If you’ve decided to raise your quail in cages, or pens, there are an overwhelming number of options available to you. Quail are relatively easy to care for, and not very picky; however, there are a few things that every quail cage needs, so as you are shopping and planning, check to make sure you have covered all your bases. There are many different kinds of quail breed used for homesteading but all have the same cage needs.
What Every Quail Cage Needs
- Space for Dust Bath: This can be a small box in the corner of your pen that allows for quail to clean up when needed.
- Feeder: Quail feeders can hang on the outside of quail cages, or be stand-alone if needed. When looking at cages, make sure you have a plan for feeders before purchasing or building your own and also what kind of quail feed you are going with.
- Waterers: Quail waterers can also be stand-alone or come in the form of nipple waterers with small cups. These are usually attached on the outside of wire-cages.
- Egg Tray (optional but helpful): Egg trays come in handy for small cages. When your quail lays an egg, it will roll down a slight slant and out of the cage for easy harvesting! These trays also protect the egg from being stepped on or cracked by quail in the cage. While they are optional, they are beneficial if you are keeping quail for their delicious eggs.
Now on to the top 5 tried and true quail cage styles:
Top 5 Quail Cage Styles
1. Stacked Quail Cages
Stacked cages are perfect if you are looking into starting a full-blown quail raising operation. These are cages that are stacked on top of each other. The pens are separated, however, to prevent droppings from entering the cage below. You can purchase these cages in tier bundles from 2 up to 6 or more. If you want to start small, you can often purchase a single cage that can be converted into a stacking cage as your operation grows.
Stacked cages aren’t the largest cages and are meant more for functionality, rather than for quail kept as pets. They usually come with a tray that collects eggs, so they don’t roll around in the cage and become squished or broken.
Stacked quail cages are great if you are limited on space and want to raise a bunch of quail. Always keep in mind that each quail should be granted 1 square foot of space per bird (if not more).
If you are keeping stacked cages in a garage or shed, make sure there is plenty of ventilation. Quail droppings have a high concentration of ammonia, and this can easily cause respiratory issues if there is no proper ventilation or cleaning.
Having stacked cages is excellent for a lot of birds, but ensuring they stay clean and healthy can be a bit more challenging when putting many birds into a small area. Just use your common sense and keep things fresh.
2. Commercial Galvanized or Welded-Wire
Wire cages are usually made from welded-wire and can be purchased from local ag stores, or pre-made online. If you make your own, you can create a pen to your desired specifications.
Welded-wire pens are easy to keep clean, well-ventilated, and can accommodate accessories like feeders and waterers easily.
Wire cages are often set on top of tables if there is a removable tray for cleaning, or they are set upon a stand to allow droppings to fall to the ground. Some keep the droppings, and compost them, creating a fantastic fertilizer over time. However, quail dropping cannot be applied directly to plants, or they will burn them up with their high ph.
When it comes to an easy to clean cage, wire cages are going to be your best bet. Slide-out trays can be removed daily to keep things tidy and odor-free. The only drawback to a welded-wire pen is that birds may not be able to have bedding, as it can “clog” up the wiring and prevent droppings from falling, and instead build up within the pen.
Quail love to be able to nest in hay, straw, or other grassy material. This is not conducive to welded-wire pens, and shavings typically fall between the wire and defeat their original purpose. With that being said, many quail owners provide a space that consists of “solid ground” for the quail so they can nest, rest their feet, and maybe even take a dust bath. Usually, this is something that can be removed for cleaning and not take up a lot of space. You can see what one looks like in this video below.
3. Quail Hutches
Hutches are one of the more secure pen styles to provide for your quail, especially if you would like to keep them outdoors and not in your home or garage. Nooks and crannies are hard to come by in well-made hutches, which prevents small predators, like snakes and weasels, from entering the enclosure.
Simple rabbit hutches, or even pre-made chicken coops, can be used for quail as long as they are built well, secure, and allow for easy cleaning. Many raise chickens and quail together so they often have a coop that needs using.
4. Quail Recall Pens
Recall pens are pens that are made specifically for people training quail, and bird dogs, for hunting. Think of a recall pen as a coop for quail.
Quail are taught to return to their recall pen every day. Caretakers will leave a few hens in the enclosure to call the rest of their covey back to them in the evening. These pens work well for hunters who would like to release their quail, and let the remaining return at night, or for those who just want to allow their quail to free-range and return at the end of the day.
5. Quail Ground Pen
Ground pens are enclosures that allow quail to have access to the earth. They can be a bit controversial due to valid fears over quail drowning in torrent rainstorms, but if you can provide high ground for young quail within the pen, this should not be an issue for your birds.
Ground pens are perfect for quail owners who want to allow their quail to satisfy their natural foraging instincts in the outdoors while enjoying the quails’ antics. This is the safer, and perhaps easier, option than allowing quail to completely free-range.
6. Quail Flight Pens
Flight pens are created for quail intended as hunting birds, birds for release, or for dog training. Flight pens are long and tall enough to allow quail to take flight and learn how to flush.
Smaller pens, such as stacking pens, are usually meant for meat or egg birds when it is undesirable to allow the bird to exercise or learn how to fly. Flight pens, on the other hand, are built to encourage flying.
Flight pens are typically kept far from humans, in a natural environment. The thought is that if they are raised without a lot of human interaction, they will take to the wild much better.
The options for quail cages are endless, and you may even have some of your own ideas for what will work for your quails, and their intended uses. Some people repurpose old furniture, rabbit cages, or even water tanks in the pursuit of the perfect quail pen. The sky is the limit, as long as you can ensure that your quail are safe and clean.