Well, everyone, this week was full of checking under quail tails. (As you can imagine, we’d been putting this off as long as possible!). We hatched about 45 Coturnix quail earlier this year, and they are finally to sexual maturity. Since we hatched them, there’s about a 50/50 mix of females and males. So as the males mature, they start getting aggressive with one another, and start picking on our females because the ratio of males to females needs to be much lower (1/3 or 1/4 or so if you still want fertile eggs).
So first we caught all of the quail - this was a feat in itself…they did not enjoy being scooped up! And then had to check each one. If there was a bulb under the tail that (when pushed) squeezed out some white foam-looking stuff, then, voila! - a male. Females just have a vent for laying eggs, but nothing will come out when you prod them! This here is a male, because you can see the white stuff (sorry about the photography…trying to hold a camera while doing this, even with two people, was really hard!!)
So, after separating and double-checking them (you don’t want to accidentally cull any of your egg-layers!), we did the difficult task of butchering a lot of the males. Unfortunately this was necessary. We’d put it off as long as we could, and the males had started getting aggressive with each other (one was missing an eye!) and picking on the girls, who were stressed and not laying eggs for us. The males were also starting to crow all…night…long!! This was NOT acceptable! Quail are generally very quiet and easy to raise compared to chickens, but still, the incessant crowing at night was not working for anyone. Culling the flock of the extra males meant the girls were happier and not over-bred (missing feathers from the mechanics of how the males mount them), and the males weren’t crowing all night long (more of a boop-boop-badooo than a chicken rooster crow, but still annoying in the middle of the night!) looking for more girls to add to their groups. We couldn’t convince them any other way there weren’t any other girls out there…such is life.
But on the plus side, they made some delicious smoked quail for dinner!
Also this week we had a great big surprise little visitor! We heard a weird buzzing in the chicken coop and eventually had to go see what was making it. Check out what we found!
Super cute hummingbird!