Saturday, June 13, 2009

Coturnix Quail update



Some of you may remember that I hatched some quail about two months ago. About a week ago they began laying and I'm getting several quail eggs every day. I originally hatched 85, sold all but 17, but then sold even more as I figured out which ones were roosters. A cat killed one and caused another to himself pretty badly, which I ended up putting down and eating--- this was before the chicken butchering, it was much much easier and actually gave me the confidence to get the meat chickens. I had a few hens in one pen that were fine on their own but very aggressive when I put a rooster with them and they nearly killed him. Since I plan on breeding these birds that wasn't going to work, so I sold them too.



I ended up with too few birds so a friend that I had sold about 50 to was kind enough to allow me to buy 3 hens back. So now I'm at 8 quail, with a rooster to hen ratio of one male to 3 females. I plan on keeping one male for every five females and upping my total number of quail to 18. This will give me a dozen+ eggs a day since Coturnix are pretty reliable daily layers. A dozen quail eggs are equal to between 2-3 chicken eggs in volume.

I'm surprised at some of the difficulties I've encountered with raising the quail. Like chickens, they don't always take to being mixed with new birds. With quail though at least you can usually add a hen to a group with no trouble but mixing bigger groups can be tricky and they can be very brutal. Quail can and will kill each other if they don't get along. For these reasons, in addition to the fact that they can be a little more difficult as chicks (because of their tiny size they are prone to drowning in even a small jar lid full of water, sidenote: they also require unmedicated gamebird starter feed-- they need the higher protein) I would say they are leaning between a beginner and intermediate poultry pet.

Even with those downsides Coturnix quail have so many things going in their favor I'd be very quick to recommend them! They are quick maturers and reliable layers. Quail roosters have a very pretty call, that most people would think was a neighborhood songbird-- sounds like "look at meeeeee", so for people wanting to breed birds in the city, quail can be a way to do that (they won't usually sit on their own eggs, you will need to incubate them). The call, while pretty can start up very early in the morning, so you might not want to have a large number of roosters or people will soon be onto you! They require only about one square foot of cage space per bird so apartment dwellers, especially those with a small balcony could have them and get their own fresh eggs. (Apartments are such close living arrangements I would probably skip the rooster here, but that won't diminish your egg supply!) People plagued by HOA regulations could have them too, as it's a small caged bird I believe it falls under "regular pets". They are easier to process than chickens if you are choosing to have some for the meat (the jumbo varieties can reach up to a pound of live weight). There are all different color variations, so if you are interested in genetics, you can do some fun experimenting with different crosses to see what color combinations you get.


My quail pens, bought brand new off of Craigslist for $50 each

It is recommended that you keep them on wire (in cages), this keeps the eggs nice and clean and the birds parasite free. They are great flyers and vulnerable prey so there is no chance of free-ranging them, but I may experiment with tractoring a batch down the road just to see how it goes. The backyard chicken movement really has momentum right now, but I know very few people that keep Coturnix quail, I'm hoping that more people discover them because they're great producers of eggs and meat and such a fun versatile bird.

13 comments:

TheMartianChick said...

I have to agree with just about everything that you said! I do live in the city and the quail really are the perfect poultry for an urban environment.

My roosters don't seem to say, "Look at me"... They seem to say "AckSplack" beginning at 3:30 am! I have not had any complaints from my neighbors and in NY State, you can have them anywhere, rural or urban as long as you purchase a special license from the state.

Like you, I wish more people would try raising them. I find them to be very relaxing and I look forward to caring for them every morning and evening. I love hanging out with them in my garden!

Aiyana said...

Interesting! Do the eggs taste the same as chicken eggs?
Aiyana

Aliza said...

Wow, I've been hearing so much about chickens, chickens, chickens... can't believe how amazing quail sound! And as a fellow urban farmer, I love the sound of tiny farm. So happy I found your blog!

Coturnix Quail said...

Just started with coturnix quail a couple weeks ago, still waiting for my first egg. I started with 17 and due to natural causes I am down to 15. Also ordered a batch of eggs from ebay that have been in the incubator for a week now, sure hope at least a couple hatch ;).

rachelbess said...

That's great! Good luck with your hatch!

Coturnix Quail said...

So the hatch arrived right on day 17. I got five birds, of which I think two might not make it in the long run. It was a good first experience with the incubator even though I had a very low hatch rate. Trying to find some more eggs to give it another go, but this late in the season it is proving hard as most have stopped laying.

girl from the pittsburgh suberbs said...

Hey! wow! are quail able to live in a rabbit hutch?

Anonymous said...

how hard exactly is it to raise them? i want to and im 12.

Alyssa O'Leary said...

Hey, just found your blog and I love it! I was thinking of getting chickens for eggs but I'm pretty sure that the new HOA won't allow it... but your post gives hope that I can still have a smaller egg bird.

Anonymous said...

I just hatched 9 out of 13 eggs. I had 2 to get in the water dish so I have 7. They are really fun to watch them hatch and I am enjoying watching them grow.

babygirl589 said...

i just found your blog and agree 100%. i recently starting breeding and raising the coturnix quail in december of 2011. i started with 4 adults already breeding and 10 chicks that were 2 weeks old. i am now up to 35 birds and have had a pretty dicent hatch rate once i got the incubator issues worked out. since december i have had 14 eggs hatched but only 9 have survived. i wish everyone good luck with their quail.

tom said...

Is it possible for newly hatched quail to eat each other

Anonymous said...

Am a quail farmer my birds are 11weeks old today well am on da learning process 2 I have one female laying for now how would I get more from a folk of 130 birds 08186404834 is mynumber pls call!