5. How Can We Raise Bobwhites?

One of the ways you can help save bobwhites is by participating in a raise and release program.  We obtained a special permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and purchased our Northern bobwhite quail eggs from a hatchery on the Internet.

Egg Care and Incubation

  • You will need an incubator.  We borrowed ours from the third grade class.  It is the same one they use to raise chickens.
  • Clean the incubator thoroughly.
  • Make sure that you constantly check the incubator and hatching unit for the correct humidity and temperature.
  • The incubation period for Bobwhite quails are 23-24 days.  You will need to turn the eggs twice daily or have an automatic turner.
  • Incubator temperature needs to be set at 99.75°F‐ 100°F for forced‐air or 102°F  for still‐air and the proper humidity.

After Hatching

  • Make sure they have moisture absorbent litter that is not sawdust because it can cause respiration problems. Use building sand or pine shavings.  Provide at least two inches of sand, which is the most commonly used litter.
  • After they dry off, you can move them into a brooder.
  • Make sure that the brooder is at the right temperature and that they have access to food and water.  Baby bobwhite chicks can sometimes drown in their water so put marbles into the waterer to prevent this.

Guide for Brooding Temperatures

 First Week Second Week          Third Week Fourth Week Fifth Week Sixth Week
98 ‐ 100°F 95°F 90°F 85°F 80° Room Temperature

Feeding Bobwhites

  • People should feed little chicks from 1 day to 6 weeks old “game bird starter feed.”  Let the birds have free-choice, which means they can eat how much they want all day.  Young birds need 1.3-1.5 pounds of food per bird.
  • Feed “game bird developing feed” to bobwhite quails from 6 weeks old to maturity.   They will eat 2.5 ‐ 3.0 pounds per bird.

Preventing Disease

When bobwhites are away from their natural habitat, they are more likely to get sick.  Stress makes bobwhites sick.  Stresses occur with overcrowding, not enough or not nutritional food, the wrong temperature during brooding, or not enough water.

Handling Bobwhites

  • It is important to handle bobwhites correctly because If they get hurt, then they might eat each other, which is called cannibalism.
  • When you are holding them, hold their neck with your first and second finger and wrap the rest of your fingers around its body.
  • Never hold the quail by its legs, wings, or head.

Releasing Bobwhites

  • Find a suitable location.  They need cover, water and food availability.  It is best to brood the chicks where you plan on releasing them.
  • Release them between 8-10 weeks old when the bobwhites are able to fly well and have obtained adult size and weight.
  • Release them early in the morning.
  • Leave the area after you release them.
  • Only let 1 or 2 bobwhites out at a time and let them out voluntarily.  Do not force them out because that will scare them.
  • You may want to put a bird feeder where you are releasing them and put the same feed that you always fed it in the feeder.