How to Raise Quail Indoors

You want a steady supply of eggs and poultry, but you don't have any space. Or maybe you don't have a backyard. Or maybe poultry isn't allowed in your town. Here's a solution: raise quail.
  • They are small birds, so that makes them easy to raise. They only need a square foot of space per 6 birds. You should have 2 females to every 1 male, but a better number is 13 females and 7 males, for a total of 20 birds.
  • Quail are pretty quiet birds. Chances are, if you keep the cages clean, no one will know you have them unless they see them.
  • Males don't hold to monogamy so they'll breed with any females they get near.
  • Quail can be kept indoors year-round. The regular bright indoor lights encourage laying.
  • Quail hens will start producing eggs at 6 weeks old, and the birds can be eaten at 4 or 5 weeks old. The meat may be a lot less than a chicken, but is decidedly lower in cholesterol and is quite healthy.
  • Remember, if you are going to eat your birds, you'll need to plan it out ahead of time, making sure you have fertilized eggs being tended (whether by a broody or in an incubator) timed to have more birds ready to eat down the road.
  • Thoroughly wash and sterilize the incubator/hatchery area in between uses. This will help cut down on disease or infection.
  • Never wash an egg that you want to hatch. Clean it lightly with sandpaper or another abrasive. If you must wash it, use warm water (105 degrees F) as using cold will draw any infection into the egg.
  • You need to prepare the living spaces for the quail before you get the eggs. There are a lot available already made, or you can make them. Some people use rabbit cages. Remember, though, in order to raise healthy birds for eggs and meat, you need to provide clean healthy living quarters. Keep them off the floor, and keep them protected from the elements (if you find space outdoors). If you choose indoors, you need to keep the area ventilated, clean and disease/germ free, as well as being able to control the temperatures.
  • Collect droppings regularly (frequently). Once a day at least. Dispose of them or use in your compost.
  • Are you going to just eat the eggs, cook your birds, or sell the quail to others for food? Deciding ahead of time will help you plan out how many cages you need, nesting materials, butchering facilities, and so forth.
  • There is so much more information about raising quail. If you decide to go this route, be sure to get your eggs or chicks from someone very knowledgeable, and ask your questions ... from hatching to caring for to butchering. If they won't help, find someone who will.

Whether you raise the quail to sell, as a hobby with other birds, for eggs or for food, having the little living birds nearby can be a real joyful experience, and give you a better understanding of birds in general.

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Updated April 8 2009 at 4:55 p.m.: It appears that the U.S. government is preparing to start requiring all farm animals to be registered. See the posting to come out at on April 9 2009.

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