Improve the QUAILity of your life with this Gilwiler Microfarm project

Why quails?

Many people today love the idea of having chickens, but don’t yet have the space, time, or permission to keep a flock of their own.  With quails, you can keep a small number of birds indoors and enjoy fresh eggs all your own, daily, all year long.

Two varieties of coturnix quail.
Two varieties of coturnix quail.

What do I need?

That’s where I come in!  The Gilwiler Quail Kit includes a fully operational, brand new cage, water bottle, food trough, a week’s worth of bedding, a week’s worth of food, and three female, egg-laying coturnix quails.  All of this for $75.

What happens after I buy the kit?

Well, you can start enjoying your new quails right away.  Females lay an egg most days of the year, with egg production slowing down a bit in winter.

You’ll need to make sure your quails receive fresh food and water on a daily basis.  Fill the included water bottle up on a daily basis, and provide ____ cup of food for 3 quails every day.  Lastly, change the bedding on a regular basis – if you see fecal matter building up or detect any unpleasant smell, it’s time to change the bedding.  Gilwiler Microfarms recommends changing the bedding in your quail cage on a weekly basis

Where do I find the supplies I’ll need to maintain my flock of quails?

Quails eat game bird feed.  This is different than wild bird food and different than commercial chicken feed.

Game bird feed, which is usually sold as a crumble, has the correct balance of protein and nutrients that game birds like quail, pheasant, and partridge need to thrive in a domesticated environment.  Feeds appropriate for quail can be found at the following quality vendors:

The recommended bedding for your quail cage is a corn cob-based bedding, available through all of the vendors listed above as well as at most pet stores.  Cobb bedding is absorbent and compostable so it makes a great choice for your first foray into urban farming.  A large, 20 lb. bag should only cost you about $25 and should last you for many months.

Do I need anything else to keep quails?

Your quails should thrive as long as they have access to food and water on a daily basis, but they also enjoy taking dust baths.  If you keep your quails indoors, dust baths are technically not necessary, as they’re primarily needed to treat and deter pests like mites that birds naturally attract when living outdoors.  If you want to treat your quails to a bath, though, purchasing diatomaceous earth through any of the above vendors and providing it to your birds in a large dish will do the trick.  They’ll hop into the dish and know exactly what to do.  It’s a real treat to watch them bathe in the dust, though indoors it may create a bit of mess, so be forewarned.

The only other thing quails need is light – not necessarily natural light, just a light source for a 12-14 hours a day in order to stimulate egg production.  If the quails get less light than that, they’ll instinctively think that it’s winter, when the days are shorter, and slow down their egg production.

Tell me again why I should own quails?

Keeping livestock, even livestock as small and manageable as quails, isn’t for everyone, but if you want fresh eggs every day, have the time to check in on an animal every day, and don’t have the space for chickens, then quails sound right up your alley.  Quail eggs are fantastic and can be used just like chicken eggs – fry them up, scramble them, hard boil them and eat them out of hand as the perfect snack food – the possibilities are endless.  Quails are also very docile and could be handled if you had an interest in taking them out of the cage, but it’s definitely not necessary.  Always remember that they are (somewhat) capable of flight, though, so if you let them out, make sure all of your windows are closed.

What else can you tell me about quails?

While there are MANY types of quails, but coturnix quails have been bred over the centuries to get large and to egg laying egg fast, and to produce very large eggs proportionate to their body size.  Compared to chickens, quails actually convert the food they eat into eggs at a much more productive rate than chickens, meaning that you’ll get more egg mass from your quails based on what they eat as compared to chickens.  Another great reason to raise quails!

Other types of quail include bobwhites, mountain or blue scale, button, Mearn’s, scaled, California, and the quail that everyone sees in their mind when they think of quail, Gambel’s, with their trademark plume extending from the front of their head.  While all of these quails can be kept as pets, coturnix are by far the most domesticated of the quail species, and also produce the largest eggs of any of the quail species.

Coturnix quail eggs take about 22 days to incubate before hatching, then it takes about 6 weeks for coturnix eggs to reach sexual maturity and begin laying eggs.  This breed of quail will lay a single speckled egg most days for 2 to 3 years.  All birds have a finite number of eggs that they will lay in their lifetime, and coturnix quails will produce a very high number of eggs over their lifespan compared to other breeds (and compared to other domesticated poultry).  Coturnix quails are commonly raised for their meat in addition to their eggs.

To keep quails, it’s customary to keep one male with 3 to 5 females.  This will create fertile eggs for hatching, though domesticated quails no long have the instinct to go ‘broody’ and sit on their eggs.  For the purpose of keeping quails solely for eggs, it’s not necessary to include males in the flock, though Gilwiler Microfarms will include a male upon request, which will most certainly make the ladies happier overall.  Including a male in your flock will not result in quail fetuses developing within the eggs unless the eggs are put into an incubator under specific conditions for growing the fertilized egg for hatching.  Fertilized quail eggs that haven’t been incubated are no different than unfertilized eggs – you’ll never be able to tell the difference, nor is there any difference in the nutritional profile of the egg.

Anything I should be worried about? Smell?  Noise?  What happens to the quails when they stop laying?

Keeping all females, or the right balance of males and females, will result in your quails being very quiet.  They may chatter a little bit, but nothing like the sounds female chickens make, let alone male roosters.  Keeping 3 female quails, or one male and 2-3 female quails in a studio apartment should not result in any level of noise that would be deemed disruptive.  The quails are inactive at night and will be virtually silent during those hours.

The quails will defecate whenever and wherever they want to, and while the recommended bedding will do a great job of absorbing the waste produced by the quails and keeping any foul smells to a minimum, it’s imperative that the bedding is regularly changed in order to keep bad smells at bay.  As mentioned above, changing the bedding on a weekly basis, simply dumping the old bedding in the garbage (or on your compost pile) will do the trick.  In addition to the normal fecal matter that all birds produce, a whitish liquid called urea, quails also excrete a kidney waste that appears as a white, fluffy foam.  This is a output for quails and should not cause alarm if seen.

When your quails have passed their prime laying age, or you feel you can’t or don’t want to keep quail anymore, Gilwiler Microfames will happily take the quails back at no cost to you.

How do you know so much about quails?  Where are the quails you’re selling coming from?

My partner and I have been raising quails for several years, enjoying their playfulness as well as their delicious and nutritious eggs.  We keep males with our females and regularly hatch new quails in our Styrofoam incubator.  In addition to coturnix quails, we also keep bobwhite quails.

If you’re interested in raising quails, contact us at here.

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