Quail sounds like a pretty exotic animal to raise, and as such, many people probably assume that they’re much more trouble than they’re worth and simply go for raising chickens instead. However, raising quail is actually as easy as raising chickens, and a lot of people will argue that it may even be easier than that.
This is primarily due to the low-maintenance needs of the baby quail, their overall smaller size, and a few other characteristics that we’ll go into a bit further down in the article.
We’ll do our best to elaborate on the benefits of raising quail chicks and the few simple preparations that you’re going to need to make before you can get started.
Before we get into the crux of our article, we should definitely point out that there are certain restrictions on livestock that you’re going to need to pay attention to. Each state has its own laws, and you’re going to need to make sure that your location allows the raising of poultry.
Most of the time, as long as you have a coop or a cage and the animals don’t make too much noise, you should be well within your rights to be able to have a backyard chicken coop. However, the rules might not be the same in Arizona as they are in California, and there might also be certain restrictions on the size of the coop or the number of adult quail that you can actually raise.
You might also face complaints from any nearby neighbors if you don’t keep a tidy backyard and the smell becomes too overwhelming.
While you might need to make a few adjustments to your property to comply with state laws fully, there really shouldn’t be any major issues that you need to be concerned about.
When it comes to going off-grid or making your food source entirely independent, the chicken is the first animal that everyone turns to.
They’re small, don’t require all that much food or water, and can either be slaughtered for their meat or kept exclusively for their eggs. Keeping all of this in mind, we know how difficult it is to make some people believe that there are even better domestic birds that you can raise.
The truth is that there is an advantage that chickens have over quails.
Chickens are larger in size, which is very important if you’re raising them for their meat instead of eggs. But, on the other hand, the smaller size of the quail also makes them much easier to raise and keep, and while you’re going to need 2 square feet in your brooder for every baby chicken you mean to raise, baby quails only require 1 square foot.
Additionally, most quail families are also capable of laying a substantially larger number of eggs during the year than most chickens. While chickens lay around 200 eggs a year, quails are known to produce at least 50% more, and although quail eggs are smaller, the quantity more than makes up for it.
The only way that you can expect to see less than 300 quail eggs a year is if you get something like a button quail that’s primarily used as a pet or a bobwhite quail that’s a breed primarily used as a game bird.
Additionally, a chicken takes six months from its birth before it can start producing eggs, whereas a quail chick can begin laying eggs as soon as six weeks after hatching. Chickens also lay fewer eggs during the colder months, while quails are consistent all year round.
As an added perk, quails are actually much less noisy than chickens, resulting in fewer noise complaints from neighbors and a lot more peace and quiet for yourself.
When we learned these statistics for ourselves, we immediately concluded that any previous egg farm idea we had was “for the birds” (pun intended). We modified our backyard to better accommodate our new quail farm.
If you’ve raised chickens before, then all you need to do is set up a standard DIY brooder at least a week before you expect your quail eggs to hatch.
The alternative is to get a wide plastic bin and a free-standing heat lamp that can act as a heat source you can aim into the bin.
The next thing that you’re going to need to do is to line the bottom of the baby quail enclosure with newspaper, sawdust, sand, wood shavings, or any other material that you might have at hand. It doesn’t matter what you put at the bottom of the enclosure, as long as it’s able to keep the chicks dry and warm.
Speaking of warmth, the heat lamp should ideally be kept at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit and aimed towards one side of the bin or the chick home.
All of the eggs will be placed in the corner that the heat lamp is pointed to and that acts as a sort of incubator. After the chicks hatch, they’ll either cling to that corner or try to get away from it.
If they’re clinging to it, that means they’re not warm enough, and you should raise the temp, but if they’re avoiding it, they probably need a bit less heat.
After they hatch, you’re going to need to get some feeders and waterers into the baby quail enclosure. The quails aren’t going to use all that much water, but it should still be kept clean and replaced every one to two days at the least.
Pay particular attention to the depth of the water. Quails are beautiful birds, but they’re small, and they don’t have much in the way of survival instincts.
During their first week of life, they’re more than likely going to go to the water and accidentally drown themselves unless you keep a close eye on them. Alternatively, you can place something like rocks at the bottom of the waterer and make the water shallower. That’ll cause a bit of water to spill out every now and then, but it’ll save you from having to employ Callipepla lifeguards.
On the other hand, the feeders are less hazardous to the well-being of your quail, and all you need to pay attention to is that the feed is in crumbles rather than pellets since the baby quails won’t be able to eat it otherwise. We personally go for the Manna Pro Gamebird Showbird Crumbles due to having 25% protein which can really help with the growth of the chicks.
As the quail grows up, you can switch to a feed that’s less protein-heavy, but you can also feel free to stick to the same brand as well.
You should take the quail out of the brooder at around five weeks after they hatch since this seems to be the point where they go from baby quail to adults.
This isn’t much of a surprise since the average lifespan of almost any quail family (also known as a covey), from the Gambel’s quail to the California quail, is somewhere around 2–3 years, meaning that they mature pretty quickly.
We’d also like to add that the standard five-week period doesn’t really apply during the winter months, and the birds should ideally be kept indoors until the warmer months of the year.
You’re going to want to have a fenced-off area set up where the quail will be able to run freely during the day.
As for the night, you might want to either invest in a standard-sized chicken coop or maybe make a cage of your design.
If you go for the DIY route, we recommend making the cage out of wire mesh and setting it up a few feet above the ground for easy droppings cleanup. It should have more of a square look, rather than a typical sort of aviary, be kept indoors or at least under a roof (in case of rain), and it should have a ramp for the quail.
Buying an already constructed coop is much less trouble, but depending on your budget, we’ll leave that decision up to you.
When it comes to which type of quail to raise, that’s also pretty much your choice.
Many people choose the Coturnix quail because they have an overall larger body size than most quails, whose average size is about 7 inches and 3 ounces.
Others also like the Japanese quail for their egg-laying capabilities rather than their meat. However, the Japanese quail is just as plump as any other quail, if only 5 inches tall, and the Coturnix quail is as good of an egg-layer as any other choice.
What we’re trying to say is that both breeds can be used for both their eggs and their meat, so you really shouldn’t have to worry much about which type of quail you decide to get.
The single exception to this is the Button quail which we mentioned earlier. This bird is much more fit to be a pet or a game bird, so as long as you steer clear of them, any other quail will do the job just fine.