Recipes

stuffed acorn squash

15 Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipes

This year we were blessed with an amazing winter squash crop. One of the varieties we grow is this White Acorn Squash. It is a nice comp...

Homesteading

coturnix quail

How to Raise Coturnix Quail

Poultry is big here at our house. My kids love birds more than most other livestock. We star...

Gardening

pesky pest

Keeping Pests Out of the Garden

  The garden is in full swing and so are pests! Do you know how to get rid of slugs? Keep worms off your cabbage? How about how to k...

How to Raise Coturnix Quail

coturnix quail

This post may contain affiliate links.

Poultry is big here at our house. My kids love birds more than most other livestock. We started with chickens, then added ducks, and finally quail. We raise coturnix quail, which have a lot of pluses when it comes to poultry. They are small- perfect for urban homesteads- and so they require less space per bird. They also mature early and start laying eggs by 8 weeks of age. If you are thinking about adding quail to your homestead, here are the basics when it comes to their care- from hatching to adulthood.

How to Raise Coturnix Quail

Coturnix quail can be a bit fragile at hatching- so I would strongly recommend hatching your own or finding a local source as opposed to mail-ordering your quail chicks. They are quick to hatch- taking only about 17 days- so if you have a local farmer with fertile eggs it’s an easy way to go.

Caring for Chicks

At hatching quail are pretty small. Much smaller than the day old chicken chicks you may be used to. Their needs are similar to chickens in that they need a brooder box, heat lamp, water and food. You will want to place marbles or a sponge in their water to prevent drowning at first. Also cover any bedding material with paper towels at first to keep them from pecking and eating the bedding.

coturnix quail chick

We keep our quail in a 50 gallon water trough for the first couple weeks before moving them outside to their final pen. You will want to make sure they have screen on the top of their box to prevent them from flying out- these  guys learn to jump and fly quick! You will want to keep them under the lamp (starting at 98 degrees on hatch day)- unless it’s the middle of summer and really warm- until about 4-6 weeks. Reduce the temperature under the lamp by about 10 degrees each week until you hit the outside air temperature.

For feed you will want to find a high protein, unmedicated game bird feed. We use Manna Pro Gamebird/Showbird. At first you might need to pulse the feed through a food processor the first week or so to prevent choking, but after the chicks have gained some size they should be fine with crumbles.

Housing for Quail

Because of their small and flighty nature quail are not really suited for free ranging. You have a lot of options when it comes to your cages. I have seen stacked pens with wire floors, refurbished rabbit cages, etc. I prefer to house mine on the ground since it is more similar to their natural habitat. If you are on the ground be sure to provide some begging materials- ours love the days we add straw- they tunnel through and make holes to hide in. They also enjoy added “hideouts” made from branches or buckets.

You will need to provide about 1 sq ft per bird. Quail do have the tendency to fly straight up when startled so you will either need to keep their cages short- 8-10 inches or tall enough for them to fly without hitting the top. Our current set up is 4 ft tall and we haven’t had any issues.

They can be kept indoors or on decks if you keep the area cleaned regularly or outside, as long as you provide them with protection from draft. We keep our pen wrapped in a tarp in the winter to keep them warm and protected from our high winds. It’s easy to unwrap on warm days to let them enjoy the sun.

Egg Layingcoturnix quail eggs

If you are raising your quail for eggs, coturnix quail should come into maturity and start laying by about 8 weeks. They will then lay about an egg a day for life. In order to keep up production year round you will need to provide a light source so that they get 14hrs of light per day. Quail do not need- and would most likely not use- nest boxes. Some people slope the floors of their wire cages to that eggs roll out for easy collection. I just send my 5 and 8 year olds in to the pen to collect. It’s like a mini egg hunt for them.

Sexing Your Quail

By 3 or 4 weeks you should notice feather color differences in your quail. The most common coturnix quail coloring is the pharaoh- the males will show rusting on their feathers whereas the females will not. The males will also start to call at 5 or 6 weeks. We have some all white ones- and we just wait until they start breeding and calling in order to tell them apart.  You can also vent sex them- but that’s not something I am really knowledgeable about.

sexing coturnix quail

 

Do you raise quail? I’d love to hear about your experience or share your set up!

 

Review & Giveaway: Light Shine Candles

Light Shine Candlesreview disclosure

I don’t think I have ever lived in a home without candles. Growing up they were the gift of choice for my mom. They lighted our table at night for dinner. They get pulled out in an emergency power outage. There is just something comfortable and homey about a lighted candle. And I will admit, I can’t pass any unlighted candle without picking it up and smelling it!

About Light Shine Candles

 

Light Shine is a small, family owned business based in Old Hickory, Tennessee.  All of their candles are hand-poured into glass jars and made with only 100% USA-grown, non-GMO, soy wax.  Every candle is dye-free, made with a cotton wick, and only contains fragrances that are free of phthalates.

Each 8 oz candle will burn for approximately 40 hours, and because they are made with soy wax the burning temperature is lower and there is less soot.

Light Shine Candles is also devoted to creating a better world. Every candle purchased supports their work and training in community development in both Nashville and El Salvador. Additionally, a portion of all sales are donated to global education through Global Outreach Developments International.

You can find Light Shine Candles on Etsy and on Facebook!

Light Shine Candles1

My Thoughts on Light Shine Candles

 

Like I mentioned, I am a candle lover, but my main problem with most candles is that their fragrances are just too strong. I am very sensitive to fragrances and most things tend to give me major headaches. I have been using Light Shine Candles for over a year now and….ZERO headaches when they are lit! Their fragrances are light enough to not over power my sensitivities, yet strong enough to lightly scent my home.

Which brings me to another reason I love these candles- the scent is enough to freshen the air even when there are things working against them. Things like the litter box in the laundry room. The brooder box of ducklings in the playroom. Or 4 smelly dogs who have been out in the rain all day. The scent choices are great too- my favorites are Mint Basil Sage and White Tea and Ginger!

These candles also have some obvious good things going for them- USA-made contents, no dyes, no questionable ingredients. I love the fact that they use plant-based wax, which is renewable instead of an oil-based wax like paraffin, and it is also water soluble, so I don’t have to just toss the jar when the candle is gone, I can wash and reuse it however I want.

Light Shine Candles2

Want to Give Light Shine a Try?

 

Light Shine Candles  has offered to giveaway 1- 8oz candle to one of my readers! This giveaway will run between Tuesday, March 24 and end at midnight on March 30, 2015. The giveaway is open to residents of the continental US only.  Enter below to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Light Shine Candles is also offering a coupon for 15% off purchases in their Etsy store, use code FREERANGELIFE anytime between now and August 31, 2015 to receive 15% off!

 

 

How to Bottle Feed a Goat

how to bottle feed a goatThis post may contain affiliate links.

On our farm we dam raise all of our kids. I think it is better for all parties involved and it is easier on me. But every so often we have a mother who rejects all or some of her kids and we end up with a bottle baby. When this happens you are the kids mother- it can be hard work, especially those first few days, but in the end  you get some really sweet kids that will follow you everywhere just like a puppy would! So if you are in a situation where you need to feed a newborn kid, here’s a look at how to bottle feed a goat.

How to Bottle Feed a Goatbottle feeding a goat

When  you are expecting kids you should always be prepared for the fact that you might end up bottle feeding. This means powdered colostrum, bottles, and nipples should be part of your kidding kit, just in case. You need to work fast and get milk into the babies as soon after birth as possible and won’t have time to run to the store.

If possible, hold the  baby up and force the mother to feed it the colostrum. This gets the powerful antibodies into the kid  and it might encourage the mother to change  her mind on rejecting the kid.

There are different options when it comes to nipples and bottles- some use cheap baby bottles from the dollar store. We have found the Pritchard nipples work the best for us and the kids accept them much easier than the other options. These nipples will screw on to most standard soda or water bottles.

Getting a kid to accept a nipple can be tricky sometimes- and more so if they have been on their mother at all. You need to remember their natural stance when they are nursing from their mothers and get the bottle in a similar position as her teat would be. For newborns, I gather them up in my arm, so that their heads are right under my chin. This should get their reflexes going and they will start to but you like the would their mother’s udder. Sometimes it helps to get them sucking on your finger first and then slipping the nipple in their mouth. Once the feel the milk in their mouths they should start to suck.

Newborns can be pretty sleepy- just like humans. We’ve had particularly weak babies that would hardly suck, but would chew on the nipple in their mouths. I let them to this because they were swallowing some milk down as well. By 24 hours old they had pepped up and were sucking strong. They may not take in much at one time, but feed them often in that first 24 hours.

 

When to Bottle Feed a Goat:

bottle feed a goatThe following is the basic schedule we follow when we are bottle feeding:

First 24 Hours: Colostrum from a mother (or other goat) if possible. If you don’t have fresh colostrum from a goat you can use Powdered colostrum. 1/4 cup every 2-4 hours for the first 24 hours. Then move to milk.

First week:  approximately 4 oz  of milk every 2-4 hours. There is some argument about nighttime feedings but in my experience they can go about 5-6 hours maximum. I keep the kids in the house at night the first 2 nights to get a feel for their schedule and then set alarms to go outside to them after that. I try to get them to the every 4 hour mark pretty quickly- usually by 4 days old or so.

Weeks 2-4: Start spreading out the feedings to every 4-5 hours. They will be able to go longer stretches at night as well-we move our babies to an 8-hour stretch by about 10 days old. They should be getting about 5-6 oz per bottle at first but this amount will go up a bit  as they grow larger. We get our babies on this schedule by about 10 days old: 6:30 am, 10:30am, 2:30pm, 6:30 pm, and 10:30 pm.

Weeks 4-5: They should be getting bottles 4 times per day evenly spaced throughout the daylight hours (morning, noon, evening, and just before bed) with each bottle being about 8 oz depending on the size of the kid.

Wees 5-6: Move to 3 times per day (morning, noon, and night) each bottle containing about 8-10 ounces of milk.

Weeks 7-10 weeks: Give 2 bottles per day, in the morning and evening. Each bottle should have 10-15 ounces milk depending on the weight and appetite of the kid.

Weeks 10-12: Start reducing the amount of milk per bottle or go down to 1 bottle a day. The goal is to have them weaned completely by 12 weeks of age.

The amounts I have listed are just what has worked for us and our goats. Start with less and build up to what your goats seem to be healthy and thriving on. The biggest thing to remember when bottle feeding a goat is to always leave them wanting more as opposed to overfeeding. If the kid starts to play with the nipple they are done and you can reduce the amount of milk in the next bottle according to how much they took in during the previous feeding. And if they start to scour reduce the amount of milk per bottle as well. You want their tummies full, but they should not be round and bloated. All goats should have fresh water and forage/hay available as well. We offer some grain once they are a few weeks old.

What to Bottle Feed a Goat:

If possible we use our raw goat milk to feed the babies, but if that is not an option this is the recipe we use as a milk replacer:bottle feed you goat

  • 1 gallon of whole cow’s milk
  • 1 cup cultured buttermilk
  • 1 can of evaporated milk

Simply pour out a few cups of the cows milk, pour in the evaporated milk and the buttermilk and add back in the cow’s milk until the gallon jug is full. Shake gently before each use.

(Note: I have no experience with using powdered milk replacer, I have always used fresh milk or the above mix. I have been warned by MANY, MANY, MANY goat owners to never use the powdered replacer- it will cause scours and likely death in your kids. I would rather spend money on fresh goat or cow’s milk than use it)

I also like to add a pump of Nutridrench to at least one bottle a day for the first few days for an added nutrient boost. If you use this mix and eventually need to move them to goat milk make sure you do it gradually so you don’t mess up their digestion and cause scours.

 

I am not a veterinarian. This article is based on our experience bottle feeding our own goats.