Raising quail on the ground

Guille

In the Brooder
Aug 3, 2020
28
17
23
Hey guys,

So I just acquired 3 female quails (45 days old), and have built them a cage to be on the ground (see picture attached). I really want to make it work on the ground, and that means it has to be both sustainable for me (cleaning) and the birds (health), so looking for advice from others that might have tried it as well. I know there is convenience on having them on wire, but I want to crack down this.

There is no predator menace from rats or other underground animals, as I am having them in an indoor garden that is in the roof of my building. They of course have a ceiling to protect them from aerial predator or just escaping.

I do not have ambitions of making tons of eggs (so will keep the number of quails to 3). Their current cage is 80cmX30cm (about 2.7 sq ft), but can double (or a bit more even) that easily if needed. My idea is that there must be an area size that sort of "dillutes" the droppings, and therefore does not need cleaning, as the birds just wonder around (like if they were in the wild).

I understand sand boxes help to keep them stay dry and clean, so I am installing one. Any other thing I should do? Would that be enough? Do I need to make it bigger? Am I just doomed?

All thoughts are welcome, thanks!
 

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Nabiki

Quail Geek
Premium Feather Member
May 15, 2019
4,663
29,181
636
Sonoma County, CA
That looks a little small to me. Adding a couple hiding places (upside down boxes with holes cut in them work well) as well as a dirt box will make them more comfortable. I move my pens around as they kill the plants that are in with them.
 
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le_bwah

Crowing
May 1, 2018
989
2,510
266
Boise, ID
My Coop
I agree, looks a bit small. Aside from making them more stressed, smaller spaces make it harder for a bullied bird to escape their aggressor—more space and hiding places make bird-on-bird injuries less likely.

It takes quite a bit of space before poop can be managed by square footage alone. Nabiki's rotational method is a great solution for smaller cages to keep birds/plants healthy. If you're going to add enrichment/cover, keep in mind the space that it takes up.

Straight up dirt might be better than sand—fine particle size, no silica dust. Whatever they're bathing in helps remove excess oil/dander on their skin and feathers and smother/remove parasites. Dust baths are a must-have.
 

Nabiki

Quail Geek
Premium Feather Member
May 15, 2019
4,663
29,181
636
Sonoma County, CA
I agree, looks a bit small. Aside from making them more stressed, smaller spaces make it harder for a bullied bird to escape their aggressor—more space and hiding places make bird-on-bird injuries less likely.

It takes quite a bit of space before poop can be managed by square footage alone. Nabiki's rotational method is a great solution for smaller cages to keep birds/plants healthy. If you're going to add enrichment/cover, keep in mind the space that it takes up.

Straight up dirt might be better than sand—fine particle size, no silica dust. Whatever they're bathing in helps remove excess oil/dander on their skin and feathers and smother/remove parasites. Dust baths are a must-have.
I don't give mine dirt baths because they get either loose soil in the garden beds or lots of broken up pine needles and real dirt to bathe in on the ground.
 

FloorCandy

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
906
1,527
140
I would make the size a bit bigger, but your quails will probably pick a favorite spot and they will all be there like 70% of the time and all the grass will die there. Poop will coat the grass in that spot. If you want to keep the grass alive you need to move the cage around to new grass, I move my 3x3feet breeder cage every day so they don’t kill the grass and I keep 4-5 quail in it. After 2 days of adult quail, even though I hose it off, the grass starts to die. The poop is too acidic I think.

This is the main cage, about 24 sq feet. This is the first day, it took them about 2 weeks to kill all the grass, I raked it out and replaced with sand. I sift the sand every few days, the inside has always been filled with sand, there’s a bin in the nest box which is on the far side of the pic, and it has wood chips in it in case they want a change.
D717096E-CEC9-46A3-AF68-5A7006DC36A3.jpeg


this is the breeder cage I made, I put 4-5 in at a time so I can collect eggs and record lineage of those I hatch. I move it every day.
9184440F-BC12-4290-9114-9805B5A5D514.jpeg
 

FloorCandy

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
906
1,527
140
We had essentially a hurricane yesterday lol. The tarp on the breeder got blown off, so the cage got rained on quite a bit, I went and took a pic before I move it today, the evening before yesterday I moved the cage, yesterday I didn’t because the weather was bad, this is what the mess looks like after 1 and 1/2 days use by quail, in heavy rain:
E622AD50-EF7B-497B-A670-E31036D34278.jpeg

0406D23E-4559-4734-A124-F6514F58E210.jpeg


my yard :-(
99205E40-A4EB-4CFE-ACC6-0A3DAF2C221A.jpeg

half a tree fell in my neighbors yard, I already took big branches away, but there were huge branches all over, my intex pool is toast, I need to empty it and refill, the storm was too much, still the pen is filthy.
 

Guille

In the Brooder
Aug 3, 2020
28
17
23
Thanks everyone for the comments! I have decided to build a duplicate of the current one (so to double the area), and rotate them in a modular form through my garden. Will add another dust bath (or a bigger one), as I can see that they all want to get in it (and it helps them stay clean). Also, another container where they can guard from outside temperature (although they seem to like it out there).
 

Eonflux

Chirping
Jul 15, 2020
52
83
50
Hope you and the quails are alright, I live in the west coast of Florida and it barely hit us, not even a drop of rain. Your breeder cage looks nice and light, I was thinking about making something like that but with the base something heavier in case of a heavy storm...if we get hit by a hurricane, I dunno lol.
 

Quailobsessed

Songster
Oct 12, 2019
1,609
2,398
241
Australia
The more space the better. It will get quite messy in there, so it will have to be either cleaned regularly, much larger and/or much deeper.
 

FloorCandy

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
906
1,527
140
Hope you and the quails are alright, I live in the west coast of Florida and it barely hit us, not even a drop of rain. Your breeder cage looks nice and light, I was thinking about making something like that but with the base something heavier in case of a heavy storm...if we get hit by a hurricane, I dunno lol.
I have wire on the base, I wanted wider wire but with covid everywhere was sold out so it’s half inch. When it rusts I’ll replace it with like 1 inch or chicken wire it can’t be too big because I don’t want their feet going through when I move it. So the wire has the cinderblock on it which keeps it from flipping or being reached under by stray and neighbor cats. Luckily I moved the breeder to high ground, the main cage is at high ground right by the house, I fastened everything down well before the storm, so just some branches and junk must have blown at the breeder and grabbed the tarp. The quail are all fine and they are all giving eggs, so I don’t think they were traumatized. I was worried about them out there, this was our first big storm with outside pets.
 

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