How is quail care different from chickens?

Peregrine

Songster
10 Years
May 28, 2009
107
1
111
North Georgia
We were just given 3 pairs of quail (we were told they are Texas A & M; they are white with a touch of brown on the backs of their heads) and I have so many questions on their care. We've had chickens for many years, so we have some experience. But instead of browsing this amazing website for hours and hours (and getting sidetracked with so much interesting information), I thought I'd put my main questions in one place. Can anybody tell me...

Can quail eat the same layer feed as chickens?
How many males can be with how many females?
How do you tell males and females apart?
Are their eggs significantly different than chicken eggs (besides smaller)?
What is the incubating time/temp./humidity?
Can I make any money selling the eggs/chicks locally?
How many square feet does each bird need?
How do you dress them when they are so small?
What is the best way to eat the eggs? Like any other egg?
Can they be in a coop with the chickens?
How old are they when they're "full-grown"?

Any help anyone could give me would be very much appreciated. I'm excited about trying something new..and the price was just right!
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SeptemberQuail

Songster
7 Years
Oct 10, 2012
385
30
103
Australia
Can quail eat the same layer feed as chickens? Yes they can, but I would ground it up a bit (into chunks, not fine powder) as a chicken's pellets are much larger than the regular micro-pellets used for quails. Also, layer pellets alone will not suit the protein needs of a quail, (Adult quail need around 22% - 30%), so I recommend giving them some extras such as boiled egg and mealworms/insects.

How many males can be with how many females? Coturnix quail can live in pairs, trio's and even more. A lot of people suggest to have around 3 - 5 females per male, but I believe a trio or a pair is good enough. With a trio, there will be some little arguments with a male and the other female, and/or both females, but after a while, they are capable of getting along - well, in my experience. A pair is good, though you are at risk of the male over-mating the female. One of my female's is completely bald on the back of her head from her mate. But her hen-friend has given into the male (her mate), leading to me collecting 2 fertile eggs a day.

How do you tell males and females apart? With texas A & M, there would be two options; Vent sexing and observing them. Not exactly sure what to look for in vent sexing, so I can't help there, but if you have the time, you should watch them. Sometimes a male will crow (he stands tall, stretches his neck and crows like this: (Crowing is near the end of the vid)
A female would lay an egg, haha.

Are their eggs significantly different than chicken eggs (besides smaller)? Yeah! Besides being smaller, they're covered in brown splotches! One of my quail lays purple tinted eggs.
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What is the incubating time/temp/humidity? Haha, well I've just recently hatched out 7 quail eggs! (Hopefully more will come soon!) Incubation time for coturnix quail ranges from 16 to 18 days, sometimes even stretching all the way to 21 days! For the temperature, it should be around 37.5 C for forced air, and 38 C (?) for still air. Forced air is highly recommended. Humidity should be around 40% - 50% during incubation, and bumped up to 55% - 70% during lockdown. Lockdown is on day 14.

Can I make any money selling the eggs/chicks locally? You can, but it really depends on if the people in your local area want to buy quail eggs/quail or not. I told my friends about my quail hatching recently, and already have a few willing to buy them off me when they get older. I bought my quail off a guy for $20 a trio.

How many square feet does each bird need? I heard it's one square foot a bird. My quail are kept outdoors in a 1m x 80cm cage, and they seem happy enough.

How do you dress them when they are so small? Not sure what you mean by this?

What is the best way to eat the eggs? Like any other egg? Poached, fried, scrambled, boiled - whatever floats your boat! I personally prefer boiled, as when I was younger (before we had quail), my mum used to buy canned quail eggs, they were boiled (I believe) and I loved them! Fresh, boiled eggs tasted even better!

Can they be in a coop with the chickens? Definitely a big no no, quail and chickens MUST be kept separate from each other. From browsing the web, chickens mixed with quail involves something to do with disease and could kill the quail. Haven't had this before since I don't own chickens anymore (I had them long before I got quail), but you can put them in a rabbit cage each or something. I know you probably know this but just remember to keep each pairs separate.

How old are they when they're "full-grown"? They fully mature and are capable of laying eggs at 6 weeks (depending on the season, lighting they receive and food), and are ready to butcher up at around 8 - 10 weeks.
 
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Peregrine

Songster
10 Years
May 28, 2009
107
1
111
North Georgia
Thank you, SeptemberQuail! What a wonderfully thorough answer! What I meant by dressing them was cleaning them once they are butchered. Although I wouldn't put it past my 10 yr. old daughter to try to stick some doll clothes on one!
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And I loved your video, too!

Be careful feeding males Layer Feed. It contains too much calcium for the males and can destroy their kidneys.

How would you feed males and females separately? Can I get starter feed or grower/finisher feed and put in some oyster shell for the female? Would that have the right nutrient content to promote egg-laying?
 

TwoCrows

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Many people feed starter feed to quail all through out their lives. I feed either a starter or a conditioning feed, depending on what I can get. Starter will have more protein than other feeds. Always make sure to offer crushed oyster shell on the side for the girls and you won't have any trouble. The girls will eat it when they need it.
 

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