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Raising Quails – a Comprehensive Guide From a Quail Farmer

While writing this complete guide to quail raising, I asked for additional information from Liina Elken, my mother, who is a professional quail farmer, the head of the Estonian Poultry Farmers Association (as of 2023), and who has been involved in poultry farming since 2012. Initially, Liina had only a few quails, but after joining the Poultry Farmers Association, she started expanding her quail farm, following the example of her friends and made working with quails her main source of income. Today, she has approximately 2,500 quails. Throughout the entire period of poultry farming, Liina has raised a variety of different birds: starting with chickens, she added ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, peacocks, guinea fowls, Grey partridges, and pigeons. Even now, in addition to quails, Liina has various feathered creatures in her birdyard. Apart from quail meat and egg production, Liina also participates in exhibitions with her different types of birds. As an experienced poultry farmer, she has a lot to share with domestic bird enthusiasts, and now we will discuss in detail over most asked questions about quails: who they are, how to raise them, and what makes them special.

Quail eggs

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Origin of Quails 

Where do quails come from? 

The quails we know as farm birds have been bred from wild quails living in nature. The appearance of a wild quail and a bred farm quail is very similar. Wild quails live widely around the world, including in Estonia. However, the Northern bobwhite quail, which resides mostly in the United States, has nothing to do with the well-known farmed quail. 

The main difference between farmed quails and wild quails is that breeding has improved the egg-laying capacity by about twenty times. On the downside, farmed quails have lost their brooding instinct, so they can only be bred through incubation.

How old is a quail? 

The origin of quails dates back to ancient times, thousands of years BC. Wall paintings of brightly colored male birds with melodious voices have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Quail meat consumption is also mentioned in the Bible. However, it is believed that quails were first domesticated in Japan in the 11th century, initially as songbirds rather than for consumption.

Are quails common domestic birds? 

Quails are widely raised as egg and meat birds worldwide.

Becoming a Quail Farmer 

What should a person who wants to raise quails at home know? 

First, it is advisable to understand the basics of raising quail. For example, there are some common quail housing requirements one should follow. Then one must decide for what purpose they want to raise quails. Quails can be raised for egg production, meat production, or simply as ornamental birds.

Can quails be raised in an urban apartment? 

A very careful person can raise quails in urban settings and even in an apartment, but they must be aware that quails can emit a strong odor. In such cases, daily cleaning is necessary. Urban homesteaders can raise quails. 

How many quails can live together? 

Quails can live both individually and in flocks, depending on the preference of the keeper. For instance, if you’re raising quails in an apartment, you might not have the space for a large flock. However, they also do exceptionally well living together in a larger flock. The number of quails you choose to raise doesn’t impose any specific limitations on the keeper. Yet, for novice quail keepers, it’s advisable to start with fewer birds initially and gradually increase the quantity if desired.

Is it reasonable for a beginner poultry farmer to start with quail farming? 

Yes, quails are an excellent choice. They are easy to raise, even for someone without previous experience. Raising quails requires only a little investment, and quails do not demand much effort or special care. Additionally, they are small birds and require small space.

How many quails would be needed to supply a typical 4-5 member family with eggs?

Well, of course, this is highly individual as it depends on the family’s weekly egg consumption. Under suitable housing conditions, an average of 8 eggs per day can be obtained from ten quails, which is approximately equivalent to 1.5-2 chicken eggs. So, if you have 10 quails, you can expect to collect approximately 50 eggs from them each week, which is equivalent to 10-14 chicken eggs.

Quails

Keeping Quails 

How expensive can keeping quails get? 

Keeping quails is not expensive at all. They require little space: they don’t need a large barn or an outdoor area. The main expenses are the cage and feed. If the quails lay eggs consistently, then raising them is cost-effective.

Can quails be fed naturally, without a pre-mixed complete feed? For example, with grains?

Grains alone may not provide the complete nutritional requirements that quail need. Complete feed is made from ground organic grains with added vitamins and minerals. Theoretically, it’s possible to feed them solely with grains, but in this case, it’s recommended to supplement the feed with something raw, like grated root vegetables to enhance the nutritional value of the feed.

Can quails live on open ground or only in cages? 

In a small coop, quails thrive quite successfully. However, since quails are birds that don’t lay eggs in nest boxes, collecting their eggs cleanly and intact from the ground can be very challenging. Additionally, it’s important to note that quails can fly. Therefore, their coop should never have an open top. Once they leave their enclosure, they won’t be able to find their way back. If a quail in an outdoor pen can roam freely, it might fly around and risk injuring itself or even die, because, unfortunately, they are not very intelligent birds. Quail cages are primarily designed to restrict their flying and prevent them from self-harm. Commercial quail farming cannot be done in open ground. 

What are the essential supplies needed to keep quails for personal use? 

Quails don’t require much. They need a cage, food, clean water, and containers for eating and drinking. You don’t have to attend to quails daily. Providing them with an ample supply of food and water is sufficient for them to manage independently for extended periods. However, it’s important to note that their level of self-sufficiency can be influenced by the specific care conditions in which they are kept.

How long does a quail live and lay eggs, approximately? 

Quails typically lay eggs for about 1 year, and then their laying activity starts to decline. However, their lifespan can be longer.

Do quails get sick or die easily? 

Similar to cage-raised chickens, cage-raised quails have relatively good resistance to illness. When they live in cages, they don’t come into contact with their excrement as much, which reduces the spread of diseases. Quails kept outdoors are more susceptible to illnesses, but with good care, it’s possible to protect them from diseases.

Are quails afraid of the cold? Can they live outside in winter like chickens, for example? 

Quails can live successfully outdoors in winter, and actually, they are less sensitive to cold than chickens. Since quails don’t have combs or wattles, which are more susceptible to cold, they are less affected. However, quails do not tolerate wind, so their living area should be protected from wind and precipitation. And egg-laying, quails need a warm barn, so they won’t lay eggs in cold places.

A boy with a quail egg.

Quail Eggs 

How often does a quail lay eggs? 

An egg-laying quail produces about 300 eggs per year, so almost one egg every day.

Why choose quail farming over other poultry for egg production? 

Quails require the least amount of space for a comfortable life.

What are the good qualities of quail eggs? 

Quail eggs are considered special among all other bird eggs because they have an exceptionally long shelf life. Instead of rotting like chicken eggs, quail eggs dry up. Additionally, the same weight of quail eggs contains much more vitamins compared to chicken eggs.

How much smaller is a quail egg compared to a chicken egg? 

One chicken egg is approximately equal to 5 quail eggs in terms of content, without considering the shells.

Can quail eggs be used in the same way as chicken eggs? 

Yes, quail eggs can be used in the same way. Simply, you need to add a larger quantity of quail eggs to your meals to get an equivalent amount to chicken eggs.

Getting Quails 

What are the different breeds of quails? 

There are many different quail breeds, but some examples are Celadon quail, Eastern Blue quail, California Valley quail, Coturnix quail like Japanese quail (Coturnix Japonica), etc.

How do you breed quails? Can anyone do it? 

Since quails lack brooding instincts, quails can only be bred through incubation. With today’s possibilities, incubation can be done at home by anyone.

How much does a quail chick cost approximately? 

Quail chicks cost around 1-1.50€, but it’s not recommended to buy chicks. It’s better to purchase quails that are a few weeks old, as by then, their gender is already distinguishable, allowing you to select male or female quails as needed. At that age, they are also stronger and more resilient. The prices for young birds start at 4-5€.

Is quail farming in high demand?

Quails have become increasingly popular in recent years.

A quail

Quail Meat Production 

Can quails be poultry birds? 

Yes, there are specific meat quail breeds for that purpose.

Are meat quails raised differently, like broiler chickens? 

No, meat quails are not raised differently. The feed is the same as for egg-laying quails, but meat quails belong to different breeds. In the case of egg-laying quail breeds, the surplus males are simply raised for meat.

How does quail meat taste? 

Quail meat is somewhat similar to chicken meat but has a drier texture compared to chicken. It also requires longer cooking time. Quail meat can be prepared in various ways, including smoking and grilling.

I truly hope that delving into the world of quail farming has become easier for you. The best way to get started is by acquiring a solid grasp of the basics of quail farming. After that, consider reaching out to local quail farmers to obtain some healthy quails.

Raising quails
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Anette Hirvoja

A stay-at-home mom and a wife

Having lived in the countryside my entire childhood, I have always dreamed of raising my own children in a rural environment. Our family holds traditions in high regard and we strive to live a hardworking and down-to-earth lifestyle. I believe that great results can be achieved through hard work and dedication. I enjoy living in harmony with nature, using traditional solutions, establishing a comprehensive farm, and adopting a self-sustaining way of life.

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