Well, we’re getting close! Our final supplies for the incubator are almost here and I’m ready to start hatching some quail! It’s pretty exciting!
First off, let’s talk facts.
I guess I should start with the fact that quail are considered game birds, not poultry. They are popular among hunters and can be found in the wild all over the world. Each bird grows be be approximately 4-6oz and they come in many different colors. Popular breeds for domestic quail include: Coturnix (pharaoh), Bobwhite, A&M, Manchurian, English, Roux, Tibetan and more. All these breeds come in different sizes and colors, so research what will fit your needs before you start raising them.
Quail are easier to raise than chickens for urban farmers because of their small space requirements. The industry standard for quail is 1sqft per bird. If you are going to raise quail, I would encourage you to give them a bit more space than that, especially since we are raising animals, not running a factory.
Quails should be kept in housing with a wire floor (similar to a rabbit cage) so that their feces do not build up. Their feces are very high in ammonia and can spread disease very easily if not constantly maintained. A wire floor (1/2″ mesh is fine) will allow their feces to fall through to a catch pan and keep their cages dry and ventilated. Quail should also be kept in a cage no more than 18″ tall. This is because quail fly directly up when spooked and if they are allowed to very far they can possibly gain too much speed and break their own necks. For their safety and your investment, keep the ceiling low. I’m building mine to be 12″.
If you are raising quail for eggs you will also need to consider light. Quails will need 14 hours of daylight to continuously lay eggs. This should not be in the form of a heat lamp. If you heat your quail they will not grow down feathers to keep them warm and when they are exposed to cold temps, they will die. However, if you don’t use the heat lamp, the birds are extremely hardy in very low temperatures.
Feed and Water
Quail are more profitable than other birds because of their food needs. Quail hens lay approximately 5 eggs a week and the average adult quail only consumes 14g-18g of food a day, but they are very wasteful. They also produce eggs at a better ratio than chickens. Quail produce 1lb of eggs for every 2lbs of feed (2:1) when chickens produce 1lb of eggs to every 3lbs of food (3:1). Quail eggs tend to be 1/4 to 1/3 the size of chicken eggs. But that means you get 3-4 eggs for every one chicken egg on 1/3 less the food. To make it a bit more complicated, I’ll also say that if you pay $15 for a 40lb bag of feed, each quail egg will cost you less than 3¢, while chicken eggs average about 20¢.
Quails should be eating a high protein game bird feed or turkey crumble (22%-30%). Do not feed them cracked corn, you should always feed them crumble since it is water soluable and you won’t need to provide grit. If you notice thin shells on your eggs, grind a small amount oyster shell to a fine powder and add it to their food. I’m personally going to be feeding my quail a turkey starter crumble that is 26% protein. Then I will be switching to a 22% game bird feed when they reach adulthood.
Quail food and water should constantly be kept clean of feces and debris to control parasites and diseases. They are very hardy birds, but they need to be kept clean.
Our Quail Plan
Obviously we are building our own cage, brooder and incubator. I’ll be ordering eggs in this week to be delivered next week. I’m going to be ordering 2doz. eggs and I’m hoping for 9 females at least. The rest can be anything else, although I would like 3 males as well. Our total flock is planned to be 12 birds.
With 12 birds we should get at least three dozen eggs a week. I plan on keeping some of these eggs to eat ourselves, I also plan on saving some for hatching to expand our flock as we can. I think I’m also going to be offering eggs for sale at the farmer’s market and possibly online for hatching. That means if any of you reading this, in the US want hatching eggs, let me know! If we have some interest, I would be more than happy to ship them out.
I think I may have actually cornered the market around here by accident. The closest quail-raiser is over 80 miles away in each direction (I’ve been looking for eggs!). That means I should really have no problem selling quail eggs at the farmer’s market after I educate people on their uses. Quail eggs are considered a superfood. One quail egg at 1/4 the size, is more nutritious than one chicken egg. It’s higher in vitamins, iron, potassium and good cholesterol. They are also said to not cause egg allergies. I’m sure I can sell them. I won’t even have competition from chicken eggs because nobody sells those either! This is gonna work!
Now it’s not all about the money for us, obviously, but I do need to find ways to get the homestead to at least pay for itself. Quail eggs will bring in enough money to cover all their food needs and profit to expand the flock or expand other sections of the homestead. All this will help build the farmstand and keep me going to the farmer’s market, which will help us out even more. I’ve got to get this homestead thing to support us one way or another and I’m starting to figure it out.
Hatching Eggs For Sale
As I mentioned above, I will probably start offering hatching eggs once the birds are fully grown and producing. Once the birds are laying with some normalcy, I will be creating a new page with contact information and prices. If you are at all interested in hatching some of your own quail, let me know!