Ever wondered how to raise quail? Take the next step of your homegrown protein-raising chapter, and adopt some quail! This unassuming bird happens to be one of the best options around for fresh eggs and meat. Here’s what quail can do for you.
The Homesteader’s Guide to Raising Quail
More and more people across the United States are raising their own food. From cattle and goats to pigs, rabbits, and chickens, people are able to put fresh meat on the table. In this day and age, raising and growing your own food is becoming more of a necessity. When SHTF it’s comforting to know that you can provide for your family.
Raising quail is becoming more and more popular. Homesteaders and farmers (rural and urban) across the nation are having great success with raising this pint-sized fowl. They are smaller than your average chicken which means they take up less room, and they are super easy to care for.
The Benefits of Quail
Let’s talk about the benefits of raising quail in more detail. Why have they become so popular?
Quail lay eggs every day just like chickens.
If you decide to raise quail for your farm, you’ll look forward to their eggs, which can be used in recipes and eaten just like chicken eggs. Coturnix quail lay daily just like chickens, and their eggs are spotted and speckled. In many parts of the world, quail eggs are considered a delicacy. Their eggs are smaller, so you will have to use more of them, about 3-4 quail eggs per one chicken egg. But their quality is comparable to chicken eggs.
Quail are perfect for the urban farmer that cannot raise chickens.
If you live in an urban area, one of the main advantages to raising quail for their eggs is that cities and towns that do not permit chickens might have exceptions for quail, or might leave them out of legislation altogether. Another great plus is that quail do not crow; instead, their calls are quiet chirps and coos that give little indication of their presence, and they’re much less likely to annoy your neighbors than a 4:30 a.m. rooster wake-up call. It is important to note that you cannot let Coturnix quail free range (like chickens) as they fly very well.
Quail take up less room.
As a general rule, quail need one square foot of space per bird. Raising quail this way means they’ll be less prone to behavioral issues, and leads to happier lives. A hutch that is 2′ x 8′, is perfect for 12 quail.
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Unlike chickens, quail do not perch; instead, they lay on the ground. They do not nest like chickens either, and lay their eggs wherever it suits them. When raising quail at your home, keep this in mind as you build or purchase a hutch for them. You don’t want them living in or laying their eggs in their own manure.
Quail mature quickly.
Unlike chickens, Coturnix quail mature and start laying eggs in just 6 to 8 weeks (after their birth) — a blink of an eye compared to the 7 month wait period for chickens.
Quail are hardy creatures.
Although they’re not invincible, quail are hardy birds that do not get sick frequently. As long as their environment is kept clean from manure and they are not crowded into a hutch that is too small, quail have few health issues. Clean their feeders and water containers weekly. Scrub any manure out of their hutch to avoid issues such as coccidiosis and quail disease, which are transported by manure. Ensure they are kept out of the elements so they neither get too hot nor too cold. Successfully raising quail is easy, and I think you’ll find them as rewarding as keeping chickens! We’ll go over the following steps on how you can successfully raise quail:
- How to prepare an area to raise quail.
- Buying quail: The type of quail that is the most recommended and where to purchase quail.
- Raising quail – Tips on daily care.
** Note: Since buying mature (adult) quail is ideal for beginners, the following information is adult quail care ONLY.
How to Prepare an Area to Raise Quail
- Find a space in your yard or on your balcony where you can hang a quail hutch or cage. Clear the space underneath in which to place straw. This will help you to collect and remove waste. You can also decide whether to house your quail in a different sort of housing like a rabbit hutch or something similar. However, the cage above is set up in a way to prevent diseases since quail waste is high in ammonia.
- Purchase a long, narrow cage and hang it from an overhang on your house, garage, or balcony. Choose somewhere that has access to light, but is blocked from strong winds. Most quail cages are built of open mesh wire, since the birds need shelter, but plenty of air. They should be housed away from predators including pets.
- Hang some lights around the cage. This will allow you to increase egg production in the fall and winter months. The birds need 15 hours of light per day to produce eggs but any more and they will get stressed from lack of sleep.
- Decide how many birds you need based on your egg consumption. Figure out your weekly chicken egg consumption. It takes 3-4 quail eggs to equal one chicken egg and your mature females should lay one egg every day. Plan to get one female bird for each chicken egg you eat. Note: Quail eggs can be consumed like chicken eggs; however, it requires more birds to produce the same amount.
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The Guide to Buying Quail
- Coturnix quail are highly recommended birds to keep. They aren’t just good egg producers but they can also be kept as meat and are really easy to look after. Note: If you’re looking for quail that lay bigger eggs you should go for the jumbo coturnix.
- Coturnix quail usually start laying at 6-8 weeks when they mature. From then on they will lay 1 egg every day.
- Other popular breeds to consider are the Scaled Quail, Gambel’s Quail, or the Bobwhite Quail. However, coturnix quail is the most recommended starter breed.
- Where to purchase quail: There are options on where you can purchase quail. Go to Craigslist or look in your local paper first. The best idea is to use contacts in the local livestock or urban farming community to get birds that are acclimated to your climate. Also, try local ranch or farm supply and feed stores. If they don’t get quail each spring with their chickens and guinea fowl, they may be able to order them specially for you.
Important tip when buying quail: Buy at least two females for every male, but keep males separated. A preponderance of females will ensure plenty of egg production in your flock. At the same time, you’ll probably only be able to house one male in each cage; if two or more males are kept in a single cage, the dominant male may attempt to kill all other males to ensure that only he will be able to mate with the female quails.
Raising Quail: Tips for Daily Care
- Provide quail with clean drinking water. Clean and refill their water containers daily.
- Change the straw beneath the cages daily. You can add some of it to your compost. Quail waste is high in ammonia, so it must be changed frequently.
- Clean the cage out if any waste starts to build. Wash it once per week to avoid disease and illness.
- The food should be a ‘laying fowl’ mix starting at five to six weeks of age. Special laying food is available at most feed stores. Ask if it is good for laying birds before you buy it. If you are raising quail for meat, change their food to a ‘finisher diet’ instead of a laying fowl mix.
- Keep the animals undisturbed after six weeks of age. The females will start to lay and they will have poor egg production levels if they are exposed to other animals, noise, or other disturbances.
- Consider adding fresh greens, seeds, and small insects to your quail feed.
If you raise quail and have any tips you would like to share, we would love to hear from you! Tell us in the comment section below.
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Last update on 2018-03-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API