Quail have been growing in popularity in recent years, but they’ve been favorites of north American farmers and hunters alike for centuries.
Theses small birds offer delicious meat, but it’s their incredibly nutritious eggs that most people are after. Despite being smaller than chicken eggs, quail eggs have three to five times the amount of essential nutrients and minerals like vitamin b1, iron and potassium. Also, while chicken eggs are 11% protein, quail eggs are 13% protein.
Quails may or may not be a good choice for your homestead, depending on a few factors:
Quails are much smaller birds than chickens, hence, they eat considerably less. And, unlike chickens, all they eat are seeds and grain, so their feed is cheaper as well. You can feed them things wild bird seed mix, oats, and flax seeds.
Despite having been domesticated for centuries, quail are still not reliable to stick in one place like a flock of free range chickens, so they will have to be enclosed. This is perhaps the biggest challenge of raising quail. As with any animal, you don’t want to box them in too much, so having enough space for them to move around yet remain contained is important. But again, they are smaller than chickens, so you don’t need anything bigger than the average mid-sized chicken coop. They will also need a sizable roof to keep themselves dry and lay their eggs safely, many people repurpose old dog houses for this.
Quail offer both delicious meat and eggs to humans-and predators alike. So make sure you keep your enclosure secure, and as close to your house as possible. If you have a trusty guard dog, make sure the enclosure is somewhere he or she can keep an eye on it and that you’ll hear barking or confrontation with any critters that may take a shot at stealing some quail.
Your quail will need plenty of dry bedding, as they are ground nesters and of course you want to give them plenty of material to build their nests and lay in them. Their enclosures will need to be at least superficially cleaned weekly, their droppings raked out and fresh bedding provided. So, if your homestead already produces wood chips or hay, for example, these are great options for bedding.
One final factor that might convince you to raise quail is the price of their eggs! For how nutritious, and delicious, quail eggs are, they are very pricey at the supermarket as well as difficult to find. The average quail hen produces one pound of eggs for two pounds of feed, which is really quite cheap.
Hopefully this has given you some idea as to whether or not quail are a good choice for your homestead. They’re delightful little creatures with delicious eggs and meat, and easy to raise as well, so if you do decide to raise them they will be a great addition to your homestead.
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