August 2, 2022


Can I raise quail for SHTF in California?

Homesteaders are increasingly favoring keeping quail. I will raise quail for SHTF.

While they might not displace chickens as the most popular poultry animal on a homestead, many independent people all throughout the country raise them for their mouthwatering meat and tiny but delectable eggs.

Small homesteaders can raise quail, which is the ideal poultry bird. They are far easier to maintain and raise to maturity for much less money than chickens, ducks, or geese.

I immediately began to realize some of their key advantages when we received our first quail.

Indoor little game birds

It is possible to start a covey of these little game birds fully indoors using a bird cage or in an indoor brooder until the birds are old enough to be grown outdoors.

Particularly well-suited for urban and small homesteaders, these lovely and peaceful birds make lovely pets.

Some people have resorted to rearing quail on a patio or in bird cages because they are constrained by either state or local livestock rules (or both).

Despite the fact that quail are actually wild game birds, their small size and nature have allowed them to evade regulation because some municipalities are unable to determine how to classify them.

Four or even five quail can be kept humanely in a large parrot cage, which has enough roof space.

Quail still have a lot to offer, regardless of how big your homestead is.

You can expand your barnyard without spending hundreds of dollars to create a full-size coop and run by adding these simple keepers.

In order to increase their population and use them for future hunts, an increasing number of large homesteaders and survivalist homesteaders, like me, are breeding quail.

Quail once inhabited the forests all over the United States in vast numbers, but over the past ten years, their numbers have drastically decreased due to human interference with their habitat and the unrestrained wandering of some nuisance predators.

The majority of quail eggs are cream in hue with earth-toned speckles.

Top Motivators for Raising Quail

  1. One of the most common reasons quail are kept in both suburban and urban contexts and on tiny (10 acres or less) homesteads is their peaceful nature.
  2. Another factor contributing to the growing popularity of rearing them is the compact, uncomplicated, and low-cost enclosures required to house a covey.
  3. More affordable to raise than any other kind of meat or egg bird.
  4. Due to their early maturation and easy reproduction in captivity, they are a very sustainable sort of protein source to raise.
  5. When housed in a healthy environment, they are reliable egg layers and will produce an even number of eggs every day for, on average, two years.
  6. A successful homestead side business can be raising quail to sell to upscale supermarkets and specialty meat markets.
  7. The members of your covey can also contribute to your financial well-being by selling their exquisite and surprisingly robust feathers to hobbyists, fly-fishing enthusiasts, and lure manufacturers.
  8. A fantastic fertilizer is quail excrement. It can be used to produce rich soil for your crops or sold to other gardeners at farmers markets, etc. Being highly nitrate-rich, quail manure should only be used after being properly treated to prevent burning off nitrate-sensitive plants.

Quick Comparison Table of the Pros and Cons

Facts About Quails

  • The family of pheasants includes quail.
  • Due to their similar appearances, quail and partridges are frequently mistaken for one another.
  • There are more than 130 different quail breeds.
  • A quail has a two-year lifespan on average.
  • The most widely spotted and frequently kept quail in American homes are called bobwhites.
  • Commercial and private keepers that raise these small game birds solely for meat are most likely to use the Coturnix breed. The quail realm's coturnix are its broilers. Of all quail breeds, their growth rate is the fastest. It takes only eight weeks for the fantastic proteins known as coturnix to mature.
  • A Corturnix dresses out at about 8 ounces once it is fully grown. This breed's hens begin laying at just six weeks of age and can lay up to 200 eggs each year.
  • The California Quail, which is also the state bird of California, is another of this species that makes excellent meat.
  • The term "covey" rather than "flock" is used to describe a group of quail.

Basics of Quail Keeping


Quail are smaller than any breed of Bantam (banty) chicken, but they may frequently compete favorably with larger poultry animals.

A adult (non-Coturnix) quail typically weighs only five ounces.

Quail and mature ducks have lived peacefully together in the same coop and run for many years.

Quail have been kept in a coop and run with almost mature meat and egg chicken breeds without incident thus far.

The small game birds may need to be moved once the young roosters grow, even though they are getting along with cockerels (young roosters) without incident.

Only time will tell. 

Other homesteaders have witnessed tragedy unfold in the same shared quarters, but I have never had an issue maintaining ducks with mature roosters.


Quieter than hens and ducks, quail are by far. It is possible to keep quail discretely on an outside patio, and if you have neighbors, it is doubtful that they will ever become aware of their presence.

When quail do make noise, it usually consists of a songbird-like succession of utterances or a vibration that resembles a cell phone vibrating on a table.

Typically, male quail are more quieter than females.

When mating, when stalking another male aggressively, or during the day, a male quail (commonly referred to as a rooster, exactly like with chickens) can produce a tiny little crow noise.

Although this sound is not particularly loud, some male quail can become rather obstinate with it.

The keepers have frequently heard it, though never loudly, with our roughly a dozen quail, but I have not heard or noticed it with any of them.

Much like with ducks, quail mating can be somewhat violent.

Bloody wounds frequently develop on a male quail's head or nape of the neck when he becomes extremely aggressive with females in the covey or another male.

The smell and sight of blood could encourage more, potentially lethal pecking by other covey members. 

Always take any injured quail apart and attend to their wounds as required.

But when they spot their preferred human approaching, both sexes frequently croon and trill.

The quail singing is considered to be comforting and lovely by some owners.

The quail is typically a lot quieter bird than a duck or goose.


Quail should be raised with an emphasis on quality rather than quantity for the tasty meat.

Naturally, the more quail you keep, the more meat you'll receive, but you'll never get as much meat from a flock of 12 hens of any breed as you would from a covey of 12 birds.

However, you will be able to produce meat that is high in protein much more quickly, which is a big advantage in terms of both cost and survival.

You can slaughter a bird in just seven weeks—an that's astonishingly quick turnaround.

Meat from quail can be prepared in the same manner as meat from chicken or duck. Quail can be butchered in the same way as chickens, albeit it takes less time.

Five minutes is all it takes to transition from butchering to cooking. Quail can be prepared in the same ways as chicken or ducks, including boiling or plucking.

Quail have long been a prized meat source throughout Europe and Asia, where they are reared and hunted. 

Quail have a fat level that is comparable to chicken's, so you can also make delectable noodles from them.

Quail meat contains four times as much vitamin C as chicken meat does.

Additionally, it offers four percent more iron than even beef sirloin and more than three times the iron of chicken.

In addition to having far more minerals and amino acids than chicken meat, quail meat also contains vitamin A, which chicken meat does not.

Although I wouldn't necessarily advise it, some people (particularly in Asia) eat quail bones, with the exception of the thick end of the drumstick, simply because they are so tiny and thin.


quail egg

quail egg

Normally, mature quail hens produce up to one egg day.

Egg laying by quail should begin much sooner than by chickens, ducks, or hens.

A quail hen will frequently lay her first egg at the age of just two months, which is much quicker than the 18 to 20 weeks it usually takes a chicken hen to do the same.

A quail hen will lay unfertilized eggs like chicken and duck hens do, thus no male is required to rear these little game birds only for their nutrient-rich eggs.

Facts about Quail Eggs (Based upon one standard 9 gram quail egg)

  • Energy: 14
  • Fat, one gram
  • Protein, one gram.
  • Zero grams of carbohydrates
  • 0 grams of fiber
  • Riboflavin: 6% of the daily required amount
  • 4% of the daily recommended intake of choline
  • 2 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A
  • 2% of the daily recommended amount of folate
  • 3 percent of the daily value for pantothenic acid
  • 6% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin B12
  • 5% of the recommended daily intake for selenium
  • Iron: 2 of the daily required amount
  • 2% of the recommended daily intake for phosphorus

Both riboflavin and selenium are essential minerals that help our bodies convert the food we eat into energy.

Additionally, selenium supports the thyroid's normal operation. 

Important nutrients like selenium and riboflavin aid in the body's conversion of food you ingest into energy. Selenium also supports normal thyroid function.

The body uses choline to make acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that carries signals from the neurological system to muscles.

Through its effects on the production of red blood cells, iron and vitamin B12 support the nervous system and the maintenance of energy levels.

Quail eggs may help ease some allergic response symptoms, however further research is required in this area, claims a Healthline article.

Ornamental Attraction



Some people decide to breed quail solely for their eggs because they think the birds' plumage to be too attractive to eat.

Keepers surely laud these birds for their beauty because some quail varieties have a lovely plume on top of their diminutive heads.

The adorable little birds are very tasty, in addition to being rather adorable.

Quail males, like the majority of male birds of any type, are frequently more colorful than females to aid in attracting a mate.

The most prevalent hues among quail breeds are brown, gray, black, and white.

On the underbellies of some breeds, there might be a mixture of different colors and even patterns that resemble scales.


Age, breed, and market prices in your area are some of the variables that will affect how much a quail costs.

Quail that are young or even adult usually only cost a few dollars each.

The optimum male to female ratio should be considered while setting a quail budget. The ideal ratio is one hen per man.

A male will overtax the hens by excessively mating them if there aren't enough females, which can cause serious to fatal health problems for the hen.

Male quails are not as likely to be aggressive as roosters, but they are also not as patient with one another as male ducks, or drakes.

Deadly attacks might happen if too many males are housed together or made to compete for the hens.

Behavior of Quail

For the whole family, watching quail can be quite entertaining.

Because of their fascinating routines and preferred sing-song sounds, even birds with nearly identical appearances can easily be distinguished after only a little period of observation.

A quail won't want to hang out with you and sit on your shoulder like a cockatiel or a parrot (or a rather unusual rooste I once had), but they frequently form bonds with their keepers and show them affection or at least make affectionate noises as they approach to feed them or release them for free ranging.

When you give the quail a reward, you may employ a cheerful cooing sound; if they appreciate it, they may become quite demanding to have it again.

The more you handle the quail when they are still very young, the more likely it is that they will allow you to hold them when necessary for transport or for providing medical care.

Flying and Foraging

Quail can fly, but their flight is more akin to a hovering helicopter than a jet.

Unlike chickens and ducks, they don't need to "make a rush for it" to get wind.

Quail are capable of flying straight up and out of a sitting position.

Their flight, though, is both brief and quick.

It would be extremely unusual for a quail to fly farther than, say, 15 feet at a time before landing and taking some time to rest.

A lot of unpleasant bugs can be removed from your farm, backyard, or garden by quail because they are skilled foragers. 

A quail will continue to search for sources of protein as it gets older, however it will start to prefer berries and seeds more.

Because of their fast bursts of flight, some keepers are happy that quail will wander far further than chickens do when left to forage for food.

I've discovered that if you keep the quail in a brooder for a little longer and then in their permanent enclosure for about four weeks, they start to feel much more at ease and content staying close to home rather than straying farther in quest of food.

Quail can be trained using treats in the same way that chickens and ducks are frequently trained to turn out and put up.

Even though the quail were sequestered inside of a brooder or enclosure, I offered them a small piece of bread or another treat at the same time every day to simulate the put up ritual and help the birds get used to it.

After being relocated outside, the quail would hear the sound of my ATV starting up and would instantly start making their small noises and hopping around to obtain the best view of the approaching feast.

When I opened the door, some quail would occasionally fly out of it in a fit of excitement before flying right back in when I opened the door again.

During feeding time, the quail frequently came to stand in-between or directly on my boots or those of my husband as a sign of devotion or to ensure that the much larger hens did not rob them of their food, or both.

Due to their size, quail may be more at risk than chickens from common barnyard predators.

A self-defense advantage can be gained by raising the quail alongside the hens or with their own guardian flock of guinea fowl.

Not only is safety in numbers, but guineas are the watchdogs of the farm bird world and will immediately warn the other members of the flock (or covey) to danger and usually fight whatever comes near the group.

Quail are naturally ground dwellers, which gives them a better chance of concealment than some other poultry birds, making it their best and possibly only means of ensuring their own survival.

Depending on where you live, white quail will undoubtedly do better in terms of camouflage during the winter than they will during the other three seasons.

In their native surroundings, it is very uncommon for a quail to go completely unnoticed until it gets disturbed and takes off fast.




Quail love taking dust showers more than even the friendliest chicken hens, by a wide margin.

Compared to hens, they often experience significantly fewer issues with common barnyard parasite pests.

What Stores Sell Quail Covey?

In some places, it could be challenging to locate a local breeder of quail.

To discover the initial members of your covey, it is advised to visit a reputable breeder, either in person or more likely online.

Prepare a brooder for your quail at the post office in the same way you would for chicks or ducklings, with secure bedding, a heat lamp, a waterer, and a feeder.

Plan your warming and cooling zones in the quail brooder according to the same thermal guidelines as for chicks.

Quail Eggs Being Incubated

As previously mentioned, quail eggs typically hatch after 18 days.

While not quite typical, a quail egg could hatch in as few as 15 days or as long as 20. Stop flipping the quail eggs on day 14 of incubation.

If exposed to heat at a temperature no lower than 50 F for a week after being laid, quail eggs can still hatch (10 C).

Put the eggs in the incubator with the pointed side facing up. During the first 14 days of incubation, keep the humidity within the brooder at 45 percent.

It is ideal to incubate quail eggs at a temperature of 99.5 degrees.

Bird Enclosure

Although you can raise quail inside of a standard chicken coop, you don't need that much room or height to do so in a humane and safe manner.

If they aren't going to free-range, they simply need a secure location out of the elements that offers protection from predators, along with a run.

To provide the quail the ground space they will need, you can keep them in a rabbit hutch and use hardware cloth to surround the bottom section.

A healthy atmosphere will be created for the covey by giving each quail one square foot of area to move about in.

Basics of Quail Care

When they are hatchlings, quail can consume chicken starter. It is best to feed them a meal that has a minimum protein level of 24% as they are a game bird.

Quail, especially young ones, have trouble digesting the huge, hard pellets.

To guarantee that quail's nutritional requirements are safely met, buy crumble or mash feed variations.

Although technically omnivores, these birds change into more of a "grainivore" as they become older, as was mentioned above.

When they are allowed to roam free, they will always consume various amounts of grass, grain (seeds), and insects.

Some keepers constantly feed medicated chick starters to quail chicks because they may be highly susceptible to getting coccidiosis.

Because I prefer to raise all of our barnyard birds as chemical-free and naturally as possible, I do not give any of them pharmaceutical chick starter.

To assist guard against coccidiosis and other potential health problems, I instead add cinnamon, oregano, basil, turmeric, and garlic to their meal.

Although your results may differ, this has really worked wonderfully for me.

Aside from giving the quail grit to aid with digestion, you should also give them oyster shells to assist raise their calcium levels and thicken the shells of their small eggs.

Quail can frequently lay just one egg per day, therefore if calcium supplements aren't given, their calcium levels might soon fall.

The same snacks and scraps that are safe for your chickens, ducks, and guinea hens are also suitable for your quail to eat.

When the dwarf banana trees are pruned and covered in the fall to help them survive the bitter Ohio winters, our quail absolutely adore munching on the stalks of the trees.

There is no guarantee that quail will use their beaks consistently or at all at nesting boxes; nevertheless, they won't turn them up.

When it comes to egg production, I've discovered that quail hens are a lot more similar to my Pekin ducks.

When the desire arises, they will simply lay the eggs down wherever they chance to be. 

They frequently overlook the eggs and continue with their everyday activities after that.

Diseases of Quail Ulcerative Enteritis

The Quail Disease or Ulcerative Enteritis, as it is often known, is the most fatal illness that could affect your flock.

This disease, which kills birds, is transmitted from bird to bird, sometimes very quickly, and is propagated throughout the covey by feces.

Anemia develops once lesions occur in the infected quail's intestines.

There is a chance to preserve the quail if it is discovered early, but doing so frequently requires a veterinarian and medications.

To block the spread, treatment must also be given to any quail that may have come into contact with the sick bird or its bacterially-laden droppings.

Chickens are susceptible to quail infections as well, although they are usually able to successfully combat them on their own. 

Quail disease can be significantly avoided by maintaining a clean environment and making sure it is big enough to accommodate the covey.

Lethargy, diarrhea, and drooping wings are quail sickness symptoms.

Respiratory illnesses

If the covey is kept in an unclean or overly cramped location, the greater ammonia content in quail droppings may cause respiratory diseases.

To identify respiratory issues early on, keep an eye out for symptoms like difficulty breathing, sneezing, and listlessness.

  • Respiratory Infection Symptoms
  • erratic breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • decreased yield of eggs
  • Listlessness
  • clogged nose

Taking Care of Respiratory Infections

Treatment for quail respiratory infections is best advised to be handled by a veterinarian. 

If you homestead on a tight budget and like to treat your animals (and your family) as naturally as you can, as I do, or if visiting a vet is not an option, I suggest giving the herb balls a try.

I use 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon, turmeric, oregano, basil, garlic, and a few pinches of thyme and tarragon to help one quail. 

Black pepper can also be used. Simply shape a slice of bread about the size of a quarter into a ball, then coat it with the herbs before serving.

When our goats or poultry animals are having respiratory problems, I usually do this twice a day.

Clean the coop and run area thoroughly and segregate any ill quail from the other birds.

Maintaining a clean coop, run, waterer, and feeder may help prevent a variety of bacterial and parasitic problems.


Another bacterial illness that affects birds is this one.

Often, coryza starts with an infection in a chicken, which is then spread to other fowl.

Despite the fact that the birds are not always housed in the same cages, this disease can be contracted at a poultry show.

Symptoms of coryza

  • facial swelling
  • crying eyes
  • snide beaks
  • trouble breathing
  • horrible odor

Therapy with Coryza

To save a quail with this illness, a veterinarian will be required. It may be possible to avoid contracting coryza by keeping quail apart from other potentially sick birds like chickens (who can act as silent carriers of the illness).

After handling or caring for an ill bird, never enter a coop or run without cleaning up, especially your boots, which should be disinfected.

With the exception of quail, coryza can produce a cold or flu-like illness in poultry birds.

A respiratory infection in quail can result from contracting the bactierial infection.

To have a chance of rescuing the bird and preventing the infection from quickly spreading to the remainder of the covey, this disease must be identified in quail as soon as possible.


Numerous poultry species, particularly young chickens and quail, are afflicted by this devastating disease.

The bird's immune system is weakened once a tiny protozoan enters its body through ingesting.

Coccidiosis is a prevalent issue, especially for young birds, if you've spent enough time near poultry and game birds.

To help prevent this kind of infection, this is why so many keepers prefer medicated chick starter.

As previously said, I prefer using natural preventative techniques rather than pharmaceutical chick starter.

Coccidial Symptoms

  • droopy, drowsy, or closed eyes
  • appetite loss
  • losing weight
  • Fluffy feathers
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

If coccidiosis is discovered early enough, a frequent therapy is corid, which is typically available at Tractor Supply, Rural King, and similar agricultural supply stores.

It may be possible to stop the spread of this dangerous poultry bird disease by keeping the quail environment clean and allowing for adequate room for the necessary freedom of movement.

Because the bacteria is present in bird feces, it's important to raise and periodically sanitize the waterers and feeders in the coop, especially if your birds like to sit on their tops.


Quail and a variety of other barnyard livestock can become infested with parasites like worms and mites, which are typical problems.

In order to prevent and get rid of common parasites from a coop and run, keep the living spaces clean, offer a dust bath, and sprinkle diatomaceous earth (DE) on the feed.

Parasite Signs

  • Lethargic Diarrhea Loss of weight
  • Angry Skin Feather Loss
  • Itching
  • Pecking
  • Paleness

Treatment of Parasites

An agricultural supply shop or a veterinarian are two places to get a commercial dewormer.

Like the DE mentioned above, I employ natural methods. 

In order to prevent and treat parasites like worms and mites, use pumpkin and garlic.

The instructions for using and consuming the meat, eggs, or even the young of the birds (because quail breed so quickly) should be carefully followed.

Be sure to carefully read the label of any commercially produced dewormer.

Bird Predators

Quail have a poor prognosis in the wild due to habitat degradation and hunting. Baby quail are often shot down on game farms in other nations, but not in the United States.

These two facts, together with maybe the fact that some quail species are used in animal research trials, have led to the extinction of some quail species.

The main factors leading to quail mortality before to butchering in a factory farm setting include stress, de-beaking, crowding, and ammonia fumes.

Quail share the same typical predators as chickens and ducks, both in the wild and while running free on a homestead.

  • When they see a quail outside of a coop or pen, birds of prey like hawks, owls, falcons, or eagles might quickly swoop down and take it as a meal. Although mature quail are more appealing to raptors like those mentioned above than young ones, all quail can be quite alluring to a bird of prey that is hunting and has an empty stomach.
  • The best chance of escaping being snatched up by a larger bird's food and flown away from its nest, if enough cover is there, may lie in running, not flying, quail.
  • Additionally, quail are under danger from raccoons. These cunning pests will consume any eggs they can take, as well as adult, juvenile, and hatchling birds. rather than chicken wire, use hardware cloth.
  • Mink, a frequent barnyard problem, like eating any fowl bird they can get their hands on. The same precautions recommended above for raccoons will help prevent mink and their rodent cousins, such as weasels, from taking members of your flock.
  • Mink prefer to roam around ditches, culverts, or other slightly swampy regions, and they only travel in enclosed spaces. When choosing a location for a quail habitat, keep this in mind.
  • All poultry birds are preyed upon by foxes and coyotes, and quails are no exception. If their feathers enable them to blend in during a specific season, their modest size can give them a slight advantage. During free ranging hours, a quail could be harder to catch than a duck or chicken due to its swift but short-lived flight.
  • Instead of targeting more adult poultry birds, kunks are more likely to steal their eggs and occasionally even take a chick or two. But never underestimate a skunk's hunger or its claws when it comes to hunting for food.
  • Snakes can also be a threat to quail if they can get into a coop or run or if they are roaming wild. Although eggs are a snake's easy prey, even young snakes of many breeds may easily take down a mature quail thanks to their small size and delicate bones.

Basically, any backyard or woodland insect that threatens chickens or ducks also threatens quail populations.

Quail will be protected from predators by having plenty of cover and locations where only something their size can run inside.

Quail keeping may be an enjoyable and pleasant endeavor.

Keeping quail can become just as compulsive as keeping chickens and ducks, I warn my fellow homesteaders.

When determining where and how to construct your initial covey home, keep in mind the requirement for potential future habitat growth.

About the author 

Happy Quails

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