Saturday, June 30, 2012

Building a Game Bird (not poultry) Pen

Game bird pen

I suppose the first thing you should do before deciding to raise quail is prepare a structure in which to keep them, since quail are good fliers.  Not me…I bought the quail first!  Then, I was forced to come up with some sort of pen quickly.  There was a slight crisis when we arrived home at 10 p.m. from the farm with eight quail in a small box and nowhere to keep them (Rural King was closed).  However, we shut the doors to a small room in our house and transferred them to a larger box, put some water in and hoped for the best.  There was a bit of flying around the room (I wish I had video footage to share), but all ended calmly and there were still eight healthy quail in the morning. 

Needless to say, I spent the next morning figuring out how to house these little guys in a way that would make both their life and mine enjoyable.  I was inspired by some raised beds made out of cinder blocks at Eli Creek Farms and the cluttery pile of cinder blocks in my own yard.  I decided to give it a go and make a small pen out of cinder blocks.  Of course, I would need some other things like chicken wire and feeding pans as well.  Following is the step-by-step for building the pen:

1.      Stack cinder blocks two high in the shape of a rectangle.
2.    Lay one wall’s worth of cinder blocks sideways, so that the birds can nest and lay eggs in the holes of the cinder blocks. 
3.    Spread chick wire (holes are smaller than traditional chicken wire) over the cinder blocks. 
4.    Secure one side of the chicken wire between the two layers of cinder blocks (opposite the laying side).  Tie the wire down using metal wires through the holes of the cinder blocks on two sides of the rectangle. 
5.    Build the outline of a rectangle the size of the top of your cinder block rectangle using scrap wood and place it on top of the wire to keep raccoons and other predators out.
6.    Hinge a solid rectangle to the frame to cover the side where the holes face out, so you can lift it to retrieve eggs.
7.    Staple the extra chick wire to the top of the rectangular wood fram.  Place an extra cinder block on top of the rectangle and in front of the door just to be sure.

Using this structure, we can change their water by lifting the corner that is not wired shut.  We can also slide the feeding tray in through the nesting holes.  We threw some wood chip animal bedding in to keep things cozy.  Our guys are in a big enough space that they can run around together, and they like to cuddle together in their nesting holes.  Now all we have to do is wait for the eggs!


  1. Are you within Muncie city limits? I know chickens are still currently banned, but is there a loop-hole for quail because they are "game birds?"

    My family buys from Eli Creek Farms, as well. We've been meaning to go visit the farm but just haven't made the time yet - thanks for the inspiration!

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    2. I'm the "easier to ask forgiveness than permission" type. I don't consider some small game birds to be poultry. Some may disagree and take issue with it, but I can't figure out how it's any different than the parrot inside my house. Thankfully, my neighbors are not nit-picky, so I don't expect any problems. Meanwhile, I expect Urban Bird Muncie to get the ban on backyard chickens lifted in the very near future. Follow the latest at:

      (By the way, the two deleted comments were just me having typing difficulties!)

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