Quail are a classic game bird raised for hunting and sport, for release purposes, and for food production. In captivity, these birds can live 5-6 years in optimal conditions.
Shopping List: Brooder Supplies: Waterer, feeder, heat lamp reflector, heat bulb, kiln dried pine shavings, paper towels, electrolytes and vitamins, thermometer, draft-free enclosure, coop or other safe housing, and gamebird feed. For beginners, we offer the quail-specific chick starter kit that includes everything you need to get started.
At the Post Office: Promptly pick up your package and take your quail to their new home. If you ordered chicks, get them under the heat lamp as soon as possible.
Live Guarantee: We guarantee live arrival of all quail upon arrival to your post office. Loss must be reported within 24 hours of that arrival. Please see our full policy HERE
Brooder Requirements: Young quail chicks are small and delicate and need a proper draft-free brooding setup. Provide .25 square foot per chick of brooder space. Increase the size as they grow. Quail chicks will need a secure surface to walk on for proper leg development. An old terry cloth towel or paper towels work well. Newspaper is too slippery. For older chicks, pine shavings are ideal.
Temperature: You will need a heat lamp for your chicks. Start your chicks off at 100 degrees for the first two weeks, which is a bit warmer than your average chick. Raise the heat lamp in order to drop the temperature a few degrees every other day until the internal temperature matches the outside ambient air temp, or they've reached about 4 weeks of age. It's important to watch how your quail chicks respond to the temperature of the lamp; huddling under the bright indicates they're likely cold and huddling in shaded areas away from the heat lamp will indicate they are too warm. Adjust the height as necessary to allow the chicks to be comfortable enough to run freely throughout the brooder space. Keep a thermometer in a lightweight sandwich bag at the bottom of the brooder to monitor the temperature. Note: Quail chicks tend to pile when they sleep at night if they are too cold, and this can lead to crushing of the chicks on the bottom.
Feed: Feed quail chicks a high-quality game bird or turkey starter feed for the first six weeks that contains 24% protein. Transition to a breeder feed at 6-7 weeks and remember to always have feed available to your chicks. For the first few days, place the feed on paper towel next to their feeder so they can find it. Add boiled and chopped egg yolk on top of the feed to encourage them to eat. After they are eating well, you can put the feed in the feeder. Older quail can start on a grower or breeder feed.
Water: Use a special quail base on your waterer while your chicks are young as they can fall into a standard base and chill or drown. As soon as you get your chicks into the brooder, immediately dip their beaks in water to teach them how to drink. All quail need to have access to clean drinking water at all times. Warm water is important as cold water can shock and chill the birds.
Juvenile or Adult care: After getting your quail home from the post office, set the closed box in your aviary or enclosure for an hour or so and let the birds calm down and relax. It is important to release your new birds in as quiet and dark of an environment as possible. Provide a high-quality game bird or turkey grower feed and fresh water at all times. Your older quail will not need a brooder or heat lamp.
Housing: There are many housing options for adult quail. People usually raise them either in large open flight pens or cages. It is best not to raise them in the same coop as chickens. Bobwhite quail need about 1 square foot per bird to reduce aggression. Coturnix are more domesticated and do fine with a bit less.
Quail are small and sleep on the ground which makes them susceptible to predation. Flight pens will need to be secure. We recommend 1/2 inch hardware cloth. Provide a solid enclosed area at night to be extra safe. Quail like to run so design cages to be longer rather than wider. They also tend to fly or flush straight up if startled. Designing cages with soft tops (like netting) so they avoid crashing into the hard roof. You could also design your cages to be 2 feet high or less, where the quail won't have the space to build up enough speed to crash and cause harm.
Practice good husbandry. Disease and parasites can become an issue if the quail have too much exposure to their waste. Wire floors are the cleanest option. Quail do like to dig and to nestle down in bedding when sleeping, and they clean themselves by taking dust or sand baths. Providing your quail a box with sand or shavings would make them more comfortable.
Safe Handling of Poultry: After handling poultry, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Do not let young children, elderly persons, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch live poultry. Do not snuggle or kiss your birds. You can contract salmonella from touching live fowl. Your birds can carry salmonella and still appear healthy and clean. Regularly clean and sanitize your poultry equipment.