Button Quail Housing and care

Discussion in 'Quail' started by FluffyFlockLove, Nov 21, 2016.

  1. FluffyFlockLove

    FluffyFlockLove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 22, 2016
    Hedley British Columbia
    I moving to Ontario from BC Come summer. I have been raising chickens for the past year and I am interested in Quail. Button Quail to be exact. I was wondering if the housing and care for Quial is the same as that of chickens.
    Can they be housed outside year round?
    How much floor space do they need?
    How many males to females?
    What size nest boxes do they need?
    Should I keep them in side all winter long or let them out side?
    What should I feed them?
    How often do they breed?
    Do they go broody?

    Thank you all in advance. I am doing research but I am finding it hard to find any information about keeping button Quail out side.
     
  2. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 20, 2015
    Hi there! It's hard to get definitive answers for some of your questions, but I'll tell you what I've heard and what I've experienced and you can make up your mind from there :)

    Outside - most people on here would tell you NO! They CAN'T handle anything near freezing temps! I'll tell you sure - as long as they have been ably to slowly adjust to the low temps, are sheltered and dry, have a cozy place to sleep and it's not freezing too bad, they'll be fine. From my quick google search, British Columbia hardly even has frost, so it shouldn't be a problem at all. I had buttons in an old barn last winter, so they were sheltered, but their water froze several times - I estimate they've been exposed to about -10 degrees Celsius and all did good. This year I have a trio in an aviary in the garden. The aviary is about 1x3 meters, one end has wood to keep it sheltered and it's placed along a building. I've just put some of those transparent plastic sheets you can use for garage roofs and similar on the open end and the open side, so now only about 1 meter of wire (the door) remains open to the elements. I fully expect the birds to handle this without an issue, even though this is expected to be the coldest winter for 10 years - but it has hardly even begun freezing yet, so of course I can't say for sure it'll work.

    Floor space - The lowest I've heard is 1!! square foot for a pair. The usual recommendation is 1 square foot per bird. Personally, I prefer 2x4 ft cages for a pair. There is a official care guide where I come from, which says they should have 1x1 meters for a pair. Some say they should only be kept in aviaries. Pic the one you prefer :)

    Males to females - where I got my first birds, the pet shop owner said 1 male to 3 females, as the male would mate one female to death. On here, people usually say 1:1. I now have 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3 and all works well - but I only have 1:1 in cages, the others are in aviaries. I had my trio in a 2x5 ft cage at first, but when spring came, one hen started chasing the other, despite them being raised together. I moved them to an aviary and haven't seen any chasing since.

    Nest boxes - in general they won't use those. If you put a pile of hay in a sheltered corner, perhaps under a shelf, that's likely to be chosen as a nest site. If you put a spruce branch in a corner, the nest will likely be behind that. If you give them a nest box, the nest will likely be in the corner beside it ^^ If they don't feel they have any suitable places to lay, the eggs might just be all over. And they might be all over even if there are suitable places to lay..

    In or out - depends on the enclosures available, I'd say. And on your winters.

    Feed - I prefer a game bird starter with 24% protein. Some say chick starter works. Some say even all-seed diets are fine. Some combine seeds with a protein supplement like meal worms. Some use turkey starter. I've heard of as much as 30% protein and read that 19% is the lowest (on the website of what appeared to be a major breeder) - but all seed diets probably have 11-14% protein and the guy who told me he used that even said they successfully reared chicks on that! Anyway, research on coturnix quail - which I believe are the closest relatives of buttons - say they lay less if they get less than 24% protein. So I've decided there is no merit in giving my buttons more than 24% (umm, well, that decision might be related to the fact that 24% seems to be the highest I can easily get my hands on) and I try to stay above 20%.

    How often they breed - well, the male will mate the female several times a day, the female will lay an egg a day if conditions are good and she's young, females go broody anything from 'never' to 'every time they perceive they have enough eggs to make a clutch' (that could be 3-15, depending on the hen). The eggs hatch in 16+ days if the hen does a good job.

    Broody - as stated above, anything from 'never' to 'all the time'. In my experience, it's mainly 'all the time', others never experience it and some say 'Occasionally, but not with any kind of regularity'.
     

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