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Poultry: The gateway drug of farming

Posted 9/3/2016 1:24pm by Samantha Klinck.

An interview with Maggie, Keeper of Quail  

Hi, Maggie! How old are you?
10 years old.  

What do you like about quail?
M: Eggs! They are small, and cute! My mom used to bring quail eggs home from the market, and I loved making little fried eggs on toast.  

What made you decide to raise quail yourself?  
M: The more I thought about the quail eggs, the more I wanted some. Then I asked my mom why didn’t we raise quail on the farm because I thought they would be cute to have and I could help.  

What did you do to prepare before you got quail?
M: I did lots of research on baby quail and adults, and what kind of food they eat.  I found out how old they had to be to lay eggs, and I looked pictures of the different types of quail. My mom and my brother and I built some moving quail pens so we would be ready when we found some birds to buy.  

Tell me about getting your first flock of quail.
M: When I found out that I could get quail, it felt like my heart was jumping up and down and I was really excited! I started to talk about them a lot more. I may have talked about it so much it was bugging my mom and dad.

One day, my mom asked me if I wanted to go and get some quail and I jumped up and down and said yes! After chores that afternoon, we drove a long way to get 54 baby quail chicks.   The person we bought them from helped me load them up into carriers to take them home. I asked him lots of questions, and he was very helpful and nice.  

On the drive home, I thought their poop really stank, but they made the cutest little cricket noises! Their poop smells better now, because their food is better and they are outside on grass. We got home and it was almost midnight. My mom and I put them in their new houses, and we let the dogs know that the quail were there and that they were part of the farm. 

The next day, we went out really early to check on the quail. I remember seeing a really pretty sight. There was a heron perched up really high on a tree with it’s wings flapping, and the sunrise was behind it. It was really beautiful and I will remember it for the rest of my life. If I didn’t have quail, I never would have seen that.       

Has there been anything you have found hard about raising quail?
M: You have to feed them carefully so they get enough protein, and it’s hard because we use organic food only, and we don’t soybeans. I use the chicken food our hens get with ground up sunflower seeds or crushed up boiled eggs.  

It’s hard to move the quail houses, I’m afraid I might hurt one if I’m not careful. I try to move the house every other day so they have fresh grass.

It’s hard to wake up early and do the quail feeding, and it’s hard when it’s raining. When it’s raining you have to make sure that they have dry spots to stay and their food doesn’t get wet.   Sometimes the cows get into the quail food I have stored in buckets, so I’ve found a place that is safe from the cows. When I’m feeding the quails, I have to use a stick to keep the cows away. The cows want to eat the grain!  

What will you do with the male quail that don’t lay?
M: Well, first I would have to make sure that there are the right number of girl quails for the males. If there are too many males, they can fight. I’m going to keep the prettiest, friendliest, biggest males for breeding. The others I will cull.  It’s going to be hard on butcher day.  

What do you think winter will be like with your quail?
M: I think it might be hard for the quail if they don’t have nice warm feathers, and I’ll have to get up early before school to check on them. Sometimes the weather will be bad to go outside, but what I need to remember is that it’s my responsibility to take care of them and I will always love them.  

If you plan on selling the eggs, what will you do with your profits?
I would put some of the money back into the quail, and the rest I will use for things I’d like to save up for. I’d like to buy better cartons to sell the eggs, and a better house with rotating paddocks, and an incubator.  

What would you tell other kids that might be interested in raising quail?
M: It’s hard work, but it’s worth it in the end when you see your quail lay their first egg. Mine haven’t laid yet, but I’m going to be really happy when I see that. It will be very soon now.  

Anything else you would like to tell me about raising quail?
M: Having quail makes me feel more connected with the farm, because I’m outside more with the other animals helping. I understand better now why my parents are farming. Food is more precious. Once you realize that, you don’t forget it.