Raising Coturnix Quail

Why I decided to raise Coturnix quail?

I used to be a meat-eater, eating meat with every meal (mainly chicken.) I remember since being a child living with my nan and grandad, meat was the main part of every meal. There was always a lot of it, later on when I had moved out and started my own family meat was still there.

I have always loved the idea of being self-efficient, ever since I got into plants. Growing my own foods and relying less on the supermarkets. One day the gas company came over to check our meter and because it was covered up by drywall/plasterboard, the obstruction had to be removed so that the engineer could take a closer look.

After this work was carried out, and the wall was thoroughly damaged. A carpenter came round to replace it. When workmen are doing their thing I am always very chatty as I am always curious about people and their interests. It turned out that this guy loves animals, he breeds chickens, quail, ducks and more. I was so fascinated by this, and when he said that he sells them, I was then keen to buy some.

How much do Coturnix quail cost?

He sold quail at £5 each, and I was thinking at the time wow if we get four birds to start with.

Why did I want to raise Coturnix quail?

They will give us fresh eggs every day, and I know they are small but they are delicious and so decadent. After doing a lot of research over the internet, I also thought that eventually we could breed, butcher, and make our own meat instead of having to buy it. This would save lots of money, I thought. This type of thinking was wrong.

After having them for a little while I started to realise how all of us meat-eaters are so out of tune with nature. We have drifted far away from having companionship with other animals.

When I used to eat meat, I never thought, yum, I'm eating an animal, its fat, its muscles. Those things just don’t go together, if you bonded with the animal, the likelihood of you killing that for food is very low, the thought of that doesn’t make me feel hungry, it simply repulses me.

Over time I got comfortable holding them. I would go see them when I was feeling down, they became our pets. My kids bonded with them, and they used to feed us with their eggs every day.

How many quail eggs to a chicken egg?

Four eggs equal one chicken egg.

quail egg vs chicken egg

What feed does quail need?

I only gave them organic feed. The feed is important because if we are going to eat eggs from them. You will want the eggs to be nutritious. I only buy organic food when possible for my family for health and I wanted the quails to be happy and healthy too. The extra cost is not more important than life.

The feed you give them should be organic, this is for their health and yours, if you are going to be eating the eggs. You should also try to avoid feeds that contain high amounts of corn as this is simply not good for them and can cause some issues regarding their health.

Allen & Page Organic Feed Layers Pellets (20kg)

organic poultry feed

This is the feed that I used and I would highly recommend, it lasts a really long time. has been boosted with vitamins, minerals and omega 3 oils which will improve the egg quality, there are no synthetic vitamins or minerals in this feed.

It's suitable for all poultry and chicks from week 16, and is made primarily out of Organic Wheat, Organic Linseed Expeller, Organic Soya Expeller, Organic Alfalfa, Organic Full Fat Soya, Organic Maize, Di-Calcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Yeast, Organic Linseed, Sea Salt, Seaweed & Herb Analytical Constituents: Crude Protein 16%, Crude Oils and Fats 4%, Crude Fibre 4.5%, Crude Ash 10.5%, Calcium 4%, Sodium 0.18%, Phosphorous 0.7%, Lysine 0.5%, Methionine 0.3% & Omega 3 0.4%

What type of housing does quail need?

 quail birds in housing enclosure

Some people say that a rabbit hutch is fine for Coturnix quail, but I would have to disagree. This is because quail like to have sunlight, they can actually get depressed if they do not get enough light. According to the internet, 30 cm per bird is enough, but that is very tight, could you imagine those poor living conditions? It is simply put 'cruel'.

I would recommend at least 60 cm. As long as the housing supports the security from predators, has enough light, and has enough space for the birds, feed, dust bath, and water, it should be fine. Just after the first lot started laying eggs they were stolen. A person must have known that we had them and stole them, but we contacted the guy and got some more. When it comes to deciding on the right housing for your quail you should also consider how you are going to feed them, and give them water, here are the ones I recommend.

Some people say that a rabbit hutch is fine for Coturnix quail, but I would have to disagree. This is because quail like to have sunlight, they can actually get depressed if they do not get enough light. According to the internet, 30 cm per bird is enough, but that is very tight, could you imagine those poor living conditions? It is simply put 'cruel'.

I would recommend at least 60 cm. As long as the housing supports the security from predators, has enough light, and has enough space for the birds, feed, dust bath, and water, it should be fine. Just after the first lot started laying eggs they were stolen. A person must have known that we had them and stole them, but we contacted the guy and got some more. When it comes to deciding on the right housing for your quail you should also consider how you are going to feed them, and give them water, here are the ones I recommend.

Some people say that a rabbit hutch is fine for Coturnix quail, but I would have to disagree. This is because quail like to have sunlight, they can actually get depressed if they do not get enough light. According to the internet, 30 cm per bird is enough, but that is very tight, could you imagine those poor living conditions? It is simply put 'cruel'.

I would recommend at least 60 cm. As long as the housing supports the security from predators, has enough light, and has enough space for the birds, feed, dust bath, and water, it should be fine. Just after the first lot started laying eggs they were stolen. A person must have known that we had them and stole them, but we contacted the guy and got some more. When it comes to deciding on the right housing for your quail you should also consider how you are going to feed them, and give them water, here are the ones I recommend.


Eton feeder (3kg)

eton feeder

  • 3 kg capacity means you can feed them less often
  • reduces waste by preventing quail from kicking the feed everywhere
  • with handy carry handle

Eton drinker (6 Litre)

quail waterer

  • 6 litre capacity means you can give them water less often
  • reduces risk of quail drowning (they can drown in a small bowl of water)
  • with handy carry handle

Incubating Coturnix quail eggs

This was such a long learning experience, to do this successfully theirs a lot you need to know. Eggs should be collected daily and be kept at the right temperature and humidity at all times within the incubator.

At first, we decided to buy a cheap incubator and after many attempts not even being able to hatch an egg. We decided that the incubators' temperature and humidity must not be persistent. We went ahead and purchased a more expensive one that seemed more suited to the job and as a result we had some success.

Brinsea Mini II Eco Egg Incubator

brinsea eco incubator 

  • Fan assisted airflow & electronic temperature control
  • Add water to raise the humidity from the outside.
  • Suitable for 10 hen eggs, 8 duck/turkey eggs, 12 pheasant eggs or 24 quail eggs
  • Glass thermometer for monitoring temperature.
  • Made in the UK, spares in the UK, servicing in the UK and 3 year warranty

Turning quail eggs

You need to write an O on one side of the egg and an X on the other, this is so that every day you turn them and know when they have been all turned or not. You will also need to make a plan because on the last day it is known as lockdown, it is the only day that you do not turn the eggs or open the incubator for anything as you risk the chicks dying.

Quail eggs low hatch rate

Hatch rate varies widely on many factors such as health of the bird, sunlight, feed, stress, water, genes, which all ultimately comes down to the egg quality. Out of 10 eggs, only one egg hatched and you are not meant to help them out of the shell no matter what. If they are not strong enough to get out of the shell, they are not strong enough to live.

Don't help chicks out of the egg

quail chick leaving shell

If you try and remove the shell, it could still be attached to them and they can bleed to death. After a long time of this chick struggling to get out, I learned the hard way. I helped him out of the shell and he seemed fine. His legs were not very strong though, he couldn’t stand very well without falling over.

I read online that this was a common thing to happen with quail. There are braces that you can make to strengthen the legs to help support them. I tried many times and it didn’t work. For a week I would have to stay up late every night to make sure that he had eaten food or water. He simply could not look after himself. He was laying on the floor squeaking constantly, he was very unhappy. It seemed like he was suffering. Hours later he died and I was extremely sad.

Other problems with breeding quail

After some time I decided that I would try again, and two hatched on their own. When I first saw them, one was completely fine running around the incubator. The other had the same problem with their legs. It all came back to me, and I felt hopeless. He was also suffering and couldn’t walk, I tried again to look after him, and try to support him to walk but had no luck. I didn’t want this one to suffer slowly and die again so I put him out of his misery.

This was so hard for me to do, I couldn’t stop crying whilst doing it. I felt his little legs kick-off of my hand as I ended his life. The other one that was fine running around got older. When it got to around 1 month old, his legs started playing up. He wasn’t as bad, he would be able to walk on one leg and hopped around to get food and water.

By 2 months old he had also died, I don’t know why this was happening but read that even if the temperature or humidity is even slightly off in the incubator, it can make them have problems with their legs. I decided I no longer wanted to incubate quail eggs as it was simply too heartbreaking watching them die. Unfortunately, quails rarely tend to their own eggs, they are not very maternal and are unlikely to sit on them.

5 common problems with raising Coturnix quail?

1. The smelly poo

Every day, I would check on the birds, clean up their poo and wow they poo a lot. It would take me around 1 hour to clean them per day, and this is not an overreaction.

2. Fighting

They would constantly fight, draw blood from pecking each other. This was not because of space. The recommended enclosure for quail is notably small. (I gave them a whole greenhouse size to run around in for the four of them and they would still chase each other and fight.)

3. Noisy

The male was very noisy and you need at least 1 male to 3 females, he would make a crowing noise to establish his dominance.

4. Messy

They are so messy, they kick their food everywhere, and it may take you months to create some type of feeding solution that cuts down on waste. They would even poo in their water.

5. Unwanted pests

Now, we had a pet cat and I was aware that this could be a problem. Which is why I made sure that the greenhouse was always a secure enclosure. It had a door that was always closed, and I screwed the wood to the bottom where there was a tiny gap. However, the cat would sit nearby and wait. I would scare the cat off on many occasions but he would always come back. One day he must have waited patiently, one of the birds came near the door.

Our cat must have got put his paw underneath the tiny gap and pulled the bird through, ripping its head clean off. The bird was still inside but its head was not. This was horrible to see, and hard to clean up. I then had to take extra measures securing the enclosure. The foxes were constantly sniffing around every night trying to find a way in, luckily they couldn’t and we thought that they were now safe.

One day I came in and saw that one the birds were heavily bleeding, it had been bitten by either a mouse or a rat. Our next-door neighbours had seen the rats before. I decided to go and buy a rat trap to place in the cage. However, in the end, I had to donate the birds to wildlife sanctuary as there were simply so many predators. I was getting fed up with all of these birds dying on me. I felt personally responsible, and with all the problems together, it seemed like we did not have the right conditions to raise them anymore.

Conclusion

Raising quail can be an emotional journey, for me it really was. They are easy to have, but hard to maintain. After we got rid of them, I became a vegan for a while. I did this for many reasons such as health, my respect for animals, and because of my thought process. If I couldn't kill them, then why would I pay someone else to? If you want them for eggs, you are probably better off with chickens. If you have limited space quail are most likely for you. Do your research beforehand, and know that it is extremely challenging at times. Finally put this page in your bookmarks so that you can refer to it if you need ever need too.

Ethics

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