Before we started the Agriscaping adventure in our backyard, we made friends with a guy who has coturnix quail and sells their eggs at the local farmer’s market. To understand how he did it, we went to his house to see his setup. It looked so easy! The quail were happy on the ground in a fairly large (8’x10’ pen) and he went in to pick up eggs a few times a day, fed the birds, gave them water, and changed out the peat moss ground covering every month or so. They were fairly quiet and happy, and he was able to make some decent money from the endeavor. So we figured that was it! We were wrong...
We jumped into hatching our quail a bit earlier than we should have. It was still quite hot in Phoenix at the end of the summer, so we had to raise the birds inside for the first few weeks. If you’re going to hatch birds in Phoenix, October probably is the earliest you should do it. That way you can have the brooder box outside without overheating, and then they develop through the winter and start laying eggs when it gets warm and light again in the beginning of spring. For us with quail inside, it was STINKY. The chickens had been fine for a while indoors, but the quail poop smell was intense every morning when we’d open up the room they were in. Because there were 40 birds, we had to change out their bedding daily, but even that wasn’t enough to combat the smell. The room had a funk to it that took about a month to get rid of after they had moved to the garage.
We also learned the hard way that little 3- and 5-year-old hands are not responsible enough for these fragile babies. The chicken chicks were much more hardy. The quail, being so small, were more likely to be injured when dropped, and we sadly lost one bird, probably from a broken leg from being dropped back into the box.
And last but not least, quail really like to lay it all out when they sleep! I thought one was dead when I first saw it. They look SO funny, lying on their sides with their legs stretched out. I also caught one sleeping inside the food dish. Sorry the pics are red, but I couldn’t turn off the heat lamp to get a better photo without waking them up!