Quail are gaining in popularity on both rural and urban homesteads. I personally enjoyed raising these fascinating little creatures in hanging cages in my garage, and I especially enjoyed their delicious eggs. Quail are busy little birds that are fun to watch and care for. But should you raise them in your backyard?
You should raise quail if you are looking for small, hardy game fowl that will provide you with plenty of eggs and meat. Quails are easy and inexpensive to raise, but they have some qualities that might make you think twice about raising them.
In this article, we’ll talk about whether or not you should raise backyard quail. First, we’ll talk about what makes quail great livestock for your homestead, but we’ll also look at a few reasons why you might not want to raise quail. Below is a video I did showing the last time I hatched and raised a batch of baby quail.
11 Reasons You Should Raise Quail In Your Backyard
Quail Are Prolific Egg Layers
Quail are great layers. If you want a consistent source of eggs, quail are a great way to go. They’ll mostly lay an egg per day, providing you with lots of delicious and nutritious eggs.
Quail Are Surprisingly Small.
Quail are small creatures – much smaller than chickens. A full-size quail is generally only about 5 inches tall. Since they are so small, they don’t take up much room, and you can raise pretty many in a small space, especially if you use stacking cages.
Quail Are Very Easy to Hatch
For their small size, quail eggs hatch very easily in an incubator. And while it is normal to lose a few baby quail in the process, they are relatively hardy, even as chicks. They’ll teach the others where the food and water are, so as long as a couple of babies know how to eat and drink, the rest will quickly follow suit.
Baby Quail Grow to Maturity Quickly.
Coturnix quail can go from egg to maturity in about eight weeks. They’ll be laying eggs by the time they’re eight weeks old, too. At 6 to 8 weeks of age, you can decide if you want to butcher them for meat or keep them to lay eggs or breed. Because they grow so fast, you’ll have a quick turnaround time if you need meat and eggs.
Quail Are Less Regulated Than Chickens
Quail are not subject to as many laws as chickens are. They are much less regulated than chickens and other types of livestock. So, if you live in an area where chickens are not permitted, you probably can still raise quail. Even if your municipality has specific laws against chicken keeping, you’re likely still in the clear to have quail. Of course, you should always check your local laws to be safe.
Quail Don’t Need Much Cage Space
Because of their small size, quail don’t need big cages. They only need half to one square foot per bird per cage. So you can easily keep 3 to 4 quail in a small cage. In addition, specially made stacking cages mean you can keep a large number of birds in a very confined space.
Quail Can Be Kept Indoors
You can keep quail indoors if needed. Even if you live in an apartment, you might be able to keep a few quail in a cage to have a supply of fresh eggs. As long as you keep their cage clean, you’ll be able to keep smells to a minimum. And even though males can be loud, if you only keep female quail, you won’t have to be too concerned about the noise.
Quail Have Fewer Diseases than Chickens
Quails aren’t subject to many of the diseases that other fowl are. These birds are surprisingly hardy and disease resistant. Some folks believe that you cannot contract salmonella from raw quail eggs, and people with egg allergies MIGHT be less allergic to quail eggs than chicken eggs.
Quail Have a Great Feed to Egg Ratio
One of the best things about quails is their feed to egg ratio. For the small amount of feed they consume, they produce a lot of eggs! But, on the other hand, their small size means they don’t need to eat a lot of feed.
Quail Can Eat Kitchen Scraps
Quail love some fresh vegetables alongside of their gamebird feed. Of course, cucumbers are a favorite food for many quail, but you can safely serve them a variety of vegetables.
Quail Eggs Are Healthy Eggs
Not only are quail eggs a great source of protein, but they also provide Vitamins A, B, and iron and help to mitigate allergies. Some people say that quail eggs are the healthiest type of eggs you can eat.
Quail Can Be Source of Income From Your Backyard
If you need a source of income on your homestead, you might consider selling quail eggs or even quail meat. You can even sell fertilized eggs or breeder pairs to hobbyists. As game birds, you can even raise quail to be sold for hunting and replenishing game lands. In areas where quail have been over-hunted, you can raise certain species of quail to be released into the wild.
Before we get into my reasons to not raise quail, here is a short video showing the build process of my backyard “Slightly Rednecked” style quail hutches.
9 Reasons You Shouldn’t Raise Quail In Your Backyard
Quail Can Be Really Stinky
One of the drawbacks to raising quail is that they can be a bit stinky. If you’re going to raise quail inside, you especially need to keep on top of cleaning the cage and disposing of the feces to prevent odors. If the wastes are not composted or disposed of correctly, it can attract flies, as well.
Male Quail Can Be Loud
While female quail are relatively quiet, male quail, especially Bobwhites, can be rather loud. You’ll want to limit the number of males to keep the noise level down. If you are keeping your quail indoors, you might only want to have females.
You’ll Need to Get Rid of Excess Males
If you breed and hatch quail yourself, you’ll need the means to get rid of the excess males. Too many males can be hard on females. They’re also loud and can be aggressive. You’ll need to figure out what to do when you have too many males. You can process them for meat, sell them to other hobbyists, or potentially sell them to shooting ranges and clubs.
Feed For Quail Can Be Expensive
Gamebird feed is more expensive than chicken feed. And although some people have successfully raised quail on chicken feed, they are much healthier with a higher protein ratio. The cost of their feed can add up quickly, especially if you have a lot of birds.
Quail Eggs are Small
If you are used to jumbo-sized chicken and duck eggs, you’ll be shocked at the small size of quail eggs. It can take 3 to 4 quail eggs to make one large chicken egg, so you’ll need plenty of quail to feed your family.
Quail Just Can’t Free Range
To be honest, quail aren’t as bright nor as domesticated as chickens and ducks. If you try to free-range your quail, well, they’ll just wander away and become food for the nearest predator. And while you can keep them in a colony setting, they mostly do better with just a few birds per cage.
Quail Hens Are Not Good Mommas
If you want a bird that goes broody and hatches eggs, quail are not the best choice. And while they do great at laying a lot of eggs, they don’t have a very maternal instinct. So if you want to hatch quail, you’ll need to use an incubator and a brooder until they are fully feathered.
You Need a Small Male to Female Ratio
You need to watch your male-to-female ratio closely because they will overbreed their ladies if you have too many males. As a result, the hens can be seriously injured and even die from overbreeding. So make sure your male-to-female ratio is around one male to 3 hens, when possible.
Quail Can Be Mean to Each Other
I’ve never seen a quail become aggressive towards a human, but I have seen them turn on each other. The males will fight over the females, the females will fight over their food, and the males can aggressively breed the females. The best way to keep quail from becoming aggressive is to limit the number of birds you keep together and always ensure sufficient food and water.
Can I raise quail in an apartment?
If your apartment allows you to have pet birds, then you can probably raise a few quail in your apartment. You’ll want to check with your local laws and your landlord just to be safe.
Can quail live outside?
You can raise your quail in an outdoor hutch, just like you would rabbits. Of course, they’ll need cover from bad weather or hot sun, but as long as they have adequate shelter and protection from predators, they will be just fine outdoors.
What breed of quail should I raise?
Coturnix quail are a popular breed for homesteading and meat and eggs. However, bobwhite quail are sought after by game lands and can also be raised for meat and eggs. On the other hand, if you want a hobby breed, button quail is an excellent revenue source for people looking for pets. However, button quail eggs are too small to be easily used as a food source.