Raising Quail for Food

Raising quail for food is one way to make yourself more self-sufficient, and to control the quality of the food you eat. Most commercially raised quail (chickens, beef, pork…) are filled with hormones and antibiotics, some of which can be harmful to humans.
The best way to raise quails for food is to make sure the stock you get are healthy and have been raised on a good, hormone free diet. I highly recommend you start with about a dozen baby chicks. Some of the babies might not make it to adulthood. After all, raising quail is like raising any other animal. You learn as you go.

Here are some lessons I learned either from my research on the internet, or from personal experience:

Lesson one- no matter what, do not let your children, or your wife, name them. Once they have been named, it’s all over. You might as well set them aside as pets, egg layers, or breeders.

Lesson two- always read the label on the food you’re planning to feeding your quail. So far, the best food we have found for the babies, is a combination of chicken crumble and high protein fish food. The ratio is about one part high protein fish food (30% or more protein) to five part chicken crumble. If you don’t have chicken crumble, you can use chicken pellets and grind them in a coffee grinder – I don’t suggest you grind your coffee in there anymore. Make sure the crumble is ground fine enough that it is almost like powder. You don’t want the pieces to be too large for the babies.

Lesson three- any new born baby or any baby less than three weeks old needs a heat lamp of some sort. You don’t need an expensive lamp from the pet store. I use a cheap clip on lamp from Home Depot and a 60 to 100 watt old-style light bulb, not the new CFL, which don’t produce as much heat. You need to keep the babies at about 95-100 degrees F. You can drop the temp about one to two degrees every week.

Lesson Four- you need a place for them to grow. Babies can’t be left outside for the first three to four weeks because they need to be kept in a warm, draft free place, preferably out of the way. One thing you have to be prepared for is that the more protein the babies have in their diet, the more “fragrant” their droppings will be. If you can’t tolerate the smell, reduce the number of chicks in each bin and clean it out more often. We just use newspaper as the substrait. It’s the easiest to clean, compostable and readily available.

Lesson five- make sure they have plenty of water, but also make sure their water stays clean. They tend to walk across their water dish and leave a mess of droppings and food, so check the water on daily. Bad water also contributes to the smell.

These tips apply to all coturnix quail and button quail, regardless of why you’re raising them.

Once the babies have passed the three week mark, you can slowly decrease their protein intake. At this time, I suggest you start getting them used to the wild turkey/wild game bird crumble. It has the right combination of minerals, vitamins, and protein.

If you’re going to build a coop, make sure you leave some dirt floor so they can roll in DRY dirt. It helps them get rid of some of their smell and any possible parasites, or pesky bugs.

As a general rule, allow two square feet of space per quail. An 18″ tall quail run is plenty if you have easy access to all parts of the coop. Our coop is high enough that we can squat inside it. It’s uncomfortable, but it works for us and looks nice in the critter yard. The most important thing is for them to have a place to stay out of the wind and rain, and an area that will always stay dry.

Once your quail have reached six weeks old, they are ready for “harvest”. I suggest you check out videos online and see how it should be done. If you wait another couple weeks, they will be bigger and put on a bit more weight, but six weeks is a good age to start with.

Next…..How to Raise Quail as Egg Layers. Once you’ve tried fresh quail eggs, there’s no going back.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Fred, signing out

3 responses to “Raising Quail for Food

  1. Thanks for the great tips! Is it best to wait until spring to start raising quail or is it ok to get them now? Also, do you use a heat lamp all year round at night out when out reaches a certain temperature? Thanks. (I was the person looking to buy your quails from craigslist in August by the way)

  2. Hi Tom,
    The choice of whether you would buy or hatch quails during cooler seasons depends on two things:
    1. Your local climate. For example, if you are in a temperate climate with small temperature variations between seasons, such as coastal areas of Southern California, you can hatch and raise quails all through the year. All you need to do is to keep the quails indoors in constant temperature of about 98-100 degrees for the first week, then slowly reduce their environment’s temperature one degree a day. This will help them get used to the cooler temperatures outdoors. After about three weeks, or once they have developed their full set of feathers, you can move them outside.
    2. Your ability to provide them temperate climate when introduced out doors. For example, if you are not in temperate climates and your local temperatures drop below 70 degrees, you need to provide them a temperature controlled area. This can be achieved by creating a heated enclosure where they can go to stay out of cold, wind, rain, etc.
    In our area, summer temperatures are in acceptable range for the quails: However, our “winter” temperatures can occasionally drop below 60 degrees. To help the quails be comfortable in their enclosure, we have a coop that is about 2’ off the ground and other than the door way, it is completely enclosed. This set up keeps them out of the elements when needed. If and when temperatures drop even lower, we have a heat lamp that will be turned on to keep them warm during the cold nights.
    Take a look at your climate, check out the microclimate in your immediate area, and study what you need to do to ensure Quail’s comfort. If everything is going to work, then buy your quails. For your first time, I highly recommend you buy quails that are at least 4 to 6 weeks old. The older they are, the better they can tolerate temperature fluctuations.
    I hope this information has answered your question. If not, please let me know and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

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