Full cost estimate of raising Coturnix Quails as pets

coturoy

Hatching
May 23, 2015
5
2
9
I'm trying to get a cost estimate for raising 5-10 Coturnix Quail as pets who happen to lay eggs. I couldn't find any posts for all of the costs involved, but send me a link if I missed any. I've listed costs that I've gathered and have over-estimated most things to be conservative. Look it over if you have time and tell me if I'm missing anything or the costs are far off. Also, what should I expect to pay for veterinary costs? Is DIY diagnosis fairly straightforward or maybe it's like the joke where you treat every horse illness by shooting the patient? I don't want to spend $2000 on a surgery like I did for my dog, but I'd still like to take care of them.

$15/year eggs ($30 for 12 eggs from reputable dealer where quail live for about 2 years)
$50(one time cost) incubator (DIY, circulation, but no egg turner) - $200(egg turner, circulation)
$20 large plastic container for brooding chicks
$25-$60 brooding lamp. $60 for thicker IR bulb and lamp with fire safety features
$25/year electricity assuming that I'm running the incubator and brooder 24/7 for 6 weeks using 150W and electricity costs $0.15/kW. No plans to use light during the winter.
$25 water and food dispensers (DIY version shouldn't be too hard)
$100-230/year adult food (owner estimates ranged from $0.04-0.09/day and I've assumed 8 quails for the annual estimate. Not sure why the price varied so much. Maybe one person bought it in bulk?)
$100-500 hutch/aviary (I saw a used rabbit hutch for $40 that needed hardware cloth and other repairs. Some pre-built chicken mansions cost $500+. I'm thinking of "double-fencing" everything so no legs go missing when a quail gets too close to the edge of a cage)
$0 - 20/year straw/wood chips/sand (a tree disposal company offered to dump a truck load onto my lawn for free. I'm sure the neighbors would love that. My city has free mulch twice a year)
$100 - water mister and fan for 100F days
$100/year miscellaneous
$? veterinarian

Total:
$550 - one time costs based on $60 brooder, $300 coop/aviary
$315 - annual costs (using middle value when an annual cost had a range)

Does that sound about right? Assuming 6 females laying an egg a day for 180 days, that comes to the bargain price of $0.8/egg in the first year!
 

jblegg83

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 30, 2013
18
2
22
Easton, MD
I believe you are getting a little too in-depth with the quail. I purchased 18 eggs for $8 plus $6 shipping, and the seller sent me 24. I hatched out 20 the first week in April. All are still alive and I have not quite used a full 50lb. bag of feed yet ($19 for a bag of chick starter). I already had an incubator that I built. Cages were built from some wire scraps and out of a leftover roll from building rabbit cages. I am building feeders out of PVC scraps like other users on here have built. I will be purchasing a dozen water cups for about $40.

I think that you can go to wally world and get a plastic tote for less than $20. There is also no way I would spend $60 on a brooding lamp. Lamp costs $10 and 2 pack of bulbs cost $9 from Tractor supply. I do not use water misters or fans and quail definably will not be having a vet bill. Keep it simple and you should be able to keep the costs down.
 

coturoy

Hatching
May 23, 2015
5
2
9
Thanks JBlegger. The mister is because I live in the desert which will get into the 100's a few times a year. Good to know that things can be done on the cheap.
 

Jaybird14

Songster
Dec 30, 2014
93
39
116
I believe you are getting a little too in-depth with the quail. I purchased 18 eggs for $8 plus $6 shipping, and the seller sent me 24. I hatched out 20 the first week in April. All are still alive and I have not quite used a full 50lb. bag of feed yet ($19 for a bag of chick starter). I already had an incubator that I built. Cages were built from some wire scraps and out of a leftover roll from building rabbit cages. I am building feeders out of PVC scraps like other users on here have built. I will be purchasing a dozen water cups for about $40.

I think that you can go to wally world and get a plastic tote for less than $20. There is also no way I would spend $60 on a brooding lamp. Lamp costs $10 and 2 pack of bulbs cost $9 from Tractor supply. I do not use water misters or fans and quail definably will not be having a vet bill. Keep it simple and you should be able to keep the costs down.

I agree.
Keep it simple, use what you have on hand/scrounge for materials. I already owned my incubator, but after that i have $120.00 +- in on 60 or so quail @ 4 and 2 weeks old. My friends and i have a phrase.."go farmer on it"..no need to waste $.

Good luck.
 

MagicPidge

Chirping
May 19, 2015
284
17
61
ACT
I agree.
Keep it simple, use what you have on hand/scrounge for materials. I already owned my incubator, but after that i have $120.00 +- in on 60 or so quail @ 4 and 2 weeks old. My friends and i have a phrase.."go farmer on it"..no need to waste $.

Good luck.
X2 - you could also repurpose old containers and all that as brooders to save money. When I used to raise chicks I used old cardboard boxes as brooders before moving the chicks out into the garden. Also you'd be getting ripped off by spending $500 on an enclosure - there are some great secondhand ones on websites such as Gumtree and (as you mentioned), there's always the option of building one yourself.

And, if you're so inclined, you can save on food costs by feeding your quail food scraps, etc. etc.
 

spotsplus

Songster
11 Years
Sep 29, 2008
1,206
71
226
Tarboro, NC
I keep Coturnix as pets. Here are the costs I found:

One time cost of $18 for a dozen hatching eggs.
$50(one time cost) incubator (DIY, circulation, but no egg turner) - $125(egg turner, circulation)
$0-1$10 cardboard box for brooder or Walmart has plastic for one time cost of $8
$ 6 brooding lamp at Ocean State Job Lot or other discount store. $5 for 100 watt bulb or $8 for the "brooder" lightatTractor Supply
$25/year electricity assuming that I'm running the incubator and brooder 24/7 for 6 weeks using 150W and electricity costs $0.15/kW. No plans to use light during the winter.
$12 one time cost for water and food dispensers
$60/year adult food 50 lb Game bird crumble lasts 8 quail 3 months.
$100 hutch/aviary - many types can be built for $80-$100 or you can get one used for that amount.
$0 use the free mulch you mentioned with a $6 bag of shavings for the shelter or a $10 bale of hay for winter. 1 bag or bale will last a year.
$0 - water mister and fan for 100F days- don't need a water mister. Typically if they can get in the shade they can do ok in the heat.
$20 vet supplies- blue kote and a anifungul/antibiotic spray - will last years
$0 veterinarian- no vet needed. 99% of problems, you can take care of yourself. Quail are quite hardy.
$10 treats (like mealworms)

Total:
$222 - one time costs based eggs, incubator, plastic brooder, brooder light, water/food dispensers, vet supplies
$101 - annual costs feed, electricity for brooder (hatch your own eggs as replacements and sell the rest), bag of shavings, treats

Assuming 6 females laying an egg a day for 180 days

** don't forget that you can sell the eggs your hens produce or incubate them and sell chicks to offset yearly cost
 
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Tycine1

Crowing
11 Years
May 26, 2009
2,369
5,397
451
David, Chiriquí, Panama
Hatching eggs typically only have a 50% hatch rate, consider purchasing 'day old' birds?
$50(one time cost)

Go for the deluxe incubator, you'll thank yourself in the end for it, especially hatching quail. You'll want circulation & egg turner... every time you turn eggs, you risk breaking or contaminating them, not to mention that they require turning several times daily.

Brooding can be done in a cardboard box with newspaper on the bottom.

Brooding lamps can be as simple as a lightbulb, I know, I do it... I use the sort that has a non-teflon shield around the bulb to radiate the heat (a shop light). Always be sure that they can get away from the heat source to avoid another slew of problems and do not buy any form of bulb that has a coating on it, as that coating is likely to be teflon or teflon based, which is toxic to your birds.

Electricity runs me an additional $5 a month at $0.30/kWHour, I run the incubator 24/7 since I bought it, and use my lightbulb for heat 24/7 for the first week, and only at night the second week, then ween them off the heat completely before their siblings hatch the third week. It helps that I live in an area that is hot & humid both day and night, every day of the year.

I use small pyrex type (heavy) glassware for food and water. They're heavy enough to allow the birds to sit in and on them without tipping them over and they're easy to clean. You can get this sort of glassware cheap at your neighborhood thrift store, garage sales or estate sales. You may be able to get it cheap at your local dollar store as well.

Japanese coturnix quail eat just under one ounce of high quality game bird / quail feed daily. They require 24-30% protein, without it, they'll end up with malnutrition and reproductive disorders. I paid $22 USD for the last 88 pound bag I bought, so $0.25 per pound, and that pound would feed your flock of 8 for two days; So under $0.02 of grain daily, per bird. You'll spend a little for oyster shell or calcium supplement to be served in a side dish, free choice. Birds that need the calcium will use it, those that do not, will not; They seem to know. I do buy my feed in bulk (an 88 pound bag/40 kilograms), I store it in my chest freezer in plastic, lidded totes (remember I live in a high heat, high humidity area). Put another way, my 88 pound bag will make 1408 meals; that would feed a flock of 8 birds for half of a year.

This type of quail requires between 9-square inches to 1-square foot of available floor space, per bird; Only one male per 3-8 hens (depending on how likely you want fertilization of the eggs to be), and only one male per housing unit. Males can and will fight to the death for the right to mate. I'm using hamster type cages, the ones with the six-inch deep plastic bottoms with wire cage above. They stack well, are about 2x3 feet (one foot used up with food, water and sand box) but are a good size for small coveys.

Bedding is cheap, but if you have wire bottom floors instead of my set up, you can get away with poop trays underneath instead... but it's hard on their feet... so if you go this route, give them sufficient room for them to all get off of the wire. I'd accept a load of that free mulch, it can be used throughout the year as a way to enrich their environment as well as deep litter, and you can store it under your bushes and trees until you need it for your birds... might as well get double-duty from it!

You can put ice in their water dish to cool your birds on those extra hot days, and a bit of electrolyte water in their dish will help too. I often find my birds taking a quick dip in their water dish.

The cost of veterinary care for birds is typically outrageous, and often, your gut instincts (and that of your friends here at BYC) can point you in the right direction of a diagnosis should the need arise, at a fraction of the cost. A vet is always better, if you can afford one... but... well... you know...
 

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