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Join Nicole and Jaren O’Driscoll, owner of The Urban Aviary, as they discuss all facets of raising quail in small spaces for eggs and meat!
What You’ll Learn
- Why quail are better than chickens
- Raising quail in a small or urban space
- Nutrition and watering recommendations
- Housing quail
- Breeding and egg incubation
Jaren O’Driscoll is the owner of The Urban Aviary. Here is more about Jaren, in his own words:
I was born and raised in a small agricultural community, but I didn’t become passionate about agriculture until I had moved to the city and lived there for many years. Shortly after starting my new farmsteading adventure I began teaching how to raise quail on my YouTube channel, “The Urban Aviary”. I was later forced to get rid of some of my animals by the city, and so I decided to move my family back to my home town and upscale my farmsteading operations on a 2 acre property. But after the move I still couldn’t stop thinking of my YouTube channel following, which are mainly urbanites like I recently was. I felt I was leaving them all behind somehow, so I decided that instead of doing livestock like chickens and sheep, I’d expand my quail operations and do lots of other small scale projects including microgreens, small scale food forestry, aquaculture and aquaponics, Muscovy ducks, vermicomposting and anything else I can do in a small space. It’s a lot more work, but I hope to give ideas and inspiration to others that can’t or don’t want to move to the country but still want to be more self sufficient, self reliant and healthy by growing their own food and raising their own animals
Resources & Links Mentioned
- Urban Aviary Instagram
- Urban Aviary Facebook Page
- Urban Aviary Facebook Forum
- Urban Aviary Email
- Urban Aviary YouTube
- Urban Aviary Website
- Temp Stick
- Email us! Ask@HeritageAcresMarket.com
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Announcer: Welcome to the Backyard Bounty podcast from HeritageAcresMarket.com where we talk about all things backyard poultry, beekeeping, gardening, sustainable living and more. And now here's your host Nicole.
Nicole: Hello everybody and thank you for joining us for another episode of Backyard Bounty. I'm your host Nicole and today we are joined by Jaren who's the owner of The Urban Aviary and welcome Jaren. Thank you for joining me on the show.
Jaren: Thank you, Nicole. I appreciate you taking the time to speak to me.
Nicole: Of course. I'm excited to talk to you all about quail today. Can you tell us more about The Urban Aviary and what you do?
Jaren: Sure. So I can give you a little background first if that's okay, Nicole. I was born and raised in a small mountain rural community in northern Utah and I got into raising quail the same way you did actually which was through falconry. I learned to raise quail to feed to our raptors when I was about 15 years old. So, that's how I got tarted in it and then as most of us do we end up going off to college and doing our own thing. So I ended up leaving that small community and moving to the city. I was there for about eight or 10 years before I started getting involved in agriculture and started seeing some of the problems in our food system. And so I decided to start raising animals on my own while I was there in the city on a tiny little urban lot.
Jaren: And I really wanted to do as much as I could in a small space and I had never really raised animals before other than quail. And so I figured that's just where I would start with. If they were good enough for raptors to each I figured they were good enough for me to eat. I started raising them in my garage along with rabbits and ducks and chickens and I kind of went gung ho from the get go until, well actually before I go there I started the YouTube channel about that time to teach other people about backyard agriculture and kind of document my learning experiences and what I've learned.
Jaren: One day something just happened that kind of changed the direction of my life forever. I got a letter from our city that said that we were going to have to get rid of all of our ducks and chickens. We had I guess not enough property, not enough space in our backyard to be allowed. Chickens and ducks weren't allowed because they were a farm animal and just weren't acceptable in our area. They weren't legal in our area. And that really broke my heart. We still had the rabbits, still had the quail but I decided that I wanted to still be able to do those things and live the way I wanted to. So I packed up my family and we moved back to the hometown I grew up in onto a two acre property. I was able to do whatever I wanted. I can do sheep now if I want. I can do a large flock of ducks.
Jaren: I can do all the things I want to but over that time when I was in the city I actually accrued a decent following on the YouTube channel and I had a lot of people that were emailing me asking for help. I kind of felt like if I started to go to the traditional agricultural route I felt like I was leaving a lot of people behind. So what I did is I decided that I wanted to start doing tons of little projects on my two acre property. So instead of doing a bunch of larger ruminant animals or larger like sheep or something I decided I wanted to do five or six different layouts of how to raise quail and then start into micro greens and aquaponics and aquaculture and small scale food forestry and things like that.
Jaren: So that's where I ended up at and that's where The Urban Aviary is at right now. It's the one stop quail shop where everything you need to start raising quail you can get there and that's kind of where it all came from.
Nicole: Awesome. And I know there's such a demand for people that do live in an urban setting or a smaller acreage land that do want to be self-sufficient and do want to be able to raise their own food. And so I think there's definitely a huge demand for people that would be interested in quail and things like that.
Jaren: Right. That's the wonderful thing about quail that I learned first off is when the city sent me that letter and I went and looked over the regulations and I saw yeah, the ducks and chickens they can definitely tell me that I've got to get rid of, but they have no regulations on quail and very few locales I think do have those kind of restrictions. Just through that experience, it's a rough experience but I'm kind of glad I went through it so that maybe other people can learn from that and understand that maybe they can actually have fresh eggs and meat from their backyard even though they live in the city and they can't have chickens or ducks.
Nicole: Just like you said just because you can't raise them outside and even if you have an HOA you can raise them in your garage.
Jaren: Right. I've actually raised them in the house, Nicole.
Nicole: Oh my goodness.
Jaren: I've been experimenting with all sorts of stuff like that and I actually have raised them in aquariums and terrariums inside the house. Back at the old property back in the city I had one room dedicated to it. I was growing micro greens and I had a few tanks of quail and was getting a dozen eggs a day out of the basement. Literally no matter where you're at you don't have to be on 50 acres. You can be in an apartment in the city and you can have your own eggs and meat coming out of your home and nobody would be the wiser that you have a little farm room in your house.
Nicole: Right. Absolutely. Forget a spare bedroom. You need a spare farm room.
Nicole: So that leads us to quail. What are some reasons that people would want to raise quail instead of chickens other than what we've already talked about.
Jaren: We talked about the obvious. They lend themselves to small spaces really well. The great thing is that you can literally raise the equivalent of, what would you say the average backyard flock is for someone like four to six hens?
Nicole: Yeah, probably about that.
Jaren: Somewhere in there. So I mean not equivalent of eggs can be done in a four by four space in your garage if you use a stacking system. You can have the output that those chickens have but you don't have to have anywhere for them to roam around. They don't have to be let out. Coturnix quail which are the ones I'm specifically talking about they actually originated in Japan and they've been bred for 2,000 plus years to be bred in cages like that. They're actually happy being that way. They're ground dwelling creatures that don't come back home to a coop like a chicken does so they're just happy being there together with others of their kind in that cage.
Jaren: Some people think that it's cruel to keep quail in cages but the fact is they're, I'm going to go on a rant here Nicole.
Nicole: Okay, knock yourself out.
Jaren: Are you familiar with the term anthropomorphism?
Nicole: I am not.
Jaren: Okay, so anthropomorphism is when we portray human like characteristics and feelings on nonhuman objects.
Nicole: Okay, sure.
Jaren: Seeing quail in cages is an equivalent people will argue that you wouldn't want to be shoved with five other people in a small room in your house on one couch. I'm like well that's true but we're people. Quail are flock creatures. They're ground creatures and besides being a lower life form they feel safe together. I actually have raised them in an aviary setup where they have a ton of space to roam around and you watch them in there and they still huddle together really close. They don't really spread out and wander out that much. They stay that close to each other because that's what they do for safety. It's a safety numbers mentality and that's how they live in the wild. That's one obstacle to think about to overcome. I'm all about overcoming obstacles. That's kind of what my channel is about is trying to show that it's easy and try to weed out the fluff and BS so that people can actually start doing this instead of just getting stuck in analysis paralysis.
Nicole: Sure, I like it.
Jaren: Trying to figure out if it's good or not.
Nicole: People like to over complicate things I've found so simple is better.
Jaren: Right. That's the deal with that. They're happy in those smaller spaces and that's why they lend themselves so well to urban environments. If you have a shed in your backyard you can do it. Even if you don't have an attached or detached garage, if you have a little Tuff Shed or you can get a cheap shed like that from Home Depot for a few hundred dollars if nothing else. I mean people I think spend about that much or more on a chicken coop.
Nicole: Yep. When I worked at the, or volunteered rather at the Raptor Center we had them in an eight by eight Tuff Shed or whatever and we were pumping out hundreds of quail out of there.
Jaren: Yeah, and that's the cool thing about it too that reminds me when you say that is how much you can pump out in that small a space because they have such a quick turnaround time. One of the benefits is that, and I know you'll know all this, but it's 17 days of incubation so they're a shorter time to hatch than chickens are. But then the really cool this is that they are six to eight weeks before they are fully grown to slaughter size and laying eggs. They are fully productive and ready to do their jobs at six to eight weeks which to me is just incredible.
Nicole: And compared to a broiler chicken their food intake is so much less.
Jaren: Oh yeah.
Nicole: Do you predominantly, you said raise the Coturnix. Why did you choose the Coturnix over some of the other breeds of quail that are available?
Jaren: There's a couple of reasons. One is that there are no regulations at least here in Utah on Coturnix quail because they are not considered a game bird because they are not native. They're a bird from Japan and they're not considered a farm poultry animal which means you can have them anywhere. It doesn't matter if you have them in your backyard or in your house or wherever. The law can't really come down on you until you get rid of them because they're exempt from any of those rules and laws.
Jaren: The other thing is that some of these other breeds like your Californias, your Bobwhites that will be around locally. They don't have the same growth time. They don't get to size as quickly and also they don't lay like the Coturnix do. They get a big bigger so the bird size is actually better but they don't get the rapid growth rate. They're not going to lay for you year round. The Coturnix will lay an egg a day year round if they have the proper lighting just like a chicken will.
Nicole: Do you raise the jumbo Coturnix or do you raise the standards?
Jaren: I raise a little bit of everything. That's something I want to talk about too is do you know or I'm just curious. Do you know what the definition of a jumbo is?
Nicole: I believe is it weight or egg size? Is it weight like 15. I'll let you tell it.
Jaren: I'm just curious because some people do and some people don't and there's a lot of misconception about it. That's why I was just curious. The standard is anything 10-15 ounces or 10 ounces or over is considered a jumbo. Now the thing that sucks is that not everybody adheres to that so you go to somebody on Craigslist that's selling "jumbo Coturnix" and you get them home and you've never raised quail before and you go oh, these must be jumbos, but if you weigh them they're like six, seven, eight ounces. I mean they're still the same breed of animal. Jumbo isn't a different breed or a different anything. It's just like the difference between two pups in a litter of Labs. One's bigger than another. It's that type of difference. They're still the same breed and everything. Some are just larger than others.
Jaren: But anything jumbo is going to be 10 to 15 ounces. Unfortunately not everybody agrees to that. I mean the standard is out there but not everybody will be honest about it if that makes sense. Just because somebody says it's a jumbo doesn't mean it's a jumbo. I kind of hate that term because of that. I've come to accept it a little bit better but I just don't like how it gets abused by a lot of people. Do you know what I mean.
Jaren: I raise jumbos and those are going to be for meat. And they still do everything else. They lay just like other birds do. The benefit of having some of the standards, the smaller sizes is that if you get those and breed certain color breeds together you can actually get sex link Coturnix.
Nicole: Oh really. I didn't know that.
Jaren: You can tell by feather color the day of hatch. It's kind of a new thing. I don't know if it's a new thing but I ship the eggs. I've got them on my website on TheUrbanAviary.com. They're kind of handy but they don't get to the jumbo size. Because if you start doing the breeding with the jumbos, the larger size ones, the colors for the sex link don't breed as true.
Nicole: Oh, okay.
Jaren: So there is a benefit there to standard size too.
Nicole: What about some of the other variations, the Texas A&M or anything. Do you breed those?
Jaren: Yeah, so I breed oh, I don't know how many different kinds I've got. I've got every coloration you can think of but the A&Ms for those who don't know what those are, the Texas A&Ms were actually just white Coturnix that were bred at Texas A&M, the university, for trying to make a meat bird that had a good skin color. Just like with a chicken or a duck or anything else a lighter color feathered bird will have a lighter skin which doesn't make it any better, but in the eyes of the consumer they see that and it looks nice so whatever.
Jaren: That's what they were trying to breed there but that's not every white bird is a Texas A&M. Texas A&Ms would be ones that came from that specific breeding program. The other name you might know. I mean they still generally are called Texas A&Ms and that's fine. It's just what they're called. But the traditional name for them are English. They're English White so I do have those. My favorite are the Italians. They're some of the only ones like the general color of the Pharaohs that you can actually tell the difference between hens and roosters by the feathers on their breast. The color on the feathering on their breast. I just think they're pretty. They're a white bird but they still have the markings of the Pharaoh.
Jaren: We've got a Silver line, we've got Rosettas, we've got some [inaudible 00:14:21]. I mean there's all sorts of different colorations that, I mean Snowflakes. I should have made a list and put together and told you all of them what I've got. They're all listed on the website. There's tons out there and there's more that are coming out all the time that are being bred and new colors coming out all the time.
Nicole: If somebody, and we could maybe talk about a setup here in a minute, but as far as breed somebody that's brand new to quail and just wants to get started let's say for a dual purpose meat/egg bird, what would you recommend? Which breed for them?
Jaren: I would recommend either the Jumbo Pharaohs, the Jumbo Wild or the Italians just because they're easy to distinguish the feather color. Other than that all the breeds are the same as far as egg laying goes. I mean it goes back to talking about dogs. In the same litter of labs one might be yellow, one might be chocolate and one might be black, all came from the same parents. They're still, I mean that doesn't mean one is going to be a better hunting dog than the other. It's just a feather color thing. There's not necessarily other traits that are attached to it. But it is beneficial with the Pharaohs, the Jumbo Wilds or the Italians as well as some others like some of the Silver lines where you can actually tell the difference between the males and females just by looking at their feather color once they're an adult.
Jaren: Because some of the other birds you have to sit there and watch at six to eight weeks and you end up spending some time watching them to see who crows. Then you have to put a band on their leg to mark them and figure out who's who and everything because the males and females look identical. If I was to say one that somebody wanted to start out with I would look at Jumbo Wilds.
Nicole: One thing that I've seen online kind of a common question and I've had people contact me about quail too. They typically say the Texas A&M so I'll just run with that because that's what most people ask. Are the Texas A&M just a white skin or a white meat because people often ask me for a white meat quail. I had a couple extra Coturnix at one point that I was selling locally. So are all the quail then dark meat or is there any variation amongst them in that aspect?
Jaren: They are all identical. Even the Texas A&M program that was trying to get a lighter skin bird. I've skinned and plucked every color and breed of Coturnix out there and I have not found a difference in skin color at all and definitely not in the meat. The meat is generally just in any of them is about like a heritage breed chicken is.
Nicole: Along those same lines have you come across any common misconceptions about raising quail?
Jaren: Oh yeah. This is something that I talk about on my channel and it's something that's kind of become a cornerstone of what I'm trying to do is there's a lot of people that try to over complicate like we were talking about earlier. I'll tell you a story about what started this for me. I was listening to a podcast years ago and I don't remember which podcast it was. It was a big popular one about raising chickens, some backyard chicken podcast. They had this gal on and she's talking about how she's been raising quail for 20-30 years or something like that. She just was going on about all these technical details of things and I'm just like man, you are making this sound so much more complicated than it really is.
Jaren: And then I started looking on social media and different Facebook groups and people talking about all this stuff and asking all these questions and I'm like there's all these things people are getting so hung up on that are non-issues that I think stop people from getting into it. One of the myths about quail that I think drives me nuts is like we had talked about earlier, they're okay being together, close together in a cage. Some people will tell you that you can only have one bird per square foot.
Nicole: Yes, I see that one all the time.
Jaren: You can't find any scholarly documentation or information on that. It's just like something that gets thrown out there and it's just become this thing that just floats out there that people just regurgitate to everybody that asks the question. I'll put three birds together, three birds per square foot and if I'm just raising them for meat and not having them as breeders I'll put more than that. If they're just getting raised up to slaughter size I have no problem having them, as long as they're not stepping over the top of each other. You don't want to pack them in there so they can't turn themselves around or anything, but they feel that security when they're closer together like that and it goes back to that whole anthropomorphism thing which I won't rehash. That's one big thing that drives me nuts. Are you staying awake?
Nicole: You know I'm on my fourth coffee so I think I can make it.
Nicole: I love talking about quail and I don't usually get to talk to other people that know about quail and I'm by no means an expert. I enjoy it and have just enough to at least be able to have a somewhat interesting conversation so this is great. This is better than coffee.
Jaren: I don't get to talk to people about quail ever. Well certainly not people that know to that same level, have that same understanding.
Nicole: When I was looking at your website just as an aside I didn't see that you had eggs and I just lost one of my breeders and I only was down to three to be honest with you but I've been wanting to get more and so I'm going to have to get a hold of you for some eggs here after this.
Jaren: Yeah, sure. We can do that.
Nicole: My incubators are full right now but I'd like to get some more quail.
Jaren: Another myth that we kind of touched on a little bit earlier was that the feather color and genetics. You don't really get like we were talking about before a difference in egg production, a difference in meat quality or how dark the meat is or anything like that based on the color of the quail. Like I said it's the difference between a black Lab, a yellow Lab, the chocolate Lab. The only difference you're going to have is size and the bigger birds are obviously going to be better for meat production and have more meat on them. So that's another one.
Jaren: The one that drives me absolutely insane and people still argue with me about this but there's this, and I don't know, you might know about this. Quail have to have a certain cage height. They have to be shorter because quail supposedly will jump up, hit their heads on cages and break their necks.
Jaren: There's this theory that the cages have to be short so they don't get enough steam to jump up and do that.
Nicole: Yeah, not enough left.
Jaren: Yeah. Just to put this in perspective of what kind of force that takes to do that, I don't know how you process quail. I'll try not to be too graphic here but I can process a quail with my bare hands and usually from my falconry days that's how we did it because it was fast. We just one hand around the body and one hand on the head and we pulled the head off. They're small birds, it's easy to do. It's instant for them. I mean it takes a little bit of force to get it off but you can do it pretty easily. Trying to think that a quail, I'm trying to think of the muscles it takes to do that. So the muscles in my arms or in anybody's arms that it takes, the muscle groups that have to be used to pull that off and get that separated. Now we're going to say that quail have that equivalent muscle mass in its body to jump up and hit its head and break its neck. Does that make sense.
Nicole: Yeah, I feel that one stretches the truth a little bit, but I personally have experienced if I have them in a case that's too tall sometimes they'll jump and then hit their heads and then kind of cause, cut themselves from doing that.
Jaren: That's usually a self-correcting problem.
Nicole: It is.
Jaren: How many times are you going to jump up and hit your head on the ceiling before you stop jumping, right.
Nicole: Right, exactly.
Jaren: They can definitely get hurt. It's the whole you've got to be careful because your birds are going to die if you have them like that. I've talked to lots of other breeders that have raised hundreds of thousands of birds, more than I have, and there's one breeder that has told me that he has seen it happen twice in his entire career. He's like yeah, jumped up and hit its head and its neck was broken and yada, yada. And he's raised hundreds of thousands and he's had it happen twice. Do you know what I mean.
Nicole: Well I guess anything's possible.
Jaren: Yeah, I mean flukes happen all the time. Some people get attacked by sharks but what are the odds that's going to happen.
Jaren: That's the other one that kind of drives me nuts. And not that it really matters whether or not and sometimes it could even kill them if they crack their head or whatever. But the point is just like what I was talking about earlier is not to let little hangups like that stop you from starting to raising quail. It's easy. If I would have thought about this when I was a kid I don't know why I haven't been raising quail this whole time and producing my own food because I could have done it anywhere.
Jaren: Through all the moves I've made through the city and everywhere I've been I could have taken this with me and done it my entire life and had better quality food on my table.
Nicole: It's just like with chickens. I tell people granted you should not put the chicken in a tiny cage like they do battery style chickens with just the feeders up front. You shouldn't do that but keep in mind they are able to survive in that environment so anything that you give them that's better than that they're going to be just fine.
Jaren: Yes. That's how quail are. They don't know what they don't have. I've raised them in cages, in battery cages and you go and put them into an aviary. Like I said before they don't know what to do with themselves. They're just like we're going to stay over here in the corner and stay together. They've been bred that way for so many thousands of years that they don't know what to do with all that space. They'd rather be together where they feel save and secure.
Nicole: Yeah, I've had that same experience and so now I just have like a rabbit hutch kind of thing that I've got them in because I only have the one tier so I don't have a stacked cage system. But if you try to put them on the ground it doesn't seem to matter to them too much.
Jaren: Yeah. I'm going to be having our cages up on the website soon and I'll have to see if I can get you hooked up with a new system so you can try it out and try some of those multilayer battery cages. I've done that same thing with the hutch and it works well, but it's really nice having that open wired faced all the way around and having multiple levels. I'll see if I can get you hooked up with one of those.
Nicole: I would love that. I've been actually looking for something like that but I haven't been able to find a good cage system that was meant for quail that was affordable. That's been my limitation.
Jaren: I'll have some up on the website here shortly and I'll get one to you. You can have one for, I think we're selling the one I'm using right now it's a 30 inch wide double tier. I think it'll do about 20 birds and I want to say it was $149 for the cage.
Nicole: Oh wow, that's really reasonable.
Jaren: That comes with free shipping and it comes with all the waterers that you'll need, the feeding trays. It literally comes with everything and all you need is a bucket to hook up for a reservoir. You have to drill a hole in a bucket for the reservoir for the water cups and that's it.
Nicole: That's a great price. I know the other ones I was looking at I think they were like almost $400 plus shipping so it was not doable.
Jaren: We've got those too. Those are the big five tier, 36 inch wide that'll do dozens and dozens of quail. All of our cages are free shipping to the continental US.
Nicole: Awesome. That kind of rolls into one of the questions I was going to ask you. If somebody said I want to raise quail. How do I get started? Obviously they need a cage system which you have an amazing price on those. And then they would need the birds which we talked about already. What else would somebody need to get started?
Jaren: There's a few basic things that quail need. The first is shelter so whether that's your garage or a shed. You can also keep cages outside and keep them covered. They don't need to actually be inside a building, but they do need to be protected from wind and rain. These birds can stand high temperatures and very cold temperatures but they don't like being cold and wet. As long as you keep them out of the wind and keep them dry they're going to be happy. I've had mine down to 10 below here where I'm at in northern Utah and in the summer it gets up into the low 90s and they've done just fine. They do need whatever shelter you're going to have that's basically going to keep the rain off and keep the wind out and then the cages to keep them in.
Jaren: And then the only other things they need are food, water and security. And the security part comes with the caging. You've got to be careful of predators and obviously if you've got them in the garage or something that's going to be limited. You're only looking at possibly rat problems or your four legged feline and canine friends in the house are going to be the only things you're going to have to worry about. Security is something from predators that needs to be addressed. If you're getting started all you need is to figure out where you're going to put the cages, get the cages. You can buy birds or you can buy an incubator and eggs and incubate your own. Which if you're going to get serious about quail a lot of people will put there toe in the water first and get either adult birds or chicks which there's no problem with that, especially if you can find them local. Not everybody can find birds, chicks, locally.
Jaren: If you can't do that there are some people that are willing to ship them. Quail don't really do that well in shipping. We don't ship, at least not right now we don't and I don't know if we ever will ship chicks or adults. If you can find them locally on Craigslist or whatever local anything you have to find them you can always do that. I recommend starting off with eggs in an incubator because you're figuring out how to do everything from the get go. You can get everything you need literally to start raising quail shipped to your door.
Jaren: If you start with that incubator, start with the hatching eggs that you can get shipped to you and you learn the process because if you're going to be doing this you're going to want to have your own birds and get new birds. About every year you're going to want to replace your birds, especially if you're slaughtering and eating them because after that point they get a little tough and you don't really want to eat them. But if you're not into meat and you just want eggs they'll go for a couple of years.
Jaren: So back to an incubator and eggs or if you want to do live birds and can find them locally then great. I recommend eggs and an incubator and doing the whole process which is cool to see anyway. I don't know about you. Do you have kids?
Nicole: I have a stepdaughter.
Jaren: Okay, do you incubate at all? Did she get to see birds hatch?
Nicole: Oh yeah. I've got my incubators full right now and I involve her in as much of it as I can.
Jaren: It's so fun for them. I mean it's just as much fun for me as it is for my boys but that's such a cool thing for the kids to be able to see that. They love it.
Nicole: Oh yeah.
Jaren: Then you'll just need a brooder which you can do super cheap, super simple. You can get a heat lamp at your local farm supply store. You can get it on Amazon. You can literally get all this stuff. Everything like I said you can get shipped to your door. You can get a brooder lamp off Amazon. You can get a brooder kit off Amazon. I just buy a rubber tote from Walmart. That's all I've done and you can get them for as cheap as 10 bucks. I got the $20 one because it's the biggest. Then all you need is some pine shavings to put in the bottom of that. You need a feeder and waterer and that's really pretty much all you need other than food. There will be on the website too, here coming up soon there'll be complete starter packs and everything of what you need at different levels and tiers of all that. That's the gist of it.
Jaren: There's not a whole lot to it. I know I just rambled for a bit and maybe made it sound more complicated. If you just remember all the things that they need. Their basic things is food, water, shelter and security. Everything they need falls into those four things.
Nicole: Expanding on food, I have two feed questions for you.
Nicole: What protein feed do you recommend people feed their adult birds?
Jaren: I recommend when you're getting them from chick to adult size the higher the protein the better. I feed my chicks a 28% protein turkey starter which is really easy to find. If in your area you can't find game bird feed you usually can find turkey starter and that's really easy. It's mashed super small so the chicks can eat it. It doesn't need to be ground up or anything. So those are the two things. And then you feed that to them until six or eight weeks.
Jaren: And then there's some controversy going on about once they are to that size what protein content they need because I'm going to be doing my own experiment here with different sets of cages to see what the difference is but I know of one breeder that has actually calculated egg size on different protein levels and he has found that eggs get smaller, the bird's eggs get smaller the lower the protein content is. And once you get below 24% he has found that the egg size just gets smaller than it is to be worth not paying extra for a little bit higher protein feed. The breeder that I know that I go through and I've got all my flock from he feeds his birds 20% when they're adults. He still uses the high protein as chicks but all of his eggs are just fine and he does at 20%.
Jaren: I've got to think it depends on some different factors so I'm going to be doing some more experimenting with that. If all you can get your hands on for adults is an 18% that's better than nothing and it's not going to stop them from laying. The higher the protein the better though. I feed my birds the same stuff their entire life. The gist of it is if you can get the highest protein content you can, but if not an 18% will not stop them from laying. You'll still get egg production.
Jaren: If you feed them that low from the time they're a chick they will not get the six to eight week size growth within that timeframe and it will stunt their growth. When the are chicks it is very, very important up until adult size that they have a minimum of 25% to 26% and up to 30% is even better.
Nicole: I know with some other birds typically you can get too high of a protein like with turkeys and they get leg deformities and stuff. I guess that's not really so much of an issue with the quail.
Jaren: No, they don't have any issues with that. Like I said I've never had problems with that with leg problems, splayed legs, any of that kind of stuff with any of my birds and I've fed them, I mean they have 28% turkey starter feed from the day they're born until the day they die.
Nicole: Oh, okay. What do you do as far as feeders because I've always struggled with food waste with my quail and I've tried a thousand different feeders. I haven't come to a solution that I totally love just yet.
Jaren: That's something that everybody fights.
Jaren: Yeah, so I built my own homemade ones and I know those were a disaster and made a huge mess and oh my gosh.
Nicole: Me too.
Jaren: That was such a disaster. These new ones that we've got we're actually redesigning the feeders again so they're larger so that they can hold more feed so you don't have to worry about your birds running out of food during the day. Really the trick is just putting less in, especially on, I guess I'm referring to my cages but I'll refer to my cages for now. The cages I have you don't have to fill them more than a quarter of the way full because they can reach all the way down to the bottom. They can stretch their necks quite a long ways. When you're building them I know we want to get them as close as we can to make it as easy for them as we can, but you would be surprised at how far they can reach down and stretch and get the food.
Jaren: Another solution I found if you are building your own and it is creating a mess is I put something underneath to catch anything that falls out like a tote or something underneath and it'll catch the food that kicks out. Other than that really the biggest thing is just they don't need to have their feeders completely full. If you have a tall feeder that they can get their head down into then don't put very much in it and make them work to actually get it. That will minimize most of your feed waste.
Nicole: That's a good tip because that was always a struggle and it got to the point that I just accepted the food waste and the mice loved me for it and it was frustrating.
Jaren: I had that same problem. I had mine wasting so much that I would put those totes underneath and it would catch most of it under the totes but some would still fall out onto the floor and my bins of grain that I had underneath them became accidental mousetraps and I ended up like having a dozen mice at a time falling down into them and getting stuck which is great. I was able to get rid of them, but I think the last time I did that when I did it in my old garage I think I pulled over 50 mice out trapping from the feed waste. They move in there and they know they've got a steady food source and you let them go with it and they'll have their whole family there before you know it.
Nicole: Yeah, I feel like that's a whole other conversation for a different episode is dealing with mice on the farm. You mentioned also some lighting requirements to keep the birds laying year round. What do you do for that?
Jaren: I put my lights on a timer. I just have fluorescent lights, shop lights that I hang in my quail shed and you set the timer to 14 hours so whatever those hours are for you. If you want to have it come on, if they're going to get their daylight in the morning from the sun coming in and then you have it kick on for a few hours at night after it goes dark, or if you just kick it on to actually go on 14 hours a day. That's the magic number is 14 hours. If you set it to 14 hours a day, it doesn't have to be shining directly on them but it does need to be in the space where they're at. It just needs to be at least having ambient light in there so they feel like it's springtime, summertime so their bodies know that it's time to lay.
Nicole: I know that a lot of people, and I didn't even know this until recently but egg production is based on hormones that are released based on hours of daylight.
Nicole: That's why we need to replicate like you said the warmer months with longer days so the 14 hours. Same with chickens. Chickens do the same thing.
Jaren: Yep, exactly. Chickens. You've just got to fool their hormones into doing what you want them to do.
Nicole: Yeah. What recommendations do you have for breeding. So somebody they bought their quail. They've got however many birds and they've got their setup. If they want to breed for a sustainable meat source what's your ratio of male to female and how do you recommend breeding and butchering to keep a supply of viable breeders.
Jaren: Sure. There are a lot of questions there. You might have to remind me one at a time.
Jaren: As far as males to females the max I do is five to one. Four to one is more ideal but five to one will work just fine. I would never go beyond that if you want to have good fertility for your rooster to be able to maintain all those hens. Obviously the fewer you have the better your fertility is going to be, the more sure your fertility will be. But if you get too few hens then your rooster is going to end up picking on your hens too much and they start losing scalp feathers and back feathers and then your hens start fighting back at your roosters and kicking the crap out of them and it's just ugly.
Jaren: Five max, I would say four is idea and I would never do less than three and I still really don't even like three. I do five to one with my birds and I don't have issues with my fertility.
Nicole: Quail are especially aggressive so you've got to have enough hens I found out the hard way as well.
Jaren: Right. I hear people a lot that keep them as pets and you'll see something come up on a Facebook post sometimes where someone is saying I've got one hen and quail, one Coturnix hen I got from somebody. I need a buddy for her. Does anybody have a rooster I can take? I'm just sitting there going oh my gosh. One roost and one hen, they're going to have a miserable, miserable relationship.
Nicole: So you don't want your breeding quail to get too old so that you can maintain their fertility and then if you're going to process them as well. If you let them go too long then they don't process well. What's your recommendation as far as breeding them to have a continuous supply while maintaining your breeders?
Jaren: My general rule of thumb is what I do every year is just every year springtime comes you take some of your eggs from your flock, you incubate them, you get your new birds hatched out and then if you're going to eat your previous flock you process them or if you aren't into that and you're just doing it for eggs you can get rid of then. You can always find somebody to take them for free if nothing else.
Nicole: Oh, yeah.
Jaren: If you put them up for free somebody will come and take your quail and they'll eat them.
Jaren: But if you're just doing it for eggs and you're keeping them year round, 14 hours of light you could probably get two seasons out of them for eggs. Beyond that I don't like how much the viability drops. If you just want to play ti safe I just make it a rule that every spring just once a year your flock gets, you hatch out eggs from your flock and your old flock goes away. And then you'll never have problems with fertility or viability.
Nicole: Do you do any separation so that you don't have inbreeding?
Jaren: A little bit. I mostly just arrange birds to where they get along and don't pick on each other. They're kind of like people in the sense that some get along with others and some don't get along with others. That's all I really do between moving birds around. But as far as inbreeding goes I don't pay as much attention to it as I think a lot of other people do. I mean I've never had birds coming out with 12 toes or anything like that. I'm not super concerned about it. That's another one of those things I think that people worry a little more about than they need to.
Nicole: I know I talked to another predominant breeder when I started getting into quail myself and I believe that he said it's acceptable I guess to breed them up to five generations to each other before things start to get funny. So I feel like that would be a challenge if you're constantly rotating your flock eventually you're going to get, they're not going to be related the whole time.
Jaren: Yeah, I could get on board with that. That sounds about right with me. I don't think they start growing extra toes and playing banjos after that.
Nicole: Yeah, the sixth generation and you're out.
Nicole: Do you want to talk more about incubation? I know we kind of talked about it briefly.
Jaren: Yeah, we can go into detail on incubation.
Nicole: As far as breeding then what recommendations do you have as far as egg collection and incubation and things like that?
Jaren: Okay, so for egg collection what I do first off when you're collecting your eggs something that will affect their viability is going to be how long they sit out in the elements in weather that's too cold. Too warm I don't really worry about too much but if you live somewhere like we do we get colder weather and if they're sitting out there for too long that can hurt their viability. So if you don't have them in a heated area, and I don't mean they need to have it up to 72 degrees room temperature. They're still animals but as long as you're not collecting them and it's not getting down below 40 degrees or anything like that they're just fine.
Jaren: I try to collect them as quick as I can if the weather is cooler and they're not heated. And then I just collect them, take them in the house and keep them at room temperature. You don't need to do anything special with them, put them in a specific temperature just as long as they're at room temperature. I think most people keep their houses between 68 and 72 degrees. That'll do just fine.
Jaren: And then before you get them in the incubator, before you actually set them the general rule I have is 10 days is going to be your optimal time. Once an egg is more than 10 days old the viability starts to go down a little bit. I personally don't bother setting any eggs. I don't put any eggs in the incubator that are past two weeks old. But 10 days is the general rule. The sooner you put them in the better but obviously you can't. Every time you get 10 eggs a day or whatever you can't just be throwing a new 10 egg batch in your incubator. So 10 days is a general good rule. I would never go past two weeks.
Nicole: I know you shouldn't wash your eggs but do you sterilize them with oxine or anything like that?
Jaren: Nope. I don't do anything with them. I've never, I guess I know a lot of people say there's a lot of things that need to be done and maybe some of those things would improve results but I don't wash eggs but I've never sanitized or done anything at all with them. I've never candled my eggs. I know it's something a lot of people do like at a certain point you take your eggs out, candle them and throw the ones away that aren't viable, that aren't developing. People say if you don't the eggs will explode in the incubator and I know that's happened but I've done thousands of birds and never had it happen to me. I'm sure it'll be miserable once it happens.
Nicole: I found that to be an issue more with your longer incubation eggs, not so much your 17 days, not much is going to go wrong.
Jaren: Exactly. If that's something you want to do. I feel it's not worth the trade off for opening up the incubator and taking, because I mean I incubate hundreds of eggs at a time so if I take them out they're cooling down to a lower temperature because they're out so long. Which isn't a huge deal but it's not worth the trade off for me for the risk that an egg might explode.
Jaren: That's another thing too. I know people get worried about during the incubation process is if they're going to take them out and incubate them they're worried that something is going to happen, their hatch is ruined or whatever. My ducks usually hatch out most of their eggs and every time I go out and feed my ducks in the morning she puts some straw on top of them and goes out and she's out for 10 or 15 minutes eating and drinking and doing her thing. That's what mother birds do. It's a natural thing so I mean if they're out for a little bit and cool down to room temperature or whatever it's not going to be super detrimental either.
Nicole: Have you noticed with any of your varieties of Coturnix do any of them ever sit on eggs or are they pretty much all terrible mothers?
Jaren: It's been pretty well bred out of them. It's funny, sometimes if you have them in an aviary they've got some nesting material what a couple of them will do sometimes is they'll go and they'll sit on an egg but they're not consistent. I mean I think I had one that consistently sat on a couple of eggs for three days and that was it and she abandoned it. And she had no idea what she was doing and I don't know that, if you don't want an incubator and you want a bird like that that will hatch your eggs then get a silkie chicken or a Muscovy duck.
Nicole: Yeah. Or Buff Orpington. They're pretty reliable broodies too.
Jaren: Yeah, they are.
Nicole: I don't know what else to ask you. I think you've literally covered everything I could possibly ask. I feel like if I didn't know how to raise quail after listening to you I would feel confident that I know what to do now.
Jaren: You're making me blush.
Nicole: Oh. If somebody wants to hatch their own quail what kind of recommendations do you have as far as an incubator?
Jaren: I've used several different models and it all depends on what you're after, what you're trying to do. I have a Brinsea Maxi II Advance and that's a really good, I mean they're a little more pricey. I think they're in the $300 range I believe. But they're just kind of a nice one. They're a dome style that you can see all the way through.
Jaren: I think they do somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-35 quail eggs. But that's a fun one to have in your house and it's fun for the kids for more of a hobbyist. If you're looking for something on the less expensive side and you want to do more production and be able to hatch more eggs then the IncuView is a really good model. They also have everything is see through on the top so you can actually watch the eggs hatch and everything on it is automated. You set the temperature, you set your parameters and everything and it does everything for you so you don't have to keep on top of it. That's a really good one.
Jaren: I'm trying to think of what the, I haven't used them but you maybe have to help remind me. What's the most popular one you can think of? I know that everybody gets. THey're the styrofoam.
Nicole: Oh, the Hova Bator.
Jaren: Hova Bator, yeah. I've never used those. I know that a lot of people have good luck with them. Those are the economy ones. That's what most people get when they're starting out. I like to clean my incubators out because that's something if you don't get it cleaned out and you have the eggshells and all the stuff sitting in your incubator from the last time and you don't clean it out you can start getting diseases built up that your next batch will catch diseases from and could have problems.
Jaren: And the styrofoam it's hard to get anything in there to clean it well with any kind of disinfectant or anything because it can destroy the styrofoam. So that's the only reason I avoid those. If that's all you can get than great, but just know you'll want to be cleaning with bleach or vinegar or something and it's eventually going to deteriorate and eat away around it. My favorite one that I have and not everybody needs this but if you're wanting to get more into production or you want to hatch some chicks to sell locally to a feed store or something like that like I do then you might look at a cabinet incubator.
Jaren: The one I use is from GQF. It's the 1202 Sportsmans model and I think that one will do 1,300 quail eggs at a time. It's a higher end one. What ones are you using, Nicole?
Nicole: I have a lot of GQF products for my battery brooders but I use Arcom just because that's what I got started with. I bought one used and it was great and then I bought another one and then I learned about cabinet incubators and I really should have bought one of those instead. But sometimes I hatch two different types of eggs so whatever it works out. But I know that I've looked on line and it seems like the newer Sportsmans aren't quite the same as the older ones. I've seen post about egg tray issues like the egg trays will fall.
Jaren: Oh yeah.
Nicole: They came out with a new one in the last maybe a year. I don't know. They're making them different somehow.
Jaren: I thought they would be better by now. Mine is 15-20 years old. Mine's still the old wood style.
Nicole: Oh, how fun. I love those old wooden incubators.
Jaren: Yeah, they're great. I figured the newer plastic ones were a good upgrade but I don't have any personal experience with those.
Nicole: They have like just the metal cabinet style ones and if you can get ones that are I would say older than a year. I just see a lot of posts on the newer ones and I don't know for sure when they started but I've seen probably 20-30 posts on social media where they said that the egg trays something they slip and then the egg tray falls and breaks.
Jaren: Oh, that would be a good way to ruin your day.
Nicole: Yeah. When I worked at the Raptor Center I don't know what brand it was but it was an old wooden style cabinet incubator and so I just think those are the best.
Jaren: Yeah, I love them. I'm trying to think of who else makes the cabinet ones. I know Brinsea makes some but I know they're a lot more expensive. I think for the equivalent you can get a 1505 Sportsman for from GQF I think they're somewhere in the $800 range. And I think the equivalent from Brinsea is like $1,200 or something like that.
Nicole: That's how much, I paid $800 for my, I think about $800 for my Arcom, my 50 Max and it's not a cabinet, it's just an oversized regular flat incubator. I don't know what it's technically called. The Sportsmans are the way to go.
Jaren: Does that have turners in it or do you have to put your own turners in it or do you do it manually?
Nicole: It has a little floor that has a gear that moves it back and forth so you can put egg trays in it that are different sized. I think it's a 50 which means it will do 50 chicken eggs but I think it will do 120 quail eggs.
Nicole: When I did it last it was right about there.
Jaren: I guess that's one other thing to talk about too is about turning. I guess we didn't talk about egg turning did we.
Nicole: We did not.
Jaren: So you don't have to turn any of yours by hand.
Nicole: No, it has an auto turner in it.
Jaren: Oh, good. Do you know anybody that turns theirs by hand anymore because I don't.
Nicole: No, and I feel bad for somebody that does.
Jaren: Yeah. Do yours have, so what are yours set to? Are yours adjustable or how often do they turn?
Nicole: You can change the angle and the time but to be honest with you I just put a, it has different menu options so I just put it on quail and push go.
Jaren: And that's all I think, I mean mine, so on that Brinsea it's the same way. I just set it and forget it. You can adjust it every 20 minutes to 90 minutes to however many hours but as long as it's at least four times a day it's fine. I don't know of any egg turner that does it anywhere near that infrequent that you're turning it every hour which is plenty. As long as it's four times a day or better that's no problem.
Nicole: I feel like out of all of the different types of eggs that I've incubated quail are definitely the easiest.
Jaren: I agree.
Nicole: I think you could just put them on the counter and they would hatch. Obviously not literally but it's so easy.
Jaren: I've heard stories of people that hatch them in their ovens.
Nicole: Oh my gosh. I believe it.
Jaren: Are yours usually hatching, do they usually hatch right at day 17? Do you ever have any stragglers that go into day 19?
Nicole: You know it's been a little while, it's been several hatches since I've done quail, but I feel like everybody was pretty synchronized. I feel like day 18-19 everybody was popping out of their shell and if they didn't then it wasn't a viable egg.
Jaren: Yep. Same for me and I've noticed some of the ones that hatch out later do end up dying too. The ones that are actually out day 17, and sometimes they'll even hatch on day 16. But those ones usually turn out the best. Do you stop turning the last three days or the last two days of incubation?
Nicole: Again, it's auto set for the quail so I know with chicken eggs it's the last three and I feel like with quail it's the last, I'm almost positive it's the last three because I've had issues with them hatching a day early when the turner is still on.
Jaren: Yeah. I've done it both ways and two days and three days and I found it works either way. I was just wondering what your experience was.
Nicole: I've only done probably five batches of eggs through the incubator so I'm definitely not an expert on the quail. I've done everything from quail to pheasant to emu to ducks to everything.
Jaren: Well I think they're just about, people get a little too worried about the specifics on each particular bird for temperature and humidity settings and all that. The days are obviously different so you've got to stop that turning the last two or three days so they can orient the hatch but I fond that whether it's 99 to 100 degrees, a half degree difference hasn't really made a big difference to me. If I set it at 99.5 and it stays at that and I keep it at 30% humidity for the first bit and then the last two-three days during lockdown I put it to like 60% to 65%. I found that it does just fine for that for quail as it is for just as well for chickens and ducks and everything else. I think the only thing that really matters is the number of days when you stop the turning for the lockdown period.
Nicole: Yeah. Of course if you want optimal settings for the highest hatch rates but I find it hard to believe that, let's just use chickens because quails aren't very good mothers but a chicken that sits on her eggs for 21 days is going to maintain exactly 99.5 degrees and 55% humidity for the whole time.
Jaren: And that's if they never move. That's if they never get up to go feed themselves.
Nicole: Right. So the variation I mean yeah, you might not get a 98% hatch rate but it'll be good enough in most cases.
Jaren: And you know what? I don't even think it affects the hatch rate. I think the only thing that it makes a difference in is how soon they hatch. I think maybe you get half a day. If the temperature a little higher maybe you get a half a day earlier or something. But I don't even know. Unless you bake your eggs at 110 degrees or something like that or they drop way low like below 90 for an extended period of time. I don't even know that it does anything other than delay or speed up the hatch process.
Nicole: I think yeah, you'd have to really drop to low temperatures for a while. You could always get those weird deformities and stuff but for the most part. We have issues with our power goes out a lot and I know that we had the last time, so the last batch of eggs that I got from a breeder was kind of a nightmare and it wasn't you. I'm just going to preface that.
Jaren: I'm experienced though. I know what you're talking about. I've had the same experiences.
Nicole: Yes. So the first one I got and a bunch of them came broken so they obviously had a rough handling and I had, I ordered like 150 and I set 120 and I had less than a 50% hatch. So that seller sent me more because they had a policy where if they had a poor hatch they would send more. And the next one arrived less broken so I know they at least traveled better and I feel like on that one we had a power outage issue where we lost power for like four hours.
Nicole: So I think out of 120 eggs I got like 20 babies. So obviously that wasn't the breeders fault. I've definitely had some challenges with quail eggs at times.
Jaren: I can solve that problem for you too. That's something I forgot to talk to you about. So I'm developing a product right now that I've actually used the beta model for. It's a WiFi incubator monitor so you can track your temperature and humidity via a little sensor that goes inside the incubator and you can monitor it from your phone wherever you're at as long as you've got an internet connection there to connect to the sensor.
Nicole: Oh cool.
Jaren: I've actually, that's actually saved two of my hatches so far from that. It'll monitor your humidity and your temperature so you can set your parameters and if it spikes a little high or low it'll send you an alert. If the humidity goes too low or too high it'll send you an alert. Like I said it's a beta model right now but we're actually developing it for an incubator specific setup and it'll actually have the app that goes with it will be able to track your hatch and all that too and maybe have some other features in the future.
Jaren: But I'll have that on the website too. It's called the Temp Stick and it's just the, it's used for other applications and that's kind of the beta model that I'm using right now but we're developing it with that company to have an incubator specific sensor set up for it too.
Nicole: That's awesome. I've lost a couple different things of eggs due to malfunctions.
Jaren: And you never know about it. You come home and you've have a poor hatch and you don't know that the power went out while you were away at work and then came back on a few hours later and if it's in the winter and it's sitting in your garage or something it's gone down but by the time you get back the temperatures back up and you never know that anything happened. And so you start kicking your butt about wondering what you did wrong.
Jaren: It's a pain. I think that happens to people more than they realize and ruins more peoples hatches and experiences than we realize.
Nicole: Yeah, I'm sure. The joys of hatching.
Nicole: Do you know if your product, and this is just a general question. Let's say a power outage well then of course you lose your internet. Would it have any way to send an alert to your phone.
Jaren: Yes, it'll tell you if internet has been lost or if it's been reconnected or any of that. Yes.
Nicole: Oh, cool. I didn't know if it had an alternative way to send but I know so many times I work 48 hour shifts and granted my husband, my husband's a city slicker that I drug into my farm life so bless his heart. So he doesn't like to mess with my stuff but unless I get a notification from our security system that we lost power I don't know and then I can't ask him. We have generators which he can go home and put my eggs on the generator but if you don't know about it then you're up a creek and it sucks.
Jaren: Yep, exactly. This is all like it runs off two AA batteries that will last a year or better before you have to replace them if it's continuously on. And yeah, it'll go the whole time and if it's running low on battery it'll send you an alert. If you lose internet it'll alert you and then if it ever reconnects to it again it'll send you another alert to say hey, it's been reconnected.
Nicole: Oh, how cool.
Jaren: They've got all the bases covered on that.
Nicole: I need that in my life so I'll have to make sure I follow your social media and your website and once that thing comes out I will add it to my arsenal because there's nothing worse, especially there was one time I was hatching eggs for a customer and, of course, lost power and then you're like that's even worse than when it's your own eggs.
Jaren: Yep. That's exactly what happened to me. I have two feed stores here that I hatch out chicks for and that's what happened to me. Instead of delivering 200 chicks they were expected it ended up being 60.
Nicole: Oh, no.
Jaren: Because I've had that happen.
Nicole: Do you have an ETA as to when that'll be available to the public?
Jaren: So this fall we're going to be going into development and if all goes as planned then spring of 2020 they should be available.
Nicole: Oh, cool.
Jaren: And the only difference in that will be that it has the accompanying app that will allow you to track your hatch and everything. Now if you don't want to wait for that you can still buy the Temp Stick and use it the same way. It just won't say on the app that it's for your incubator. It'll just be the Temp Stick. You'll be able to track it yourself and you'll just have to use a different app to track your hatch.
Nicole: I was just thinking it would be nice to have just one app that you could do everything in.
Jaren: Right. And that's the idea and it'll get there. If you don't want to wait you've got that option for the Temp Stick but yeah, that's kind of the idea trying to make it easier and give people peace of mind so when they go to work they don't have to worry about something going wrong with your incubator. And if something does they can have somebody hurry to come over and get things straightened out for them before it becomes detrimental.
Nicole: Will it be sensitive enough that you can calibrate your incubator to it?
Jaren: So it'll be just something that's standalone so you will need to set your incubator parameters separately. All this is is a monitor. If sales go well with it there has been talk of an entire incubator that will have the whole system built into it so it'll be an all in one unit.
Nicole: Oh, that's really smart. Like a smart incubator.
Nicole: How is there not one of those already.
Jaren: Exactly. If this goes well and I think it'll be received well on the market. If it is that'll be the next step in the future is to build that. Like you said that's a good name for it. The smart incubator.
Jaren: I might have to keep that jotted down. That might be the new name you see plastered on the cover.
Nicole: You have exclusive rights I release to you. I have it on recording. No, I'm kidding. As far as I use external, oh my goodness, thermometer. That's what that thing is called.
Nicole: In my incubators now just to make sure since they're electronic and make sure that the thermometer and my display on the incubator are reading the same. So would you be able to calibrate and set, make sure that your incubator is calibrated appropriately on that Temp Stick?
Jaren: No. Like I said it's going to be all internal just in the Temp Stick itself. I mean you can set your parameters for temperature.
Nicole: Oh, so it doesn't display.
Jaren: No, it will to your phone. So the sensor itself won't. You won't be able to open up your incubator and look at it. It will just be to your phone. Stuff you want to display on the outside of the incubator you still will need another one to monitor from inside.
Nicole: Oh, no. Not to display, just to set your incubator. Like to make sure it's calibrated appropriately.
Jaren: Oh, right. The calibration on it. I'm trying to think. I don't know if there is. I don't know if it's self-calibrating. That is a good question. I'm not above saying I don't know so I'm going to say I don't know. I do know that it is way more accurate, the one thing I noticed when I first started messing with the Temp Stick is I got a, so I've gotten eggs from the same breeder many times before and on hatching eggs it's usually, especially if they're coming from a long ways away it's going to be around 50% to 60% that I found was coming from a long ways.
Jaren: But these got shipped in the middle of winter, the coldest part of the winter, got to me. I incubated and got 80% hatch rate on shipped eggs.
Nicole: Holy cow.
Jaren: And what I noticed is that the Temp Stick, it's a better sensor. It's higher quality and it's a lot more accurate. I was using two or three other thermometers, different ones, different models from the standard style. It looks like that you stick inside a turkey type. It's got the needle on the end.
Nicole: The probe.
Jaren: I don't know what you call those. Analog or the probe style. So I've used those type and a couple of different ones that you can get on Amazon. Some better ones and some cheaper ones for humidity and temperature sensors and they all show variations And that thing when I found when I used it it was showing everything else was up to two to two-and-a-half degrees higher or lower and the humidity was like 5% to 10% different on some of those.
Jaren: And now that I've set my incubator to match what the Temp Stick is telling me the temperature is and use that for my monitor. Even though my sensor is telling me I'm at 102.5 degrees I'm actually at 99.5. And since I started doing that it's been improving my hatch rate.
Nicole: Oh, okay.
Jaren: The quality of that sensor is a bit part of it too.
Nicole: Yeah, I guess maybe I worded it wrong and I apologize. That's what I was trying to ask is because I'm convinced that my incubator isn't actually running at its displayed temperatures.
Jaren: That's such a thing that everybody, and that's one of the things I'm trying to solve with this is that everybody has that. They get a bad hatch rate and that's one of the things they're thinking is oh, my incubator is failing and a lot of times it's not.
Jaren: An incubator is a pretty simple machine, especially if it's still air. But I mean even the forced air ones it's a fan and a heating element and they've got the electronics to shut it off or slow it down when the temperature gets a little bit above what it's supposed to be. There's not a whole lot to it, but a lot of times that thermometer they give you that's where they cut the corner.
Jaren: All that stuff they put into it and they just put a cheaper thermometer in it and it's not really the incubator that falls, it's usually the thermometer.
Nicole: Yeah, that sounds really cool. I'm excited to hear that you're developing that. And maybe it's because I'm a millennial or whatever but I love tech stuff so I get excited about that stuff.
Jaren: I'm right there with you.
Nicole: How cool. So how can people find The Urban Aviary online?
Jaren: So if you want to check out the YouTube channel, if you want to learn more about how to raise quail you can just search for Urban Aviary on YouTube. I'll be the the first thing that pops up there. If you want to look at some of the products I have you'll go to TheUrbanAviary.com. And then also if you want to join a discussion on everything on backyard agriculture and quail specifically you can go to Facebook and search for The Urban Aviary Facebook Forum.
Jaren: There's also The Urban Aviary fan page there. You can follow that as well but make sure if you want to actually connect with everybody else in the community to go to the, search for the Facebook forum, the Aviary Facebook Forum.
Nicole: Okay, great. And we can put links to the descriptions so that people can just click through and then they don't have to try to find you which it sounds like it would be pretty easy to do. We'll just put the direct links to that and the store and to the products that we talked about on the show as well. So, thank you Jaren for taking the time to talk to us. I really enjoyed talking to you. I feel like if I didn't know a single thing about quail that after getting all of your knowledge and expertise I could start my own quail colony and be successful from the start. I really appreciate you sharing all that information with us.
Jaren: Thank you, Nicole. It was a pleasure talking to you. Thanks.
Nicole: And thank you for listening to Backyard Bounty and we'll see you next week. Bye bye.
Announcer: Thank you for listening to Backyard Bounty, a podcast by HeritageAcresMarket.com. Don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review. If you have a question you'd like us to answer on the show, please email is at Ask@HeritageAcresMarket.com. Also find us on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube at Heritage Acres Market. All the links mentioned in this podcast will be included in the description. See you again next week.
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