Questions about quail


Here in the suburbs we aren't allowed to have chickens (even though I hear a rooster one or two streets over!).  I don't want to risk my beehives by irritating the neighbors, so I'm not going to push the chicken line right now. best thought?  Meat or eggs?

Other postings here made me consider quail.  Can get eggs and meat, I think they are technically allowable here in the 'burbs.  But I don't know anything about them.  I'd imagine they'd be of the Coturnix(sp?) variety.

Caging:what kind?
Temperature:can I keep them outside in the sub zero weather over the winter?
Eggs: how much do they produce?
Meat: how much does an average meat bird weigh?
Noise: do they make much of it?
Types: are there different races that are better/worse?

Any thoughts that you can help out with or stories about them?

Thanks!  Rick

I raised quail at one time--coutornix(sp?).   They only lay until they get a clutch 10-20 eggs per season.  It takes about 4 or more quail eggs to equal one hen.  So eggs from quail are almost a nonissue for eating but very important for raising quail.  Buy a $100 Hova-Bater incubator (forced air fan) and raise quail for meat and hatching eggs, not eating.  My Hova sets 49 hen eggs and with the quail turner it must be close to 100 every 21(?) days.  You'll get 95% hatch with a good rooster-quail.  That's perfect for the home meat operation!!  Another plus, they eat very little compared to my yard birds.  Need a small space for several hundred birds.  Go with another breed, not coutornix--very small bodies.  I have never tried partridge, that might be neat.  If you are hatching, remember to keep birds through the winter or you'll have to buy new adults next year.  If your trying to be self-supporting raise your own stock after that initial buy--then it's only feed and electric.  I'm moving in that direction.  I have a dozens hens (chickens) and sell just enough eggs at work so that my feed is "free" and we have enough eggs for home use.  That's the way to get ahead.  Any more hens and feed costs increase.  I started with 40 hens but could only break even on selling and feed.  I sold cheap though!

Actually you get more eggs by weight from quail for less food input and often less time span than a chicken unless you are going with some of the breeds really bred for laying.  My jumbo coturnix also lay an egg almost as big as my smaller bantams do.  Probably 3 would equal a standard chicken egg so you do have to take time to break more eggs and figure how many to use in a recipe.  Quail rarely go broody and rarely sit on eggs so they generally just keep laying so long as they have enough day light.  So far my hens have taken a 1-2 month break once or twice a year but otherwise I get an egg a day without fail.  Lack of light in northern climates with outdoor quail can limit egg laying to about March- Sept.

Care is not complicated.  Game bird feed, clean water (water bottles for rabbits work), and don't put too many to a cage or too many males together after they reach maturity.  They prefer pairs or trios with 1 male to 2 females to avoid fighting and feather picking in adults.  If your butchering by 8weeks it doesn't matter so much and I have 100 in a pen together right now.  Rabbit hutches or cages work.  I'm using a home made 3x6' guinea pig cage divided in half for my breeders.  Wire bottom cages are good for keeping lots of quail and if put outside can just be left open so the droppings fall into the grass and break down.  Unless you have lots of quail stacked over a small area this rarely requires any cleaning.  Mine are actually indoors for now so I have a wooden bottom cage sealed with marine polyurethane paint.  They need about .5-1sq ft each to raise to butchering age and closer to 2sq ft each if keeping breeders.  Jumbos will need closer to the upper limits and standards the lower numbers.  If they are kept in a building or out of the wind, some place canvas or tarps over their cages, coturnix do fine in quite cold temps.  I haven't tested -20 to -30F days yet but probably will this winter.

Normal quail only weigh in at around 3-5oz.  True jumbos supposedly can get up to 1lb.  You can butcher several quail in the time it takes to do a chicken though.  The more experienced people I've talked to say they can have one skinned and internal organs out in about 1min per quail.  There is also a lot less blood.  I've butchered a few over the kitchen sink with the water running and had no real clean up besides wiping the sink real quick and disposing of leftovers. 

Males will call but usually not too often if kept with females and usually not all that loudly.  Not enough to bother most neighbors but enough they will notice you have birds.  Some states do require a game bird breeders license so call your local DNR or similar organization before someone hears your quail and calls for you.

Texas a&M and english whites are white meat quail with the a&M being bigger.  Other than that the only difference beyond personal preference toward a color is between standards and jumbos.  The exact size difference will depend on how well bred the jumbos are.

Even though they give more eggs by weight from feed, would that not be offset by having to use three days worth of eggs compared to just 1 for chickens?  or would it break even?   is game bird feed more expensive?  i can still get an egg a day from cracked corn/scratch which is $11 per 50# bag.   I may try the jumbo going by what you said.  i had standard or pretty small coturnix, my eggs were the size of my little finger.

if you want good meat quail and larger eggs, look up Georgia Giant quail, my father has some, they weigh about 1 pound when grown


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