You may be considering raising quails on your flock if you’ve already got chickens running around your yard.
Due to their small size and wide range of useful characteristics, these birds have gained widespread popularity among homesteaders and those interested in raising quails in their backyards.
Whether you’re in the country or the city, raising quails is a top choice for poultry farmers.
Did you know there are more than 130 recognized quail species? The small size of these birds makes them ideal for raising as a source of both meat and eggs.
Consider raising quails for their meat and eggs. It takes some time and effort to set up your quail-raising equipment, but once you do, you’ll have a reliable source of delicious, amazing food and cute little eggs.
These little birds are a lot of fun to watch in the backyard. Even though they are considered a delicacy, you can have access to this versatile bird all year long if you raise them yourself.
For those interested in raising quails for their meat and eggs, here is my how-to guide.
What Are Quails?
Quails are small birds that are related to partridges and pigeons but are actually a subfamily of the pheasant family.
Despite the common misconception that all quail are the same, there are actually over a hundred different breeds of quail that have been formally recognized. These birds, like chickens, can be found in nearly every country.
Although traditionally quail have been thought of as wild game birds rather than farmyard birds like chickens, they are becoming increasingly popular as backyard livestock.
Not all quail breeds are suitable for keeping as pets or on small farms, so it’s important to learn the distinctions between the various types.
Backyard farmers typically raise Coturnix, California Quail, and Northern Bobwhite Quail because they are the most popular and easiest to raise birds. The California Quail is so well-liked that it was chosen as the state bird of California.
In many ways, raising quail is similar to chicken farming, but there are a few key distinctions that you should be aware of.
Having experience with chickens will give you a head start on this adventure, but you should still be aware of the differences.
Raising quail may seem complicated, but we’ll teach you how to get started with just a few easy steps.
Best Quail Breeds for Beginners of Raising Quails
Two breeds of quails are easy enough for beginners to care after. The Coturnix is the most common species. Due to their rapid growth and higher meat yield per bird, these birds are a common addition to many people’s backyards.
At roughly 7 weeks of time, the Coturnix quail reaches maturity and starts laying eggs. Over the course of a year, a mature Coturnix can lay more than 300 eggs.
At 7 weeks, the birds have reached their maximum weight and can be harvested for consumption.
A normal Coturnix quail may give roughly 10 ounces of meat per bird. The gigantic Coturnix type may offer up to 14 ounces of meat or perhaps more.
The coturnix quail’s original species included both Eurasia and Europe. Sometimes called Japanese quail, they have traditionally been kept by people as domesticated good luck charms as well as grown for meat and eggs.
They are quite gentle and adapted to being kept in small areas with several other birds.
The Bobwhite quail is native to the USA. There are various types of Bobwhite, and they are classified as New World species.
When kept, they might become more aggressive than smaller Coturnix quail. This is because they have only been domesticated for a short few hundred years.
Depending on the size of the Bobwhite, it might provide anywhere from 6-10 ounces of meat. Some larger-bred types may have additional benefits.
Depending on the species, these quails may require up to four times the space per bird as Coturnix, which could limit the number of chickens you can keep in your yard.
Top Reasons for Raising Quails
Some of the many benefits of raising quails include the following:
Unique among game birds, quails are typically even smaller than bantam-breed chickens.
Even though being on the smaller side isn’t always preferable, quails are the perfect poultry for people who reside in densely populated cities.
Raising quails is easy, as they can be housed in a small cage or coop in your backyard, or even on your balcony.
There are typically rules against keeping chickens in urban and suburban areas.
However, there is often a way to get around this limitation by using a small, rarely considered loophole: raising quail.
Most urban regulatory bodies are either unaware of these birds or unsure of how to begin classifying them or limiting ownership.
Raising Quails are a good option if you’re in a pinch for space because they thrive in confined environments. Although the outdoors is ideal for quail raising because of the room they need to spread their tiny wings, it is not difficult to rear quail indoors.
Make sure you have good sanitation in place to prevent problems with smell, disease, and other unpleasantnesses.
Indeed, quails typically weigh no more than five ounces.
That’s teeny, so quail might not be the best choice for the Thanksgiving table, but they’ll still give you plenty of small, novel meat.
That’s right, even if you’re based in a major metropolitan area.
As an added bonus, raising quails is noticeably quieter than chickens.
Even the males, known as roosters, are significantly quieter than roosters at crowing time.
A faint trill or coo may be audible, but that’s about it. These sounds hardly qualify as annoying or distracting.
In fact, many quail owners praise the beautiful and mellow sounds their birds make.
Raising quail for their meat is simple. You can still harvest a respectable amount of meat in a relatively short amount of time from quails, even though you won’t get as much as you would from more common poultry like chickens, ducks, and of course turkeys.
Quail eggs are ready to hatch in just eighteen days, which is three days faster than the average chicken egg.
The quail has a much shorter time to maturity than other poultry (about seven weeks), making it an ideal choice for a quick harvest.
A flock of backyard quail will take up less space than a henhouse full of chickens, and they’ll provide you with the same group of meat and eggs.
Furthermore, quail meat is extremely difficult to find in conventional supermarkets. Check the regulations in your area before trying to sell quail meat to restaurants or at a farmer’s market.
There are a few easy things you can do to increase meat production per bird if you’re serious about raising quail for meat. First, keep sure the quails are kept in complete darkness. The morning is when quails, like other birds, are at their most active.
The birds have more exercise in the sun, which helps them keep thin but can cause the meat to toughen. Exposure to daylight on a consistent schedule also encourages quails to lay more eggs.
Even if kept in the dark, meat birds will still lay eggs, but at a lower rate than their well-lit counterparts.
Meat quails can also be fed a premium grower feed mix. This protein-rich mixture was developed specifically to speed up the development of your flock.
Keeping them in a smaller coop and restricting their access to the outdoors will keep the benefits of this feed.
Grass, herbs, and insects found in the garden can be used to enhance the grower blend. To prevent predators from getting to the chickens and to keep them from escaping, small, totally enclosed pens with wire mesh bases can give this access.
Turkeys, chickens, and other meat birds still need a bit of space to roam. This will ensure the birds’ well-being and lessen the likelihood of them fighting with one another.
Keep only a couple of quails in a small pen, as they need only a square foot of space per bird. Ensure sure each bird has access to a minimum of two inches of feed trough and a water trough measuring at least a quarter of an inch.
Although quail eggs are smaller than chicken eggs, they can be laid daily by a single quail.
Eggs will be delivered daily, as opposed to once every few days.
And some chefs claim they prefer the taste of quail eggs to chicken eggs, so there’s no similar taste there.
In addition, quail can begin laying eggs much earlier than chickens and other types of poultry because they mature earlier.
Unlike chickens, which typically don’t lay laying until they’re three months old, quail typically begin laying eggs when they’re just two months old.
In spite of their small size, the eggs are a sight to behold. The majority of them are a creamy color with flecks of varying shades of red, brown, and orange around the shell.
Female quail, like chickens, can lay eggs whether or not a male is nearby.
The Beauty of Raising Quails
Outside of any considerations of utility, quail are among the most widely kept poultry species simply because they are so beautiful to look at.
They come in a wide variety of bright colors, and despite their diminutive stature, they are quite resilient. They add an interesting decorative element to your farm and are highly sought after for that purpose.
Ease of Startup on Raising Quails
When compared to other poultry, quail is a very cheap option to raise. A small number of quail can be purchased for as little as a few dollars.
Neither the cost of raising them nor their food is significantly higher. It’s important to remember that you’ll need three females for every male you keep if you want to breed them.
Having an even number of hens and roosters in your flock is an easy way to avoid dominance struggles and overpopulation.
You probably already know how great quail feathers are for making lures if you enjoy fly fishing.
As a result of their size, fragility, and complexity, they are effective for certain species of fly.
Which is why they’re in such high demand among crafters and fishermen alike.
Manure of Raising Quails
Quail poop is great manure, just like that of other poultry species like chickens.
You can either put the quail manure to use on your own plants or sell it to other farmers as a valuable resource. Manure is rich in nitrogen but must be properly composted and aged or it will burn your plants.
Before using it in your garden, you may want to add it with compost or straw and wait a year or so.
Appearance of Quails?
A wide variety of quail species means that your game birds can sport a rainbow of colors and patterns.
Quails are small and flashy in appearance, though there is some variation between the various species.
Quail are small, round birds with males sporting more vivid plumage than females. Size-wise, females tend to be a touch more substantial than their male males.
Colors range from brown to white to grey to black. Their underbellies are patterned like scales.
Dark feathers and beaks are typical of quail, but this is not always the case. Almost any imaginable pattern can be discovered. Indeed, there are over a hundred recognized species of quail.
Keep in mind that you will probably have to pay more money if you want a specific pattern, but you will probably be able to find it.
Behaviours of Quails
Quails are primarily ground dwellers and prefer to flock in low places.
Though they dislike flying, they have the ability to take to the air whenever they please. They can use their wings to get away from harm or to throw off would-be predators.
Quail flight is fascinating because the birds do not travel in a straight line. The bird’s erratic, seemingly random flight pattern aids it in its attempts to elude predators.
However, quail are not particularly adept fliers despite being good to fly a little higher than chickens.
They spend a lot of energy just getting airborne, so their flights don’t last very long.
If you need to catch a quail, the best time to do so is at night, when the birds are sleeping and you can inspect them without disturbing them. If you don’t keep a close eye on them, they’ll easily escape.
Quails are generally sociable birds.
They have short-term memory, can recognize and respond to their owners, and can learn to tolerate your presence with time.
You may already know from experience with your chickens that they don’t enjoy being held.
It will take time, but you may be able to teach your quail to sit in your hand. You should get a head start on this when you’re young.
Quail are considerably quieter than chickens, but it’s important to note that this does not mean they are completely silent. There is still crowing from roosters.
While significantly quieter than chickens, peacocks still crow frequently and make with one another for loudness.
As opposed to a chicken, a quail rooster’s crow is not nearly as loud or startling. A pronounced yawn rather than the harsh, drawn-out crow of a rooster describes the tone of this crowing.
Just like humans, quail aren’t good fliers. They are not graceful creatures and spend most of their time foraging for food on the floor.
Quails, like chickens, forage for food by scratching the ground and eat a wide variety of insects, worms, and other critters. Naturally, as young quail mature into age birds, they switch to a vegetarian diet consisting primarily of berries and seeds.
Are you curious as to whether or not your quail can be free-ranged? How you feel about that is entirely up to you. Keep in mind that quail are naturally inquisitive and enjoy exploring new birds, even if they can’t fly very far.
There’s no way to ensure they’ll stick to a set perimeter on your behalf. Also, quail are susceptible prey for larger predators due to their small size.
To protect your quail from predators while they roam freely, you’ll need to build a safe haven and erect some fencing.
Where to Buy Quails
You can buy quail chicks or hatching eggs from any reputable online hatchery or local breeder, just as you would any other type of poultry.
Most quail breeds are available for mail order. If this isn’t your first manner of ordering chicks online, you probably know how important it is to have everything you need on hand before bringing your quail home.
You can also purchase quail for sale from regional farmers. Finding reliable hatcheries can be challenging, but the time spent doing so can yield excellent results.
The savings on transportation costs will allow you to put that money toward buying birds that will thrive in your climate.
You can find local quail breeders through online resources that cater specifically to the poultry industry, or by attending a local poultry show or swap meet.
Finally, you can purchase your very own hatching eggs. Location-wise, this could be the most or least affordable choice.
In order to get started on this adventure, you will need an incubator; however, keep in mind that your eggs can hatch in only eighteen days!
Ways for Hatching Quail Eggs
Making the decision to hatch your own quail eggs is a good one if you already have an incubator and can devote some time every day to the bit.
Hatching quail eggs is the same as hatching any other kind of chicken egg. For the first 15 days of incubation, you should maintain a humidity of 45%, and for the final three days, you should raise the incubation temperature to 65%.
The incubation temperatures for your quail eggs will be very similar to those for chicken eggs (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit). Keep in mind that turning the eggs every two to four hours is necessary to prevent the embryos from becoming stuck in the shell.
Raising Quails and What You’ll Need
Get some good-quality feeders and waterers to invest out. Look for a feeder that is made for quail. It’s ideal for a coop or a cage because of its smaller opening, which helps prevent things neat and tidy.
Drinking founts that you might already have for your chickens can also be used for your new quail, but you will need to pay attention to their location. An elevated drinking fount is best.
Quail have a habit of bringing food scraps and dirt into their water supply thanks to their natural tendency to forage and play in the soil.
Pebbles placed in the bottom of the drinker will prevent very young quail or chicks from drowning. This is the same advice given to chickens. Otherwise, a drinker of any type and age will do for your quail.
Nipple waterers, which are fully automatic and designed to keep water contamination and waste, are gaining in popularity.
Housing for Raising Quails
Cages are often used instead of coops when raising quail. Because of this, you can protect your birds from harm while also reducing the time and money you spend on bird care.
No matter what you choose, your birds will need at least a square foot of space per bird.
Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of keeping their quail in a coop or cage, especially those who have previously only kept chickens.
Quail, however, are unique in that they can survive in smaller areas. Although it’s true that you should give them plenty of space to roam, smaller birds don’t require as much space as chickens, ducks, or turkeys.
However, a flying pen is something you should add including. In the end, some quail farmers intend to release their birds into the wild. So, you’ll need a pen that can learn your quail to fly.
The quail should be moved to the flight pen when they are about one or two months old, or they should have access to an attached run from the start.
In order for your quail to get comfortable with their growing wings and learn how to fly and flush, you’ll need a relatively large flight pen. For every bird in the cage, there need to be at least two feet of space.
The nesting boxes should not be forgotten, either. Nesting boxes are necessary for quail hens, just as they are for chickens, but don’t expect your eggs to always be laid in the same place.
Unlike chickens, quail are less selective about where they lay their eggs.
Raising Quails Nutritional Needs
Raising Quails is incredibly simple to care for because of how easy they are to feed. Despite their reputation as omnivores, quail can be content with a diet generally consisting of seeds and grains.
Vegetable matter, worms, and insects are also on the menu occasionally.
Since these birds evolved in various habitats around the world, the nutritional requirements of each species of quail will be unique.
It’s common practice for quail owners to feed their people chicken food, but this can be dangerous because chicken feed wasn’t designed for quail.
In order to keep quail healthy and happy, you should feed them game bird feed. You can learn this to include the additional protein your birds will require to construct energy reserves in preparation for learning to fly.
Pheasant family birds like quail, partridges, and grouse are the primary target of commercial game bird feed.
Game bird feed comes in pellet, mash, and crumble forms, just like chicken feed. For the same reasons that mash can be messy, and pellets are too big for a quail’s delicate stomach, crumble is the best option for these birds.
Your young quail will feel a starter feed when they are first hatching. There ought to be about 30 percent protein here. Each young bird will only give a pinch of food per day.
At a later time, you can up your protein intake to 20%. There’s no requirement for medicated food.
Common Quail Predators
Because of their small size and vulnerability, quail is a delicate prey object.
From hawks and eagles and owls to raccoons, coyotes, foxes, opossums, and small rodents, you’ll have a lot of critters to keep a manner out for. Quail are easy prey for even cats.
It is essential to make sure your coop or cage is completely sealed and not susceptible to attack from rodents like rats and weasels, which will also go after quail.
Make sure there are no openings in the housing for pests or predators to get in, and store the quail food safely out of reach.
Common Health Issues of Raising Quails
Quail are clean birds that don’t attract pests thanks to their diligence in maintaining their personal hygiene. Like chickens, they use dust baths to clean themselves.
When the quail takes a dust bath, the mites, lice, and other pests that like to hitch a ride in its plush feathers are washed away. Also, the bird’s oil glands and feathers stay in better order as a result.
Quail can be kept in a small space with a little mind, but it’s important to keep that this can keep them more susceptible to disease. Therefore, it is crucial to have a lot of space and a strict coop cleaning policy.
Ulcerative enteritis is the most common disease in quail. This disease, also called quail disease, is fatal if not treated quickly. Issues include dehydration, fatigue, and wing drooping. Poultry is highly contagious and can spread to other types.
Some respiratory infections can also affect quail. The ammonia levels in quail droppings are higher than in those of other poultry types, so you’ll need to clean the quail housing more frequently to prevent disease.
Is Raising Quails Right for Me?
After 9 months of age, quail hens begin to lay fewer eggs. Unfortunately, the birds only live a limited time when kept in captivity. Most birds won’t live past a year as a pet.
As a result, you should factor in a fast turnover rate when estimating your ability to supply others with quails.
Quail are exotic, attractive birds that are not only easy to raise but also useful in more than one way. If you want to give your hand at animal husbandry but don’t have a lot of space, quails are an ideal “starter” game bird.
If you’re the inquisitive bit and have access to a small plot of space, raising quails could be a fun hobby for you.