Liven Up Your Homestead: Learn How to Raise Quail

Learn How To Raise Adult Quail


ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Even though they caught my eye early in my homesteading career, it was a while before I considered learning how to raise quail. But their compact size, quiet disposition, and delicious eggs just seemed too good to pass up. In the end, the overall practicality of raising quail fully won me over.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

I get a lot of questions about how to raise quail. Most of the time, the questions come from people who have just started their homestead journey or are new to raising animals.

But as of late, I’ve noticed more established homesteaders looking to raise quail as an alternative to the typical chickens and ducks. It’s safe to say that quails are making a comeback, and I, for one, am happy to see it.

For being such small birds, raising quail has brought huge rewards to my homestead. They help liven the place up, and the steady supply of fresh eggs and quail meat has been a huge help in my efforts to grow most of my own food. Raising quail has been a great experience so far, and I’m happy to share some of the insight I’ve gained along the way.

raising adult quail for meat and eggs

How To Raise Adult Quail

How To Raise Adult Quail

Raising quail is similar to raising chickens, goats, or any other animals in that they take work and require daily care on your homestead. With all animals, once you take the plunge, their welfare is your responsibility. So, make sure you go in armed with knowledge and really take the time to consider if raising quail is something you want to take on.

Where To Buy Quails

Most people buy their quails at agricultural supply stores or from local farms. But these days, there are a number of different options. You can find people selling quail on social media, at auctions and expos, or via an online poultry supplier. Just make sure that you pick a provider with a good reputation for healthy quality.

How Much Do Quails Cost?

Most quail cost between $1 to $5 each, depending on their breed, age, and gender. Quail chicks are significantly cheaper — usually just $1 or $2 per bird — but, because it’s nearly impossible to determine their sex, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a female. So, if you plan on raising quail for eggs, opt for older female quail.

Are Quail Easy to Raise?

Are Quail Easy to Raise

I’ve had about 10 quail over the years, and they are exceptionally easy to care for. They’re almost silent, take up virtually no space, and are easy to get away with if you’re looking to raise birds for meat and eggs. That said, quail are animals, and raising any animal will come with its fair share of challenges.

The Best Quail To Raise For Beginners

Coturnix quail is one of the most popular breeds to raise for beginners, and there’s a good reason why. They reach maturity quickly, provide delicious eggs and meat, and are among the most docile breeds of quail. Coturnix quail also comes in a dozen or so different varieties, so you can pick one that perfectly matches up with your needs.

As great as Coturnix quails are, they’re far from your only option. In fact, there are over 70 different breeds of domestic quail and about 20 wild ones, many of which are suitable for beginners who are just getting started raising quail. Some other breeds to consider include:

Quail breeds to consider

mountain quail bird

Mountain quail

gambel quail

Gambel quail

california quail

California quail

blue scale quail

Blue-Scale quail

Equipment Needed To Raise Adult Quail

Having the right equipment in place will ensure a seamless start and set your quail flock up for success. Below, I’ll break down the various items you’ll need to raise quail. Keep in mind that your final list will look a little different depending on whether you plan on breeding your quail or not.

Equipment For Raising Quail

  • Coop/enclosure
  • Feeders
  • Water
  • Incubator
  • Nesting boxes
  • Cleaning supplies
baby quail in nesting box

How Many Quails Should You Start With?

The number of quail you should start with depends on the size of your homestead and what you plan on using the quail for. If your primary motivation is quail meat, start with as many quail as you want to harvest. But if your goal is to supply your family with eggs, I suggest getting between three and six female hens and one or two males.

You can increase that number to between 10 and 20 quails if you have a large family or plan on selling the excess birds or eggs. Either way, I tell most beginners to start with fewer quail and gradually increase the number as you become more comfortable. That will help ensure everything goes smoothly and prevent you (and the quail) from getting overwhelmed.

Is It Worth Raising Quail For Eggs?

Most people choose to raise quail for eggs, and from my experience, it is well worth the effort. A quail can lay as many as 200 to 300 eggs per year, which is on par with a chicken. Additionally, I find quail eggs richer and more flavorful than chicken eggs due to their larger yolk-to-whites ratio.

Is It Worth Raising Quail For EggsQuail eggs are tasty and nutritious and have a long shelf life, making them a great addition to a homestead. The only real downside to quail eggs is that they’re small.

It takes three to five quail eggs to equal one chicken egg, so you’ll need to invest in more birds to compensate for the size difference.

Fortunately, the ease of care and impressive space efficiency will keep things manageable.

Steps To Raising Adult Quail

Steps To Raising Adult Quail

Raising quail is easy, but, as with any animal, there is a learning curve. Ultimately, all of your time and effort will boil down to a few key things: providing water, housing, quality feed, and medical attention. If that seems like a lot, don’t worry. Everything will fall into place as long as you take it one step at a time.

1 Research Local Laws And Quail Breeds

The very first step to raising quail is to research your local laws and regulations. Some neighborhoods have restrictions that won’t allow you to raise poultry of any kind. You don’t want to spend your time and money preparing for quail only to find out that local regulations don’t permit them.

baby quail in enclosureOnce you’ve gotten the green light, you’ll then want to figure out which breeds of quail are best for your needs. Quail breeds are typically categorized into groups by what benefits they bring. Some breeds excel at providing meat and eggs while others are better suited for hunting or ornamental needs.

As I mentioned earlier, Coturnix, Mountain, Gambel, California, and Blue-scale quail are all excellent choices for beginners.

They’re easy to care for and provide great meat and eggs. If you’d rather raise quail for hunting or ornamental purposes, I’d suggest looking into King, Mearns, Bobwhite, and Button quail as well.

2 Create Housing Suitable For Raising Quail

Next, it’s time to provide your quail with a home. You can either buy or build a coop, just make sure that it’s secure, well-ventilated, and provides adequate protection from predators.

Most quail coop designs have a wire mesh floor, which I initially had big hang-ups over. But after talking to a lot of people, they persuaded me to use ¼-inch hardware cloth. And long story short: it turned out great. The quail didn’t mind, the coop was easy to clean, and I didn’t have any issues keeping the bedding dry due to the ventilation.

3 Provide Feed And Water

Now that your quail are housed, you’ll want to focus your attention on food and water. You’ll have to provide your quail with feed daily and change the water often to ensure it remains clean and free from contaminants. Quails can become sickly and dehydrated quickly, so I can’t stress this step enough. Changing the water often and keeping it clean will make all the difference in their health.

Most people use a commercial quail feed to provide quails with all the nutrients they need to remain healthy and continue laying eggs. Then, you can supplement that feed with greens from your garden, kitchen scraps, and protein sources like mealworms.

growing herbs for chickens cta

4 Maintain Proper Hygiene

For the most part, your day-to-day quail-raising routine will revolve around feeding and keeping things clean. That includes regularly cleaning the quail enclosure, replacing bedding as needed, and ensuring the surrounding area remains hygienic. While this may feel like a hassle at times, rest assured knowing that your efforts will go a long way in preventing disease and stress.

5 Monitor The Quails’ Health

Raising quail doesn’t require a ton of effort, and they’re surprisingly robust little birds. However, they are susceptible to the same diseases as any other poultry and are notoriously sensitive to environmental stress. So, if you don’t keep a close eye on your quail’s health, chronic stress can creep up and severely reduce egg production and quality of life.

To prevent this, carefully observe your quail and continuously educate yourself about their care. Whether this takes the form of investing in homesteading books or seeking advice from experienced breeders, there are always ways to improve and optimize your quails’ health and productivity.

best homesteading books

Can Quails And Chickens Live Together?

You might be tempted to raise chicken and quail in the same area (who wouldn’t want double the meat and eggs?), but I don’t recommend it. A chicken is more than six times larger than a quail, and they aren’t afraid to throw their weight around.

Chickens will typically bully the smaller quail, and prevent them from accessing food and water. Now, this isn’t to say that raising chicken and quails on the same homestead is impossible. You’ll just want to make sure that your layout creates plenty of distance between the two.

chickens foraging in garden

What Do Quail Eat?

Quails are omnivores, so their diet consists of a variety of seeds, leafy greens, insects, and fruit. That said, you’ll probably have to invest in a good quality quail feed. Poultry and game bird feeds are formulated to contain all the protein, minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that quail needs for proper health and egg production. And although quail feed can get pricey, growing some of your own feed will help reduce costs and encourage a healthy, varied diet.

Can Quails Fly?

Despite being primarily ground-dwelling birds, quail can fly very well. They typically prefer to walk or run to get around, but if given the right motivation, a quail can easily clear a 6-foot fence. Some species of quail are better at flying than others, but all of them are capable of sudden, short bursts of flight. This ability to randomly take flight definitely livens up the homestead.

building a fence on the homestead

What Are The Advantages Of Raising Quail?

What Are The Advantages Of Raising Adult Quail

So far, I’ve covered how to raise quail, but there’s still the question of why. I’m a big fan of raising quail, and honestly, there are almost too many advantages to list, but I’ll share some of my favorites below.

Advantages of raising Quail

  • Quail waste is great for your garden. Adding used bedding and quail manure to your compost pile is an easy way to bulk it up and infuse it with vital nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • You’ll get a steady supply of eggs and quail meat. I think this goes without saying, but quails are an excellent source of meat and eggs. They’re prolific breeders, and a female quail will continue laying eggs for as long as she lives.
  • Quails are low maintenance. If you’re going to invest in animals on the homestead, it doesn’t get any easier or lower maintenance than quail.
  • They provide free pest control. Like chickens, quails supplement their diets by foraging for bugs. This can allow your garden to thrive and help keep your crops pest-free.

Keep in mind that raising quail involves upkeep that will add to your overall expenses on the homestead. In addition to the initial investment in equipment and housing, you’ll have to provide a steady supply of fresh bedding, feed, and water. The good news is that you can collect water and grow your own feed and bedding to reduce costs.

To make your quail meat taste less gamey, try soaking it in a salt or vinegar brine overnight.

Can You Raise Quail In Your Backyard

Can You Raise Quail In Your Backyard

You can absolutely raise quail in your backyard! In fact, when it comes to raising poultry in a backyard, quail are one of the best options you’ll find. They don’t require a ton of space and, unlike chickens, they’re extremely quiet.

While many neighborhoods have restrictions on raising chickens, quails tend to fly under the radar. Many regions don’t consider quail to be livestock, and local ordinances often exclude them from regulation entirely. So whether you have a lack of space or nosey neighbors, quails are a great choice for anyone looking to raise poultry in their backyard.

Can You Free Range Quail?

I don’t recommend free-ranging your quail, but it is technically possible. Just keep in mind that it won’t be as simple as free-ranging larger birds like chickens and ducks. As you know by now, quails are small. That makes them hard to keep track of and leaves them vulnerable to predation.

Quail are also flighty, so there’s a good chance that your free-range quail will simply fly off the minute you let them outside. Nevertheless, free-ranging comes with a ton of benefits that can easily outweigh the risks. Free-ranged birds tend to be happier, healthier, and cheaper to feed. Free-ranging also cuts down on a ton of mess, and you won’t have to clean your coop nearly as often.

If you’re committed to the idea of free-ranging quail, know that it is possible as long as you’re willing to take extra steps. These may include time to free-range under supervision, providing a special free-range coop, or training your quails to return to their coop at night.

Can Quail Stay Outside In Winter?

As long as you give them adequate cover and ensure a constant supply of unfrozen water, most breeds of quail can handle winter temperatures well. However, you may have some difficulties if you live somewhere with an exceptionally harsh winter season. In that case, opt for more cold hardy breeds like Mountain, Bobwhite, Coturnix, and Snowflake quail.

Regardless of breed and climate, there are a few steps you’ll have to take to prepare your quail for dropping temperatures. These include providing a thick layer of pine and straw bedding, insulating your quail coop, and ensuring that it’s draft-free. And even though it might not be necessary, your quail may benefit from supplemental warmth from poultry-specific heat lamps and heaters.

winter on the homestead square

I always have a stash of dehydrated veggies on hand, and I’ve found that they’re a fantastic way to provide your quail with fresh greens throughout the winter.

How To Raise Adult Quail: Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Adult Quail

Starting a quail farming journey is exciting, but can be daunting for beginners. Don’t feel bad if you still have lingering questions. I want you to feel fully prepared, so I’ll take a minute out to address some of the most common concerns about raising quail.

Questions About Raising Quail

  • What is the ratio of male to female quail? An incorrect male-to-female quail ratio may result in aggression, infertility, and even death for the females. As long as you don’t plan on breeding quail, you can get away with just raising females. But if breeding is important to you, provide each male with three to five females.
  • Is it easier to raise quail or chickens? It’s hard to say if chickens or quail are easier to raise. On one hand, quail cost less, eat less, and make smaller messes. On the other hand, chickens are less susceptible to predators, easier to free-range, and have a more varied diet that can reduce their reliance on feed. But in my opinion, quail are slightly easier to raise.
  • Can you make money selling quail meat? People get quails for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common is to turn a profit. There’s a big market for both quail meat and eggs so you can easily make money selling your quail meat online, directly to the consumer, or at farmer’s markets.
  • Are there disadvantages to raising quail? Quail’s fragility, susceptibility to predators, and sensitivity to stress can prove challenging for some, but monitoring your quail and giving them adequate housing will go a long way in preventing stress and predation.
There are a lot of different factors to consider when deciding on whether or not to raise quail, but for me, they are more than worth it. You just can’t beat the steady supply of eggs and meat, and caring for them is not a hardship.

For those of you who live on a smaller lot where chickens might not be allowed (or if you’re just a homesteader looking to keep things simple), learning how to raise quail is more than worth the effort.

how to raise adult quail

Your Turn!

  • How do you plan on incorporating quail meat and eggs into your diet?
  • Quail eggs or chicken eggs: which do you prefer?

Leave a Reply