Surrogate Button Quail Research Project
Guidelines for Surrogate Buttons
1. Introduce the hen to the button chicks
between the age of 3 days and one week old. This will allow the chicks to properly imprint on the hen, rather than you. Social
interaction with humans is encouraged. Using a hand-tame hen is suggested.
2. To introduce the hen, once the chicks
are in the brooder and have learned to eat and drink, put the hen on one side of the brooder with a see-through divider between
her and the chicks. Food and water should be on the chicks’ side. I suggest using a piece of mesh, screen or plexi-glass
as a divider. The divider should only be there until the hen and the chicks see each other, no longer than 10 minutes. Watch
the hen at all times. Remove the divider.
3. Monitor the hen closely for a few days
to ensure that she is not picking on the chicks. Remove at once if she is. A different hen can be introduced, or not. Make
sure that the chicks are eating and drinking. If you have a video camera, you may want to set it up while you are out so that
you can tell if something happens.
4. To reduce stress, avoid unnecessary
commotion and noise around the quails. Offer the usual diet and socialization you would offer any other chicks.
5. When the chicks are 3 weeks old, remove
the hen. I chose to re-introduce the hen back into my flock, but you may not. Every time I have a surrogate hen, I use a different
hen that is over 6 weeks old. If she failed and was removed, I introduce a hen that was successful a previous time. If the
hen was successful, I will usually test to see if she will sit on her own eggs or not.
*Chose NON aggressive hens over 6 weeks
*Remove eggs the hen lays while in the
brooder with the chicks.
*Watch the birds closely
*Examine chicks for signs of injury, feather
loss, or dehydration