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How to Raise Quail: An Alternative to Chickens

Black Blade

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How to Raise Quail: An Alternative to Chickens


Quail are a great way to put some eggs and meat on the table even if you have just a small space to do it in. Even if you live in an area where you are not allowed to have chickens you can probably get away with raising quail. Instead of a lot of squawking, quail just make very low cooing sounds. Since you can raise a lot in a small space it is one of the options open to those on small lots that want to be more sustainable when sourcing their food. Quail require less space and less work than chickens and rabbits plus they are quiet and easy to raise. They do not eat a lot, convert feed into protein efficiently, and are much more congenial creatures than even the sweetest-tempered chicken.
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BLACK BLADE: Been considering raising Coutournix quail as an alternative to chickens. There are no restrictions on quail where I live but some restrictions on chickens. Since they mature in 6 weeks and are ready for the frying pan in a short time it is a consideration. Quail eggs are also tasty but takes maybe 5 or 6 quail eggs to match the size of a chicken egg. Just one of the ideas I'm playing around with when I retire in a couple more years.
 

easttex

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A buddy of mine raised quail. He had a coop about the size of a kitchen table in an old pole barn and he had a bunch of them. Claimed they were pretty low maintenance and quiet.

As an aside, he was raising them for a pickled quail egg business. Said once they stopped producing eggs, he was going to have a hell of a bbq in the fall.
 

Black Blade

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Yeah, getting old and looking to add some protein to the diet when I retire. We have quail all over the place here but they stay around the neighborhoods here and not in the hills where they can be harvested. Not sure what type those are but I am thinking that Coturnix quail would be low maintenance, prolific producers and quiet. Maybe easier than rabbit and other small edible critters. Still in the early stages of research and if any here have ideas or experience with the birds or other options I would like to read your take on the subject.
 

starbuck

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It does work, but its kind of messy. I raised coturnix for several years, the nice thing for me was always having eggs, they were small and a pain, but I always had eggs. I didn't really enjoy the butchering process. Too much hassle for such a little bird, and the kids wouldn't eat them because they hatched them as cute little fur balls. There is a nice couple nearby who have started a huge business out for their garage. Now they have a giant quail barn. If you need any hatching eggs: https://myshirefarm.com

Ask for the black tuxedo chicks, whatever those were (I think Rosetta Tuxedo). They look like penguins when they hatch, grow big, and were very well tempered. Some quail are vicious.
 

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yovinny

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I always wanted to and finally got the chance in ky.
But as said,, cleaning quail gets old really quick and after the first few feather picking sessions,, I treated them like doves and just breasted them out. Breasts are actually about the same size os dove, or 2-3 bite medallions.
Be aware,, by weight, they produce way more shit then meat,,and its pretty wet nasty shit..
I'm glad I had the experience,, but you couldent pay me enough to do it again...ymmv
 

gunplumber

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Yes, been raising Coturnix for about 5 years for meat and eggs, and 1 year of Gambels for release because they make me happy to have around.

The ones we released last year come back to my breezeway every morning and evening with their chicks to say hello (and because I feed them). They follow me to and from the mailbox hoping I'll throw them a handful of seed.

They are not "quiet". Not nearly as loud as a chicken rooster, but Cutornix roos are still loud(ish). Gambels are loud too but it's quieter and much more pleasant since it's more of a cooing like a dove and not a crow. And much more varied calls.

For daily eggs for your family alone, figure each hen lays 1/3-1/4 chicken egg equivalent per day for the first year, with 13 hours of sunlight. That drops in year 2 and during winter (although artificial light can be used) to one every other day. Our oldest are 3 years and lay maybe once every three days. Were I relying on the hens for food (eggs), I'd harvest them when their egg production dropped - gotta be ruthless. But I don't have to be so I just care for them long after it makes any financial sense to do so.

MyShire Farms has a lot of good resources on their site. We started incubating their eggs, but are now are self-sustaining.

One of these days I want to do a writeup on all that I've learned. A lot of the stuff out there is BS. As I am more academically-minded, I collect university studies on egg time and temperature viability, feed-to-weight cost-benefit studies, etc.

To put it bluntly, you either go small for eggs, with maybe 4 roos and 20 hens, or you go bigger and slaughter the boys at 5-6 weeks. Or you go industrial and keep the animals in cages that I consider cruel, and cull anyone who has the slightest correctable issue, as not worth the time.

We found a happy middle where I can keep the birds in more comfortable conditions, and sell enough boys and eggs to sometimes break even on costs.

released, coming back to visit as adults.


quail-gambel-50.jpg






 
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gunplumber

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Gambels are not the same mass as Coturnix . I think we maxed out at 120 Coturnix. Phasing back as I prepare to move to the farm.

I dunno what's going on, but I can't attach any images - I go to the folder and it says "no supported files found" but I can see it in explorer.

Yet I attached one in last post. Hmmm . . ..
 

gunplumber

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Sons where the white Teaxas A.M. devolved. Snakes loved them.

There really is no Texas A&M anymore. That was an experiment decades ago to maximize size/weight. The experiment ended. As far as I know, there are no "official" genetic records to prove lineage. So basically any white bird with a black neck spot is called a Texas A&M - it's become a color rather than a genetic line. Just like any other color, it's exploiting a recessive gene. My italians have normal eggs outside but ceyladon on inside ( a recessive gene making blue color). Occasionally I'll get a blue outer shell. But this can come from an Italian, Tibetian, Rosette, Tuxedo or even one of my silvers. Definitely no consistency. But if one is bored, they can take any hen laying blue and experiment with different boys to see who throws a blue egg more frequently, they selective breed in that line.

Just like a common that reaches 16 ounces is a "jumbo". I have fat-assed Italians with foot problems because they are so fat it's hard to walk. But not sure I can call them "Jumbos". It's just they lay eggs. I steal their babies and give them meal worms, and they think it's a good deal. And they get fat. Genetically large is a Jumbo. Fat-ass over-eater, is not a Jumbo, even if she is.
Oh, and the Texas A&M "type" tend to be aggressive A-holes. Like Bob Whites should not be mixed with other species, Texans should not be mixed with any other color. They really are A-holes. Do not recommend for a beginner. Just get commons.
 
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Black Blade

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Yes, been raising Coturnix for about 5 years for meat and eggs, and 1 year of Gambels for release because they make me happy to have around.

The ones we released last year come back to my breezeway every morning and evening with their chicks to say hello (and because I feed them). They follow me to and from the mailbox hoping I'll throw them a handful of seed.

They are not "quiet". Not nearly as loud as a chicken rooster, but Cutornix roos are still loud(ish). Gambels are loud too but it's quieter and much more pleasant since it's more of a cooing like a dove and not a crow. And much more varied calls.

For daily eggs for your family alone, figure each hen lays 1/3 chicken egg equivalent per day for the first year, with 13 hours of sunlight. That drops in year 2 and during winter (although artificial light can be used) to one every other day. Our oldest are 3 years and lay maybe once every three days. Were I relying on the hens for food (eggs), I'd harvest them when their egg production dropped - gotta be ruthless. But I don't have to be so I just care for them long after it makes any financial sense to do so.

MyShire Farms has a lot of good resources on their site. We started incubating their eggs, but are now are self-sustaining.

One of these days I want to do a writeup on all that I've learned. A lot of the stuff out there is BS. As I am more academically-minded, I collect university studies on egg time and temperature viability, feed-to-weight cost-benefit studies, etc.

To put it bluntly, you either go small for eggs, with maybe 4 roos and 20 hens, or you go bigger and slaughter the boys at 5-6 weeks. Or you go industrial and keep the animals in cages that I consider cruel, and cull anyone who has the slightest correctable issue, as not worth the time.

We found a happy middle where I can keep the birds in more comfortable conditions, and sell enough boys and eggs to sometimes break even on costs.

released, coming back to visit as adults.


View attachment 218055






Cool! Still at least a couple years out but usually we have a decent garden so at retirement looking at a few options and quail seemed like a possibility. Figured not much meat but then I hunted dove and it was just tear out the breast, coat in flour and pan fry. Thought quail would be pretty much the same. Both being dark meat.

Thanks for the info. Much to think about.
 

yovinny

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Yes, been raising Coturnix for about 5 years for meat and eggs, and 1 year of Gambels for release because they make me happy to have around.

The ones we released last year come back to my breezeway every morning and evening with their chicks to say hello (and because I feed them). They follow me to and from the mailbox hoping I'll throw them a handful of seed.

They are not "quiet". Not nearly as loud as a chicken rooster, but Cutornix roos are still loud(ish). Gambels are loud too but it's quieter and much more pleasant since it's more of a cooing like a dove and not a crow. And much more varied calls.

For daily eggs for your family alone, figure each hen lays 1/3 chicken egg equivalent per day for the first year, with 13 hours of sunlight. That drops in year 2 and during winter (although artificial light can be used) to one every other day. Our oldest are 3 years and lay maybe once every three days. Were I relying on the hens for food (eggs), I'd harvest them when their egg production dropped - gotta be ruthless. But I don't have to be so I just care for them long after it makes any financial sense to do so.

MyShire Farms has a lot of good resources on their site. We started incubating their eggs, but are now are self-sustaining.

One of these days I want to do a writeup on all that I've learned. A lot of the stuff out there is BS. As I am more academically-minded, I collect university studies on egg time and temperature viability, feed-to-weight cost-benefit studies, etc.

To put it bluntly, you either go small for eggs, with maybe 4 roos and 20 hens, or you go bigger and slaughter the boys at 5-6 weeks. Or you go industrial and keep the animals in cages that I consider cruel, and cull anyone who has the slightest correctable issue, as not worth the time.

We found a happy middle where I can keep the birds in more comfortable conditions, and sell enough boys and eggs to sometimes break even on costs.

released, coming back to visit as adults.
The fact the gambles not only survived, but bred, is just amazingly awsome !! 🙂
 

gunplumber

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yes, it is, but it was also saddening because several coveys I can identify - one Momma has a split fob, one Daddy has a large crooked fob - stuff like that. So here comes the Covey with 7 chicks. The next day, only 6. Now she's down to three.

Down at the farm (Gambel Field) I can remove the roadrunners, which are the primary predator . Up here, it's harder. Roadrunners will kill and eat ALL of the chicks. They climb trees to raid the dove nests of eggs or hatchlings. And they are fearless. Yelling and throwing rocks at them, doesn't scare them off.

Beautiful bird, but vicious predator.
_MG_2100.JPG
 

gunplumber

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Ok, now I can post the pics I couldn't post last night.

Typical egg weight on a common is 10-12g. Sometimes you get a "fairy egg" and sometimes a monster.

Chicken eggs are graded by weight with USDA large at 56g (2 oz) and med at 42g (1.5 oz). I don't know the typical size of home kept chicken eggs, but I need to up the ratio to 4-1. IMG_20200208_173440433.jpg IMG_20200412_211903703.jpg IMG_20200412_211925437.jpg IMG_20200412_211958729.jpg
 

starbuck

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Yep, our dogs would have a great time with them.
*Dog think*
""oh boy! Fun, crunchy and tasty."
That was actually my best use for them. I had way too many eggs so the dogs got a treat every day or every time I forgot how old the eggs were. They would carry them away gently in their mouth and lay down and eat them.
 

hemcon9

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You guys are awesome. There’s more to life than FAL rifles.
What really stands out for me in this thread is Gunplumber almost expressing a little humanity over the returning birds. Perhaps he has a soul buried in there after all.
 
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