A Few Mixed Questions About Coturnix Quail

Wild-Turkey

Songster
Nov 9, 2020
62
166
100
Northwestern MT, US
Hello, I currently do not have Coturnix quail but plan to raise them a couple years in the future, I have a few questions about them if that’s fine. :frow

What size aviary would be appropriate for around 5-10 starting out, also would they be fine with an inside aviary and an outside aviary they would go out to for extra exercise and enrichment? If everything goes well I will increase the flock size to 12-17.

What ratio of males to females is appropriate?

Would they be fine on game bird feed that has around 27% protein starting out and a decrease to 17% as adults? Screenshots of local game bird feed labeled as for quail included, they only have medicated starter.

What are some good ways to get them more comfortable with human contact?

What are some good treats and supplemental extras to add to their diets?

Also any good tips are very welcome.
Thank you so much.
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HortonCreek

Chirping
Nov 2, 2020
18
51
69
Binghamton, NY
Hello there! Quail are such a wonderful addition you are going to wonder why you waited so long. I’ve found with quail that it’s not as cut and dry as all the research suggests. In fact you are going to find a lot of conflicting information and beliefs held among various quailors but the fact is quail are very adaptable and resilient. We use the good, better, best approach. Try a few methods, experiment, see what works, and most importantly, just listen to your quail. They’ll tell you what’s working.

A good hen:roo ratio is 5:1. You will have good egg fertility without beat up and overbred hens. 4:1 is also a safe ratio. Our 4:1 hens weren’t stressed from overbreeding but after about 6 months they developed a few little bald patches. Our project breeders are at a 3:1 and the hens don’t seem stressed yet but they are looking rough and missing a good amount of head feathers after only two months.

Feed choice is another topic with many firmly held beliefs so I will just outline what works for us. For our egg production and breeders, we use a 28% non-medicated game bird feed for the first 6 weeks or so. Once the hens start laying, they get switched to a 16% layer feed with supplemental treats like hard boiled eggs, mealworms, fresh fruits and veggies, and various trays of fodder. Our meat production birds stay on the game bird feed until the end around 8 weeks.

Medicated feed is an ok option too. We opt not to use it but that’s just a personal choice. Our birds aren’t in contact with the ground so run less risk of contracting coccidiosis but if it is your only option it isn’t going to hurt. In fact if your leaning towards an outdoor aviary setup then it could be beneficial in your scenario.

As far as getting your quail used to human contact, we found the key is to pour it on in over abundance. All our chicks gets handled and interacted with from day one. If you do this frequently every day they will become very acquainted with you and will eventually seek out a cuddle and a head scratch. Just be persistent!

Good luck and happy Quailing!
 

muddy75

Win a BYC calendar in the mini contests!!!!
Premium Feather Member
Aug 17, 2018
17,222
124,522
1,416
southern indiana
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approximately 1sq ft of floor space per bird is adequate. for aviary information, you can check out my coop page link as all my birds are outside. coturnix acclimate very well and as long as aviary is predator proof, they will be fine down to temps below freezing. moving cages frequently can stress them and interrupt laying. mine basically rush the gate anytime i’m outside wanting treat time. many of them are very friendly. favorite treats are a mix of dried mealworms and premium scratch grains.
 

le_bwah

Crowing
May 1, 2018
1,085
2,754
296
Boise, ID
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Hi! Quail are fun birds, and for me they've been most fun (and healthy) when they have plenty of space and things to do (aim for a couple feet more than 1 square per bird). Moving them between cages is stressful for bird and handler and risks escape, so usually best to stick to one enclosure or the other. I currently raise 16 hens in a 150 sqr ft aviary, but have had success with 12 quail (males included) in 50 sqr ft.

Aim for 3-5 hens per rooster. You also only need to keep roosters if you plan on hatching (or selling for hatch) the eggs.

I've got mine on a 24-30% starter year-round and they've thrived on it. Medicated feed is bit of a contentious topic but I'm not convinced it's a detriment (gotta work with what you've got).

Handling them gently and often as chicks and reinforcing with treats is a good way to get them habituated to human touch. Some never catch on, however, so be prepared for that.

For treats, meal worms are great occasionally, as is a bit of cracked corn and bird seed (mine love their "dove and quail blend" with millet) or small peanuts. Iceberg lettuce also seems like a fav. As far as supplements go, any vitamins marketed for chickens should be safe for quail. Heck, most iron-free baby vitamins are safe for quail.

Other:
  • Dust baths, cover and hides are a must
  • Keep some Corid on hand if they'll be living in contact with dirt
  • I've never had to worm mine, but goat wormer can be given safely if dosed for small animals
  • Don't settle for bald, harried females: it's in your power to make sure hens aren't overly bothered by their roos
  • I see you're in NW MT: quail don't like the cold, almost as much as they don't like the heat. As long as you've got a plan for winterizing or keeping the flock indoors, they should be ok.
  • Please don't keep them on wire if you can afford it, even if they'll only be producers. Nothing sadder than a bird without the sky or the ground.
Good luck starting your flock!
 
Oct 16, 2020
220
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108
I keep my quail on gamebird feed all the time, as it’s easiest. They are on the ground, and so far havent had any mites.

They really like having places to hide and to get “alone time” from one another.

one male to three female can work fine if it’s only those 4 birds in the coop. 2 males with 6 females (or more multiples of that) can lead to fights. But it does, to some extent, depend on the personality of the birds.

They have a short lifespan, 2.5 years. This is just me, but I’d be inclined to cull them after 2 years at the latest, because older animals are more likely to succumb to parasites and infections, and spread those. Which may not be an issue in a big enough coop, but would be a problem in a small area.

(Not to mention, quail Gang up like crazy on weak/injured ones.)
 

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