Sure, you've heard of a "flock", but have you heard of a covey? This is the term used to describe a group of quail (and other small birds). Our covey started out with 25 Texas A&M coturnix quail chicks (one is pictured below), but we quickly realized we wanted more than that. We have always been "dive in heard first, or don't bother" type of people, and We had plans to build a fairly large enclosure, which meant we definitely had the space for more. So, 2 weeks after the we purchased the first members of our covey, we bought 50 more birds, this time Pharoah coturnix.
I have no idea how much this thing weighs, but I'll tell you, it's a LOT. The frame of the Birdello is made out of pressure treated lumber, however all other wooden pieces (from the front door to the sides to the roof) are from free reclaimed wood shipping pallets which we used to keep cost down. It takes both Troy and me to move this behemoth of an enclosure to fresh pasture. Yes, you read that right -- our quails have access to the grass. This is mostly unheard of in this business as it's a lot more common (and easier) to simply keep quail in wire-bottomed hutches (not unlike meat rabbits). We love that our birds have the ability to get in touch with their "wild side" as they forage, dust bathe in the dirt, and hide their eggs in the grass (an instinct people with wire-bottomed cages will tell you doesn't exist in today's domesticated quail).
So, how do we keep the predators out? Every open part of the Birdello, excluding the bottom grassy bit you see in the photo to the left, is covered with half inch hardware cloth. We also put a layer of hardware cloth on the ground around the parimeter of the enclosure, then top that with cement bricks to prevent diggers. To stop the climbers, the Birdello is wired to a solar powered electric fence. The charger is mounted to the back of the structure where it is frequently exposed to the sun.
We move the Birdello every few days (depending on the condition of the grass) so the birds can forage new areas and have a clean ground to explore. We feed them in the evenings, which lasts through the next day, and change the water any time it's low, usually once a day to every other day (despite having a ton of birds, they take their time going through the water--VERY different from the ducks!). We also give the quail a large, shallow tupperware dish full of diotamaceous earth to dust bathe in, however they are just as happy to dig a patch of dirt in the ground and roll around in that.
Front, back, and side of the Birdello
INTRODUCING, "THE BIRDELLO"
Meet Our Covey
True to our style, we put the cart before the horse, which in this case meant we had the birds before we had a cage. The quail covey ended up split into a few breeder bins (giant plastic totes large enough for several birds with a heat lamp and chicken wire lids) while construction on their enclosure happened. In a few short weeks. we (OK, mostly Troy) had planned out and created the most epic of enclosures -- "The Birdello".
Where happy birds make delicious eggs