How to Raise Quail? Raising Quail from Incubating to Adult Bird (2024)

Incubating Coturnix Eggs:

  1. Turn on your incubator (if you haven’t done so already) and allow the temperature and humidity to stabilize at 99.5 °F and 40-50% humidity. If you have trouble stabilizing the temperature or humidity, make adjustments slowly, and wait an hour or so to see how much they change. Temperatures too high can cause the chicks to hatch underdeveloped. Humidity too high can prevent the air sac from developing and prevent the chicks from being able to break through the membrane in the shell. We highly recommend placing an additional thermometer and hygrometer in the incubator because the sensors that come with incubators are often poorly calibrated.
  2. Inspect eggs for breaks or cracks. Do not set any damaged or cracked eggs, as they will not hatch and could introduce bacteria to the remaining eggs in the incubator.*
  3. Allow eggs to rest pointed side down for 12-24 hours at room temperature before incubating.
  4. Set the eggs into your preheated incubator, turning at least 4 times per day.
  5. Incubate for 14 days, checking temperature and humidity often.
  6. Move eggs into lockdown after 14 days by removing eggs from the turner tray and placing them into hatching trays with a rough surface so that chicks do not develop straddle-leg. Increase the humidity to 50-60% at this time. If you have trouble stabilizing the humidity, it is best to have a lower humidity for quail. If you see any condensation or water droplets on the inside walls of your incubator, your humidity is too high!
  7. Do not open the incubator until at least 24 hours after the first chick has hatched. Coturnix normally hatch in 17 days, but a low temperature in the incubator or jostling during shipping may cause the hatch to be delayed by 2-3 days.

Brooding Coturnix:

  1. Prepare your brooder 1-2 days before chicks are expected, and allow the temperature to stabilize at 95°F, or 100-105°F directly under the heat source and no less than 85°F in the coldest section of the brooder.
  2. Provide a shallow and drown-proof water source, and allow water to warm to the temperature in your brooder before placing chicks into the brooder.
  3. Start chicks on a game bird/turkey starter feed consisting of 28-30% protein. If feed particles are large, grind them for the first several days as needed. Coffee grinders, blenders, and mortars/pestles work well for this.
  4. Offer grit if feed is not a blended crumble or if chicks are exposed to hay or grass.
  5. Lower the brooder temperature an average of 5°F per week.
  6. Remove heat after 4 weeks or when chicks are fully feathered.
  7. Change to an 18-22% protein game bird/turkey layer ration after 7-8 weeks.

Caring for Adult Coturnix:

  1. Your quail should be housed in a large pen with tall ceilings (4 ft or taller) or cages 8-10 inches tall. Cages with ceilings between these two ranges (such as rabbit hutches) can be very dangerous for quail because quail are able to jump/fly with enough momentum to cause serious head injuries if they hit the top of the cage.
  2. Quail need a high-protein game bird feed. Quail should be fed a game bird/turkey starter feed with 28-30% protein and ~1% calcium until they are 7-8 weeks old.
  3. At 7-8 weeks, quail should be transitioned to a game bird or turkey layer/breeder/all-purpose feed with 20-22% protein and 2-3% calcium. “Adult” quail we ship are ~6 weeks old, so they can be transitioned to lower protein feed after you’ve had them for 1-2 weeks. This will give them a nice boost while they recover from the potential stress of shipping.
  4. Offer grit if your quail are exposed to hay or grass.

Lastly, enjoy your quail. Feel free to give them a container full of sand to dust bathe in, as well as mealworms or other treats in moderation.

Whether you want to raise quail for meat, eggs, or just for fun, they are a calm and content bird that is rewarding to raise. They are often allowed in neighborhoods with HOAs that do not allow poultry, and many people opt to keep quail over other fowl due to their low space requirements and quiet disposition. Most people could easily keep hundreds of quail hens on a small patio or shed without ever bothering their neighbors! They are a covey bird that requires very little space, converts feed to eggs efficiently, and begins to lay eggs as early as 6 weeks of age. As if that weren’t enough, quail eggs are considered to be a healthy and less allergenic alternative to traditional eggs.

If you’re interested in starting your own covey, there is a steep learning curve for raising quail, namely in the brooding stage. We recommend starting with adult birds if possible, but understand that it often isn’t a realistic option. No matter how you choose to start your covey, the following guide can help serve as anoverview for what is required to care for Coturnix.

Incubation

Quail eggs require an incubation period of 17 days at 99.5° F. For all but the last 3 days, the eggs should be turned at least four times daily to ensure the yolk does not fuse to the albumin membrane. The last three days of the incubation cycle is called “lockdown,” and for this period of time the humidity should be raised from around 40% to 55%. We find that our eggs begin to hatch at around 16 days 8 hours, but we don’t remove them from the hatcher until 24 hours after the hatch begins, in order to allow ample time for all the chicks to hatch.

Brooding

The chicks will be very delicate for the first week, and require a temperature-controlled environment for 3-4 weeks. There is a bit of a learning curve here, so don’t be discouraged if not all of your chicks survive the first few times you brood them. Even very experienced quail farmers often experience a first week mortality of 10-15%.

Quail do best at 95° F after hatch. For the first week, give them a brooder environment with a temperature range of 90-100° F from the front to the back of the brooder, so they can learn to regulate their body temperature in a relatively safe environment. After one week, gradually lower the temperature 5° F per week until the birds are fully feathered at 4 weeks of age. If you are just getting started, see our detailed blog about how to construct a simple tote brooder here.

From hatch to sexual maturity (6-8 weeks of age), Coturnix need a high quality game bird starter feed. We recommend a feed with 26-30% protein with no byproducts in the first three ingredients.

Growing Out

Once quail are fully feathered (4 weeks old), they are very hardy and can be kept in almost any environment between -20° to 120° F, although they are most productive at 65° F.

Birds can be kept either on the ground or on wire while they grow. We have used both methods but find that it is easier to manage the birds on the ground if you have space and a covered structure. Quail do not do well as free range birds, so unfortunately they must be contained either by a cage or pen at all times or they will run away.

Adult Care

If you decide to keep quail on the ground, make sure that you are vigilant about egg collection. Quail are ground birds and domesticated Coturnix have lost most of their mothering instincts. As a result they will lay eggs almost anywhere and will often destroy them afterward. Laying hens are normally kept in slanted wire cages with a roll-out gap at the front for the eggs. 14-16 gauge 1/2 x 1″ wire for the floor witha .75″/12″ slope for eggs to roll out works well.

Quail become sexually mature by 6-8 weeks of age. By this age, it is important to remove most of the males. Depending on the line, you will want 3-10 females for every male. Most jumbo lines do well with 3-4 females per male. Pharaoh or Brown males are easy to identify by their solid copper breast feathering, while the females remain speckled white and black. They can be accurately feather sexed as early as 3 weeks. Other common varieties such as Jumbo Whites must be vent sexed, and cannot be reliably sexed until 8 weeks. Of course if you hear a bird stand tall and crow, you can also identify males by sound.

Adult Coturnix should be fed a game bird ration, which is slightly higher in protein and certain essential nutrients than most chicken rations. We recommend 20-22% protein so that they can free-feed without becoming overweight. A common myth is that feeding the birds meal worms will make them healthier and make their eggs larger. While their eggs will become larger due to the high nutrient value of meal worms, it is not sustainable or healthy for the birds. Mealworms are approximately 50% protein, so Coturnix fed such a diet gain weight quickly, lose their ability to regulate their body temperature, prolapse at an extremely high rate, and have higher mortality rates due to heart and liver failure. For these reasons, we recommend only feeding meal worms or other treats in moderation, and never to an overweight bird.

Above all, quail need constant access to fresh food, clean water, shade or some form of shelter, and a stress free environment free from predators. Kept in such conditions they will remain productive for 1-2 years, and often live 4 years or more.

How to Raise Quail? Raising Quail from Incubating to Adult Bird (2024)

FAQs

How to Raise Quail? Raising Quail from Incubating to Adult Bird? ›

Quail need a high-protein game bird feed. Quail should be fed a game bird/turkey starter feed with 28-30% protein and ~1% calcium until they are 7-8 weeks old. At 7-8 weeks, quail should be transitioned to a game bird or turkey layer/breeder/all-purpose feed with 20-22% protein and 2-3% calcium.

When to move quail from incubator to brooder? ›

It is good practice to take out all dry, hatched chicks from the incubator every 24 hours from when the first quail hatched. The humidity can rise when many chicks hatch at once and will make them very wet. Move all of your chicks into your brooder.

How long do quail take to mature? ›

Coturnix Quail

Coturnix mature quickly and grow fast. They begin laying eggs in 7 weeks, 17 weeks earlier than Bobwhite Quail. Mature hens lay up to 300 eggs a year. Birds raised for meat can be harvested after 7 weeks, when they reach full size and maturity.

Can you put baby quail with adults? ›

I have personally found that adding young quail to an established flock is easier than bringing in mature birds. Once your chicks have feathered up and are about six weeks to two months old, they don't need a brooder lamp and can be placed with your other quail.

How many quail should I start with? ›

This is also a great size if you ever plan on breeding your quail, because you should have about 4 females per male to ensure you are getting great fertility. 5 is a perfect number for a beginner quail-keeper to start with. The reason I love the rabbit hutch setup, is because it is very “cozy”.

How soon can you take quail out of incubator? ›

We find that our eggs begin to hatch at around 16 days 8 hours, but we don't remove them from the hatcher until 24 hours after the hatch begins, in order to allow ample time for all the chicks to hatch.

How long do you keep baby quail in a brooder? ›

Quail chicks need to have supplemental heat in a brooder until they are fully feathered at approximately 5 to 6 weeks of age. At hatch, the brooder temperature at chick level needs to be at 96-98 degrees F. Lower the brooder temperature by 5 degrees for each week of age until the quail chicks are fully feathered.

Is raising quail worth it? ›

A quail in its first year will lay almost every day. And you won't have to wait long. Unlike chickens, which take about 5 months to start laying, quail only take 6 weeks. Sure, it takes 5 quail eggs to equal one chicken egg, but if you want fresh eggs and can't have chickens, quail eggs are a great alternative.

At what age can you tell if a quail is male or female? ›

Sexual dimorphism does not become obvious until the contour feathers emerge when the quail are 2 to 3 weeks of age. The birds usually are sexed by the difference in color of the breast feathers, the male having brownish-red feathers and the female characteristically having tan (gray) feathers with black speckles.

What is the lifespan of a quail? ›

Small twigs, grass stems, leaves and feathers line the nest. Average life expectancy for a wild quail is 1.5 years although on occasion they may live for up to four years. Mature birds average eleven inches long and weigh from 5.1 to 6.5 ounces (160 to 200 grams.)

How many quail babies survive? ›

WHAT about stocking young quail? On average, only 60 percent will survive the initial week of release. After one month, roughly 25 percent will remain. Winter survival has been documented as high as 10 percent but seldom exceeds 5 percent of the released birds.

What is the best quail to raise for beginners? ›

Coturnix Quail are an excellent option for both meat and egg production. They are quick to mature, require minimal space, and are great for beginners. Coturnix Quail also lay an impressive number of eggs yearly. They are a top pick for urban homesteaders.

Is keeping 2 quail OK? ›

Breeding groups of quail should be made up of one species only, usually one male and two females in each aviary. Having too many males in a cage will cause fighting and unsuccessful mating. Many quail will lay throughout the year if conditions are suitable but the normal cycle is from spring to autumn.

What do quails need in their cage? ›

Quail can be kept in any sort of housing but their home does need a few things to make it safe and suitable for your quail. These things include: The home must have easy access so that you can grab the birds when necessary, feed and provide water for the quail every day, and clean the cage with no troubles every week.

When should I move to brooder? ›

If you're hatching your own chicks they can be moved from the incubator to the brooder once they are completely dry, which means nice and fluffy. Until they have feathers, however, they will still need a heat source in order to stay alive.

How long do baby quail stay in the nest after hatching? ›

Downy young leave nest within a day after hatching. Both parents tend young, with female often brooding them when small, male perching high and acting as sentinel; young feed themselves. Young can fly short distances at age of 10 days but are not full grown until later.

How long after hatching do quail need to eat? ›

Feed quail chicks a "starter" diet soon after hatching. Continue feeding the starter until birds are six or eight weeks old. The starter diet has the highest level of protein a bird receives during its lifetime. As the chicks age, their requirements for most nutrients decline, including dietary protein.

What to do with a newly hatched quail? ›

Provide a heat lamp while they grow their feathers to keep them warm and feed them special, protein-rich quail starter feed. Be sure to give them a bigger brooder and more toys to keep them occupied as they grow.

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