Quail owners help please!

Discussion in 'Quail' started by PerfectPoultry, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. I just bought 12 TX A&M quail eggs about a week ago and they're in the bator now. How do I cage, feed, water, or any info on them I need to know?

  2. steveovergard

    steveovergard In the Brooder

    Sep 29, 2012
    Basic care of Coturnix Japanese Quail 101


    There are 5 basic colors . Natural Brown, White, Golden, Tuxedo, and Tibetan. The Natural Brown is the most common. In this color, the males have more red, especially in the chest area and the females have more of a striped pattern in the chest area. The White quail are also known as Texas A&M because the breed was developed by Texas A&M University. The Golden variety is also know as Italian or yellow. The Tibetan has a darker, richer brown/red and fewer stripes. They tend to be a little smaller and more energetic.

    How to tell the males from the females

    With the Natural Brown color, it is easy, just look at the chest. If it is a solid reddish color with few stripes, it is a male. If it is lighter with a distinct line pattern, then it is a female. The males make a warble sound, starting at about 7 weeks. It has been described as Darth Vader under water.

    The males will drop little foam balls. You can turn the quail upside down and gently squeeze around the vent. If it is a mature boy, a small foam ball will be excreted. This method will only work once the quail has reached sexual maturity at 7-8 weeks.

    Ratio of males to females

    For breeding purposes, the ratio of 1 male to every 3-4 females is correct. If you have a breeding colony, it is ok to have 7 females and 2 males. If you have too few males, then you have a lower fertility rate of the eggs. If you have too many males, the females will be sexually harassed all the time and egg production will drop due to the stress of the female being chased by all those males. The males will also tend to fight if there are too many males.


    There is a lot of information on the internet about what to feed quail. These web sites have complicated percentages and ratios of this and that. The problem is finding feed, locally, that has the correct ingredients and ratios. The best that I have found for the laying quail is Purina Game Bird Breeder/ Layer ((Layena) . You can buy this at Heretick Feed and Seed in Petersburg or Hopewell. Southern States has a comparable product. It is very important not to use medicated feed. For quail under 6 weeks old, we have had good luck with chicken starter or Start and Grow. Quails eat a lot when they are growing. Between 2-5 weeks they are voracious. Once they are adults, they back off the food a bit.


    Quail need clean water 24/7. Your quail are more likely to die from running out of water then from food. Especially when they are young, this is important. You can use a standard chicken waterer but you will need to clean it out several times a day and make sure it has not spilled. A better alternative is to use the nipple waterers that are sold on Ebay and at poultry supply stores. The nipples are installed in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket or plastic jug or anything plastic that can hold water and be hung up on a chain. They are inexpensive and easy to make. This is a link to one place that sells them online.


    With the nipples, your water chores will be cut to 1/10th. You will be able to set them up and they will work for days and days without being cleaned out or filled up. The quail will learn to use them on their own in just a few days. I always have both types of waterers available until I am sure that the quail know how to use the nipples.

    Mixing with other birds

    Don’t mix quail and chickens. The chickens will quickly kill your quail.

    Free range

    If you try to free-range your quail, they will fly away and you will never see them again. Quail are wonderful birds but they do not have the homing and roosting instinct that chickens have. Once gone, they are gone gone.

    Cages and housing

    I recommend at least 1 sq. ft of space per bird. More room is better. The commercial establishments have a much higher density and the birds get along fine. However, I like to give the birds a better quality of life than just a few inches of space between them and the next bird. That is important and something to think about when planning your cages and spaces.

    If you keep your birds in a cage, it is better to have a low ceiling. The quail jump and fly straight up, and if they pick up enough momentum, they can kill themselves when they slam into the top of the cage. With a lower top, they don’t get much speed built up and learn not to jump up. The other alternative is to give them enough room so that they can jump up and not slam into the top before their trajectory changes to more horizontal.

    You quail can stay outside year round but you will need to make sure they have shelter from the hot sun and rain. They need shade and also a place that they can get into the sunlight too. It is necessary to have some sort of wind block or a place they can use to get out of the direct harsh elements. Many people use rabbit hutches for their quail. Quail can live on wire but I believe that is hard on their feet on the long term. Quail naturally are ground dwellers and they don’t jump up into the branches to roost, sleep or hide.
    A set up that I like is an outside aviary. I use a 10 x 10 dog kennel to start. I put chicken wire inside the kennel. I put on a wire top and made places for sun and shade. An old plastic doghouse gives them shelter from harsh elements, but they seldom use it. Quail love sand and grit so there is a sandbox area. They also like grass and hay so I have those in the aviary too. Another thing quail like is PVC tunnels to hide in so I cut some foot sections from 3 and 4 inch PVC pipe. It is a good idea to make sure that your quail are protected from night predators so I buried wire in the ground around the perimeter to deter digging under the fence.

    Another idea that I have seen used is to house the quail in a cage that is kept inside a barn or garage. This works well too.

    Whether you keep your quail in a cage or an aviary, it is important to provide all of these elements . Light, shade from direct sun, protection from rain, protection from harsh weather, water 24/7, sand or grit area, food. The other things are optional.

    A small sand box area can be made with a Tupperware container or a plastic coffee can.

    Quail are very hardy birds, so don’t be surprised to see them standing outside in the middle of the worst thunderstorm on record.


    Quail will lay eggs year round, however, you will need to make sure they have light about 18 hours a day, or the laying will fall off or stop altogether. In the summer, you don’t need to do anything, but in the fall, winter, and early spring, you will need to rig up a light on a timer to supplement the sunlight. I have mine set up to come on around 6 in the morning and stay on until it is full daylight outside. The light comes back on when it starts to get dark and stay on until 9:30pm. It does not need to be a bright light and the compact incandescent lights work just fine.


    Each female will lay an egg almost everyday. They will take a day off here and there, but if you have 7 hens, it will not be unusual to get between 4-7 eggs every day. The hens will start to lay when they are about 7 weeks old but will be hit and miss for a few weeks. By they time they are about 11 weeks old, they will be in high gear on the eggs.

    You do not need a male to get eggs. But if you want fertile eggs to hatch, there needs to be a gentleman in the group.


    Fertile eggs can be incubated and will hatch in about 17 days. Set your incubator at 99.5 and humidity 50-60%. The eggs should be on an automatic turner for 15 full days. On the 16th day, they eggs can be taken off the automatic turner and they will hatch on the 17th day normally.
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  3. steveovergard

    steveovergard In the Brooder

    Sep 29, 2012
    Instructions and Hints for Hatching Coturnix Quail .

    Incubator – Use a reputable incubator. Entry level incubators include Hovabator, Farm Innovators, and Little Giant. It is best to have an air circulator fan and an automatic egg turner. If you do not have a circulator fan, then you will have hot and cool spots in your incubator and your hatch rate will be reduced. A circulator fan makes the temperature within the incubator more consistent throughout. An automatic egg turner reduces the maintenance required as it turns the eggs for you. If you are hatching quail eggs, then you should also get the quail rails which are sized correctly for quail eggs. A bonus is that you can fit many more quail eggs than chicken eggs if you use the quail rails. Start your incubator at least a day in advance to get the temperature just right

    Temperature – The experts advise that the optimum temperature is 99.5 degrees for quail eggs.

    Humidity – I maintain a 50%-55% humidity level in my commercial incubator with great results. You may want to get a digital humidity gauge. It is more difficult to maintain the proper humidity in a Styrofoam incubator. Consult your owners manual . In the past, I have had good luck keeping the water reservoir near full at all times, but not over full. If you need to raise the humidity, take a few paper towels and fold them over. Soak in water and then place them inside the incubator.

    Thermometer. Digital thermometers are easy to read, but they tend to be inaccurate. It is better to get several inexpensive mercury thermometers. You can calibrate your digital thermometer using the mercury thermometer. Whatever one you use, use it throughout the hatching process. In my commercial incubator, I use a dial thermometer and a digital thermometer. I check one against the other. For quick readings, I glance at the digital . In the Styrofoam incubator, I use a mercury thermometer and a digital also. When the mercury one reads 99.5, the digital one is around 101. I can easily read the digital and if it is 101 (knowing that is really 99.5) then I know the temp is ok. The digital is easier to read, but the mercury thermometer is more accurate. Just don’t trust the digital readings until you know for sure what they mean.

    Turning– I highly recommend that you use a mechanical, automatic egg turner. Experts advise that the eggs are to be turned several times a day. Make sure you use the quail rails so that the eggs are not flopping around in the divots.

    Days of turning – Quail and chickens are different. For Quail, on the 15th day, stop turning the eggs and take them out of the quail rails or container. Set them in the hatcher.

    Hatcher stage. The 15th day through the hatch is called the hatcher stage. The eggs will be in the hatcher and will not be turned . Make sure you maintain the humidity. If you are using a Styrofoam incubator, remove the turning mechanism and place the eggs on the wire rack. Try not to move the eggs during this stage and keep them evenly spaced apart.

    Hatching- The eggs will start to pip at the end of the 16th day and hatch between then and the beginning of the 19th day. It is best to let mother nature work her magic and do not help the eggs hatch. If the egg has pipped and not hatched after 20 hours, then gently assist the chick to remove the shell and free the head only.

    After the hatch the chicks will be wet and flop around a lot. After a few hours, they will dry off and learn how to stand up without break dancing. Once the chick is dry and can move around without flopping, then it is ok to move it to the brooding box with it’s siblings.

    The first few days the quail will need supplemental heat. You will need to provide a heat lamp or heat source. I feed chick starter food but grind it up in the blender to make is smaller. The quail newborns can not eat chicken food that has not been ground up. Gradually reduce the amount of heat by raising the heat lamp higher and higher. It is important that the quail have fresh water at all times.
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  4. Wow! Thank you so so much! That helps a lot! Thumbs up on that post :)

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