Are Quail Easy To Raise?
The past two years I have been trying my hand at raising baby quail for eggs. Now that I’ve learned a lot, I thought I’d share how to take care of baby quail and how to raise quail. Many of you know that three years ago, I set a goal for myself to start growing most of my own food. Many of you might remember this past summer when I got my chickens, soon after I discovered quail was another way I could keep my food local.
While I was learning about chickens, I also learned of quail which have a few unique attributes that really appealed to me. In my journey to grow my own food, I knew I had to design everything to minimize the work I put in while maximizing what I get out.
Now that I’m over 2 years in Quail I’ve come to appreciate how easy quail are. In short, quail are quiet, easy raise with minimal space requirement, they produce a lot of eggs and require little cleaning. Here are a few of the main highlights of why quail are so easy!
Quail lay more eggs per bird than chickens do. While their eggs are smaller, you get a lot more. While a chicken will lay around 200 eggs a year, quail will often lay upwards of 300 a year. I also found them to lay more in the winter unlike chickens that slow down in the winter some.
One of the biggest draws for me with quail is that from hatch to first egg is around 6 weeks! Compart that to chickens which don’t lay their first egg until their 6th month! This is a really big deal because you need to feed them during this lead up period and you’re spending money and time with no eggs in return. So quail are great if you want to get eggs sooner rather than later.
One thing that I really love about my quail is how quiet they are. While chickens are pretty quiet, except for a rooster, quail make almost no noise at all, even when startled. This is really good for raising quail in a city or in a small backyard. When I set mine up, most people didn’t know they were there even when they walked right by them. They barley make any chirping noises and that chirp doesn’t carry far at all.
I’m still amazed at how hands-off quail really are, they are super easy to raise. When I raised my chickens, I thought they were easy, I setup my feeders and waterers and on busy days at work, I didn’t have to worry. With Quail I worried even less. They don’t eat or drink a ton, they’re cold hardy, and they can be raised on wire mesh so the dropping falls out, literally cleaning the cage on its own.
How many square feet per bird? You only need 1 square foot of cage per bird. When I first heard this I was very skeptical because one of the reasons I raise my own food is to make sure it’s done humanely. Well now that I’ve worked with quail, a square foot really is a lot of room for a quail. They’re small birds and they like to huddle together and are pretty sedentary animals.
Like my above point, when I heard about raising quail on ¼ inch wire hardware cloth I was worried that their feet might get cut up. I talked to a lot of people who’ve done it before and they all raised on wire too. When I built my quail cage hutch I did it with the hardware metal cloth with ¼ inch gaps, I’m glad I did. Over time I checked their feet and observed their behavior. I even put a piece of wood in there with some bedding to see if they preferred it, they actually avoided the wood.
I raised my quail from both hatchlings and from eggs. The guy I bought my first round from threw in a dozen eggs for free so I tried it out. Quail are pretty much like chicks, you want to make sure they’re fed, watered and warm. You can read my post about how to set up a brooder for chickens, it’s mostly the same for quail.
Quail feed comes in crumbles called Game Bird Chow, which is a high protein between 19%-30%, for baby quail food you want at least 25% to let them grow. You want to get “crumbles” not pellets. The main producer of this is Purina and is available at any farm supply store. I picked up mine at Tractor Supply and just got the highest protein content I could find for the first 8 weeks. A 50lb bag ran about $20 and lasted a very long time.
Only a few ounces of water per baby quail is needed, but you want to refresh it regularly to keep it clean. The one thing you need to make sure is that they don’t fall asleep in the water because they can drown in it. Baby quail are ridiculously cute and I remember them falling asleep mid stride only to lay down right where they were, so I did a shallow dish and put some smooth river rocks in it so they couldn’t lay in the water directly, but still access the water.
You want to keep your quail at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When you setup your brooder (indoors) make sure it’s just big enough so that the baby quail can get away from the heat. The trick here is to point the heat lamp/bulb to one corner, then watch what the baby quail do. If they all pile in the hot corner, they’re not warm enough. If they all pile in the opposite corner, they’re too warm. If they move around without clumping up at either extreme, you’re pretty good. Move the lamp closer or further to adjust heat intensity.
You want to keep the baby quail in an indoor brooder for about 5 weeks and I’d time things so when you put them outside it’s during the warm part of the year. Spring or summer is ideal, if you’re in the winter months, consider keeping them inside a bit longer.
There are a lot of different types of quail you can consider for meat, eggs and hunting. In general you’ll be limited to what you can find locally, but also consider online sources that you can purchase. My advice is to go what you find locally because you know they’ll do well in your local climate
This is one of the most popular breeds of quail and the one I choose to raise. They’re good as egg layers and as meat birds, making them super versatile. They are also reasonably cold hardy and easy to take care of. They don’t really fly as much as they fall gracefully.
These are another common breed that people like because it can be used for meat, eggs with the addition of flying for hunting. They are about twice the size of a Coturnix so you get more meat from them if you decide to butcher them. Since they fly pretty well, you want to make sure you have netting to prevent them from flying away.
Button quail are mainly for pets or if you want some variety. They’re very small and their eggs are about half the size of other quail breeds making them less practical. I’d suggest only getting this as a novelty or pet. They do also fly very well, so netting is required.
These are also somewhat common among breeders. They are good for meat and eggs, but not really for hunting if you’re interested in that. They don’t fly very well, just enough to get out of harms way if a predator is around.
Once you’re out of your brooder which you should be doing indoors, it’s time to move them outside during a warmer part of the year. I mostly kept feeding them the same food and just switched to a normal quail waterer.
The process is mostly the same as raising chickens, so read this post about my tips to raising chickens here. https://thetinylife.com/tips-for-getting-started-keeping-chickens/
I built a quail hutch that was 2×4 feet and 2 feet tall with a small door. I put it on legs so it would be an easy working height for me. I made mine so that all sides, including the floor, were made of ¼ inch hardware cloth. Once I was done building it, I set it up so a compost pile was underneath the cage, letting the droppings fall into the pile below.
There isn’t any real special method to this, I’d just make sure you allow for 1 foot per bird and think about ease of cleaning. Here is a video of my quail cage hutch
If you’re looking to quail for meat, they taste pretty much like the dark meat in chicken. The easiest way I find is to grill them. How many quail per person? Typically, 2-3 quail per person gives you enough meat for a meal. You can either leave whole, removing the innards or you can “spatchcock” them flat.
Marinate quail over night in plastic bag. Preheat grill to at least 400 degrees. Cook 3-4 minutes a side or until internal temperature is 165 degrees.
A baby quail is called a chick.
A baby quail will start to fly as soon as 3 weeks depending on breed.
Baby quail can be born at most any time, but often is more likely in warmer months.
Baby quail are feed a high protein feed called “game chow” in crumbles form.
Yes, some breed can fly. Some will not be able to fly at all or flutter around.
It takes about 2 minutes to hard boil a quail egg.
A typical quail will live 2-3 years
A quail egg can take up to 8 weeks to hatch.
Quail will lay eggs most days, roughly 1 per day, around 300 per year.
Quail are a great way to have livestock in the city or another way to grown your own food easily. They produce a lot of eggs quickly, they are raised in a square foot per bird, are able to be kept on wire without harm (so dropping simply pass through the mesh) to minimize cleaning.
Oh did I mention they’re really cute?
Forgot that spam thing and lost my comment!
The only thing we kill on our property is rattlesnakes. Since one bit our big dog on the nose we are particularly careful about them. The wild quail run all over the place as do the rabbits and jack rabbits. We just don’t find ourselves able to kill our own food. It will be interesting to see how close you come to taking care of all your own food needs. My own great-grandparents did it as did most of everyone elses. My grandparents though, were quite happy to leave that life behind.
I know I will never get all the way there, but I might get close. I am sure at some point I will have to work with others to get there. This is all an experiment, seeing what food will work best for me. I realized a while ago that to achieve this goal, it meant killing animals for meat, I help rationalize it to myself by ensuring they have had a happy life, that I will not waste it and that I honor their sacrifice.
PS: I sent you an email about your spam protection problems.
My son feels like you do with the animals. Go figure, since he’s a vegan, lol. I just look at their eyes and get too soft.
My spam problem is simply one where an old dog needs to learn a new trick. I think I have it down now. Most blogs have the spam captcha thing below the comment box and yours is above. I do learn though! Thanks for the email about it.
Glad I could help. The spam protection is a necessary step, it literally keeps out 200-300 spams a day!
I don’t go hunting, generally because I can afford to buy what I need. HOWEVER, when funds are few and you can’t raise all that you need for a vegan lifestyle … you will eat just about anything … according to my father who spent time in a prisoner-of-war-camp.
You can partly repopulate the wild quail in your area …
Also consider raising rabbits for meat. Not as messy to dress-out, require a small space, and have the highest feed to meat conversion ratio. They kept food on my table during hard times.
Because they can be raised in a square foot of space on wire doesn’t mean they SHOULD. That’s not a good life.
I agree with Melissa. You can pasture them on grass in a chicken tractor just fine, and they love it. Just make sure the height of the tractor is only about 2 feet, or they can and will break their necks startle-flying straight up. Also be prepared to handle your extra males one way or another, as the chicks hatch out at 50% and any more than 10% adult males will kill each other.
Quail are amazing, wonderful birds, but not without their difficulties.
Are Quail Easy To Raise?
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