Are you thinking about raising birds but you don’t want chickens? Maybe you’ve got chickens and you are looking for something different? Or, you’ve heard all the hype about raising quail, and want to give it a try for yourself. Whatever the reason, quail is an excellent option for homesteaders. The assumption is that chickens are the superior choice for raising meat. While it is true that chicken will give you more meat and larger eggs, quail, on the other hand, have some interesting advantages over their feathery cousins.
The Advantages of Raising Quail
Quail are fantastic birds to raise, not only are they sweet and adorable, they’ll provide you with the best quality meat and eggs. Here are some of the main advantages of raising quail.
Eggs: Quail eggs are more expensive than chicken eggs because they are considered a delicacy. Therefore, if you’re planning on raising quail to sell their eggs, you can expect a higher return on your investment. Additionally, quail eggs contain no allergens, so if you can’t eat chicken eggs, these make a good alternative.
Overall Cost: It’s cheaper to raise quail because they’re smaller, and they don’t eat as much or use any bedding. For each bird, you only need about 4 square feet of floor. This is less than half the amount you need for chickens.
Low Maintenance: Quail don’t need a lot of attention, they’re equally as strong as chickens and ducks but because they’re smaller, looking after them is easier.
Disease Resistant: Quail rarely get sick like other poultry birds. They are disease-resistant, and you’ll rarely need to give them any special treatment. Nevertheless, make sure a good veterinarian is always a phone call away.
High-Quality Meat: Whether you’re planning on eating the quail meat yourself or selling it, not only is it delicious but their meat is also extremely nutritious. Three ounces of cooked skinless quail provides 19 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 110 calories. The same size serving also provides 35 percent of your daily requirement for B vitamins including, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. Quail also contains iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Entertaining: Quail are extremely entertaining, they’ve got vibrant and bold personalities. They like running around and hiding, you will most definitely have a lot of fun watching them get up to their antics.
The Disadvantages of Raising Quail
As with all farm animals, there are going to be a few disadvantages when it comes to raising quail:
They’re Loud: Don’t be fooled by their size…these birds are loud! If you are looking for peace and quiet at your homestead, quail are not the answer.
They Scratch Their Food: You will have a lot of cleaning up to do because they toss their food everywhere.
They’re Aggressive: Quail are entertaining, but they’re also aggressive, they’ll peck your fingers when you’re putting their food and water out.
Dust Bunnies: When quail start shedding, their feathers go everywhere. You’ll find dust bunnies all over the place.
They Don’t Live Long: You will need to get as much as you can out of quail quickly because they don’t live very long. They typically only live for 2-3 years, four if you’re lucky.
How to Raise Quail
As mentioned, quail are relatively easy to raise, and you won’t break the bank with your initial investment. Most homesteaders will already have what they need to get started. A small setup won’t cost you any more than $50. If you start out with three quail, in the first year, you can expect around 450 eggs. As it is with chickens, the number of eggs will depend on the number of quail you purchase.
What to Feed Quail
You won’t need to worry about overfeeding quail because they only eat what they need. Even though they’re small, they do eat quite a lot. When buying their feed, check the labels to ensure the salt content is no more than .7 percent because too much salt is not good for them. Quail tend to eat the following:
- Mixed corn
- Layers pellets
They will only eat what they like, so it won’t take you long to know exactly what to feed them. However, their main meal should be layers of pellets and mixed corn, anything else can be a side dish.
What Not to Feed Quail
Although quail are not fussy eaters, there are certain foods that will make them sick, these include:
- All meats
- Salty foods such as chips
- Uncooked potatoes
- Citrus fruits
- Leaves and stems of tomato plants
- Grape seeds
- Anything from the garden
- Chicken feed (it doesn’t contain as much protein but it won’t make them sick)
Like chicken, quail will need a bowl of grit because it helps with the proper digestion of their food.
Quail also need plenty of water so you’ll need to keep their water trough replenished at all times. Experts recommend that marbles are kept at the bottom of the trough so that quail chicks will have some grip to get out if they fall in. Marbles also make the water look more attractive to the quail which will encourage them to drink it. Every so often, add some apple cider vinegar to the water. Apple cider vinegar kills parasites and improves the health of their feathers.
Tips For Raising Quail
- Extra lighting will help quail provide more eggs during the fall and winter months. You can do this by hanging a few light bulbs around the cage.
- Quail waste contains a lot of ammonia so you’ll need to change the straw under their cages every day.
- Wash the cage at least once a week to prevent any build-up.
- Make sure the brooding box has got air vents to provide enough circulation.
You will have plenty of fun raising quail, I can promise you there’ll never be a dull day with these feisty little birds. They might be small, but depending on how far you want to take it, this journey you’re about to embark on might be the start of something big.
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