Chickens are great to have. But there are other fowl that can do just as much, if not more-for example, the quail. These small birds are sometimes easier and cheaper than a traditional chicken flock. But they do have different needs than chickens. Today we are going to talk about how to raise quail in your backyard.
Why Should I Get Quail?
A quail is a quiet creature that doesn’t like sudden movements and loud noises. They aren’t exactly the cuddliest hens and don’t like being held. But since they are so docile, you don’t have to worry about fighting in the flock. Even roosters are calm and gentle birds compared to chickens. So you wouldn’t keep quail for their sunny demeanor, but they have lots of other great qualities.
Eggs from a quail are small, but they pack a lot of taste. Your quail will start laying eggs at eight weeks old. For the first two years, your quail will lay an egg a day like clockwork. That’s up to 300 eggs a year! And since they are so low maintenance, it makes them worth it.
Many people love raise quail in the backyard for meat and eggs. Most quail are ready for butchering at seven weeks old, weighing about 8 ounces. These birds aren’t large, but they taste amazing when roasted.
Chickens are loud and cluck constantly. If you live in the suburbs, this could pose a problem. Instead, you could get quail. These little birds make adorable cooing noises and rarely get loud. Quail roosters will crow like chickens, but it’s not as loud or persistent.
Fast Hatch Date
And the last great reason to have quail is their short incubation period. Quail eggs are ready to hatch in 18 days. So if you are raising quail for profit, you will see results a few days faster than chickens.
In big cities, chickens are illegal because they are loud and messy. But most of those same cities don’t have laws against keeping quail in your backyard. In many cases, you can do urban quail keeping without anyone even noticing. But it’s still a good idea to check with your local laws to be sure.
The Quail Coop
So now that you know all of the wonderful parts of raising quail, it’s time to talk about care. The most important aspect of how to raise quail in your backyard is the coop. Quail are small birds that keep low to the ground, so they don’t need much.
Many owners raising quail on the ground choose to keep their quail in a large cage outside. There are several game bird crates available online, or you can build your own. With some hardware wire and a wooden frame, you can make a decent-sized cage for your birds. As long as you make sure that each bird has 1-2 sqft per bird, your flock will thrive.
Another option is to buy smaller prefabricated chicken coops. These coops sold online are usually too small for a chicken flock. But they make the perfect space for 3-4 quail. A premade coop is also ideal for people who live in colder environments. Your quail can snuggle up safe, and you won’t have to worry about the frost getting to them.
In either case, there are a few things you should take care of. The first being that there are no entry or exit points in the cage or coop. Since quail are so tiny, they could easily escape out of any small hole. Likewise, they are also susceptible to predators. Snakes and rats can easily take on a quail if given a chance.
If you use a cage, most people use a wire bottom for easy cleanup. But in coops, you will need bedding to keep the area easy to clean. Wood shavings, grass, hay, or sand are all great options for your birds. These beddings are easy to clean and cheap to maintain.
If you use a small coop, you will need to spot clean it daily. If you spot clean daily, you won’t have to deep clean but once every few months. Keeping it clean is essential to prevent respiratory disease and bumblefoot. And once you finish cleaning, you can compost the old bedding to use in the garden.
Do Quail Need A Run?
Like chickens, quail are a foraging bird that needs access to scratch around and stretch their legs. But they don’t need much in terms of space. The run doesn’t even have to be very tall since your quail dwell on the ground most of their life. But an area that has at least 1 sqft of space per bird is plenty.
In your run, you should have plenty of grass and areas to look for bugs. This will provide most of your quail’s nutrition and entertainment.
Any nesting box that is good enough for chickens is also suitable for quail. But no matter what nesting boxes you get, they need to be at least 15 x 18 inches. And they will need to be close to the ground. Then you should stuff it with a little hay for comfort, and your quail are golden to lay all of their eggs.
But even with one box per bird, don’t be surprised if they decide to lay their eggs anywhere they want. If you notice that your hens haven’t used the nesting boxes, you might look around the run. They love to lay their eggs in grassy areas, or anywhere they happen to be.
Where Do Quail Sleep?
When wondering how to raise quail in your backyard, sleeping arrangements are something to consider. Unlike chickens, your quail won’t roost. Instead, they sleep in low lying covered areas. So when your hens go in the coop at night, they will get into their nests to sleep. Most of your quail will head to the coop before the sun sets, and they won’t leave until dawn.
When raising quail, you will want to feed them game bird feed. This feed has higher amounts of protein that they need to thrive. If you keep your quail in a cage, they will need the feed available at all times. But for those with a run, they eat less food because they spend their days foraging.
What kind of feeders and waterers should you have, though? Luckily, any feeder and waterer that you can use for chickens is perfect for quail as well. They aren’t picky and even do well with watering nipples. You will just have to make adjustments for your quails smaller size.
Raising quail is easy peasy. You wouldn’t think it, but these little guys are strong and durable. They aren’t prone to all of the diseases that afflict chickens. And as long as you care for them well, they live for 2-3 years healthy as can be.
The only things you have to look out for are respiratory disease and ulcerative enteritis. Respiratory infections are easy to catch if their coops aren’t cleaned enough or have ventilation. And ulcerative enteritis is also called “quail disease.” Most game feed contains medication that prevents it. But if they do get sick, timing is of the essence.
How Do They Fair In Winter?
Since quail are not domesticated, they fair just fine in the winter. You might take a few precautions to prevent frostbite in the coop. Proper ventilation and keeping the coop clean will prevent illness and moisture buildup. And for quails kept in a cage, they will need a covered area out of the harsh wind. But your quail will keep producing eggs all winter long.
Can Quail Free-Range?
Raising quail free range is a difficult thing to do. On the one hand, your quail don’t like to fly, so that they will stay in the yard. But if something were to spook them, quail fly further than chickens. Once your quail get away, it can be impossible to get them all back.
This uncertainty is why most owners raise their quail on the ground. The short wide cage gives your quail plenty of places to forage. You can have the benefits of eggs from a well-fed bird without the fear of them flying away.
How To Raise Quail For Hunting
Most of the ways of raising quail for meat and eggs are the same for hunting. But there are a few minor adjustments. One of the biggest changes is providing your hens somewhere to fly. When you are raising quail for hunting, you need them to learn to fly. Flying puts a lot of stress on your hens, and it takes a lot of energy out of them. So to get them used to it, they need practice.
The size of this pen depends on how many quail you raise. It needs to be tall enough that your birds can get several feet off the ground and still have ground space. You can build a DIY flight cage with ease. Just remember to cover it, so your quail don’t escape.
Do You Love Quail?
How to raise quail in your backyard is simple and straightforward. You don’t need fancy things and can build most of the supplies yourself. You might even find that you like your quail more than your chickens.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!