For farmers and homesteaders who wish to have a homegrown supply of nutritious eggs and meat, raising bobwhite quail is a fantastic option.
Bobwhite quail are great birds to raise for a number of reasons:
- Smaller in size
- They produce eggs
- Quieter than chickens
- They can be used for meat
- They are aesthetic looking birds
If you are curious about raising bobwhite quail on your farm, then keep on reading.
Below you will find a ton of helpful information to help make sure your bobwhite quail are happy and healthy.
What Are Bobwhite Quail?
The bobwhite quail, also known as the Virginia quail, or Northern bobwhite quail, is a species of quail native to the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
In the past, the bobwhite quail was much more prominent.
But over the years, particularly between 1994 and 2017, the population of the bobwhite declined rapidly.
The Northern bobwhite is a non-migratory bird, especially when ample food and a safe habitat are available. In the wild, bobwhites are popular game birds amongst hunters.
Bobwhites are ground-dwelling birds, with short and curved bills, roundish bodies, and a short tail. They prefer to walk or run but are capable of short flights, especially when a predator is nearby.
In the wild, Northern bobwhites feed by foraging along the ground. They keep a plant-based diet, consuming seeds, fruits, stems, and leaves.
But they are actually considered omnivores because they also eat insects, snails, and spiders.
Groups of bobwhite quail are called coveys. They are a social species and prefer to stay in coveys in order to look out for one another.
During the spring mating season is when they will pair off.
Female bobwhites can lay clutches of 12 to 16 eggs, which both parents will incubate. After hatching, baby bobwhites can clumsily walk and have their eyes open.
They are cared for several weeks before leaving the nest to be on their own.
Reasons to Raise Bobwhite Quail
Chickens have long been heralded as ‘the gateway animal’ for folks who are new to raising animals. And that is for a very good reason.
However, with smaller, and equally manageable birds available like quail, we think the bobwhite should be high on the list right next to chickens.
Allow us to tell you why!
The Size of Bobwhite Quails is Very Manageable
Bobwhite quails are generally regarded as small-game birds. They are never any bigger than bantam-sized, or miniature, chickens.
On average, bobwhite quails weigh around 5 ounces. That is pretty small and lightweight!
You may be thinking that quail are too small. Well, raising smaller animals like quail means you can do more with less space.
For that reason alone, many folks, even those living in more urban settings, choose to raise quail over chickens.
Plus, quail make for the perfect poultry in cities that operate with ‘no chicken’ ordinances because bobwhites have yet to be categorized.
They Are Quieter Singers
Quails are much quieter birds to keep than chickens (especially roosters), geese, and ducks. So if you are worried about the noise your pets make and annoying the neighbors (or yourself), then bobwhite quails are the best, quietest option.
Don’t get us wrong, both male and female quail communicate verbally with cooing and trilling noises.
Especially when they see you coming with breakfast. But they are not nearly as loud as other birds that people raise for meat and eggs.
And honestly, we think the songs bobwhites sing are pretty and calming.
Quail Meat is Delicious & Nutritious
So we have already mentioned how bobwhite quails are much smaller than other birds like chickens, ducks, and geese.
And as you might already be thinking, this means that they will yield less meat.
But for us, that’s not a deal-breaker. The reason is that bobwhites mature very rapidly.
In fact, after just 7 weeks, bobwhite quails are considered mature and can be processed for their meat.
That is a much faster turnaround, than say, chickens. So if you’re worried about lower meat yields, you can keep more quail (because they are much smaller) in order to get higher yields.
They Produce Eggs
Female bobwhite quails are capable of laying one egg every single day. Yes, quail eggs are significantly smaller. But, we think they are just as delicious.
Quail eggs are considered to be delicacies in many parts of the world. And for good reason.
They are aesthetic, delicious-tasting eggs, packed full of nutrients like vitamin B12, selenium, riboflavin, and iron. And did we mention they are only 14 calories?
Because bobwhite quails mature so quickly, this means that they can begin laying eggs faster as well.
Some happy and healthy female quails can begin to lay eggs just after 2 months. That’s much faster than the 18 to a 20-week timeframe for female chickens.
Bobwhite Quail Are Affordable
If you are looking to raise birds for their meat and eggs, and save money while doing it, then quail is the perfect option. In most marketplaces, you can get a couple of quail for a few bucks.
And from there, you can grow your covey by allowing them to procreate.
Bobwhites Are Cute, Good Looking Birds
Simply put, bobwhite quails are good-looking birds. Homesteaders all over the world love the decorative plumes on top of their heads, and their cute, chunky bodies.
Plus, the coloring and patterns of their feathers are beautiful.
All in all, with their cute personalities and good looks, they are lovely little birds that can bring a special flare to your homestead.
Equipment Needed For Raising Quail
If you want to raise quail to enjoy their daily eggs, or so you can have some homegrown meat around the holidays, then you will need to invest in some equipment in order to make sure your bobwhites are happy and healthy.
Here is the equipment you should buy when raising quail.
Coops or Cages for Quail
Because of their small size, you may opt to raise bobwhite quail in cages instead of full-on coops. If you are already short on space, then cages are the best option.
The rule of thumb for quail is that each quail should have 1 square foot of space. So if you can provide a 5 square foot coop or cage, then you can keep up to five quails.
In general, most bobwhite quail do fine in smaller, more confined spaces. But obviously, the more space, the better.
A reliable and clean water supply is vital for the lives of your quail covey.
Waterers that are slightly elevated are strategic because, like chickens, quail are capable of making quite a mess when they scratch and forage around.
When your quail are babies, it will be important to cover your waterer with a screen in order to keep the clumsy babies from falling in and drowning.
You can also add pebbles to prevent a chick from drowning.
Besides watering stations, the next vital component is a feeder. Feeders that are designed to dispense little amounts of food as the quail pecks at the feeder are ideal.
They keep the coop or cage much cleaner over the long run.
And not only that but a cleaner cage or coop is less susceptible to lingering pests and diseases, too.
Female quails are less picky than chicken hens. They will practically lay their eggs anywhere.
However, providing a nesting box for your female bobwhite quails will give them a comfortable and safe place to lay eggs.
Plus, it makes collecting their eggs a much easier task because you know exactly where to look.
Diseases & Illness To Look Out For When Raising Bobwhite Quail
Like our children, and other animals that we raise, or ourselves for that matter, your bobwhite quail may become susceptible to certain illnesses and pests throughout their lives.
So if you plan to raise bobwhite quail for meat and eggs, or for release, then it’s probably a good idea to keep an eye out for what might make them sick.
Bobwhite Quail Disease
Quail disease is a bacterial infection that can spread from one quail to another via their scat. If a quail is suffering from quail disease, symptoms you might observe are:
- Droopy wings
If you suspect that one of your precious quail is sick, you can contact a veterinarian and get prescription antibiotics to help with the infection.
Mites and Lice
Mites and lice are common pests when raising birds like quail.
If some or all of your quail in the covey are being pestered by mites or lice, you might observe:
- Losing feathers
- Dirty vents
To get rid of the infestation, follow these steps:
- Remove the quail, and thoroughly clean the coop or cage with water a bleach
- Dust the coop with diatomaceous earth which kills and repels mites and lice
- Treat your quail with mice/lice spray, or diatomaceous earth
- Return your quail to their freshly cleaned home
- Treat the quail again in 1 week, and then once more in 2 weeks
Quail can also become susceptible to parasites, like tapeworms. You can suspect a parasitic problem if you notice:
- Loose stools and diarrhea
- Slower egg production
- Extra appetite
- Worms in the stool and/or eggs
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you will need to get your quail treated professionally by a veterinarian.
Respiratory Infections for Bobwhite Quails
Quail droppings have a higher concentration of ammonia than other poultry types. That is why frequent cleaner and proper ventilation are important to prevent respiratory infections.
Some symptoms of a respiratory illness in quails could be:
- Snotty and running nose
- Difficulty breathing
Most of the time, quail can fight off basic respiratory infections on their own, much like we can.
But if you notice that a bulk of the covey is sick, you may want to consult a veterinarian.
Some folks even swear by homemade immune-boost remedies like incorporating garlic and apple cider vinegar into their diets.
Breeding Bobwhite Quail for Hunting Preserves
One reason why some folks like to raise bobwhite quail is so that they can be released onto hunting preserves, and be used to train hunting sport dogs.
If raising bobwhites for release is the goal, then the focus is to raise strong and fast quail with attractive feathering.
Here are some things to consider if you plan to raise bobwhites for release:
- At around 6 weeks, quails being raised for release need to be conditioned in flight pens in order to give them space to roam, fly and become stronger.
- The flight pens should contain no more than one quail for every 2 square feet.
- The flight pens should be kept away from people, children, pets, and other noise disturbances so that they cannot become accustomed to it
- Vegetation should be planted in the flight pens to provide shelter
- Chicken wire should be buried on all sides and mesh on the roof to protect the quail from predators.
- Quails being raised for release should be kept in flight pens for at least 6 weeks prior to being released.
- Most hunting preserves purchase bobwhite quail when they are about 15 to 16 weeks old.
Raising Bobwhite Quail Is Great – For Many Reasons!
If you are new to raising animals, or a seasoned pro with flocks of chicken, duck, and geese, and have the room for more poultry, raising bobwhite quail is a great option.
Bobwhite quail may be small, but a covey of them will surely keep you busy. They are highly rewarding and affordable animals to raise and breed. They are versatile in their usages and are relatively easy to learn how to take care of.
Raising bobwhite quail is great if you enjoy:
- Fresh eggs every single day
- Delicious meat for roasting, searing, and grilling
- Working and training with hunting dogs
- Enjoy the sights and sounds of happy quail all day long
So if you want to try and raise birds, but don’t have the space or patience for chickens or ducks, check out bobwhite quail. We don’t think you will be disappointed.