The best way to raise quails for food is to make sure the stock you get are healthy and have been raised on a good, hormone free diet. I highly recommend you start with about a dozen baby chicks. Some of the babies might not make it to adulthood. After all, raising quail is like raising any other animal. You learn as you go.Here are some lessons I learned either from my research on the internet, or from personal experience: Lesson one- no matter what, do not let your children, or your wife, name them. Once they have been named, it’s all over. You might as well set them aside as pets, egg layers, or breeders.
Lesson two- always read the label on the food you’re planning to feeding your quail. So far, the best food we have found for the babies, is a combination of chicken crumble and high protein fish food. The ratio is about one part high protein fish food (30% or more protein) to five part chicken crumble. If you don’t have chicken crumble, you can use chicken pellets and grind them in a coffee grinder – I don’t suggest you grind your coffee in there anymore. Make sure the crumble is ground fine enough that it is almost like powder. You don’t want the pieces to be too large for the babies.
Lesson three- any new born baby or any baby less than three weeks old needs a heat lamp of some sort. You don’t need an expensive lamp from the pet store. I use a cheap clip on lamp from Home Depot and a 60 to 100 watt old-style light bulb, not the new CFL, which don’t produce as much heat. You need to keep the babies at about 95-100 degrees F. You can drop the temp about one to two degrees every week.
Lesson Four- you need a place for them to grow. Babies can’t be left outside for the first three to four weeks because they need to be kept in a warm, draft free place, preferably out of the way. One thing you have to be prepared for is that the more protein the babies have in their diet, the more “fragrant” their droppings will be. If you can’t tolerate the smell, reduce the number of chicks in each bin and clean it out more often. We just use newspaper as the substrait. It’s the easiest to clean, compostable and readily available.
Lesson five- make sure they have plenty of water, but also make sure their water stays clean. They tend to walk across their water dish and leave a mess of droppings and food, so check the water on daily. Bad water also contributes to the smell.
These tips apply to all coturnix quail and button quail, regardless of why you’re raising them.
Once the babies have passed the three week mark, you can slowly decrease their protein intake. At this time, I suggest you start getting them used to the wild turkey/wild game bird crumble. It has the right combination of minerals, vitamins, and protein.
If you’re going to build a coop, make sure you leave some dirt floor so they can roll in DRY dirt. It helps them get rid of some of their smell and any possible parasites, or pesky bugs.
As a general rule, allow two square feet of space per quail. An 18″ tall quail run is plenty if you have easy access to all parts of the coop. Our coop is high enough that we can squat inside it. It’s uncomfortable, but it works for us and looks nice in the critter yard. The most important thing is for them to have a place to stay out of the wind and rain, and an area that will always stay dry.
Once your quail have reached six weeks old, they are ready for “harvest”. I suggest you check out videos online and see how it should be done. If you wait another couple weeks, they will be bigger and put on a bit more weight, but six weeks is a good age to start with.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.
Southern California Aquaponics