Getting Started with Quail Raising, Advice?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by ChaosDog, Oct 12, 2014.

  1. ChaosDog

    ChaosDog In the Brooder

    Sep 9, 2014
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Upon finding that chickens were illegal, I've been trying to get them legalized, but I'm impatient. I can't just get chickens anyway in this area, since we have a nasty neighbor who'd report us at the drop of a hat if they found we had chickens.

    So as a sort of alternative or 'getting started', I began looking at quails, research produced that while we can't have chickens, we CAN have quail.

    What I'm asking here, is what advice do you have that is commonly overlooked? Or advice in general

    I'm doing a lot of research before actually getting any birds, since I want to make sure I'm prepared.
    Starting from square one, as I've never raised birds or any animal before. I understand it takes a long time and a lot of effort and dedication, and I know that with quails, it isn't uncommon for eggs not to hatch or for the chicks not to make it, even with care taken. Raising mostly for eggs, as i'm not sure I have the stomach to harvest for meat. Will see though.

    I'm not giving up on chickens, even though I may be getting quail!
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  2. Tony K T

    Tony K T Crowing

    Jul 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I would move if I couldn't raise something I wanted.What is the difference if it's a chicken or a quail?They are both still birds.
    In N.H.,Tony.
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Bird is the Word

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Many places that ban poultry allow quail. For some reason quail are not classified up there with chickens. So many HOA's will allow quail as does many suburbs near the big cities.

    I would start with Coturnix quail. A very easy starter bird. If you are only in this for the eggs, keep all hens. Roo's are a pain in the rump and add more stress to the hens. If you do keep a rooster, you will want to keep just one rooster to 5 to 7 hens. Do not keep roosters together, but you can keep hens all together.

    You can keep them in pens, rabbit hutches or aviary style. At least 2 square feet per bird of space is a healthy amount for body mind and soul of the birds. The more space the better off they will be.

    If you do keep them on wire, give them a place to get off the wire with a pan of sand or dirt, (for dust bathing) or a section of plywood. All this to rest the feet. Keep the wire very clean to help prevent bumblefoot. You can also use some sort of bedding. Pine wood shavings or grass hay works really well.

    Quail require gamebird food or something with 24% to 28% protein. Oystershell for the layers on the side.

    Quail don't like to be held, so try to keep that to a minimum. They are friendly enough to eat from your hand, will learn to come running when you have treats and some can even learn their names. They enjoy quartered fruit like apples, peaches, chopped up veggies, cabbage, corn on the cob, greens, dried fruit, mealworms, and other goodies.

    This should get you started. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. :)
  4. grousebum

    grousebum Hatching

    Oct 14, 2014
    I'm new to the forum, and relatively new to quail, but I thought I'd respond with my experiences getting started. I live in a community that doesn't allow 'farm animals' so I'm flying under the radar a bit with quail. No issues so far.

    I got a straight run of 100 jumbo brown coturnix (day old, via USPS) in August. I lost a few during shipping and a few more the first week, but the rest thrived. They are about 8 weeks old now and the hens are really starting to lay. I got 35 eggs yesterday from 45 hens. I'm raising them in 3 rows of pens with a solid floor covered with litter, inside of a shed. The pens are roughly 2'W x 2'H x 12'L so they are a bit crowded. I have 75 birds now so they have about 1 sq ft per bird which still seems a bit crowded. The pens will be about the right size when I get done butchering all the extra roo's in a few weeks. I'll end up with about 48 birds in 72 sq ft of floor space and I think everyone will be happier at that point.

    They ate, drank and pooped much more than I expected! Granted I had 100 chicks but they were going through 50 lbs of feed a week at one point. Now that they are fully grown they backed off a little on the feed (I think) but I was at the feed store much more often than I anticipated!

    I experimented with different (free) litter sources.... leaves, mulch hay, shredded paper.... before caving in and buying pine shavings. The pine shavings work so well I wish I would have started with them. The only problem with the shavings is they are small enough to fly through the cage wire as the birds scratch and dust themselves. Every morning the floor of my shed is covered in shavings that I need to scoop up and put back into the cages. I debated whether to house them on wire but I like watching them scratch around and dust themselves in the litter. The wire would have been much easier maintenance.

    I was not prepared to 'deal' with the roo's as they got older, or at least I was not prepared to deal with them so soon. They were cute when they started to crow around 4-5 weeks of age. Then they turned into loud, obnoxious little boys who wouldn't leave the hens, or each other, alone at 6 weeks. I separated them from the hens at 7 weeks and that helped somewhat. I just butchered my first batch yesterday and I'll be butchering the rest over the next few weeks. I'm ok with butchering them but it isn't something my wife and kids are crazy about.

    These all seem like negative points but the quail have been a fun, rewarding project. In hindsight it would have been better (for me) to start with fewer birds and build the flock over time. We're just getting started with egg sales at this point. Depending on how things go I may build more pens and expand the flock next Spring.

  5. ChaosDog

    ChaosDog In the Brooder

    Sep 9, 2014
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thank you so much for your insight!

    I've been gradually preparing, my incubator arrived today, small one that will hold up to 12 smaller eggs, I made my brooder out of a plastic storage bin, cutting a hole in the lid and zip-tying a screen over it [as I do have two cats], and I've made plans for a cage which I'm going to build [4' L, 2'W, 1'H] The plan is to have a wire bottom, but provide at least one pan of bedding or sand to give their feet a break and for dust baths or scratching around in. What is your recommendation for a number of birds for a cage/pen this size? I generally won't have more than 10 birds at one time, and doubt I'll ever go over 20-- at least not any time soon. Is a cage this size appropriate for this number of birds, or should I up the dimensions? From your description, you think that 1sq ft per bird is crowded, and my plan is 8sqft so 8 would be crowded. I want to keep it at least semi-portible, since I want to be able to move them if I need, since there's a small enough number of them. I suppose I could add another level and make it 2' tall and have a ramp between the two.
    There's a seller not too far from here that sells fertile coturnix eggs for $0.50 each as well as chicks and adults, so I will most likely be getting a dozen from them to incubate. If too low [less than half] a number of them hatches or makes it within the first week, or if the survivors are all one gender, i'm prepared to go get more.

    I still need feeders and waterers[both chick and adult], chick feed, bedding, a heating lamp, and of course, the adult pen. I won't be getting any eggs until I have everything I need, the only thing I'm alright with putting off is adult feed, since it would just be sitting for a month before I even used any.

    This will be more of a personal hobby than attempt for any profit, getting eggs and meat. I'm not sure I can handle the butchering myself, i've only processed fish. I'm hoping I can get passed that. [I've not had quail meat for a long time, I hear it's tasty though. I know people who like it though so even if I end up not liking it, I can give it to them.] I've been looking at processing methods as well. Looks not too difficult, but I'm sure it's harder than it looks, at least for someone who's never done it before.
  6. Sill

    Sill Songster

    Dec 30, 2013
    Tempe, AZ
    I'm glad you are doing your research before getting your quail. I love my quail and am considering getting rid of my chickens to have space for more quail. The quail are more productive than chickens, giving me eggs through our scorching hot summer while the chickens almost quit. I also lost chickens due to the heat but have lost no quail. The quail are quieter too!

    Things I wish I knew before getting quail?
    • They eat a lot! For their size, especially as chicks, they eat a lot but are efficient at converting feed to body/egg mass.
    • They waste a lot of feed! Research feeders because these birds are adept at beaking food out of their feeders.
    • Have a way to deal with the extra roosters you will have. Once those cute chicks start crowing at 3, 4,and 5am
    and trying to mate with anything that they can get to hold still long enough you will want to get rid of them. The easiest thing is to eat them, and luckily they taste great.
    • Their poop can stink, so know you will be cleaning up after them frequently especially in damp weather. Their waste is great for composting so perfect if you are a gardener like me or find one that can take the used litter from you. A community garden would probably take used quail litter.
    • Research quail coops and enclosures so you know how to make one that is predator proof. Quail are tiny and taste good so are targets for almost all predators. Mine were even attacked by a roadrunner!
  7. ChaosDog

    ChaosDog In the Brooder

    Sep 9, 2014
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Yeah, I don't want to go in and end up with however many birds only to not have cared for them properly and most or all dying. That's really reassuring about the heat! I live in central/southern Florida, so the heat is a major issue for most of the year. I will still go to lengths to help keep them cool on the extremely hot days.
    I wouldn't expect them to eat very much, I read that they shake their heads when they eat, so lowering the feeder so that they have to stretch their neck to reach it helps lessen feed waste. if i'm breeding, there's always a chance to get more boys, and once one gets crowing, they all gotta join in. The plan is to eat them.
    As for their waste, it would be an excellent addition to the compost pile. May eventually have a vegetable garden or something, so it would be perfect for that!
    I'll have to make sure the enclosure is extra sturdy. everything under the bright shiny sun wants to eat them. Rats, hawks, raccoons, owls, snakes, cats, everything...

    Thank you for your advice, I greatly appreciate the help!
  8. ChaosDog

    ChaosDog In the Brooder

    Sep 9, 2014
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I have made a bit of progress toward getting quails. Extensive research has proven them to be a better option than chickens, mainly since they require much less space, and whenever I move (i am still young and living with parents) I can take them with me much more easily.
    So far, i have an incubator, made a brooder out of an old storage bin, in the process of converting a dog kennel cage (2fwx3fLx2fh) into quail housing. (Will have two levels and a ramp between the two) i used two shoeboxes, one for a dustbath box, since they will be on wire, and the other for a little hidey hole.
    The temptation is real to order the eggs, but i keep bringing up the page and sighing because I'm just not ready yet! Real impatient, but i know that eventually I will have them when i am well prepared, and will be much happier having had waited so im not rushing last minute.
    Its so hard not to talk about them, but no one wants to hear about them! So my excitement keeps getting snuffed :c

    I do have a question though! I found a site to order jumbo coturnix, but do want to seek alternative sources if i must. Local craigslist has no listing for jumbos (but some standard) but does anyone have a preferred source of ordering eggs, if buying locally is not an option? (I know breaks happen...)
    Also, my incubator can only hold 12 (unless anyone knows a modification to the brinsea mini advance to hold more-- something i didnt really care about, but most distributors require higher amounts to sell, or so it seems) so getting more than that for just me is kind of pointless.

    Thanks for reading my rambling! Input appreciated
  9. ChaosDog

    ChaosDog In the Brooder

    Sep 9, 2014
    Pittsburgh, PA
    As i sat thinking about that, I realized i could turn off the turner and take out the plastic wheel with the slots. Would have to manually turn them, but could fit more in there (of course not too many) so less of a problem, but still ideally 12

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