Keeping Quail In An Urban Setting
If you have an urban coop, you may think there are not many options when it comes to the poultry breeds you can own. The truth is, there are many great options. You can raise smaller standard-size chicken breeds and bantam breeds. Another breed you may want to consider is the quail. There are over 100 different quail breeds, and each has its own set of benefits. A prevalent breed for a backyard flock is the Coturnix quail. Backyard quail has become increasingly popular in the last couple of years, and for many good reasons.
Why Raise Quail?
- Suitable For a Beginner – Quail is an excellent starter species for those interested in raising poultry. Quail tend to be more docile and friendly to humans, perfect for someone who hasn’t raised poultry before. With an investment of a coop and basic supplies, your quail coop will be ready in no time.
- Made For Urban Areas – Depending on where you live, many municipalities will allow quail over raising chickens. It is always important to check with your local zoning department before raising quail. Quail are also much quieter than chickens. There is no morning crowing with quail to annoy the neighbors in small yard areas.
- Smaller Size – Quail are typically smaller than ½ of the size of a standard-size chicken. The smaller birds can fit where the larger chickens would undoubtedly have difficulty finding enough room to thrive well. The smaller size of the quail is also great for someone who may not be ready to commit to the bigger size of a chicken but wants to give raising poultry a try.
- Hardy and Versatile – Quail are very hardy and suitable for many different climates. You can build your quail coop very easily, and there are many plans available to help give you the inspiration you need. You can raise your quail in coops made just for quail. You can also raise your quail in an aviary-type setup. Whichever setup you choose, be mindful that quail can fly high.
- Quick to Mature – Quail mature very quickly compared to chickens. Quail such as the Coturnix start to lay eggs in about 7-9 weeks. A chicken can take up to 6 months and even longer lay its first egg.
- Good Egg Layers – Quail produces many small eggs with rich yolks. Many people like the eggs for the rich yolk and fun small size. You need about 6-7 quail eggs to equal the size of a large chicken egg.
- Dual Purpose Birds – You can raise quail for both eggs and meat. Quail meat is even considered a delicacy. Quail are easier to process than chickens; you don’t even need to pluck them. Anyone who has processed a bird knows what a time saver that is.
- Easy to Hatch – If you would like to hatch your own quail, you can do so very easily. Coturnix quail have an incubation time of 17 days. On hatch day, once the quail start hatching, it’s like watching popcorn pop! Typically you need one male quail to 3 female quails for best fertility.
- Sustainable – Since quail mature quickly, are easy to hatch, are dual-purpose, they are a very sustainable bird to own. You can continually add your flock by hatching your own chicks. There is the option to process your quail as desired, and you will have an excellent supply of eggs! Remember, this all can be done in a small coop set up at minimal cost for food and bedding.
- Great for Education – Quail are not only great for raising in your backyard but are wonderful for educational purposes as well. You can show the incubating/hatching process and grow out much quicker than their chicken counterparts.
To get started on your quail adventure, you will need to gather your supplies and remember a few crucial tips. Some supplies you will need include:
- Proper Housing Enclosure – As we mentioned above, quail can be housed in various types of enclosures. When looking for the perfect coop, it is important to keep in mind the space requirements needed. You want to allow at least 1 square foot of space per quail in your quail enclosure. Overcrowding in your quail coop can lead to pecking or bullying. To keep your coop extra clean, look for a coop with a wire floor and a tray underneath for collecting droppings. A wire floor makes coop cleanup more manageable. Lower ceilings in the coop are better for quail because they can jump and fly very high. If your backyard coop allows, an apiary is another great option. You can use pine shaving, straw, or even sand for bedding in your coop. Quail need a place to dust bath often.
- High Quality Feeder and Waterers – There are many different options for feeders and waterers for quail. When choosing a feeder, one with a grate over the top of the feed works well for keeping the quail from sitting in and soiling their feed. Quail adapt very easily to a nipple waterer system, which is preferred by many who raise quail. Nipple waterers keep the bedding dry, reducing any extra moisture in the coop. When brooding quail chicks, there are waterers that have a smaller base, allowing the young quail to drink without falling into the water. and potentially drowning.
- Feed For Your Covey – Because quail grow at a faster rate, they do require more protein in their feed. Coturnix quail require feed containing 21%-25% protein, and chicks need even more protein in the starter feed. Typically you feed quail turkey or game bird starter. Quail feed can also be supplemented with sprouts and bugs.
If you plan on raising both chickens and quail in your backyard flock, it is suggested that you brood your chickens separately from the quail. Chickens can potentially pass diseases to your quail. Since your quail are smaller, they can be easily bullied by a larger chicken. Quail and chickens have different feed requirements as well. It is best to have dedicated coops for your chickens and a separate one for your quail.
If you are looking for some fun and easy poultry to raise, give quail a try. You won’t be disappointed with this small, fantastic breed!
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