Im looking into getting set up to keep some quail so that i can work with Murphy between NAVHDA training days with live birds. I've been noticing that there are different breeds of quail and am wondering about which is best? Or if they are all suitable for dog training?
For day to day training it's usually best to use pigeons. Any mistakes you make or negative consequences associated while training with pigeons usually doesn't get transferred to quail or any other game bird. This helps keep your dog's intensity level up when they do go after quail, chukars ect. It also decreases the chances of your dog blinking on quail due to some mistake or negative experience during training. An added bonus is they're cheaper then quail and easy to catch if you are so inclined. If you do plan on using quail I would get references and find out who has the best flying birds in your price range. Some breeders have birds that fly very well and others have birds that don't fly at all.
Recall pens are available from Cabela's. They are a cage with a funnel chute into the cage (so birds can walk in but can't walk out). Recall is accomplished by leaving a few birds in the cage. Quail naturally covey, so they call the individuals (or call-back), so they recall the free-birds! It is pretty neat, and occurs naturally.
Issue I always had was I never had enough time to get the quail to recall. Also, birds aren't very smart, and I found that they injured each other. Helps when you can locate the cage close to the field (in other words, you live near a field), or you have an hour or so to wait after you work the dog.