Space for quail?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by cshma11, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. cshma11

    cshma11 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We currently have a 2x4 coop, so 8sqft of space, and 6 birds (5F/1M). I keep saying our new coop - we are going to try deep litter instead of wire floor - needs to be larger, more like 18-20sqft for up to 20 birds. He is insisting that each adult quail only needs 1/4 square foot, and we can put up to 30 birds in an 8sqft space. I *vehemently* disagree with him, and haven't found anything anywhere stating they can thrive with so little space. Everything I've seen says 1sqft per bird is best. Obviously they can have more space, but not less. He is saying that 1sqft is anecdotal and not scientifically proven, and they only need 0.25sqft per bird. Can anyone help me out? I am not going to let him put more than 1 bird per sqft, but I'm tired of arguing.
     
  2. JaeG

    JaeG Overrun With Chickens

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    There's a breeder in New Zealand who keeps his quail in a few different ways and finds the smaller cages, kept indoors (his are in a well ventilated shed), with 6 females or 4 females and a male in them leads to calmer, quieter quail. His cages are 24 inches by 24 inches.

    https://backyardfarmer.co.nz/2014/02/09/quails-happier-in-batteries-than-outside/

    But to me a larger group would require more space as bullying can go unnoticed in larger groups as can health concerns. They would need many feeding and watering stations, and decor to break up the area so birds can get out of each others eye line if they feel stressed. You also need to think about egg collection in a larger cage with a larger group. You will end up with more dirty eggs the more condensed your population is. There is more cleaning with a larger group, especially if you are only giving them 0.25sqft per bird. They are messy things. I'm not sure even deep litter could cope with a population that heavy.

    I've recently put a trio of ours into our aviary and even though it is a very sheltered aviary with a solid bottom and a roof they are nervous in there. I think they preferred their smaller cage with three and a half solid sides, and solid floor and roof. And finding their eggs is like an easter egg hunt!

    This might help too: http://www.quailfarm.co.uk/index.php/quail-info/quail-cages
     
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  3. lisameow

    lisameow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think if you want them to be more relaxed and generally healthier, then give them as much room as you can allow. A square foot each would be good for them because they can lay more eggs and you won't have to clean as often.
     
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  4. geniash

    geniash Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I never heard 1/4 sq ft per quail - the general guideline is 1 sq ft per bird. This is a general agreement among the experienced breeders as well as subject matter experts. 30 birds in 8 sq ft of space is nothing but holocaust, no offence to anyone.
     
  5. cshma11

    cshma11 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I totally agree! I can't imagine putting my birds through that. I can't imagine it would be any different than commercial chicken egg layer conditions - which are awful. I flat out told him they might survive like that but there is zero reason to do it, especially since we have a ton of plywood, 2x4s, furring strips, wire mesh (for windows and lid)... literally all the supplies we need, we already have. So I refuse to put them in conditions like that. I'm picturing a nice spacious coop with deep litter, good food/water and light, and calm, happy egg laying quail :)
     
  6. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are planning on having 20 birds in the same enclosure, keep in mind that several males in the same enclosure is usually not a good idea, even with more than one square foot a bird - if you are intending on having more than one male, it's better to split the enclosure in 2 (or 3 or 4, depending on how many males you want).
    With regards to 1/4 sqft, people sometimes use that for immature birds or birds soon to be slaughtered. I've heard of breeding groups kept successfully on 1/2 sqft a bird, but not 1/4. But if you have funds and space for it, there is absolutely no reason to try to push it. 1 square foot a bird is reasonable and humane to look at. 4 would be delightful but maybe not reasonable. 1/2 is pushing it - imo. And 1/4 is something I'd be downright ashamed of showing people.
    I don't have coturnix - I only have button quail - and I wouldn't even keep those on less than 1 sqft a bird. I have a pair in an 8 sqft cage and they hatched 6 chicks a few weeks ago. I thought they were getting over crowded before I removed the chicks today - and those are 40 gram birds. Some of the chicks only have about 1 square foot in their new cages. I also have a bad conscience about that and I'm only doing it as a temporary thing.
     
  7. cshma11

    cshma11 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    for sure! We are probably going to separate it into sections of about 4-5 females to 1 male, with a minimum of 1sqft per bird. I'm thinking a long rectangle split into thirds?
     
  8. poultrymad

    poultrymad Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, I know most people are going to disagree with me but I'll say my experiences. I have kept laying/breeding Japanese Quail from any where between 2sqf per bird down to 6 birds to the square foot. With the most productive being at 1/4 of a square foot per bird and 6 to the sqf. I know it may sound cruel but they always seem to do better and lay better in the smaller pens with a mesh floor. I actually did an experiment a bit back where I had 2 female quail that were sisters and the same age. I put 1 in a wire floored pen with 4 other birds. The pen was1 1/2 square feet of area. The other 1 went in a 2' by 3' pen with wood chip bedding an a nest full of hay and 1 young male for company (know the male was not harrasing her as she never had any feathers missing and he was to young to breed). Both pens were about 6 feet away from each other with the same amount of light and both had ad lib food and water. The pen on wire floor every hen laid every day apart from the occasional day when I had 1 less than the number of hens. The hen on solid floor only laid about 3 eggs over the whole 6 weeks.
    I know people are going to disagree with me but these are my experiences and they might be of use to someone.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  9. poultrymad

    poultrymad Out Of The Brooder

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    And as for big groups being a problem. I have kept 8 males and 40 females in a 2' by 6' pen with virtually no issues.
     
  10. quail42

    quail42 Just Hatched

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    This is very interesting, as is the study posted above with similar findings. I wonder if there have been any studies on if egg productivity is a sign of happiness in birds? It seems against common sense that they would be happier so crowded and on wire floor than something more similar to natural conditions. Is it possible that being around so many birds stimulates their productivity without being a sign of anything else - eg hormones or physical reaction from smells? Do you remember the lifespans of the two hens in your experiment?
     
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