While quail certainly aren’t as popular as chickens, their advantages to both rural and urban farms cannot be more underscored.
Raising quail is also easy, and since they are less than half the size of chickens, they do not take much space, time or resources. On our homestead, we raise Coturnix quail as an accompaniment to our flock of chickens, and learning how to start quail farming was simple.
Here are 5 reasons quail are a perfect addition to every homestead, both urban and rural.
Quail lay eggs every day, just like backyard chickens
If you decide to keep quail on your farm, you’ll look forward to their eggs, which can be used in recipes and eaten just like chicken eggs. Coturnix quail lay daily just like chickens, and their eggs are spotted and speckled. In many parts of the world, quail eggs are considered a delicacy. Their eggs are smaller, tiny really, so you will have to use more of them, about 3 quail eggs per one chicken egg. But their quality is comparable to chicken eggs. As the days get shorter, you will have to use a supplementary light to keep them laying. In my experience, keeping more than one species of poultry for eggs is necessary for a homestead; you never know when disease or a predator might devastate your chicken flock. Just like you would not put your entire retirement account into one stock, diversifying your egg sources is a good idea.
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Quail are perfect for urban farms that cannot raise chickens
If you live in an urban area, one of the main advantages to raising quail for their eggs is that cities and towns that do not permit chickens might have exceptions for quail, or might leave them out of legislation altogether. Quail do not crow, instead their calls are quiet chirps and coos that give little indication of their presence, and they’re much less likely to annoy your neighbors than a 4:30 a.m. rooster wake-up call. You cannot let Coturnix quail free range like chickens (they fly very well), so they won’t annoy your neighbors like loose chickens. Nothing is worse than a neighbor who’s angry because your chickens pooped all over their yard or dug through their trash, you’ll avoid those awkward moments raising quail.
Quail don’t take up much room
We keep our Coturnix quail in a hutch that’s housed in an 8’ x 6’ greenhouse. They live entirely out of the sight of other people, in an attractive outbuilding, but the quail are still kept out of the elements. As a general rule of thumb, quail need one square foot of space per bird. Raising quail this way means they’ll be less prone to behavioral issues, and leads to happier lives. Our hutch is 2′ x 8′, perfect for the 12 quail that live in it. It’s made of wood with hardware cloth sides and bottom, and tin roofing. I find the hardware cloth on the bottom of the hutch advantageous because their manure, excess feathers, and whatnot simply drop to the ground where the chickens can scratch through it for tasty goodies, and help it compost. Unlike chickens, quail do not perch; instead, they lay on the ground. They don’t nest like chickens either, and lay their eggs wherever it suits them. When raising quail at your home, keep this in mind as you build or purchase a hutch for them. You don’t want them living in or laying their eggs in their own manure.
Coturnix quail mature in 6 – 8 weeks
Breeding quails is similar to breeding chickens, except quail eggs take only 17 days incubate (although you can expect hatching a little before and after). And unlike chickens, Coturnix quail, which are what we raise on our homestead, mature and start laying eggs in just 6 to 8 weeks, a blink of an eye compared to the 7 month wait period for chickens. In as soon as 3 weeks, you can begin to see differences between males and females. This is a huge advantage, because you can sell your excess roos sooner (quail chicks can fetch a higher price than baby chickens).
Quail are hardy creatures
Although they’re not invincible, quail are hardy birds that don’t get sick frequently. As long as their environment is kept clean from manure and they are not crowded into a hutch that is too small, quail have few health issues. Clean their feeders and waters weekly, and scrub any manure out of their hutch to avoid issues such as coccidiosis and Quail Disease, which are transported by manure. Ensure they are kept out of the elements so they neither get too hot nor too cold. Successfully raising quail is easy, and I think you’ll find them as rewarding as keeping chickens!
If you would like to learn more about raising quail, you can download a free checklist here!
Are you raising quail on your homestead? If so, let us know what you like about quail.