Smell-Free Quail Coop

AniaOnion

Chirping
Jul 7, 2018
55
94
66
Niagara Region, Canada
I've seen people ask about raising quail indoors, or reducing smell in coops.

I actually have my coop with 4 birds, in my bedroom. Before I had to move back in with my folks, I had them in my apartment. How can I handle it? I've actually figured out how to create a nearly completely smell free coop. The trick? Red-Wriggler Composting Worms!

For the original coop I build, and for the one I had to make quickly to replace the one that broke in the move, the trick was to actually have the bottom be actual soil. I then added the red wriggler worms to the soil. These voracious worms are used by people to compost kitchen waste. They're so voracious that they usually manage to keep things going without allowing stuff the time to really stink. It's the same basic concept here. The worms compost the fallen food, as well as the poop. They do so fast enough to keep it from stinking up.

The final touch is to plant the soil. I like to grow clover sprouts for my girls to graze on in addition to their usual food. I've also added a little bushy tree-type plant, that they sometimes use for cover. I find having plants adds to the smell reduction but it's not necessary.

Once a day, I'll grab a mini rake and rake the topsoil to mix any waste into the ground, and voila! The added bonus is that the worms provide additional protein for the birds.

The picture is of my current set-up.
 

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Fishkeeper

Crowing
Oct 30, 2017
2,345
4,968
286
Central Texas
That's really interesting!
How deep is the dirt? Is it anything in particular, or just good, organic dirt?
Do you feed the worms anything else?
How long has it been set up?
Have you ever swapped out any of the dirt?

You've basically set up what is called in herp-keeping circles a "bioactive" enclosure. Plants and invertebrates break down the waste, meaning little or no cleaning is ever needed. In herp enclosures, it's usually such things as isopods (pillbugs) and springtails, worms are less common, but it's the same idea as this. It's usually done with smaller animals that prefer a more humid environment, like frogs, but you sometimes see it with snakes and lizards.
 

AniaOnion

Chirping
Jul 7, 2018
55
94
66
Niagara Region, Canada
I have it set up with about 4 inches of soil, and yup, just regular organic soil. Though I guess after a few months it ends up being composted manure too lol.

I haven't had to swap out dirt, but I have had to remove some over time since the worms are basically creating new dirt. My tomatoes, and other nitrogen loving plants absolutely ADORE it!

My first set up I have for about 8 months with no trouble. This one I've had for about 2 months. Some of the soil also ends up including some of the sand and ash from their dust baths, which I have to actually change out, since THAT doesn't really have worms lol.

As for the worms, they get plenty of food since the quail are pretty messy eaters. In addition they get the leftovers of any herbs, sprouts, veggies, and fruit that I feed my birds as treats. The person I got the worms from actually feeds them horse manure. Since I end up having to pour out their water once a day to deal with the dirt or poop they kick into it, I use that to water the plants and also provide moisture for the worms. Sometimes if I have a cracked egg, I'll bury it.

I did a similar enclosure actually before when I had frogs. The nice thing too is that it closely mimics their natural environment - the birds I mean - especially with the little bush, and they seem to like it.
 

AniaOnion

Chirping
Jul 7, 2018
55
94
66
Niagara Region, Canada
One trick for actually getting the plants to grow without being dug up, is to make like a little raised grate to put over top so they cant eat the seeds or dig them up. That said, as soon as you let them at it, they'll eat it all. I added a big bushy thyme in there, and after a week it was mostly gone xD.

Here is a current picture. I just took it actually. :)

I actually just added a new rooster and hen to my flock.
 

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AniaOnion

Chirping
Jul 7, 2018
55
94
66
Niagara Region, Canada
This was my old set up. I used to have cats so it was a bit more important to have extra caging between them lol. My original girls were adoptees from the wild bird center. The older one was 4 years old at least but possibly older since she came to them as an adult. The younger was between 2 and 3, and died of a broken heart and possibly an infection as well, but had survived a dog attack as basically a chick. They were bonded girls.
 

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vixie-daisy

Chirping
Sep 10, 2018
51
142
91
I absolutely love this idea, and it also sounds great because it would save money on bedding! I have my quail in my bedroom as well, except I have 10 of them, so I have to clean pretty frequently to keep the smell down.

I have a few questions:
How many worms did you start with?
Do the worms ever escape?
 

AniaOnion

Chirping
Jul 7, 2018
55
94
66
Niagara Region, Canada
Lol I spend too much time online. When I see someone post popcorn I feel like they're getting ready to watch drama lol. :p

Do my first thought was, oh shit, what did I do?
 
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