Aviary for Quail - practical housing?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by suburbfarmgirl, Jan 18, 2015.

  1. suburbfarmgirl

    suburbfarmgirl In the Brooder

    Sep 24, 2013
    Hey everyone! I have been keeping coturnix quail for eggs and meat for two years on a small scale. Just 10-20 birds at a time.

    I have had them in a small tractor-type pen on the ground (about 18" high, 6' x 2'), in grass during the spring-summer and on shavings in the fall-winter when its wet. My quail have always been happy and healthy, but it is hard for me to clean, move, and get down on my hands and knees to reach the eggs in the far corners of the pen. I don't have a good back or knees.

    SO - I'm going to build something new. The space I have to work with is against the outside of my garage 8' long x 4' deep. I'd rather not keep them on wire, since they love scratching, digging, and exploring so much. I'm considering a tall aviary I could walk in, making it easy for me to clean out with a rake and easier to reach all the eggs - I could just squat down and pick them up, instead of having actually get down on my hands and knees to stick my head inside a pen at ground level and reach!

    I know it would be more expensive to build than something small... but if its a good option I'm going to consider it.

    Question - does anyone have their quail in an aviary? Is it easy to maintain? What do you use as the floor and how do you keep it clean? I hear sand is easy to clean out with a mesh scooper, but I haven't tried that yet.

    Given branches and plants, will they actually use the overhead space? Will they fly up and land on branches, or will they stay on the ground, even given the taller space? I'm wondering if it would be a waste of material to build something so tall if they won't enjoy it.

    My other alternative is to build a solid floor pen that is raised 3 feet off the ground or so, so that its easier to reach in.

    Thanks for any insight!!
  2. Redoliveberry

    Redoliveberry Chirping

    Mar 17, 2013
    Brisbane, Australia
    From my experience the pen needs to be either very low or very high. When startled, the birds fly straight up and when they gain enough momentum they will injure themselves. My pens are low, quails are on mulch with vegetation. I have a tool I made to retrieve the eggs. Something like an aquarium fish catcher on a long stick.
    I don't clean them very often, just add more mulch.
    Quails will not use the space above ground.
  3. stephstuckman

    stephstuckman Chirping

    Jul 15, 2014
    Just an idea... 8'x3' (easier to reach eggs, that's what mine is). You could do a removable divider to make it two pens. Wire bottom with slide out deep (maybe 4" deep)tray you could fill with sand. Easy to pull out and clean or remove and still have a complete coop with the wire bottom. I repurposed a rabbit hutch but I would build something like that. The floor of mine is waist high so I can lean into the coop and get the eggs from the far corners. I put trays of dirt and sand in mine but the wite gets poopy. It's 1/2"X1/2" hardware cloth and the poo just doesn't all get through. I thought of a tray because it would be easier to clean. It would need to be deep enough to hold a decent amount of sand though.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Bird is the Word

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    I have always kept my quail in aviaries. You will have very happy, healthy birds. They will live for EVER in aviaries. LOL I have an 6 and 8 year old birds and I believe it has everything to do with housing. Just make sure to keep the ceiling 6+ feet high. More if you can incase they get startled and flush. I used grass hay on my floors and then switched to sand later. Either of these will work. And ALWAYS use a roof on the aviary. You need to keep them as dry as possible as you don't want bacteria and worms making villages down there. I would even tarp up the sides when a snow storm was due in or heavy all day rains. Put some fake Christmas trees in there as a brush pile. Quail are ground dwellers and love to hang out and hide among the brush. And they will enjoy building nests with the grass hay too.
  5. Agreed on that. I've got 7 year old birds, one of which is still laying.. In my experience I've only have had one coturnix spend time off the ground for extended periods of time
  6. aprophet

    aprophet Songster

    Jan 12, 2010
    chesapeake Va.
    a lot depends on where you live here in the dismal swamp where I live on the ground is an impossibility
  7. Here is my aviary. I am using my phone so I hope the pics upload. It is my wife's design. We built it so it can be taken apart easily since we move every three years (military). We keep four button quail in there. Stray cats love watching them run around.

    Okay it didn't work. I'll attach my pictures in a bit. It's a nice design, I promise ha ha.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
  8. Here you are. As promised, I included our aviary design. It was pretty easy to build, but as you can probably tell, we are still learning. The Button Quail we have do spook sometimes, and they pop up, but they do not reach the top ever. You can see we have plenty of roosting sites in there, but they will never use them. I put three pieces of scrap wood together in two of the the corners for a small shelter for them, and some nesting grass that they appreciated. We also keep Red Rumps and budgies in the cage. The quail eat what is dropped and we throw a handful of game crumbles and on occasion straight seed for them. Here, palms are abundant. I tore three dead palm tree branches off of a few and put those in on the deck and they love running under and around them.




  9. suburbfarmgirl

    suburbfarmgirl In the Brooder

    Sep 24, 2013
    Thanks for the insight everyone! I'm in NW Washington, so it is quite wet here, but was thinking about using deep sand as the flooring. I'm still on the fence about what I want to do. I am considering a raised cage with part solid floor, part wire around the food and water, in the interest of not having to bend over much for my back.
  10. shem

    shem In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2014
    That looks great! When using deep sand what type of sand do you use? Construction grade? Play sand? Does it matter?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: