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Author Topic: Quails Anyone?  (Read 10441 times)

Ross Wheeler

  • Joined Jan 2015
Quails Anyone?
« on: February 02, 2015, 10:35:14 am »
Hey folks, thinking about quails for one of our next ventures... Heard they are quite good escape artists but good layers...

Anyone have anyone have more experience of different views on this? I love to get some to be honest  ;D


  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Staffordshire
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2015, 11:26:51 am »
My quail were placid, happy little things that laid brilliantly. Unfortunately they appear to be a rats favourite food :-( they chewed there way into a newly made pen in a night and ate their way through them. I'd fix the hole and they'd chew another. 
So my best advice would be to make double and triple sure it's rat proof. I want more but need to wrap the entire pen and run in fine mesh wire first.
We are reducing the rat population nightly but don't think they'll ever truly be gone :-(

Good luck  :fc:


  • Joined Apr 2013
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2015, 11:36:25 am »
I did this venture last season and wouldn't do it again.  I started with hatching eggs so ended up with a few males.
Very noisy little blighters. 
I kept mine in the conservatory when very small & found they were much more smelly than chickens. When I put them outside one completely disappeared overnight - I assume rat but never found a trace.
They fight like crazy and are vicious - male to male and male to female and female to female.  I had a permanent hospital wing to separate the ones with head wounds.
After about 8 months I then had a random death every week or so and I was quite relieved when the last one went a few weeks ago.
Laying was great - sometimes getting more than one egg a day from the same bird.
but to top it all I didnt really like the eggs!     far too fiddly for the nice but not great taste.
so its a no from me.

As an afterthought - they also seem to have fragile legs and feet when they hatch - I didnt find out until I hatched them out but they definately need a non slip surface - I lost a few at the very start due to my ignorance of this.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 11:42:20 am by Q »
If you cant beat 'em then at least bugger 'em about a bit.


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Ayrshire
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2015, 01:26:57 pm »
I keep Japanese quail (Coturnix Coturnix) Ross, I assume these are the ones you're thinking about for eggs/meat?

From a dual purpose point of view I don't think any other type of quail comes close to them.

I keep them mostly for eggs but I eat a few of the extra males and sell a few adults, point of lay stock.

I'll do you a short summary of what I do, if you need anymore info just ask.  :thumbsup:

I breed my own, they generally don't sit on their own eggs so I use an incubator. (the very occasional one will sit on eggs successfully)

incubation period is 17/18 days, I get better hatch rates not using any water in the incubator at all.

The splayed leg/curled toe problem commonly seen in day old chicks is due to inbreeding, incorrect incubation settings  and a lesser extent the breeders diet.

Many of the flocks/birds you will come across are inbred to some extent, this will impact on the hatchability and leg problems quite severely.

Best to keep separate strains then plan and record the breeding rather then just keep them all as one flock.

Mine are kept in a large shed with natural lighting although I supplement that with artificial lighting when needed.

I rear mine on standard chick starter crumbs and feed them a standard layers mash, they are quoted to need a higher protein diet but never had any problems using the chicken feed and they lay well on it.

Quail chicks are tiny and will drown/get wet, cold and die in very shallow water, I put glass marbles in a standard drinker so they can't really get wet even if they stand in it, they can get their beak to the water but nothing else.

If they are reared on 16 hours light per day they will start laying at 53/54 days of age and within a few weeks will be laying almost an egg per hen per day.

my youngest batch of 10 hens have just laid 682 eggs in the last 10 weeks, if they had all laid an egg a day i'd have had a maximum of 700 so they lay very well!

They lay whenever and wherever they like, they don't make a nest like other birds, they just lay their egg and carry on as if nothing had happened so you need to be aware of keeping them in pens with inaccessible areas.

They will lay through the day and night, they don't just lay in the morning like ducks.

I keep mine in 3 tiered wooden structures either 4' x 2' (breeding pens) or 6' x 2' (laying)

For breeding I keep them at a ratio of 1 male to 5 females, in a 4' x 2' pen I keep 2 males and 10 females.

Thats quite tight for space but I find if you give them more room they will set up territories (males and females) and this is when the fighting can start to get vicious, they do like to peck each others eyes!

Keeping them quite tightly stocked seems to prevent the territories forming.

Keeping a higher ratio of males will also mean a lot of fighting and they will kill each other eventually.

Too many males to females will also mean the hens are over mated and can suffer head injuries.

If I use a breeding group of only 1 male and 5 females I would split these pens down into 2' x 2'

For the laying pens (6' x 2') I normally keep around 20 females and a couple of males per pen.

I keep mine on sawdust, I find its best for quail, they love it and will dustbath in it constantly  :thumbsup:

I change mine every week whether it needs it or not, clean litter = clean eggs.

quail kept on damp litter are prone to collecting hard balls of litter around their toes which will be a real pain to remove.

They will also dustbath in their feed if given the chance and scatter it far and wide.

A feeder that allows their heads in but not their feet or body is best to prevent them wasting feed.

this type of idea works fine.

Try and find a mash or a meal feed with no whole grains in it, they will leave a lot of the whole wheat etc

Water via a standard drinker or nipple is fine.

I usually keep mine laying for a year then select some of them for breeding, the others will lay pretty well for a few years but not as many eggs, however the eggs will be large.

If you're eating the excess males then 8-10 weeks is the optimum time for them, any longer than that and they are just eating feed without gaining weight.

If you cull the males out when young and only take feed costs into account then you should be able to produce eggs for around 2p-3p each.

Once you start to allow for incubators/heat lamps etc for a month at a time etc it cost a bit more :)

I sell males at 3 each and point of lay hens at 5 each so even selling just two of them will easily pay for a bag of feed.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 08:15:43 am by Clansman »


  • Joined Jul 2014
  • Jersey - for now :)
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2015, 03:39:37 pm »
Really useful thanks :) Considered keeping some for meat and this is helpful :)


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Ayrshire
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2015, 03:45:37 pm »
Here's a small setup my sister keeps for eggs.

she has 10 hens and 2 males in one of those metre long rabbit/guinea pig cages.

They are inside the garage for the winter but laying very well with supplementary lighting, they don't need a lot of space and this sort of stocking level is ideal to prevent fighting.

Video shows a male crowing, they aren't deadly loud like a cockerel, more like a noisy budgie  :thumbsup:
« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 03:47:28 pm by Clansman »

Victorian Farmer

  • Guest
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2015, 12:55:40 pm »
We was a qual farm before we stopt 8 foot by 8 50 in a pen 8 males .There were 2 eating places that had them and eggs to the estate shop 3 for 6 .Lots of difarante qual inc mountain I had about 50 of them harlaquin it was ok best on saw dust and cleaned out everey 4 weeks .The good thing you can hatch for the season in a month . Took 18 month to get numbers up .Never had a problem selling them.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2015, 02:56:24 pm »
We have Japanese Quail. We have kept on the lawn in arks but now have in a large rabbit hutch. We've kept them for about 6 years now.

We feed Layers mash. You can get quail pellets but we can't source locally. I think the protein content is higher in the quail pellets but ours do fine on layers.

Water in a tiny hopper.

Sawdust and hay for bedding.

Lots of hiding places to prevent boredom and it helps to stop fights if their run ways are interrupted .... or so I read. Like conifer branches to hide in.

They love dust baths so we put these in regularly .... especially in summer.

We put turfs of grass in for ours to peck at.

We worm with Marriages layers pellets.

Males tread hens a lot so you need lots of girls to each boy. Males fight viciously and will seriously harm each other so separate out once sexed. They seem to go from living calmly to outright war overnight ... there is no warning!

Mature at 6/7 weeks and females then come into lay. Unlike chickens they can lay 2 eggs per day. Lay Easter-September/October without artificial light.  Our hens do tend to lay in certain areas .... in boxes or under conifer branches that we put in.

They are flighty and easily spooked. They fly upright and can scalp themselves so need low pen or netting to prevent injury.

Ours hatched easily and thrived well. Fed on ground chick crumbs. Hatched in inccie. Size of bumble bees when just hatched but grow and feather rapidly.

Boys crow. Distinctive shrill call I would say. Not as loud or intrusive as a cockerel. Only heard during spring/summer.


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Ayrshire
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2015, 03:40:34 pm »
Unlike chickens they can lay 2 eggs per day.

This is something I see quoted a lot on the internet but its something i've never experienced myself or found any evidence of.

I regularly collect more eggs than there are hens on a daily count but i've never had more than one egg a day per quail when its averaged out over a few days.

They do lay at all times of the day and night though compared to other bird species so the potential for an overlap if greater than it is say with ducks which usually lay in the morning.

I suspect what happens with quail is that someone goes to collect the eggs just before a bird lays then 24 hours later the bird will lay its 'second' egg making it seem like it laid 2 eggs per day.

My sister when she first got hers always used to call me up and tell me she had just collected 12, 14 15 eggs etc from her 10 hens  :innocent:

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2015, 04:21:36 pm »
On one occasion we had a pair of quail living in a pen together, male and female, and collected 3 eggs one day and 2 eggs the day before! All other days that week .... one egg each day.


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Ayrshire
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2015, 04:35:29 pm »
Well it obviously happens occasionally then  ;D

so 10 eggs in 7 days?

Were your 2 eggs and 3 eggs normal sized?

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2015, 05:17:33 pm »
Yes, normal size.

One of the eggs produced was 'creamish/blue' in colour ie. it lacked the coloured 'spodges'  but normal size.


  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2015, 07:39:37 am »
I kept my quail in a second hand aviary (free to collect) and if I were to keep them again and just wanted eggs I would buy hatching eggs and kill the males at about eight weeks. I kept one cock bird ( and loved his call) along with eight hens. I found that the male had a couple of "favourite" wives and they were raped to tatters. The others were obviously paid attention to as I always had very good hatches in an incubator, the chicks are enthralling, they look like bumble bees!
Also an egg a day and sometimes one or two extra. Pickled they  are very saleable or make good gifts and many restaurants will pay good money for them.
You can only try them and see if they suit, if not they don't live long, about a year.


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Ayrshire
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2015, 08:03:37 am »
I always reckon the white eggs haven't had the shell completely formed, I often see them after moving birds around so maybe it interrupts or disturbs the process.

Funnily enough, I had quail for dinner last night :)


  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: Quails Anyone?
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2015, 08:20:07 am »
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