Raising quail at home for eggs is more profitable compared to chickens. Quail are smaller in size and can, therefore, be kept in a smaller area.
But how do you raise quail for eggs? If you are familiar with homestead chicken farming, then switching to quail shouldn’t be a problem.
Quail are very productive birds that produce large enough eggs for sales or own consumption. In some countries, quail eggs are considered more delicious and are more expensive than chicken eggs.
Apart from high productivity, quail are also more affordable to acquire and need less maintenance and management than other birds. They are the perfect choice of birds for off-gridders and other homesteaders.
In this article, we will explain everything you need to successfully raise quail. Keep reading to find out more!
- 4 Benefits Of Raising Quail
- 6 Important Things to Know When Raising Quail
- 4 Common Diseases When Raising Quail
- Pro Tips To Raise Quail: Protecting Them From Predators
- The Final Sentences
4 Benefits Of Raising Quail
As mentioned, quail have many advantages over other birds you can raise at home. Let’s talk about the four main benefits of raising quail:
Smaller Means Less Space
Quail are some of the smallest birds you can keep for meat and their eggs. Their small size means they need small space for nesting boxes.
The floor space required for raising quail is far less than that for a chicken.
Female quail are generally quiet and calm birds with good temperaments. They also don’t crow, meaning you and your neighbors will always be at peace with each other.
However, male quail crow, but you cannot compare the noise to that of a rooster. They mainly crow as a gesture to gain the attention of the females.
To limit that, you can just keep a few males if you need fertilized eggs to grow the size of the flock. If you do not need any eggs fertilized then you may not even need a male around.
Turn-around For Eggs And Meat Is Much Quicker
Quail take about six weeks to mature and start producing eggs in the eighth week. That is far lower than that of a chicken, which can take up to six months in some breeds.
Whether raising quail for your own use or sale, you get the return on your investments a bit earlier than you would with chickens.
Get Extra Money From Your Quail
Apart from egg and meat, you can also get feathers and manure from quail. These are items that people will pay for. This means that you could sell these items and make a bit of extra money.
Quail feathers have many uses, including making masks, jewelry, decorations, stuff cushions, pillows, and quilts.
You can be creative and use the soft and patterned quail feathers to make whatever you please. Quail feathers are very versatile.
Quail manure can be used to fuel a biogas system or as a fertilizer for your garden. In fact, quail manure has proved to be better in biodigesters for a constant supply of gas.
6 Important Things to Know When Raising Quail
Quail can be raised from fertilized eggs or birds at the point of lay. It all depends on the stage where you want to pick it up.
For the experience, you can buy fertilized eggs or baby quail and start raising them. If you are busy, buy adult hens for egg production.
There are 6 important factors you need to take into consideration to raise quail or to manage them better. Read on to find out more in this section.
Determine The Species And Buy The Breed
Before you decide whether to raise quail or not, you should check the local laws and regulations. Some areas do not allow certain animals within certain limits. This generally applies to cities, however, you should still check local regulations for your area.
If they don’t ban you from doing so, then go ahead to determine the species you want to raise and breed. You will then buy the birds and they are known as the parent flock.
Determine The Species
There are different quail breeds around the world. Some are known for high-quality meat, egg production, and some are good for both.
In this case, you need quail for egg production. So, you should choose quail mainly for that purpose.
From over 100 quail breeds available globally, only a handful can be considered farmyard birds. Most of them still exist as game birds and cannot be domesticated.
When deciding on the quail breed to raise for eggs, you should also consider the size, age, and ease of management. The following are examples of quail you can domesticate:
- Bobwhite Quail
- Coturnix (Coturnix Japonica)
- California Quail (Callipepla
- Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla Gambelii)
- Blue Scale Quail (Callipepla Squamata)
Decide If You Want To Buy Mating Birds Or Hatching Eggs
You can buy fertilized eggs and hatch them or consider day-old chicks from the hatchery. Some people also prefer buying quail birds at the point of lay.
The choice is yours, and you have to prepare based on that.
A mature quail bird is about $5, while you can buy 50 eggs at just $20. At a glance, you can conclude that buying eggs or chicks is the cheaper option.
However, that is not the case if you factor in the cost of raising chicks and the equipment needed to hatch the fertilized eggs.
If you choose mature birds, you may only need their cages and nesting boxes. These can cost you a few dollars or make them yourself using locally-available materials.
If raising chicks to mature for egg-laying, you will need a brooder. This area has regulated temperature, light, water, and a feeding system required to care for the vulnerable chicks.
Without such proper preparation, you can lose the entire flock.
Buying fertilized eggs means you also need to buy an incubator and a brooder. Some people have used homemade incubators before, but the efficiency is low.
You can lose many eggs. Incubators also require a constant electric power supply, which may be challenging when living off the grid.
If you are raising quail for eggs, then we recommend buying mature birds. The starting capital may be high, but the maintenance cost is low.
You also start getting returns almost immediately. However, it is your choice to go for fertilized eggs, day-old chicks, or mature birds. In all cases, you need a reliable supplier.
Determine the Number of Birds
Sizing your flock depends on your egg requirements and the space you have available. It also depends on the quail breed you choose.
Quail eggs can be consumed just like chicken eggs, but you need about five quail eggs for every chicken egg. Quail eggs are significantly smaller than chicken eggs.
To size your flock appropriately, consider buying one quail hen for every chicken egg your family needs. If you consume about 30 chicken eggs monthly, then you need 30 quail hens.
If you intend to produce fertilized eggs, you need one male for every female quail you buy.
The size of the flock can also depend on the quail breed. Coturnix quail mature after seven weeks and start laying about one egg per day, averaging about 300 eggs a year.
That is more than 200 eggs that other breeds can give you. Use these factors to properly size your flock, keeping in mind the space you have.
Also, check your state laws. Some require a license to raise quail and can limit the number an individual is allowed to keep.
Building Coops Or Cages For Raising Quail
Quail perform much better in confined spaces than other large birds, such as chickens, turkeys, and ducks.
You need a cage or a coop to raise your birds. This assumes that your birds are mature and don’t require brooding.
Some people prefer raising quail in cages, as opposed to the coop. What you choose is a matter of personal preference. These structures make it easier to care for the birds and protect them from predators.
Quail require a floor space of at least one square foot per bird. These birds also like running around and testing their wings.
As such, you might need to have a separate flight pen that can be attached to the cages or independent. The floor area for this should be at least two square feet per bird.
Food And Water
Fortunately, quail are easy to feed. Their diet comprises mainly grains, seeds, plant matter, worms, and bugs. However, it can be challenging to find all these. So, what should you feed your quail?
This bird is not too picky about what it eats. You can feed them a wide variety of items including blackberries, cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. However, you want to make sure they do have a form of seed from a local animal feed store.
Like all other domesticated birds, quail also require a constant supply of clean water for drinking. The water trays used for chicken are just good for quail.
However, they should be raised high enough so that the birds don’t contaminate them.
The use of automatic waterers is also on the rise. These are more efficient and ensure water is always clean.
If you want to raise quail from chicks, you should provide pebbles or small stones in the water to prevent them from drowning.
Weilan Plastic Flip Top Small Poultry Feeder Drinker
We have seen many people using chicken feeds to raise quail. It may work, but these are not formulated for quail.
If your birds don’t depend on foraging, then you can consider game bird feeds. Crumble is the most preferred for quail.
Young quail are given starter feeds, which should be about 30% protein. Each bird requires about a pinch a day.
As the bird grows and matures, you can reduce the protein to about 20%. Layering birds should be fed with calcium to enhance eggshell formation.
The detailed food ratio is as outlined in the table below:
|0-3 Weeks||4-5 Weeks||Adult|
|Broken Wheat||48%||50 %||50 %|
|Sesame Cake||23 %||22 %||22 %|
|Kipper Fish||20 %||16 %||14 %|
|Rice Bran||6 %||8 %||9 %|
|Broken Oyster shell||2.25 %||3.25 %||4.25 %|
|Salt||0.50 %||0.50 %||0.50 %|
|Mineral Mix||0.25 %||0.25 %||0.25 %|
|Total (Percentage)||100 %||100 %||100 %|
Having A Nesting Box
Quail also require a comfortable place for laying eggs. Nesting boxes may not be appropriate due to the large size.
An aviary bird box or commercial quail nesting boxes are recommended if you want to get the best out of your birds. However, you can also make some and put them in cages or coops.
The nesting boxes shouldn’t be empty. Line them with wood shavings, hay, and some nesting materials to make them more comfortable. Put the nests at the ground level.
To encourage egg-laying, ensure the birds have enough lighting. Quail require a maximum of 15 hours of light every day. More than that and it will stress the bird because they need to sleep as well.
Preparation Time And Money
The fixed cost of raising quail you will incur is that of buying the chicks or fertilized eggs. As mentioned, 50 fertilized quail eggs are about 20 dollars.
However, that cost may vary depending on the hatchery where you are sourcing them from.
Other additional costs of raising quail will result from equipment, constructing cages or coops, and feeds. This expense will depend on the size of your flock.
Fortunately, most quail breeds require only seven weeks to mature and start laying eggs.
Homesteaders can keep quail with minimum cost. Cages, laying nests, feeders, and waterers can be locally made. You can also reduce the maintenance cost by buying mature birds.
Raising chicks can be fulfilling but needs a lot of time because you will be setting up a brooder.
Quail do not need a lot of care compared to other birds. They are resistant to most diseases and can eat many things.
4 Common Diseases When Raising Quail
Despite the high resistance to diseases, quail are also attacked by some parasites and diseases.
As part of care and maintenance, you should regularly monitor and check your birds for signs of diseases and parasite infestations.
Identifying them on time can save the lives of quail and ensure steady production.
Quail Disease (Ulcerative Enteritis)
One of the deadliest quail diseases is characterized by anemia and lesions in the intestine of the bird.
This is a highly contagious disease that spreads through infectious bacteria in droppings. If the infected quail is not treated on time, it dies.
The birds suffering from this disease have diarrhea, lethargy, and drooping wings.
To avoid the spread, isolate the infected quail, treat, and disinfect the entire cage. You can call professionals for treatment.
Respiratory infections can be prevalent in the quails’ coop and cages if they are poorly ventilated. That is because quail produce droppings with a high concentration of ammonia.
Regular cleaning can also help in reducing the severity of respiratory infections.
Symptoms of respiratory infection in quail include sneezing, snotty, listlessness, and difficulty breathing. Call an expert for advice and treatments.
Quail can also be infested by worms such as tapeworms. Such birds become hungrier, produce runny stool, and may show low production.
If you are keen enough, you can see the worms in their droppings.
You should call a veterinarian or use natural remedies such as apple cider vinegar in their water. Garlic is also effective in this case.
Mites and Lice
Like many other birds, quail are also susceptible to lice and mites. If you see your quail scratching, losing feathers, or having dirty vents, you should check them for mite or lice infestation.
Fortunately, you can get rid of mites and parasites on your own. Just take the birds to another cage or coop and dust the infested one with diatomaceous earth to kill and deter mites.
Also, dust the quail before returning them to their clean home. Dust them again after one week and one last time after another week to completely eradicate them.
Pro Tips To Raise Quail: Protecting Them From Predators
Quail are poor fliers, making them a favorite for predators. They can hide in the grass in the wild, but that may not be the case for your domesticated birds.
As a result, you need to protect them from all their three main enemies.
Quail caged indoors are safe from aerial predators. But if you want to keep them outdoors, you should use chicken wire to secure the entire surface area.
Eagles, hawks, and owls are some of the aerial threats that you should protect your quail from.
You should also protect your quail from rodents, whether large or small. What are these specific rodents that can ruin your quail farm?
Raccoons, opossums, foxes, and coyotes will not look at your quail twice before dashing on them if they find the opportunity. What you can do is seal the coop or cage so that they cannot access it.
Small rats will be attracted to the quail cage or coop to eat their food and/or eggs. Big ones can also kill the birds. Controlling can be quite a test, given their small sizes.
But it is something you should not take for granted if you want the best from your birds.
Barn and Feral Cats
Cats love birds on their menu. If they have a limited food supply, they may turn to your quail. The only way to know the culprit is to install cameras in the coop to monitor it for any predator.
Quail Egg & Farming Cage
Can you raise quail just for eggs?
Yes. Like chickens, there are quail known for their high egg production. However, their lifespan is shorter. So, you may need to replace the flock sooner compared to that of a chicken.
Are quail hard to raise?
Not at all. Quail are easier to raise than chickens because of their low maintenance and high resilience to most diseases. They also require less space.
Which quail are best for eggs?
The Coturnix breed is known as the best layer. This quail takes only 7 weeks to mature and lays one egg per day with occasional skips.
On average, you can expect 300 eggs from Coturnix per year. You can also consider some popular breeds, such as California Quail.
The Final Sentences
Raising quail is easier compared to raising chicken. Its products, meat, and eggs are also highly nutritious and delicious.
So, you can raise dual-purpose quail to benefit from both. Additionally, quail can give you feathers and manure for other uses.
With the information provided in this article, you now know what it takes to keep quail. Please share it with friends and explore other topics at the Em Offgrid.
We have posted detailed articles on keeping backyard chicken and other livestock that you may consider.