Quail sounds like a pretty exotic animal to raise. However, raising baby quail is as easy as raising chickens, maybe even more manageable.
It's primarily due to the low-maintenance needs of the baby quail, their overall petite size, and a few other characteristics I'll explain further down in the article.
If you're interested in homesteading, living off-grid, or any other farm-friendly lifestyle, odds are there's a lot of helpful information to unpack below.
Just be careful not to skip through the opening section because livestock restrictions exist in some states. It really depends on where you live and your specific plan of action.
Before we get into the crux of our article, we should point out each state has its laws regarding livestock. Before setting up your baby quail farm, we highly recommend conducting some research to ensure your area permits raising quail.
Most of the time, as long as you have a coop and the animals don't make too much noise, you should be well within your rights to raise baby chicks on your private property.
However, the rules might not be the same in Arizona as in New York. Certain restrictions on the coop size or the number of adult quail in your possession are relatively common.
You might also face complaints from any nearby neighbors if you don't keep a tidy backyard and the smell becomes too strong.
While you might need to make a few adjustments to your property to comply with state laws, there shouldn't be any significant issues if you follow the regulatory framework.
Raising baby quail is one of the most common ways to source independent food, and for a good reason. They're small, don't require much food or water, and you can use them for meat or eggs. The truth is that there is an advantage that chickens have over quails.
First, the smaller size of the quail makes them much easier to raise and keep. While you'll need two square feet for every baby chicken in your brooder, baby quails only require one square foot.
Additionally, most quail families can also lay a significant 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. Although quail eggs are smaller, you get a significantly higher yield.
You can only expect to see less than 300 quail eggs a year if you get something like a button quail. However, I don't advise raising Buttonquail since they're popular pets. The same goes for bobwhite quails, which are game birds.
A chicken takes six months from its birth before it can produce eggs, whereas a quail chick begins 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 much less noisy than chickens, resulting in fewer noise complaints from neighbors and more peace for yourself.
When I learned these statistics, I immediately concluded that any previous egg farm idea was "for the birds" (pun intended). Therefore, I modified my backyard to accommodate a new quail farm.
If you've raised chickens before, you need to set up a 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. Make sure to aim the light, so the heat source goes into the container.
Next, 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 keeps the chicks dry and warm.
Speaking of warmth, try to keep the heat lamp at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit and aim towards one side of the chick's home.
The mothers will place all the eggs under the heat lamp, as it acts as an incubator. After the quail chicks hatch, they'll either cling to that corner or try to get away from it.
If they're clinging to it, they're not warm enough, and you should raise the temperature. Conversely, the quails probably need less heat if they're avoiding it.
After they hatch, you'll need to put some feeders and waterers into the baby quail enclosure. Although the quails won't use much water, you need to replace them every one or two days to keep them clean.
Pay particular attention to the depth of the water. Quails are beautiful birds, but they're small, and they don't have many survival instincts. During their first week of life, it's common for baby quails to drown themselves in the water receptacle accidentally. So, 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 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. If you're raising baby quail, remember to buy crumbles rather than pellets because the chicks can't eat pellets.
I go for the Manna Pro Gamebird Showbird Crumbles due to having 25% protein which can help the chicks grow big and strong.
As the quails grow, you can feed them with less protein-heavy food. However, it's no problem to stick with the same brand.
You should take the quail babies out of the brooder at around five weeks after they hatch since this seems to be the point where they become adults.
The short time frame shouldn't be 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.
I'd also like to add that the standard five-week period doesn't apply during the winter months because you should keep the birds indoors during the winter.
Otherwise, I recommend setting up an enclosed area so the quail can run freely during the day. Come nightfall, gather the birds up, and put them in any standard-sized chicken coop. I use a wooden Ogrmar chicken coop with a ventilated door.
If you go the DIY route, it's good to make the cage out of wire mesh and set it a few feet above the ground for easy droppings cleanup. The setup is a square shape instead of a typical aviary in most cases.
I also suggest keeping it indoors or under a roof for when it rains. There should also be a ramp so quails can enter and exit.
However, it's much more straightforward to buy a prefab model. Just get ready to pay more money than you would to build one. But that's your decision.
There are a few options for which type of quail to raise. 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.
There's also Japanese quail, known for their egg-laying capabilities rather than their meat. However, the Japanese quail is just as plump as any other quail, only five inches tall. With that said, the Coturnix quail is as good of an egg layer as any other choice.
We're trying to say that people raise both breeds for their eggs and meat, so you shouldn't have to worry much about the type. The single exception to this is the Buttonquail, which I mentioned earlier. This bird is much more fit to be a pet or a game bird.
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