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How to keep quail indoors

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm really interested in keeping quail, but I don't have much outdoor space, so I was hoping to be able to keep them inside. I want to keep Japanese/Coturnix quail and it would only be a few, say 3 or 4 hens. I know that legal space requirements for quail is 1 square foot per 6-8 birds, but I find this a bit cramped. I'm hoping to have at least 1 or 2 square foot of space per bird. I have heard of a variety of different types of cages that people use and I planned to buy a rabbit cage. Would this be suitable? The cage I planned to get is about 4'x2'x1.6'. (I'm going to try and put a picture of it below). Would this be a suitable size? There is another cage smaller than this, about 3'x2'x1.6', and one a size bigger at 4.5'x2'x1.6'. The thing I'm worried about with this cage is the low roof. Are they very likely to 'boink', or will they settle enough so they don't do that? Is there a way to protect the birds, say by putting a layer of foam on the underside of the roof? The other thing that would pose a problem is that the cage door extends the entire length of the cage so the birds may escape, but I was thinking of covering half with something like cardboard so that its harder for them to jump out when I open the door big_smile

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/104100_quailcage.jpg

If this has worked, this is the image of the cage.

For the bedding I was planning on using sawdust and doing part cleans every day and full cleans weekly, but I may decide to use wood pellets instead, as I have heard that these help reduce the smell. How messy would four quails be? I know some people keep their birds on wire, but I don't feel this would be good for the birds (I also have no experience with that kind of cage). Would it be much of a problem for the birds if I had to remove them every time I needed to do a full clean? If I did this, I would have a small carry cage to keep them in while I cleaned.

Water is another thing I would have to decide on. I had originally planned to have those bird containers that clip onto the side of the cage, one for water and one for food. I figured this would be best as it keeps the food and water out of reach for them to get into it and make a mess lol But I read on this forum that some people have had success using a rabbit water bottle. What would you recommend?

I've heard lots about different types of feed as well and I found quite a good supplier for poultry layers pellets. Would these be sufficient? I would suppliment it occasionally with bird seed, millet sprays, fruit and veg and mealworms. I have heard that hand feeding mealworms can be a good way to tame quails as well (at least those that would take them from you).

Any help you can offer me would be greatly appreciated. I have not had much experience with quail apart from two that are kept at my college in the bottom of a hige avairy and they do pretty well in there, apart from the fact that one of them gets startled at the silliest of things and ends up jumping at the bars and injuring herself roll

Japanese quail in the pic is Nightingale, one of the two quail at my college (named Sparrow and Nightingale )
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Japanese quail in the pic is Nightingale, one of the two quail at my college (named Sparrow and Nightingale )
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post #2 of 22

I kept a single male in a cage like this indoors for some time. It worked great. I think a small group would be fine too.

The best thing I found for water is simply a hamster bottle. They learn to use it very quickly, and it stays nice and clean and is easy to refresh. No mess at all.

For food, I used one of those clip-on things for a while, but I found I had to fill it up constantly. Even when it's placed up high, they'll root in it with their beaks and make a mess. So I went back to the old floor-based chick feeder with the holes for their heads, and that worked fine.

With just one, smell was not much of a problem as long as I cleaned it out every couple weeks (yeah, I didn't even do it every week). With more, you'll have to clean more often.

Good luck. I am so glad to see so many people considering keeping these delightful birds indoors.

Look what the cat dragged in: Curiosity Cat's Urban Unschooling Homestead

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Look what the cat dragged in: Curiosity Cat's Urban Unschooling Homestead

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post #3 of 22

BEST INDOOR QUAIL ARE KEPT IN ZIPLOCK BAGS OR SHRINK WRAPPED....

YOU'LL FIND THEY QUITE STINKY LIL BOOGERZ sickbyc REQUIRING VERY VERY FREQUENT CAGE/ PEN CLEANING AND CREATE A LOT OF DANDER/ DUST AS WELL AS THROW STUFF EVERYWHERE WHILE SCRATCHING OR RUNNING TO AND FRO INSIDE THE PEN. MOST FOLKS WHO TRY THIS END UP MOVING THEM OUTSIDE RATHER QUICKLY.

NOT SURE ABOUT LEGALITIES IN YOUR AREA, BUT ANYONE KEEPING 6 OR 7 /SQ FT WOULD DEFINATELY BE IN LEGAL TROUBLE ANYWHERE I KNOW OF, NOT TO MENTION THEY WOULD SELF DESTRUCT IN THAT LIL SPACE, OR KILL EACH OTHER. THE BASIC RULE OF THUMB IS .75 -1.0 SQ FT/ BIRD FOR COTURNIX.

NOT MUCH OUTDOOR SPACE? KEEP IN MIND THEY WOULD DO FINE IN A RABBIT HUTCH OR OTHER SIMILAR HOUSING WHICH WOULDNT REQUIRE A LARGE SQ FT FOOT PRINT.

IF YOU LOOK IN THE STICKY SECTION HERE AT THE TOP OF THE FORUM THERE'S AN ARTICLE THERE WITH A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE ON THE COTURNIX SPECES YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL AS WELL


Edited by JJMR794 - 8/19/11 at 11:32am
I'm Not Yelling!... Thanx Anyway, But Its The Best Way For Me To Read The Print On The Screen.....LF Cochins, SERAMA, RINGNECK AND RUFFED PHEASANTS, MEL. MUTANT RINGNECKS, BLUE SLATE TURKEYS, MALLARDS, WOOD DUCKS, ROUENS, BUTLER BOB WHITES, COTURNIX. PM ME FOR EGG AVAILABILITIES!
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I'm Not Yelling!... Thanx Anyway, But Its The Best Way For Me To Read The Print On The Screen.....LF Cochins, SERAMA, RINGNECK AND RUFFED PHEASANTS, MEL. MUTANT RINGNECKS, BLUE SLATE TURKEYS, MALLARDS, WOOD DUCKS, ROUENS, BUTLER BOB WHITES, COTURNIX. PM ME FOR EGG AVAILABILITIES!
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post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamcuriositycat 

I kept a single male in a cage like this indoors for some time. It worked great. I think a small group would be fine too.

The best thing I found for water is simply a hamster bottle. They learn to use it very quickly, and it stays nice and clean and is easy to refresh. No mess at all.

For food, I used one of those clip-on things for a while, but I found I had to fill it up constantly. Even when it's placed up high, they'll root in it with their beaks and make a mess. So I went back to the old floor-based chick feeder with the holes for their heads, and that worked fine.

With just one, smell was not much of a problem as long as I cleaned it out every couple weeks (yeah, I didn't even do it every week). With more, you'll have to clean more often.

Good luck. I am so glad to see so many people considering keeping these delightful birds indoors.


Thanks for the advice on the water bottle. I did think this would be the most useful big_smile Would a hand made chick feeder do? Something like a small plastic container with holes for their heads cut in and a layer of food put inside. The other thing I had considered with this idea was the amount of floor space that would be taken up by the feeder.


JJMR794 - I live in England, so I'm not sure if there's any legislation for keeping only a few quail. I know that for chickens, anything over 50 birds has to be registered with DEFRA, but other than that I have no clue. As to space in the cage, it's about 8 square foot of space on the floor, so the birds will have at least 2 square foot each. And I would provide places for them to hide as well, just so they feel more secure and can maybe escape from each other.

Japanese quail in the pic is Nightingale, one of the two quail at my college (named Sparrow and Nightingale )
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Japanese quail in the pic is Nightingale, one of the two quail at my college (named Sparrow and Nightingale )
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post #5 of 22

I use a rabbit hutch with a 1/4" wire bottom and a pull out tray.  I line the tray with newspaper.  I don't need to remove the birds if I don't want to. 
My cage looks like this on the top.  I use the door as a ramp for the quail to get in an out when the roam around the room.  I can't find a picture of it but I got it from Petsmart on clearance (about $30).

http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3057123

I've been looking for an additional cage and the Wabbit Cage from Midwest seems like it would work for what I needed.  It's only about $50.  At some recommendations from people here, I've been looking at the Klubertanz Equipment company stackable cages.  I'm just not very handy, so the assembly is sort of holding me back.

http://www.klubertanz.com/

As with any bird, give them as much space as you have and can afford.  1 sq. ft. per coturnix is a good rule of thumb.  They have been bred to withstand smaller spacing and caging.  That being said, it's all about what you can give them and feel comfortable doing. 

Wire is fine.  I've never had any issues and I check the bottoms of my coturnix's feet regularly.  (I approach quail keeping from a cage bird perspective, so I treat my quail similar to my budgies and lovebird).  When I keep the quail with litter, their feet can get kind of messy.  They step in poop, then the litter sticks to their feet, etc.  I've had to wash their feet and loosen off the gunk.  Not fun.   I did come across some carpet scraps so I've been putting a piece in their cage to give them a break especially when my hens were getting older.  The young chicks seem to be oblivious.

I've never had any issue with birds jumping up and hitting their heads.  They can see me coming and I spend lots of time with them and do the same actions every time, so they know what to expect.

I have done an evil trick to my oldest roo.  I know he likes to stand on his piece of carpet scrap and crow.  The carpet is in cage nearest the room door.  So I heard him crow and came around the corner really fast and yelled, "Boo!"  He didn't jump up but ran to the other end of the cage.  That was my little revenge for the crowing!

I use these for feeders and waterers:
http://www.petco.com/product/6391/PETCO-Fountain-Feeders.aspx?CoreCat=certona-_-ProductListTopRated_Bird_2-_-PETCO%20Fountain%20Feeders-6391

The big one for the food.  The little one for the water.  I do have some issues with the bird wasting some food, but not much.  The feeder comes up to about chest level on them which really cuts down on the waste.

The big one has hooks on the back and it fits perfect over the cage wire.  They've never knocked it over.

The little ones come with holders that I twist-tie to the cage.  Then I snap in the waterer so it sits on the floor.  For this type, the tube portion has a little notch in it. I recommend you DON'T line up the notch with the bottom opening.  It will cause the waterer to empty out. 

I haven't tried the rabbit waterer yet.  I have one, just haven't tried it.

I put everything on top of a giant 55 gallon garbage bag from Home Depot. They tend to poop outside the cage, and any feed that falls out falls onto the plastic.   Every week, I scoop up everything and turn the bag inside out and it become the garbage bag for the next week.

post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

chrishel - I never thought that the quails might get their poo stuch to their feet like that hmm I suppose it's similar to them getting toe balls? I've never kept quail before, but I've done plenty of work with chickens and I have noticed that some of them have that problem as well.

Does anyone else have this problem with their quails? Do you think that it would make a difference to use a super absorbant bedding that would dry the poo faster? My theory is that this would make it harder for the poo to stick. Not sure whether it would work, though, just an idea.

What would anyone else recommend? If I did decide to go with keeping my birds on wire, would it be possible to adapt the rabbit cage by puuting a wire floor above the plastic tray, then I could just put something like newspaper or shavings into it and empty that out.

I really like the looks of those stacking cages, but unfortunately I live in England, so not too sure if it would be possible to buy those from their sad And I don't know anywhere near me that sells them either, but I will have a look around and see what I can find.

It's a good thing to know that you're birds aren't easily startled big_smile I suppose if they know you're coming, they won't be scared by it. With the wire cage, they would be able to see me, so hopefully that applies to me as well lol

Thanks for the advice!

Japanese quail in the pic is Nightingale, one of the two quail at my college (named Sparrow and Nightingale )
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Japanese quail in the pic is Nightingale, one of the two quail at my college (named Sparrow and Nightingale )
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post #7 of 22

Sorry, it took me a while to type that up and I missed a couple of entries between and missed that you are from the UK.

I have a rat cage that is similar to the cage you are looking at.  What I've thought about doing is bending some wire to fit the bottom and sit up above the floor.  Then I could put litter or newspaper at the bottom.  You would have to pull up the floor every time to clean out the cage, but they would be elevated off the litter.

The litter I used in my brooder was Carefresh.  It looks like ground up paper bags/kraft paper.  It absorbs really quickly and solved most of the problem of the poop.  But if I didn't clean it in time, I had the problem with the poop stuck to their feet.  hide  Coturnix have 2 types of poo.  A really sticky, stinky one and a "normal" bird poop that dries easily.  The sticky one is the worst.  When it dries, I have to crack it off stuff.  tongue   I have no idea why or how to minimize it.

I'm trying to avoid the wood shaving products because my son and I both have asthma and I don't want to take the chance of us being allergic to it.  Plus it just seemed messier to me.  I know a lot of people here use it and like it and it is inexpensive.

My experience has been that the coturnix aren't as easily startled.  At least around me.  Again, they know what to expect (when I'm not TRYING to torment them smile).  They do act differently around my kids and guests.

post #8 of 22

I kept our guy in the house for a year and never once had a problem with him startling and hitting his head. I think birds kept in large groups in battery cages are much more jumpy and have many more problems (and smell worse, lol!) than birds kept as pets and paid regular attention to and given plenty of space and small groups.

He was on wire part of the time, which really was very easy to keep clean, and litter the other part of the time. I never really had trouble with him getting stuff caked on his feet, but then he had about six square feet of space all to himself. I think it's a matter of personal preference, and you'll figure out as you go along what works better for him. If you're like me, you'll change your mind and try several things before settling on something. big_smile

I do love the idea of the rabbit hutch. I would have liked something like that, but I never wanted to spend the money for a single bird who wasn't even repaying us with eggs, lol Also, dh would not have been pleased about the space usage.

I will say one thing I didn't like about having him indoors--crowing all night long! Girls won't have that problem. AND they'll give you delicious eggs. Speaking of which... it's that time of day... let me go see what my girls have done for me today!

Look what the cat dragged in: Curiosity Cat's Urban Unschooling Homestead

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Look what the cat dragged in: Curiosity Cat's Urban Unschooling Homestead

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post #9 of 22

Sometimes with husbands it's better to ask forgiveness than ask permission...haha!

It is much easier to justify when there's eggs coming!

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

iamcuriositycat - I agree that the idea of a rabbit hutch was tempting. It was what I first considered before I came across the possibility of keeping them inside. I think I prefer keeping them inside, though, as I would like to be able to see them and I think it would be easier to clean than a hutch. I always found it much harder to clean my guinea pigs than my hamster big_smile

Does anyone handle their birds on a regular or semiregular basis? I would like to know so I can decide if it would be fair on them to be grabbing them and moving them every time I wanted to clean their cage. I know some people say that their birds don't really like to be handle, but other's seem to find that their birds are quite tame. Does this have more to do with whether the birds were hatched and raised by their owners? If they imprint like chickens I can imagine that would make them much tamer.

chrishel - Yes, that was kind of my idea as well. Except where the wire part of the cage already separates from the base for cleaning, I figured I could attach the wire floor so that when I lifted the top off, the floor would remain attached and I could just tip away the shavings from the base and then clip the top back on after I had put fresh shavings down big_smile Do you think that idea would work?

Japanese quail in the pic is Nightingale, one of the two quail at my college (named Sparrow and Nightingale )
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Japanese quail in the pic is Nightingale, one of the two quail at my college (named Sparrow and Nightingale )
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