Getting Started Raising Quail

Not incredibly different from raising backyard chickens, raising quail will have you harvesting eggs and meat in no time – and their calls are cool too!

| March/April 2016

  • Gambel's quail, one of the quail common to the Desert Southwest. This adult male and a few youngsters were captured on camera near Tucson, Arizona.
    Photo by Rick & Nora Bowers/KAC Productions
  • Quail in cage at Baxter Barn in Fall City, Washington.
    Photo by Janet Horton
  • It takes about three to four jumbo Coturnix quail eggs to equal the size of one chicken egg. But, quail start laying much younger, usually between 6 and 8 weeks of age.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/Scukrov
  • Gambel’s quail are popular in the Desert Southwest.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/Cay-Uwe
  • Chinese Painted quail are more common overseas.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/Anna Yu
  • Bobwhites have an unmistakable call.
    Photo by Maslowski Wildlife Productions
  • The author’s Coturnix quail, perfectly content in taller grass.
    Photo by Carole West
  • Bobwhites venturing out from under cover.
    Photo by Carole West
  • Permanent quail housing.
    Photo by Carole West
  • Much like with chickens, movable quail housing provides your birds with fresh grass every few days – a nice feature during rainy seasons.
    Photo by Carole West

In the last several years, the homesteading movement has swept across North America. Numerous folks have started growing vegetables and fruits, as well as raising chickens and other animals, which establishes self-sufficiency and a visceral sense of fulfillment.

But often flying under the radar in the backyard bird-raising trend are additional yet unconventional options, like quail.

Quail provide eggs, meat and hours of enjoyment. They’re quiet, detailed, efficient birds that complement a self-reliant lifestyle. Whether you have a fenced-in backyard or acreage to roam, you can raise these birds on a manageable scale in a natural environment.

At any rate, raising quail certainly enriches the homestead lifestyle.



Legalities

It’s likely you can legally raise quail in even your small urban backyard; they’re a wild game bird separate from the poultry and livestock categories. Some municipalities that restrict residents from raising certain “farm animals” like chickens leave quail off of the restricted list. However, because they’re game birds, it’s always recommended to see if your state, county or town has restrictions before getting started. Often, you can contact the local wild game bird association and they can refer you to that information and more.

Once you have the go-ahead, there are a few things to consider before you begin. Start by researching quail breeds, necessary supplies, where to purchase birds, housing, and how to deal with predators.






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