I was involved wildlife preservation, by raising and releasing bobwhite quail locally. I have been raising and releasing quail as a 4-H project for many years.
My goal was to get 200 quail chicks and raise as many as possible for release into the wild. This was to help bolster the population of bobwhite quail in Northwest Ohio.
The first step was ordering and picking up the bobwhite quail chicks from the hatchery on May 18th. I was then tasked with making sure the chicks knew how to drink from their water bottle and eat the crushed food. The water bottle that I used was a hamster water bottle, this was used instead of a bowl because the chicks can easily drown in sitting water, or get soaked and die from the cold. When they are big enough we also give them a pipe filled with water, with holes so they can drink out of it, but not fall in. The food was crushed to ensure the quail would not choke on the larger food pellets.
I cleaned out their enclosure, as well as, adjusted their heat lamp to the correct temperature every day. The quail needed to start out at 100 degrees F and lower temperatures over time. I had to slowly lower the temperature over the weeks as they got older. Temperature is extremely important to the quail; if they are too cold they will pile up and trample each other to death, and if they are too hot they overheat and die. Because of the large number of quail the enclosure needed to be cleaned of feces to prevent the spread of disease, there were also deaths of the weaker quail who could fell victim to one of the many tragedies listed above.
This continued for many weeks, they were also allowed to roam the larger section of their enclosure as they lost the dependency of the heat lamp.
My parents helped in the acquisition of the quail as well as the pickup of food for the quail if needed. My grandparents allowed me to use their property to raise the quail as well as using straw and branches to line the enclosure of the quail.
The results were not as expected as there was a tragedy a few weeks before the scheduled quail’s release. A raccoon or possibly multiple raccoons broke through a screened section of the quail’s enclosure six feet off the ground. The raccoons killed most of the quail; it is unknown how many were killed or were able to escape through the ripped screen. There were only ten quail left alive in the enclosure which had been able to fly or hide from the raccoons. They were kept for another week and then released in the hopes of joining with any others who had escaped and given a better chance of survival.
I would recommend providing more space for the quail, I was used to having 100 quail and the enclosure I had seemed to be too small for 200. I would also recommend reinforcing the enclosure for the quail. We had never had a problem with raccoons before or even knew that they would go after the quail. The most critical part in raising the quail is within the first few weeks when they are the most fragile, it is important to have conditions as perfect as possible.
I learned more about wildlife preservation and that even though I had raised bobwhite quail for many years there can always be an unexpected twist. I believe that some of the younger members of my 4-H group were interested in my project and I hope that they learned that it is possible to raise animals for release rather than for market.
I shared my information with my 4-H club on May 23rd where I showed the quail to the members and advisers of the club as well as told them about my project, roughly 25 people. I made a poster detailing my project which was displayed at the Putnam County Fair from June 20-26 2011. It is unknown how many people saw the poster. I also had to present this poster to a judge and explain my project; I earned an “A” ribbon.