they love 'em!

Eating food, yawning, running around. Feed them weeds - they love 'em!

Again, check out my Twitter page for daily updates on the new quail babies!

Last we left off, you were putting the plywood on the frame to form the shelter areas.

Here is how you make the shelter doors.

Shelter Door

Shelter Door

Use 1x2s to frame the door, just like you did with the wire doors.  We used the 3″ screws to hold the 1x2s together.  Screw the plywood onto the frame and voila!  A door!  Of course, you’ll want to put hinges on it, and a bar lock.

At this point, you’ll want to paint it.

Our drill ran out of juice, so we painted some panels separately, and affixed them later.

Our drill ran out of juice, so we painted some panels separately, and affixed them later.

Use an outdoor paint so your hutch will withstand the elements.  If you’re feeling really cheap, check the oops rack at your local hardware store.  Sometimes they’ll have a can or two of paint there that isn’t a horrible color.  Otherwise, just grab the cheapest type of paint.  That’s what I did.

P.S. I swear it’s a light terracotta, NOT pink!

Once you’re finished painting and have all doors and shelter walls affixed, it’s time to put the roof on.

Plywood attached, roofing felt attached, putting shingles on.

Plywood attached, roofing felt attached, putting shingles on.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE: Extend the roofing out at least a good 6″ on either side.  Ours extends 2-3″ on either side, and it does not protect from the rain the way I would like.

Secure the roofing to the beams using the 1 5/8″ screws.

The roofing felt goes on top of this.  We used staples to secure it.  Roofing felt is fairly easy to cut with scissors or with a utility knife, so don’t worry if it hangs over the edge.  Cut it when you’re done stapling it.

For the shingles, we used leftover shed shingles.

We used staples on these too, though probably should have used nails.

We used staples on these too, though probably should have used nails.

Overlap the shingles and cut them at the edges.  These can be cut with a utility knife or heavy-duty scissors.

You’re almost done!  Now it’s time for the hardware cloth.

Dum dee dum, wire OUCH!

Dum dee dum, wire OUCH!

Use the coated hardware cloth for the floor.  This stuff  feels great.  Run your hand over this and then run your hand over the uncoated wire.  The coated hardware cloth is very nice, very soft on the quails’ feet.

If you have another person helping you, have them pull on the hardware cloth while you staple it down.  Pull it tight so it’s not going all over the place when the quails step on it.  Staple the hardware cloth on the outside of the framing.  Then cut the excess with wire cutters.

When you cut the hardware cloth, cut it as close as possible, to avoid scratching or cutting yourself later on the pointy excess.

Feel free to use uncoated wire on the rest of the hutch – it’s cheaper!

Move to an appropriate place in your yard.

Move to an appropriate place in your yard.

FIN!

For poop trays, you can build your own from plywood, or you could do what I did and buy plastic bin lids from IKEA (they sell them separately from the bins woohoo!  $2.50 each).  I like the plastic for how light it is and how easy it will be to clean.  We’ll be moving the quails in this weekend if not earlier, so I’ll show you how that looks then.

TIME INVESTMENT: Approximately 24 hours.  If you know what you’re doing, it will probably take less time.  We spent a lot of time waffling, arguing, fixing mistakes, and running back and forth to the hardware store =)

Okay, so from last time – you now have your two sides put together.

Using brackets, connect the two sides with 2x2s.  I made the hutch approximately 6′ long.  You’ll want to cut 9 2x2s of this length (5’8″)  Leave off the roof ones – we’ll get to those later.

Starting to install poop tray bars as well...

Starting to install poop tray bars as well...

In this photo you can see we’ve installed three of the front 2x2s.  We’ve also installed two 1x2s on the top for the poop trays to rest on.  These can be secured to the other 1×2 pieces with the 1 5/8″ screws.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

Here it is with more of it done.  For the roof pieces, we tilted them at the same 30 degree angle – so one of the sides of the 2×2 is flush with the roof.  Not the best way in the world to do roofing, but we’re housing quail, not people.  We went in from the sides with the 1 5/8″ screws to secure the top pieces.

The hutch is starting to take shape...

The hutch is starting to take shape...

Just a quick note – think of framing as your structure’s skeleton.  These are the bones you’re going to hang your trimmings on.

Framing the doors and the sheltered areas.

Framing the doors and the sheltered areas.

The 9th 2×2 – the odd one out – goes in the front to support the door framing.  We used 2x2s to frame the sheltered area, and 1x2s to frame the two wire doors.  We used 1 5/8″ screws at a diagonal from the front to secure the 1x2s for the door frames.

Secure the bottom part of the vertical shelter 2x2s with brackets.  You just want to avoid running any screws into each other (secure the bottom 2x2s with 3″ screws).

Due to the weird angle of the roof bars, we used a 1×2 in the back for the shelter, and used a jigsaw to cut the angle.  It’s a little jimmy-rigged, but it works.

Now time for the roof beams!

There's me, smiling like an idiot... =P

There's me, smiling like an idiot... =P

We put three roof beams in.  One we put in at the same distance as the shelter beams, to provide the framing for the shelter plywood (you need to screw the plywood into something so it stays where you put it!).  The other two we spaced evenly apart.  We made the shelters 1′ wide.

Now for the fun part – putting on the trimmings.

For the plywood we just used a measuring tape - calculations can get iffy.

For the plywood we just used a measuring tape - calculations can get iffy.

Take your sheets of plywood and use a jigsaw to cut them to form the walls, floors, and roof (singluar for the bottom one) of your shelters.  Use the 1/2″ screws to secure the plywood to your framing.

Part III – the finale – to follow!

I had a few requirements when building the quail hutch.  It had to look nice, so as not to garner complaints from the neighbors, it had to hold a decent amount of quail – enough to feed my family of 3, and it had to be efficient…just because.

I’d seen a lot of people using rabbit hutches for quails, so I used that as a basis, and turned it double-decker so as to better use the space.

COST: All-in-all, the project cost me ~$250.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Tools:
-Staple Gun
-Power Drill/Screwdriver
-Circular Saw

-Jigsaw
-Wire cutters
Supplies:
-2x4s
-1x2s
-2x2s
-3″ screws
-1 5/8″ screws
-1/2″ screws
-20 metal brackets
-4 small bar locks
-4 sets of small hinges (2 per package)
-coated hardware cloth
– hardware cloth
-roofing felt
-shingles
-thin plywood

Put the two side pieces together first.  Pre-drill the holes for the wood screws.

Yeah, note the "not to scale" at the top.

Yeah, note the "not to scale" at the top.

Here is one of ours in the middle of assembly.

In the middle of assembly.  Note the metal brackets.

In the middle of assembly. Note the metal brackets.

And here’s what they look like when they’re finished.  The 1×2 pieces will later hold the poop trays.  These are going to be on the inside of the side pieces.  Make sure you put them on the inside!

Two side pieces...complete!  Now what?

Two side pieces...complete! Now what?

Allow me to note that neither of us has any background in carpentry.  The only experience I’ve had was some set-building in high school.  It taught me a little bit about framing.  Other than that…nada!  We even had to borrow the circular saw from our neighbor.  So if we can do it, so can you.

I’ll try to get the subsequent parts up ASAP.  As with the incubator – time investment will be posted on the final part.

Quails will be moving into their hutch on Thursday, we’re set for another hatch starting Friday, seedlings will be planted in our garden this weekend (barring poor weather), and I’ll be picking up ingredients for homemade deoderant this week (mine is almost out!).

We’re talking about getting into brewing our own sake, so look for that in the future as well!

When our friends acquired three chickens for their backyard, I was pretty jealous.  Fresh eggs every morning?  Heck yes!  I considered the possibility of getting my own, but their size and their obvious chicken-ness seemed prohibitive.

Then, I read an article that talked about quails and how they produce more eggs and meat for the amount of feed you give them.

Coturnix quails only require 1 sq. ft. of space per bird, are rather unobtrusive, and are quieter than hens.  You can keep them in wire cages, rabbit hutches, or even aquariums.

Their eggs taste just like chicken eggs, with a higher yolk to white ratio.  They make the cutest bite-sized deviled eggs known to humankind.

Extra eggs that wouldn't fit in the incubator

Extra eggs that wouldn't fit in the incubator

Coturnix quails can be kept in colonies, with a ratio of 1 male to every 3-5 females.  As with chickens, you can keep hens only if you’re just interested in eggs.

They reach maturity at 6 weeks and will start laying around then.  If you’re interested in eating them, they can be butchered at 8-10 weeks (for maximum size).  They’re easy to care for, taking about 10 minutes of your daily time.

Downside – unlike chickens, it’s difficult to have live chicks shipped to you.  They’re much smaller and much more delicate.  You have to order upwards of 50, and from what I hear, many pass away on the trip.

I decided to incubate some ebay-bought eggs (yep, you can buy ‘em off of ebay!) in my own homemade incubator.  Earliest expected hatch date for my eggs is April 1st, latest April 3rd.  I’ll keep the blog posted.

I’ll also show you how to build your own one of these:

My homemade incubator and homemade egg turner

My homemade incubator and homemade egg turner

And I’ll show you how to build one of these:

Built from scratch by 2 people who didn't know what they were doing!

Built from scratch by 2 people who didn't know what they were doing!

INITIAL TIME INVESTMENT: Still working that out…will post time investment for each related project.

DAILY TIME INVESTMENT: Estimated 10 minutes, will be posting daily time investments for each stage from egg to brooder to outside pen.

We went to Lowe’s today to grab some supplies for our sprinkler system in the veggie garden and came back home with two fruit trees.  Funny how that works, huh?

The three of us eat a lot of fruit – they make great snacks, smoothies, and dessert!  We already have an orange tree in our backyard, so we bought an avocado tree and a tree with 4 types of pluots grafted onto it.  My parents are skeptical of the last one, but it looks like 3/4 branches are showing the beginnings of fruit.  The 4th has some blurb about cross-pollination with Japanese plums.  D’oh well.

First though, we had two trees in our yard we intended to get rid of.

Honey, you have to pull the tree out.  I'm taking photos for my blog.

Honey, you have to pull the tree out. I'm taking photos for my blog.

The first was this prickly evergreen.  I hate it.  Its needles go through my gardening gloves, and it looks dumb by itself.  We planted the avocado here ($25 at Lowe’s).

Much better!

Much better!

We get high winds here, so it’s very important to support the tree.  The next tree to get the bucket (ha ha ha) was the willow tree.  Our neighbor gave it to us, so we planted it…but the more we looked at it the less we liked it.  We’re considering a heist-like maneuver and planting the tree out by the river when no one’s looking.

I think he can see into our yard too...here's hoping he doesn't notice!

I think he can see into our yard too...here's hoping he doesn't notice!

We planted the pluot tree here ($60, ouch ouch ouch!  But the kid loves pluots, and so do we…).

I hope it eventually provides shade for the quail hutch

I hope it eventually provides shade for the quail hutch

We also moved our compost bin from next to the quail hutch over to our garden.  Devin used to pick things out of it and chew on them (why, oh why, are dogs so gross?).  Since our garden is gated off, she won’t be able to reach it.  Plus, it’s a lot closer to the kitchen.

We'll be able to use some of this with the garden very soon

We'll be able to use some of this with the garden very soon

We’re going to get a few more trees for our yard – probably almond, dwarf cherry, and lemon.  Most trees come with instructions on how often they should be fertilized, how to care for them, and how to plant them.  If you can, buy plant-specific fertilizer.  I learned from my mom that the orange tree needed citrus fertilizer.  We were using an all-purpose fertilizer before, and it wasn’t working.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE: Shop around, and fork out a little extra $$ for the larger saplings.  Our orange tree was $15 and is about hip-height.  Pretty pathetic, huh?  We’re too cheap to replace it, but I would have much rather spent $10-20 extra to have something that is producing fruit now, instead of having to wait a couple of years.

INITIAL TIME INVESTMENT: 1-4 hours.  It took us 4 because of the rocks and tarp we have, plus our soil is hard-as-rock clay.  We mixed in a lot of planting soil.

DAILY TIME INVESTMENT: 2-10 minutes.  It takes only a couple minutes to water (less if you have automatic watering set up), and a little more time 1/month or so to go grab the fertilizer and fertilize them.  When fruit is produced, you’ll want to spend some time picking them so they don’t fall to the ground and rot.  I’ve learned the hard way that rotting fruit is a welcome invitation for a fruit fly infestation in your home.

For this weekend, I hope to post an introduction to keeping quail, as well as keeping a compost heap and how you may be able to get a compost bin for free (depending on where you live)!

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