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The Rustic Farmer


Quail: A Homestead Resource II

Richard Bogdanowicz

Where to get Coturnix Quail Eggs

If you plan on incubating your own first stock you will need to find a reputable breeder. Eggs can be shipped safely through Priority mail in specially made foam egg holders. You can usually get a fairly decent hatch rate even though they were shipped. You can expect about a 50 percent hatch rate on shipped eggs.

I purchased my first Coturnix Quail eggs from Apple Country Gamebird and was very happy with my success. You can find other Coturnix quail breeders online and even join a Coturnix Quail Facebook group to find other Coturnix Quail breeders.

Incubating Eggs

Coturnix Quail are an excellent livestock and easy to reproduce. Most Styrofoam incubators hatch out quail eggs just fine. No need for an automatic egg turner as long as you can turn them 3 times a day. It only takes a careful roll with your palm over the tops of the eggs. The eggs only need to be turned for 14 days. Stop turning on day 16 so the chicks can work on cracking their shell open.

incubator

Keep the temperature at 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit or as close as possible. Humidity is not as big of a concern. Some people add water, and some hatch out dry (using no water). I add about a 1/4 cup when I start to incubate and another 1/4 cut on day 16 when I stop turning. Coturnix quail eggs are really easy to hatch. By day 18 you should find eggs hatching; I leave the new chicks in the incubator for 24 hrs. before moving to a brooder. Birds are born with full stomachs so no need for food or water on the first day of hatching. Eggs can hatch as late as day 20, so have some patience.

Brooder

From the incubator, the quail will go to a brooder. A brooder is nothing more than a place to keep your chicks at a specific temperature, away from drafts, while keeping them fed and watered. Heat the brooder up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week. Then drop it 5 degrees every week until you get to 70 degrees. At this point you won't need supplemental heating.

small brooder

Line your brooder with the bigger wood chips that can be bought at any feed store. The fine wood chips can be eaten and more easily be wet with water. I just sprinkle a bit of new wood chips every other day. At the end of the week, just scoop out the chips and replace them.

big brooder

I use 2 incubators. Since I incubate 100-200 at a time, I have a 2' x 3' incubator I use for the first 2-3 weeks. Once the brooder starts getting tighter as they grow, I put them in a 6' x 6' wood brooder and they stay there until they can fit into my wire pens. This conserves heat so you won't have to heat such a big area in the first 2-3 weeks.

small quail water

There are multiple waterers and feeders for your birds. The most important thing to keeping quail chicks alive is keeping them dry. Don't put in big waterers. Use the small waterers so they can drink without hopping in and getting wet. I also sit the waterers on a 1" wood pad so they won't get wood chips wet.

Quail Black Gold

Quail manure is easy to deal with. The cages should have metal wire with 1" x 1/2" rectangles. This allows the manure to fall to the floor or onto trays. Either way, it's is easy enough to clean. If you grow plants, compost this manure for 12 months and, sparingly, add it to your soil as an amendment. You can even sell your quail manure!

Feed

Quail need high protein content. Finding non-medicated feed above 20 percent can be difficult but is necessary. I would even make sure you can find the right feed before getting quail. I use 24 percent Dumor non-mediated game bird feed. It can be ordered in most feed stores or bought online.

Medicated feed will kill your quail. Some breeders use medicated feed sparingly when they see birds acting sick, but it can kill healthy birds. If I have birds that get sick, I would rather cull them than try medicated feed because I think it gives me stronger birds.

Other good feeds for quail are insects such as mealworms, redworms, and soldier flies. I know my birds love sprouted wheat grass and barley as well as berries, ragweed, sorghum sunflowers and cowpeas.

Any homestead could benefit from raising quail, and if you live in the city but want to try and become more sustainable, consider the Coturnix quail. Just check out local and federal regulations on this bird.


Photos property of Richard Bogdanowicz.

Quail: A Homestead Resource

Richard BogdanowiczI have become totally impressed with a new project of mine. Coturnix quail have been in my sites for a few years but a few months ago I took the plunge.

I purchased a couple hundred chicks from a well-known breeder Jared Winand from Pennsylvania. Starting with good stock led to a fast-successful start!

Why Coturnix Quail? First off, I chose them because I didn't need a permit to raise this type of quail in my area. Quail are prolific and can be kept in small places.

This was also my reason to choose this amazing little bird. I want to see if it makes sense for even people in apartments to keep quail for eggs and meat!

coturnix quail

The Coturnix Quail have been domesticated for over 2,000 years. This long-time domestication makes keeping them in small places easier but they have forgotten how to incubate eggs. So, if you want to have your own chicks you need an incubator or bantam chicken to hatch them out. In rare cases you might find a quail that goes broody.

Quail meat is delicious and so are the eggs. The eggs have some special attributes that make them more valuable to eat than regular chicken eggs. People with egg allergies can eat quail eggs without fear of any reactions.

Quail are also much more quiet than other poultry. Even a quail rooster can go unnoticed in most cases. If you just want eggs then you won't even need the rooster.

quail eggs

Benefits of Coturnix Quail Eggs

Coturnix quail eggs are so much healthier for you! These Coturnix eggs are delicious at one fourth the size of a chicken egg. Some Asian hospitals even prescribe raw quail eggs to get rid of some 300 diseases. I'm not sure about all the medical claims but I guess they can't hurt. I eat my eggs raw, boiled, fried and really love the baked goods made with them.

  • Quail eggs contain 13 percent protein compared to 11 percent of chickens
  • 140 percent Vitamin B1 compared to 50 percent in chicken eggs
  • High Vitamin A (good for vision)
  • Beneficial fatty acids to make you heart healthy unlike chicken eggs
  • Possible ability to lower blood pressure
  • Quail eggs can even help to detoxify the body
  • High amounts of vitamin C
  • Boost the body's metabolism and give you more energy

This is just a start I could write a book on all the benefits and studies about quail eggs.

prepared quail

Why Eat Quail?

Quail meat is such a healthy meat source. Quail are easy to keep and tasty! Cooking can be as quick at 4 minutes per side on a hot cast iron skillet. Processing is simple for anyone and you won't even have to worry about plucking feathers.

Quail are packed full of vitamin A, B, D, K, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc. That's just scratching the surface of this valuable food source. If you have problems with degenerative eye issues eating quail can actually bring back your vision with its mineral content!

Some other amazing affects you will find from eating quail meat are clearer skin because of the fatty acids and clearer thinking from a properly nourished brain. Adding quail to your diet will fill a hole that most have with today's diets to even improve our immune system.

Caging

Keeping Coturnix quail is really easy. They aren't the best fliers so short cages are just fine. In fact, having shorter cages can actually keep your quails from hurting themselves. Coturnix quail take short fast flights and end up crashing potentially hurting themselves. Keeping a short cage won't allow them to pick up enough speed to get hurt.

This caging requirement is what makes Coturnix quail easy to keep in small areas such as apartments or garages. Some people keep the quail in outdoor flight cages which is also fine but you will have to worry about predators and parasites.

The weather won't hurt your quail either. Keep them out of direct sunlight and block them from the wind and you will have happy quail. You can even keep your quail outdoors year-round.

Male Female Ratio

If you plan on keeping a rooster to fertilize your quail eggs the ratio needs to be right or you will have fighting. Fighting will keep your hens from laying as well as they could and they will end up cannibalizing each other. Keeping one male (rooster) to 4-5 females (hens) is a rule of thumb. Keeping a group that were hatched together rather than bringing in a new member will also help prevent fighting and injuries.

Hens will last about 8 months and then should be culled to make room for new stock. Since it only takes 6-8 weeks for hens to lay you can easily come up with rotating birds out for new layers.


Photos property of Richard Bogdanowicz.







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