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Raise Coturnix Quail for Eggs, Meat and Profit

Updated on February 9, 2016

That's a large egg for such a small bird!

Would you love to have fresh eggs every day, but can't have chickens due to city ordinances, HOA rules or space limitations? Coturnix quail are small gamebirds that are becoming a popular, practical and fun alternative to poultry, providing both eggs and meat. Like a poultry farm in miniature, these little game birds produce gourmet eggs and meat while occupying only a few square feet of real estate. This makes them a wonderful addition to a small farm or an urban residence. Apartment dwellers can even keep a few of them on a patio, if the management allows pets.

In terms of egg production, quail are superb, producing nearly an egg each day. The eggs are large compared to the size of the bird, weighing roughly 8% of the bird's own body weight (compared to a chicken egg that averages 3% of the bird's weight.) Both the broilers and the breast meat are highly desired delicacies. As far as breeding is concerned, these amazing creatures begin to lay eggs as early as six weeks of age, making them a highly renewable food resource.

Coturnix quail are also known as "Pharoah," "Japanese," or "Bible" quail. There are many breeds of Coturnix quail, including Tuxedo, Texas A&M White, Golden, and many more. This lens will show you how to obtain, raise and care for Coturnix quail for fun, food and profit.

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

Finding your first eggs is an exciting experience!
Finding your first eggs is an exciting experience!

Why Quail?

When asked why I keep quail in addition to my chickens and turkeys, I have several reasons. First of all, quail eggs are delicious and highly nutritious, surpassing the nutritional content of chicken eggs. Quail start to lay very early in life, as early as weeks of age. Most importantly, my city does not allow chicken roosters, but quail roosters are acceptable. This allows me to hatch eggs from my birds, which, besides being monumentally fun and satisfying, makes my little flock self-sustaining.

Care of Coturnix quail is exceedingly easy. Their housing requirements are minimal. They are docile animals with very few diseases. Most importantly, they eat a small amount of food, for which they produce a large amount of eggs. For every two pounds of inexpensive feed that I provide, I receive approximately one pound of eggs. Compare this conversion ratio to chickens, for which three pounds of feed is required to produce a pound of eggs.

Granted, quail eggs are small and it can take some time to crack enough of them for an omelet. The eggs tend to increase in size as the bird who lays them ages, growing from approximately 1/4 to 1/3 the size of a medium chicken egg. But if you ask my kids, there is nothing more exciting than discovering your quail's first eggs (except maybe discovering that a baby quail has hatched.) And quail eggs are the perfect size to fit on an English muffin!

Quail Egg Nutrition - As Compared to Chicken Eggs

Photo credit: http://culinarymadness.webs.com
Photo credit: http://culinarymadness.webs.com
Photo courtesy of OpenCage.info
Photo courtesy of OpenCage.info

The BIG Questions

Though they are a very easy breed to raise, there are several important considerations when thinking about keeping Coturnix quail.

Legal concerns:

Areas that do not allow other types of poultry often have no restriction on Coturnix quail. What are the rules concerning Coturnix quail where you live? Call your city or local Department of Game and Fish to find out what laws apply to Coturnix quail. Another option is to Google your city's rules concerning keeping game birds. Where I live, no permit is needed for Coturnix quail, as they are classified as pets.

Personal concerns:

Do you have enough time to devote to quail?

Can you provide a pleasant, healthy and safe environment in which they can live?

Would you be able to give extra care to them when they are sick?

Will you be able to cull them, when necessary?

Do you have the financial resources to purchase supplies and provide for upkeep?

If you are not certain what would be required, keep reading. This article will discuss these responsibilities in detail. If after reading the entire article, you can answer "yes" to all of these questions, Coturnix quail keeping may be a rewarding enterprise for you.

Blue-Breasted Quail (Coturnix chinensis)
Blue-Breasted Quail (Coturnix chinensis)

The Starting Line

When you have decided to keep some quail, how will you start? There are 3 general options: hatching eggs, raising chicks, or purchasing adults.

Hatchling quail are tiny and cute, like fluffy bumblebees. It can be very rewarding to watch them hatch and grow. Quail that are gently handled from the start are easier to handle when they are adults. Additionally, if organic practices are important to you, only by raising your own from chicks can you be certain that the eggs and meat are organic. If you want to be certain of a quail's age, you must raise it yourself.

However, chicks have special equipment and considerations. An incubator is required to hatch the eggs, and tiny chicks need to live in a brooder for several weeks. The babies are fragile and some loss for unidentifiable reasons is to be expected. You may want to purchase one or two extra chicks to cover for possible fatalities. When ordering eggs through the mail, verify the seller's policy towards replacement of any eggs that may not hatch. If you are willing to do a little extra work and take some risk, raising babies is fun!

On the other hand, adult quail are hardy. They require no extra equipment, nor the attention that small chicks demand. After five weeks of age, you can be fairly certain of their sex, which is important for purchasing males and females in the proper ratio. Additionally, if you want eggs immediately, adult birds are the way to go!

A Wyandotte chick and a Coturnix quail chick of the same age.
A Wyandotte chick and a Coturnix quail chick of the same age.

Where to Purchase Quail Eggs, Chicks or Adults

Quail hatching eggs are available online from hatcheries, as well as on eBay and Amazon. Google the term "Coturnix quail hatching eggs" to find sources. I will also ship eggs to interested parties.

I have not found many hatcheries that will ship day-old chicks, and those that do ship them require very large minimum purchases, so it is best to find a local source. Search online for local permaculture or small livestock enthusiast groups to see if there are any local breeders selling chicks. Chicks may also be available on Craigslist. There are generally more chicks available in the spring than during the rest of the year. Ask how old the chicks are, and wait until they are at least 3 days old before you purchase them, as most hatchling fatalities occur within the first 72 hours.

Adult birds are sometimes available at feed stores and pet stores. Call around to find out which local stores have them in stock and the age of the birds that they are selling. If a store or private seller cannot tell you the exact age or give you a reasonable estimate, look for another source from which to purchase. Disreputable sellers may send you home with birds that have passed their prime egg-laying season, which occurs within the first year of life.

When purchasing chicks or adults, look for lively specimens. Chicks should be clean, dry, clear-eyed and active. Adults should also have clear eyes and nostrils, and their feathers should be smooth. A mated female may have a few feathers missing on her back, but should appear to be otherwise healthy. If possible, get a recommendation for a reputable seller, although this may be difficult due to the relative scarcity of sources.

Photo Credit: Backyard Chickens

Cutest Chick Contest

Quail Incubating Supplies and Hatching Eggs Sources

Amazon has a large selection of items related to the care and keeping of Coturnix quail. I have found the prices to be very good, better than most local sources. I often purchase more than one item that I need because ualified purchases of $25 or more receive free Super Saver shipping.

Note: These eggs go in and out of stock regularly. If the link shows that they are out of stock, use the Amazon search bar to find a more recent listing.

Freshly Hatched Quail Chicks
Freshly Hatched Quail Chicks

Hatching Quail Eggs

Hatching eggs is an exciting venture. Whether you will start from scratch with purchased eggs or attempt to hatch eggs laid by your own hens, you will need an incubator. Quail hens are not broody and rarely set their own eggs, so you will need to gather them for hatching.

Place the eggs in a shallow container or quail egg carton with the large end up. Store the eggs in a humid area or refrigerator with a temperature of approximately 55-60º F. Eggs will store for up to seven days before being moved to your incubator, but will lose fertility a little bit each day. Incubate them as soon as possible for the best results.

To prepare your incubator, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Use the incubator's thermometer and hygrometer to set the temperature to 99.75º F and the humidity level to 65% (or the recommended by the manufacturer) before placing the eggs in the trays. If you do not have an automatic egg turner in your incubator, turn your eggs four to five daily to prevent the embryos from sticking to one side of the egg. When turning by hand, mark one side of each egg with an 'X' using a permanent marker or felt-tipped pen to keep track of which ones you have already turned. Rotate eggs 180 degrees, placing the 'X' will on top one time and on the bottom the next time.

On day 15, increase the humidity to 80-85% and stop turning the eggs. If you have an automatic egg turner, remove it, or it may crush the tiny chicks. You should expect to see the chicks beginning to hatch on day 17.

Leave your eggs in the incubator, checking them often during the last few days because some may hatch early. Watch for your quail chick to pip the egg, making a small hole in the shell with its beak. It may take a while to come out of the shell, up to 10 hours. It will take a few more hours for its downy feathers to dry after it hatches. Hatched chicks can stay in the incubator for a day before transferring them to a brooder.

The Micro Farm Project sells and ships Coturnix quail eggs via Priority Mail. We charge $.25 per egg, or 10 for $2.20. During the months of April through October, receive a dozen eggs for $2.20. To ask us for a quote with shipping charges, contact us through our Squidoo profile or leave a comment at the bottom of this article. Let us know how many eggs you want, and the city to which they will be shipped. We will get back to you privately with a complete quote.

This is the incubator that I use for hatching quail eggs

Incubators very widely in price and features. The HovaBator is a very efficient little unit that comes complete with thermometer, snap action thermostat and easy-to-clean sanitary liner. I recommend using a unit with a fan that circulates the air to prevent hot and cold spots. This is the model that I personally use and recommend. You will need to purchase quail rails for the HovaBator separately.

Maximizing Egg Productivity and Fertility

If you already have a covey of birds and want to hatch the eggs that you collect from your own birds, here are some considerations to maximize your success. Breeding websites recommend keeping one male for every 4-5 females for high egg fertility. In my experience, one male for every six females provides adequate fertility without the fighting amongst males that can occur when competition for the females is too high.

Ideal breeding months are March through September, when the days are long. During the winter when the days are short, egg production will decrease unless supplemental lighting is provided. Provide at least 14 hours of light per day using a timer to turn on your lights early in the morning. The number of hours of daylight + the number of hours of supplemental lighting = 14 hours of total light. So, if the sun is rising at 6:30 am and setting by 5:30 pm, providing 11 hours of daylight, you should set your timer to turn on the supplemental lights from 3:30 to 6:30 am in order to add an extra 3 hours of light to their day. One incandescent bulb or a couple of strings of old fashioned Christmas lights are adequate. Do not use LED lights as they do not provide the proper light spectrum to spur egg production.

Females begin to lay fertile eggs by 2 months of age, and are most productive in their first year of life. In the second year, egg production decreases and may completely stop by 2 years of age. If you are breeding for profit, take this into consideration and plan for culling or removing order birds to another pen to live out their lives naturally. Coturnix quail can live up to six years in captivity, but their lifespans are generally about half that long.

Supplemental Lighting for Maximum Egg Production

Young, female Coturnix quail lay an egg nearly every day during the spring and summer months. During the fall, when the number of daylight hours decreases, egg production declines, and may cease completely during the winter when the days are short. Some Coturnix quail owners prefer to allow their hens to rest during the winter. However, since quail have a short life span, I prefer to take advantage of the first year of life, when egg production is maximal. I encourage the hens to lay year round by adding supplemental lighting. Supplemental lighting that lengthens the hours of light to which quail are exposed to 14 hours daily will cause the hens to continue laying in the winter months. In my experience, egg production will decline somewhat in the winter, no matter how much light is added to their environment, but the added hours of light can prevent egg production from ceasing altogether.

Note: LED lighting is not effective in stimulating egg production. Choose incandescent bulbs to maximize winter egg production.

A chick brooder is a simple as a plastic tub with heat, food and water.
A chick brooder is a simple as a plastic tub with heat, food and water.

Giving Chicks a Great Start

Raising quail chicks can be addictive! And their needs and care are very simple with a little knowledge and the right equipment. A rubber storage tub or small, plastic kiddie pool can make a healthy and comfortable brooder.

While or eggs are in the incubator or before you purchase chicks, gather your supplies and make a nursery (brooder) for them so that it is ready when they arrive. A brooder can consist of any container that is large enough to house chicks and protect them from drafts.Even a large cardboard box can make a comfortable brooder. Additionally, you will need the items listed below.

Heat

Baby chicks do not regulate their body temperature very well. Provide a heat lamp with a red bulb to keep them warm. Red bulbs are recommended, as they are more soothing to the chicks than a bright, white bulb. Leave the bulb on all day and all night. Keep the brooder at 100 degrees the first three days, dropping the temperature to 95 for the first week following, 90 degrees the second, 85 degrees for the third, and so forth until the temperature reaches 70 degrees or the chicks have lost their down and are fully feathered (about 5 weeks.) Temperature is decreased by raising the height of the lamp, increasing the distance between the bulb and the brooder.

If you do not have a thermometer for the brooder, it is not necessary to purchase one. Place the heat lamp at one end of the brooder with room for the chicks to escape the heat, if they need relief. When chicks are chilly, they will huddle together under the bulb. If they are too warm, they will move away from the bulb to the cooler end of the brooder. You can also raise or lower the lamp to increase or decrease the warmth that the chicks receive if you notice that they appear to be too hot or cold.

Water

Provide chicks daily with fresh, clean, cool water. Jars with special bases that are too narrow for chicks to fall or step into are recommended for quail babies. They prevent chicks from getting soaked, which is deadly to quail chicks, and they help to keep the water free of fecal matter. If lf you use wood chips as bedding, elevate the waterer a slightly to prevent debris from clogging it. You may need to dip your chicks' beaks into the water to teach them where it is. Be sure that more than one chick can drink at once to prevent a "bully" from keeping the others away.

Some quail owners add sugar, apple cider vinegar, or infant vitamin drops to the water. Sugar gives the new chicks a boost. Add 2-3 tsp per quart of water. Apple cider vinegar seems to help prevent "pasting up," a potentially deadly condition that we will discuss later. Liquid infant vitamins (such as Poly-Visol) can give your chicks a great nutritional start. Just be certain that they do not contain extra iron. All of these additives are entirely optional.

Chick Starter Food

Feed chicks game bird or turkey starter "crumble" or "mash." If you want your quail eggs or meat to be organic, they should be fed only non-medicated, organic starter feed. They will eat this starter feed throughout their entire lives. Allow quail to eat as much as they want. They self-regulate well.

Feeder

Use a feeder that the chicks can reach, with a stable base that can't be tipped, that will feed more than one chick at a time and which reduces feed waste. Small jar or trough feeders are suitable, and they can be obtained at pet stores, feed stores or online.

Small amounts of vegetables & fruits are okay for dessert once they are a few weeks old, but limit the amounts as it will lower their protein intake, which efffects growth and egg-laying capability.

A Ventilated Cover

Chicks need plenty of air-flow, so protect the brooder with a ventilated cover, such as a window screen or piece of plastic poultry mesh. Tiny quail begin to practice using their wings and will quickly be able to jump and fly high enough to escape most brooders. A cover will prevent their escape and also protect quail from household pets and small children, who can unwittingly be their most dangerous predators! Be certain that the cover is flexible, as quail tend to jump straight up into the air and bump their heads on the top of the brooder. This can be fatal if the cover is hard.

Bedding.

Provide a soft, absorbent surface in the bottom of your brooder. Wood chips are suitable. However, do not use pine or cedar bedding as they can be toxic. I have found that confused chicks will sometimes eat the chips instead of their crumble, so I prefer to line the brooder with a clean beach towel. Towels are soft, absorbent, and are easy to change when they get dirty or wet. Do not use paper towels, newspaper, or any other slippery surface that may cause leg problems, such as "spraddle legs." See the section of "Chick Problems and Solutions" for more explanation of this condition.

Additional Considerations

As chicks begin to grow larger , they need about 1/2 square foot of floor space in the brooder. generally start chicks off in a plastic tub, and move them to a larger kiddie pool when they are a couple of weeks old.

Cautions

~Don't mix chicks of greater than a few days age difference in the same brooder.

~Don't mix chicks that you have obtained from different sources, unless you are certain that they free of disease.

~Don't ration their feed. Allow them to have as much as they want to eat.

~Don't get upset about losing a chick. Do the best you can to provide a healthy environment, recognizing that some chicks are hardier than others.

By following these guidelines, you will provide a healthy and pleasant home for your tiny, new chicks.

Watering Supplies

Quail chick waterers consist of a base and a jar. Most bases will fit a quart-sized canning jar. Quail waterers are specialized with a very narrow drinking trough that prevents the chicks from getting wet. This is the only type of base that you should use because a damp chick is a sick chick.

Vitamins and Water Additives

We all know the benefits of vitamins for growing babies. Add some liquid infant vitamins to your chicks' water. Just be certain not to purchase a vitamin brand that has extra iron, which is not healthy for quail. Vitamins that have been in water for a few hours are no longer potent, so change the water and add fresh vitamins every day.

When choosing a brand of apple cider vinegar, ensure that it contains the "mother." This is the bacteria that turns the juice to vinegar. It contains healthy probiotics that will give your birds a healthy start and help them to resist disease.

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

Problems that You May Encounter

Splayed Legs (also known as "Spraddle" or "Straddle" Leg)

Spraddled legs ay occur when a newly hatched chick cannot get good footing in the incubator or brooder. They slip and basically do the splits, damaging their hips so that their legs splay outwards. If treated right away, the condition is often reversible. Use a small bandage or a piece of vet wrap to hold the legs together at the width of the chick's hip joints for a few days until the legs heal. Chicks heal very quickly when given the proper treatment. To prevent the condition, make certain that the incubator and brooder surface is sufficient to grip when your chicks walk around. Wood chips or a beach towel are good options.

Spraddle Leg in Baby Chicks

Another option is to make a "chick chair" to rest the leg at the correct angle for healing.This is one of our little chicks receiving some therapy for slipped hock joint.

For more information about orthopedic problems in chicks or for instructions on how to make a chick chair, visit the following websites:

Poultry Help

Chicken Orthopedics

"Pasting Up" is a potentially deadly, but treatable condition.
"Pasting Up" is a potentially deadly, but treatable condition.

Pasting Up

Inspect chicks often for a condition called "pasting up", in which their droppings stick to them and block their vent (posterior opening.) This can prevent them from passing more droppings. Dried feces will be stuck to e outside of a chick who presents with this problem, totally or partially covering their vent. This must be attended to immediately has it can be fatal.

It is a very simple process to resolve a pasted vent. Apply a warm, wet paper towel to the area and then gently use a toothpick to clear any blockage that remains.

Keep checking any bird that develops this condition as it often returns throughout the first week.

Eye Infections

Eye infections are common in many breeds of birds, Coturnix quail included. If you inspect your birds daily, you will be able to catch the formation of an eye infection before it becomes serious. I have found that, if caught early, most eye infections can be cleared up by washing the eye with sterile optical saline solution or a vetrinary eye wash, such as Veterycin Ophthalmic Gel.

Wearing surgical gloves, hold the bird's body and head still with one hand, and drop saline into the eye generously so that the bird begins to blink rapidly. Do not touch the eye with the saline bottle dropper so that it does not harbor the bacteria that is causing the infection. Isolate the bird from the others and wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap. Repeat two or three times per day, until the infection is completely clear.

If the infection worsens or begins to have a bad odor, treat with Terramycin or other vetrinary antibiotic. Consult your local feed store, pet store or vet to obtain antibiotics for your birds.

With proper supervision, it can be a wonderful experience for children to handle chicks.
With proper supervision, it can be a wonderful experience for children to handle chicks.

Kids and Chicks

Children love to handle fluffy little chicks. With proper instruction and supervision, this can be a wonderful experience for the child and the chick, alike.

However, chicks are very fragile and die easily if squeezed or dropped. Their legs can be irreparably damaged if they jump out of a child's hand to the floor. Teach children to always wait for you to hand them a chick from the brooder. Have the child sit down on the floor with crossed legs, and to hold the chick gently with tow hands; one hand across the chick's back and one hand under its bottom. Chicks need be kept warm, so they should only be kept out of the brooder for short periods of time.

Allow children to care for the chick's physical needs, such as helping to give them water and food. Help children to bond with the animals, and develop a sense of responsibility and empathy for the tiny creatures whose lives depend upon their care. I have found that when my children bond with the birds when they are young and cute, they are more willing to help with their care when the birds are older.

Quail Aviaries

When your quail are between 5-7 weeks old and fully feathered, it is time to move them outdoors. I recommend one of two options for your aviary. Since quail are known to jump and fly straight up when startled, they can bump their heads if the ceiling is not at the proper height. One option is a tall aviary of at least 6 feet in height that will allow birds to fly up and descend before reaching the roof. Another option is a low hutch with a roof that is approximately 2 to 3 feet high that will not allow them to get enough velocity to harm themselves. A rabbit hutch would be suitable,though I would recommend attaching a thin layer of padding to the ceiling.

I have a 6 foot tall aviary with a 4' x 8' dirt floor. Hardware cloth walls attached to a wooden frame provide a secure home with lots of ventilation, which is critical to quail health. A shingled roof keeps them dry. We considered burying chicken wire in the ground under the bottom of the frame to prevent the birds from digging their way out or the dog from digging her way in, but opted instead to pile up a layer of landscape gravel around the outside edge.

The dog was sniffing around the edge of the cage and the quail seemed nervous about it, so I ran a bamboo privacy barrier around the edge.

We keep feed in a metal container next to the aviary, away from the area where we house our turkeys. This makes it easy to refill the quail feeder and prevents us from accidentally giving the quail the turkey grower feed, which is not healthy for them. Additionally, it prevents disease from passing between the quail and the poultry.

Inside the Aviary

Quail have very simple housing needs. Provide about 2 square feet of floor space per bird. The minimum ratio of males to females is 1:3, but I think it is much better to have five or six females per each male. This prevents the females from being crowned (mated) too often, which can cause them stress and even the loss of some feathers on their backs.

Provide a feeder that allows more than one quail to eat at once and allow them access to food at all times. They will east between 1/2 and 1 oz per day. Provide some supplemental oyster shell for calcium, which will help to prevent eggs laid without a shell (yes, this happens!) Continue to feed adult quail the turkey starter feed, or switch to non-medicated chick starter feed at about 6 weeks of age. If you choose to feed them treats such as veggies or fruits, limit them. Quail need a lot of protein to produce eggs. Insects and meal worms make an excellent snack. My birds go crazy for grape leaf skeletonizer caterpillars, which are prolific on my grapevines every summer.

If your quail eat anything other than commercial feed, they will need some grit added to their food. Grit is made of small stones, and it acts like teeth, aiding the bird in grinding their food. Do not give them too much grit, however. Sprinkle it over the top of their food as though you were "salting" the food with it.

Two watering devices are recommended as a precaution in case one goes dry or gets spilled. Quail can live without food for a day or two, but they cannot survive even a few hours without water. Elevate food and water sources to prevent them from becoming clogged or contaminated with bedding material. You no longer need to keep the narrow base on your waterer, and can switch to any type of poultry waterer that you prefer.

The floor can be dirt or wire. Provide some soft wood chips or straw for bedding, and change the bedding often. It makes a wonderful addition to a compost pile.

Quail do not roost, so no perches are necessary. They do appreciate having some planks to climb and a few hiding places. Small shipping boxes with holes cut in them for doors work well, and they can be discarded when they get too dirty.

I recommend having a self-closing hinge on the aviary door to prevent the door from accidentally being left open. I used on old trampoline spring to keep the door closed, connecting it to the door frame and the door itself so that it springs back into place on its own. If a quail escapes out of the door, keep you eyes on it closely! Their main defense is camouflage, so they will blend into the environment quickly and be very hard to find. Fortunately, they do not fly long distances, so recapture is possible. If you can't find them, move away to an unobtrusive spot and watch. Quail often return to the area to be near the covey.

If quail are not on a dirt floor, provide a dust bath consisting of a container of dirt mixed with sand and food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE is optional.) The birds will jump into the container and toss the dirt over themselves. This will help to keep your birds clean, cool and free of mites. You can also sprinkle DE onto bedding to help fecal matter to dry out faster, which reduces odor and flies in the aviary.

During the summer, provide plenty of shade and some shallow dishes of water in which to wade. I use terra cotta dishes that are generally used for planters. They are about an inch deep. I keep them filled with clean water and change them daily as they get very dirty quickly.

Have a separate cage or kennel available to quarantine a bird that is sick or hurt. If a bird is bleeding, keep it away from the flock until it is healed as the other birds may instinctively peck at the wound and do even further damage.

Finally, if you want to keep egg production high in the winter, provide incandescent lighting that turns on early in the morning, increasing the hours of light to which the birds are exposed. When days are short, egg laying decreases without this supplemental light. Plug the lights into a simple timer that turns on automatically early enough in the day to expose the birds to 14 hours of light per day. Some people prefer not to provide the supplemental light, to allow the females a rest during the winter. In my experience and in discussing this issue with other quail enthusiasts, quail that lay all year long tend to live for about 1-2 years. The average lifespan of a quail that does not lay year-round is 2-3 years. Egg production tends to decrease as the quail age, and some keepers cull their birds for stewing meat when egg production slacks off. In this case, supplemental lighting may be beneficial. If, however, you consider your birds to be pets instead of purely production animals, you may want to allow them a rest period that will increase their natural lifespan.

Items for the Aviary - Aviaries, Hutches and Hardware Cloth

Save money on these large items with Amazon's free Super Saver shipping for qualified orders of $25 or more. There are some great deals on Amazon, or, if you are handy, you can build one yourself.

Medium Walk in Aviary Color: Sandstone
Medium Walk in Aviary Color: Sandstone

Although quail do not roost and typically do not fly, an aviary with a tall roof will prevent birds from hitting their heads on the roof should they be startled and attempt to fly.

 

Bedding

When purchasing bedding, avoid cedar or pine shavings that can be toxic to birds. Also, select only food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) for use in dust baths.

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

The Quail Medicine Cabinet

Quail have very few diseases or health issues that first aid won't solve. These are a few items that I recommend to keep handy for routine healthcare and emergencies.

First of all, keep disinfectant soap handy, along with a bucket and scrub brush. The best way to keep your quail happy and healthy is to keep the aviary clean. On a regular basis, wash the aviary with soapy water, and replace cardboard hiding places. Twice per year, disinfect the entire aviary with your product of choice (a 10% bleach solution works well.)

You can also use the soap and water to clean the quail's feet if they get fecal matter caked on their toes, which happens once in a while and is very unhealthy for the bird.

Additionally, keep a box handy with the following items:

~Vetericyn All Animal Wound and Skin Care (an all-purpose treatment for external bacterial, viral and fungal infections)

~Rooster Booster No-Pick Lotion (made for poultry, but can also help to heal wounds on quail.)

~Duramycin or other veterninary antibiotic to use only if a quail shows signs of severe respiratory distress or eye infection. (Antibiotic use is a last resort for organic quail, and eggs should not be eaten for several weeks after treatment.)

~Neosporin (NO triple antibiotic. Quail are allergic to lidocaine, benzocaine, or anything else in the "-caine" family.)

~Optical saline solution to treat eye infections

~Apple cider vinegar

~Mineral oil (to help heal wounds and remove fecal matter from toes)

~Hydrogen peroxide

~Rubber gloves

~Cotton balls

~Saline solution (quail eyes get infected easily.)

Finally, though it may seem unusual, one of the best treatments for quail is plain yogurt with live, active probiotic cultures. The birds love it, and it seems to give keep birds healthy and to provide an ailing quail with a boost towards recovery. I put a small bowl of yogurt in the aviary every few days.

Care for your quail's health and they will, in turn, provide you with abundant, healthy eggs and meat.

Vetericyn All Animal Skin and Wound Care - The most important tool in the quail medicine cabinet.

Vetericyn Plus All Animal Wound & Skin Care 16oz
Vetericyn Plus All Animal Wound & Skin Care 16oz

Vetericyn spray is a one-step wound and skin care product that really works. It is safe to use on all types of animals. The spray is non-toxic and steroid-free, and it does not contain any harsh ingredients so you can use it on sensitive tissues, such as the eyes and ears. I use this product to clean wounds and abrasions on my quail, as well as in their eyes when I don't have any opthalmic gel handy. It's a useful, all-purpose treatment to have on hand in case of emergency.

 
Potato galettes with quail eggs
Potato galettes with quail eggs

Economic Potential

Interest in keeping small livestock is on the rise. For city dwellers, chickens are sometimes not an option due to space considerations, HOA rules, or apartment living. Quail are a viable option in such cases, allowing their keepers to have their own renewable source of eggs and meat. Here are some examples of how quail has benefit our family economically:

1. Eggs.

Eggs are the main product of quails. What we don't eat, we sell to customers we have obtained from our church, garden clubs and our circle of friends. We package the eggs in recycled produce containers or carton boxes for larger orders. The eggs sell for $2.50 per dozen. We could easily sell them for more money to local restaurants, if we were so inclined.

2. Broilers/stewers

Quail have a relatively poor feed to meat conversion ratio of 3:1 for broilers, so we do not raise any specifically for meat. However, if we have too many males after a hatch, or a quail is wounded and needs to be culled, in which case we will dress them for broilers if they are young, or stewers if they are older than 3 months. The procedure in dressing quail is the same as in chicken. The bird is killed by hitting its head quickly on a metal pole, and then the head is removed with sharp poultry shears. Birds are bled and scalded in hot water (about 135 degrees F,) and the feathers are removed. Evisceration follows. The dressed birds brined in salt water and then frozen.

3. Breast meat

Quail breast meat is very tender and tasty, and is highly sought after by gourmet chefs and foodies. We dot not currently have plans to sell the meat, but it is a possibility for the future. Harvesting breast meat is much easier than preparing a broiler as it does not require removal of the head, feathers or entrails. The bird is killed and the breast meat is cut out and prepared. The rest of the carcass is discarded. We bury them in deep holes around our trees for natural fertilizer.

4. Fertilized eggs and young birds

Currently in my area of the country, there are relatively few people who sell fertilize eggs or birds to the public. This creates a situation in which there are few sources for those who want to start a new covey, or those who want to introduce new bloodlines to their existing coveys. 3-day-old birds sell for $1.50-$2.00 each, or $8-$12 for adults. Fertile eggs are priced according to how many are purchased, averaging $.50 per egg.

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

Are you considering keeping some quail of your own?

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If you are considering keeping quail, what intriques you the most?

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This article was featured at The-Chicken-Chick.com, thanks to poultry expert Kathy Shea Mormino.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about Coturnix Quail. Tell me what you think! If you have any questions or would like to see some aspect of quail keeping discussed that has not been covered in this lens, let me know, and I will add it to the discussion.

If you have a related lens or webpage, post it here. Kindly link back to this lens from your website. Thanks for stopping by!

Your turn!

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    • profile image

      Lebo 7 months ago

      This is the most informative article I have read so far and it's very real. Thanks for the inspiration. Please keep it up, post an update. Do you know any organic breeders of the biggest breed in South Africa? Organic is the way to go...

    • profile image

      Afrohippie 14 months ago

      Hi are you still selling Coturnix eggs? If so how much are they, and can you ship to 67204?

    • profile image

      Maria Blon 19 months ago

      Thank you for this informative and interesting article! I am considering raising quails for eggs and would like to visit someone who breeds them near my home in Middletown, NY. Any ideas?

    • lowena profile image

      Lauren Slater 2 years ago from London

      I thought quails are hard to keep than chicken. Thanks for enlighten me.

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      Sounds like a great profitable project, plus saving ourselves some money on meat and eggs!

    • profile image

      Quailbilly 3 years ago

      @anonymous: As simple as it sounds, she does not like him, you must separate the two, lest one will be killed.

    • lovetolink profile image

      lovetolink 3 years ago

      Excellent lens- I'm sold! This is my next project :) I have a chicken egg allergy so this possibility is exciting.

    • MadelaineMouse profile image

      MadelaineMouse 3 years ago

      I can't keep any more animals where I live currently but have major plans for the place I'm building. I don't like store meat all that much (raised on game), I'm allergic to chicken eggs, and I feed my animals raw. After research I determined that my best poultry option is Quail. I was considering pigeons but I'm allergic to feathers and the risk of bird fancier's lung is too great. The other farming options I'm researching are guinea pigs and mice (I wouldn't eat the mice, obviously).

      A very nice and informative lense, btw :)

    • profile image

      ahoffmann4 3 years ago

      I was wondering if there are any issues with inbreeding in quail? what kind of breeding schedule do you use?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My female quail has gone crazy attacking our male, making him bleed and pulling several feather - why?

    • seodress profile image

      seodress 4 years ago

      Great one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i WILL GIVE IT A SHOT i HAVE ALL THE OTHER POULTRY EXCEPT QUAIL AND PHESENTS SO i WILL START THEM TOO. i AM RAISING RABBITS SO IF i CAN DO THIS QUAIL IS ALSO. A GO.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: If they have hatched within a few days of each other (1-5 days), typically it is not a problem. Now mix some 1 day olds with 2 week old chicks, you can expect issues more than likely. Also, if you want to mix older chicks, like one week old with two week olds, that usually can be done, just keep an eye on them for a while. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

      David

      GameBirdFlock.com/forum

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Can you mix chicks from different broods once they have hatched?

    • jayavi profile image

      jayavi 4 years ago

      Nice lens. Lots of information. Enjoyed your lens very much. Thanks for sharing.

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 4 years ago

      @Craig O: Thank you! The flavor depends somewhat on the quails' diet. I have not noticed any gamey flavor with ours.

    • Craig O profile image

      Craig O 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Wow, amazing lens. One question,when I tasted Quail eggs before they tasted gamey? Can't think of a better word to describe it. Do you think it was just a bad bunch or do they just taste more wild than chicken eggs?

    • walkingstick profile image

      walkingstick 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I have just read that egg allergies MAY be related to what the bird eats. Have you tried organic, free range chickens? No GMO feed, drugs or other weird stuff in their food supply.

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Good point, Dani.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: It also depends greatly on what the hens are fed--if they are fed soy or corn, that could be the triggering allergy factor in the eggs--I've heard of someone who can only have their own eggs because they control what the hens are (not!) fed, and her husband has no problem with them at all, after having a lifetime "allergy" to eggs produced commercially, chicken or otherwise.

      Good luck to you and your son--I know food allergies, especially one as common as egg, can be really frustrating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've been raising coturnix quail for over 30 years on and off, I have always enjoyed it. Having said that I still enjoy reading about other peoples experences and the love they have for these wonderful birds. I really enjoyed reading about your farm and I always learn new things from others, thank you so much. Joe's Bird Farm . Joe Rambin

    • Carashops profile image

      Cara 4 years ago

      I loved reading this lens. So much information, thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is really cool, I like these, it is helpful to me, thank you. :)

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I can't tell you for certain that your son would not be allergic to quail eggs, but many people with hen egg allergies can eat quail eggs. It might be worth a try, but of course, consult your physician first. Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      When you say they don't cause egg allergies, do you mean a person with egg allergies can eat quail eggs? I have a son with egg allergies, but is it possible it's just an allergy to chicken eggs, and he could still eat quail eggs?

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

      I don't believe I've ever had a Quail egg. Love the idea of having your own eggs -- of any sort, LOL.

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I am not familiar with this. Perhaps one of my readers will know what it is and reply.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @Chris-H LM: Chris could you be knowing a company that prepares quails and mixes with chicken i was told it's a cowboy food but i looked for it in uganda i failed but kindly if you have some information you can share it with me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      How do you call that mixture of quail,chicken and turkey they sell in America i have tried to look for it in Africa but i have failed and which company makes it . i will be so great full if you help me.

      nkutugodfrey@yoo.co.uk

    • profile image

      crazy4u2 5 years ago

      For starters, I guess your lens is a nice helping tool. In our part, quail is not that easily available. May be, not adaptable to my region. We go with broiler and layer chickens.

    • alexandradouglas profile image

      Alexandra Douglas 5 years ago from Florida

      Great lens! Already knew the info but it's always great to see what people have to say about quail. Quail are my life and I see they are a part of yours as well! Keep it up!

    • profile image

      tomprat 5 years ago

      I love your lenses on poultry raising. I wish I lived where I could start keeping some. Maybe quail will be the answer. Thanks for the lens.

    • marketinguk lm profile image

      marketinguk lm 5 years ago

      I'll take six with fries!

    • Chris-H LM profile image

      Chris-H LM 5 years ago

      Nicely done! I used to raise both Coturnix and Bob White Quail when I was a kid. It's cute when one imprints on you as "Momma" and follows you wherever you go.

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 5 years ago

      great article, I have always loved quail, both the eggs and the meat, and this is a great guide on how to keep them. My apartment doesn't allow pets, but maybe someday...

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      Such a fascinating article, really appreciate all of the information. Presently don't have room, live in an apt in the city.

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Very informative lens! We currently raise chickens and turkeys with a couple ducks thrown in for fun...so why not some quail!

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I've been considering quail the last few months. I have chickens but am in the city limits so the noise ordinance prevents me from having a rooster. I love quail eggs and they are so cute. I am inspired now. Thanks for the great info.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thx for this information abt quail eggs have 'high in good cholesterol, all the while i thought it has bad cholesterol and i have stop taking it for a longgg time. I will start taking them. ;)

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      I've been considering raising quail for quite a few years. I have the space and knowledge, but all the other birds take up my time. Hopefully sometime in the future I will be able to... and when I do, I'll refer back to your article. Thanks for so much information!

    • Rural Farming profile image

      Rural Farming 5 years ago

      Great lens, I have been considering quail to add to my mix of animals.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Now this was just fascinating. My grandfather raised pheasants, so the idea of keeping gamebirds appeals to me. Not sure I want to be tied down to the daily care of them though.

    • profile image

      leonasharon 5 years ago

      I had no ideas of quails.

      Was impressed to see your lens.

      Thanks for sharing

    • aksem profile image

      aksem 5 years ago

      You wrote a very detailed instructions on growing Coturnix Quailes. It seems that you are a professional in this topic. Thank you.

    • squidoogiftsfor profile image

      squidoogiftsfor 5 years ago

      When I stay in Nevada, we see hundreds of quail, happly walking by the dozen, often an adult leading chicks.

      I would imagine that they are a greater starter for the Coyotes ..followed by a cottontail or two!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens! I really appreciate your sharing of quail knowledge with the Squidoo community- I'll be considering the birds when thinking about my options for urban livestock!

    • AustriaChick profile image

      AustriaChick 5 years ago

      WOW, tons of great information! I have thought about keeping chickens before, but maybe???

    • esvoytko lm profile image

      esvoytko lm 5 years ago

      What a great lens! I am always interested in techniques for gardening or farming in cramped, urban environments, but I didn't really give quail any thought until now.

    • LadyCharlie profile image

      LadyCharlie 5 years ago

      Great lens full of information. What a cool hobby or side business for someone so inclined. Blessed

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      You certainly covered everything that anyone could possible want to know about keeping their own quail. Great article and great images to go along with it.

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      Very interesting....I love to photograph wild quail (California Quail are common where I live) but I've never considered raising quail. I guess I'll have to sell quail photographs rather than quail eggs but I'm going to refer a friend to this article. Perhaps he will be interested.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is really interesting. I have seen quail eggs and though I love them in the Chinese restaurant, I just haven't cooked them myself. Will have to try some.

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      @Anthony Altorenna: They are very nice pets, especially if you handle them a lot when they are young. I recommend raising from 3-days old, or as young as you can get them, if you want to be able to hold them and interact with them as pets.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Very interesting lens, and packed with great information. We have a small backyard flock of chickens, and I'm thinking about adding some quail. Though we'd collect the eggs, they would become pets rather than....