Keeping Egg-Laying Quail

ChanP

Songster
Jun 10, 2021
38
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Thanks very much for correcting me - don't want to give the wrong advice :). Nabiki - I see your point about playsand. Haven't tried it so really that was just a guess. Also, floorcandy - thanks for the advice, I did try to rehome and I do see your point, I did leave a little food, and I appreciate if you wouldn't recommend it. It's not illegal here, but I am planning for other ways to get rid of the males for any future hatches - perhaps keeping breeding groups instead?? Anyway, hope I didn't give the wrong advice.
 

ChookieG

Crowing
Feb 17, 2021
599
2,363
291
New South Wales, Australia
Thanks @ChanP for putting this up! I'm planning to breed quails for meat and eggs in about 4-6 months time and this would mean downsizing the number of chickens I have now or totally removing them due to rising costs.

After sending one of our excess roos to heaven and roasting him for dinner (roasting was a bad idea: although tasty it was pretty tough - best to slow/pressure cook), I realised I'm not as squeamish about it as I thought and would really like to be more sustainable in obtaining our meat. It's fine to consume the excess roos, but having to wait 4-6 months with them consuming about 100 g of feed a day before doing so makes it very costly. Quails on the other hand can be processed by 7-8 weeks and the adults only consume about 15 g per day. If you do the maths, you quickly realised they are a much more economical source of animal protein. And what can be better than keeping your own hormone and antibiotic-free ethically treated animal for protein?

Anyway long story short, I'm planning to convert our current enclosed chicken run to quail housing. The run is currently covered by chicken wire (roofing as well) with a foot of aviary netting from ground up. Would that suffice? I'm concerned that the quails will be able to fly out of the chicken wire. Also would the quails naturally go back into the aviary housing at night? I'm planning to construct one that's not as high as yours - probably around 2-ft high.
 

ChanP

Songster
Jun 10, 2021
38
112
104
No problem!

Good - quail meat is delicious when cooked right.
I'm not sure to be honest. They might be able to get out - how big are the gaps? When they're startled they do fly up and bounce of the walls pretty roughly. I don't think they would go back into the housing at night - even when it's snowing some of my quails prefer to sit it out! They definitely will use it though, but they aren't like chickens in the sense that they don't seem to mind the cold as much.
Hope that's helpful!

Good luck 🙂
 

ChookieG

Crowing
Feb 17, 2021
599
2,363
291
New South Wales, Australia
No problem!

Good - quail meat is delicious when cooked right.
How do you cook yours?

I'm not sure to be honest. They might be able to get out - how big are the gaps?
The chicken wire is about 2 inches wide. The aviary mesh that's 1 foot up from the ground is about 1/2 inch wide.

When they're startled they do fly up and bounce of the walls pretty roughly.
Yeah I read somewhere that they recommend using hardware cloth to cover the roof to protect them from hurting themselves when they get startled. I do have a 11-pound cat that loves pouncing on the side of the chick run just to scare the chicks so I'm pretty sure he'll do the same with quails.

I don't think they would go back into the housing at night - even when it's snowing some of my quails prefer to sit it out! They definitely will use it though, but they aren't like chickens in the sense that they don't seem to mind the cold as much.
OMG snowing! My goodness they're tough!

We have a rat issue here. Given they don't use the housing that much, does that mean I'll have to aviary mesh the bottom of the quail run to protect them from tunneling rats?

Quails will most definitely be the main source of our animal protein so that means lots of birds and lots of processing - I reckon at around 1 bird per day so that means I'll probably be processing 30 birds per month on average. Will it be a good idea then to to keep a subset of female quails and a roo indoors to keep them actively laying so that I can hatch chicks year round on a monthly basis?
 

ChanP

Songster
Jun 10, 2021
38
112
104
I've never actually cooked any but I have tried some!

2 inches does sound pretty big - if I were you I'd cover it just in case. The cloth on the roof sounds like a great idea - I never needed that because my roof is about 6foot.

I know!! Very tough. In their old run I was very thankful that we put mesh on the bottom - once we'd moved them we found that their 'house' was covering 'someone's' burrow 😬. We presumed it was rats or maybe even something bigger - and we don't even have problems with rats around here.

That's a lot of quail!! That probably would be a good idea - maybe just giving them supplemental lighting will keep them laying? I haven't got more than an egg or two a day for a while now, so they're clearly saving their energy atm.

Good luck!
 

ChookieG

Crowing
Feb 17, 2021
599
2,363
291
New South Wales, Australia
I've never actually cooked any but I have tried some!

2 inches does sound pretty big - if I were you I'd cover it just in case. The cloth on the roof sounds like a great idea - I never needed that because my roof is about 6foot.

I know!! Very tough. In their old run I was very thankful that we put mesh on the bottom - once we'd moved them we found that their 'house' was covering 'someone's' burrow 😬. We presumed it was rats or maybe even something bigger - and we don't even have problems with rats around here.

That's a lot of quail!! That probably would be a good idea - maybe just giving them supplemental lighting will keep them laying? I haven't got more than an egg or two a day for a while now, so they're clearly saving their energy atm.

Good luck!

Hey @ChanP, just wanna tell you how much I appreciate your help! Thanks so much!

I'll have to do a google search on how quails taste like and how to cook them. I heard they taste gamey? They sell them in the supermarket here branded as Spatchcock at $20/kg (that's $20 for about 2 pounds). That's really expensive given whole chickens cost about $4.50/kg.

My chicken run is about 6.5 feet high so I think I can get away with not putting hardware cloth overhead. Don't really wish to do so anyway if I can avoid it as those plastic-based material breaks down in about 5 years in the hot Aussie sun and I'll have heaps of nasty broken pieces of plastic to deal with then.

Yikes! Are you situated in the States? Maybe they were raccons? Nasty. It looks like it's a good idea to aviary mesh the entire ground if you can.... 🤦‍♀️ But given I've got trees growing in the run the rats will still be able to burrow through... do you think it's possible to pick them up when they're asleep at night and tuck them to bed in their housing? I'll need to do it every evening but I don't mind it they're all cuddled together in a single spot!

Only 1 egg? I'm assuming you're situated in the Northern Hemisphere so Spring is just round the corner and things will improve soon hey? 😊
 

ChanP

Songster
Jun 10, 2021
38
112
104
No problem, @ChookieG
They do taste a bit gamey, and with the right seasoning etc it can be really moist and delicious.

No, I'm from the UK so not sure what it was! Maybe foxes or badgers?? We get a lot of them around here.

I think it could work to pick them up but it might freak them out a bit. Once they start jumping it can be really hard to catch them. You could try it and see... Might make a difference if you only had a few but I gather you're doing them on a slightly larger scale? In my aviary we do have a layer of sand a couple of inches deep, and we've had no problems with rats etc. Maybe that deters them? The sand goes pretty hard beneath the surface so it would probably be very hard to dig through it.

Yep - it's in the middle of winter. I'm expecting the numbers to go up soon.

Thanks @All4Eggz - I might!
 

ChookieG

Crowing
Feb 17, 2021
599
2,363
291
New South Wales, Australia
No problem, @ChookieG
They do taste a bit gamey, and with the right seasoning etc it can be really moist and delicious.
I might have to buy a Spatchcock from the supermarket and cook it up myself. The definition of gamey is subjective... well that's what I was told anyway... :idunno
No, I'm from the UK so not sure what it was! Maybe foxes or badgers?? We get a lot of them around here.
Yeah I thought you might be when you mentioned Pounds instead of Dollars.. but wasn't sure as most BYCers are from the States...

Yikes! Foxes & badgers.. hmm... well I'm glad we don't have foxes near our land.. only out in the acreages.

I think it could work to pick them up but it might freak them out a bit. Once they start jumping it can be really hard to catch them. You could try it and see... Might make a difference if you only had a few but I gather you're doing them on a slightly larger scale?
Oh right I didn't know they were so jumpy. Yeah 30 might be way too tricky to pack in.

In my aviary we do have a layer of sand a couple of inches deep, and we've had no problems with rats etc. Maybe that deters them? The sand goes pretty hard beneath the surface so it would probably be very hard to dig through it.
Rodents can be very persistent when they're hungry. I've had rodents eat my soap I left out next to the garden tap. We had a very annoying mouse a few years back come tear off a few inches of sponge (we tried stuffing between the sliding door gap to deter it) just to get to the food. We snag the little b*gger the following evening with a good ol' cheese in mouse trap.

This makes things far trickier than I thought it would be. I'm opposed to the idea of keeping them in cages..that's why I was so exciting when I came across your thread as you keep them cage-free. Hmmm.....🤔

Yep - it's in the middle of winter. I'm expecting the numbers to go up soon.
:thumbsup

Thanks @All4Eggz - I might!
Yeah that'll be really nice ..... an article on how to keep quails cage-free...... and whatever else you can think of! ;)
 

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