Raising Quail: The Beginning
If you have ever been browsing the web for urban homesteading ideas, you have surely heard about raising Quail. Compared to chickens, they are quieter and smaller and they mature faster, which can make them more cost-effective for eggs or meat. Where I live, the city limits on raising poultry do not apply, meaning we can keep the males. This means we can breed them ourselves, which will be a fabulous learning experience as we can observe the full life-cycle.
While there are places online to order Quail, I was thrilled when a craigslist search found someone local offering organic, non-gmo raised Coturnix Quail chicks and eggs. (Also known as Japanese Quail, Coturnix are considered the hardiest Quail species and therefore good for beginners.) I have been researching how to raise Quail for a year now and decided it was time to stop dreaming and start doing. So I ordered a Mini Chick-bator from Stromberg’s and we told the local Quail raiser we could come by on Thursday for a dozen eggs.
When Thursday finally arrived, we were excited to pick up the eggs.
Rick handed us the precious carton of tiny speckled eggs and was kind enough to show us his set-up, give us tips for incubating and brooding. (Rick, if you read this, I encourage you again to make some YouTube videos about raising Quail because you are a wonderful resource!) My kids got to pet some quails and watch them eat and drink. Tiny fingers did drop an egg and it cracked, but hey that is a lesson in itself.
Arriving home with the eggs, a package sat on our doorstep. The Mini Chick-bator! We took it out and put it together. It is little and simple. There is a base which holds the lightbulb for warmth and the water for humidity. The eggs sit on a wire shelf. And light reflects off of aluminum foil. A clear dome roof tops it off. We will have to monitor temperature – to be kept around 100 degrees F – and humidity – to be kept around 40% (yes Rick, we are getting a secondary sensor for this!). Because it does not have an automatic egg turner, we will have to turn them three to four times a day. And in 16-18 days, hopefully we will be rewarded by the magic of birth!
But on this first evening, Day 0, I enjoyed the magic moment as my children gently placed the eggs in the incubator, whispering so as not to disturb the baby chicks. Over the next two weeks we will care for these eggs and learn about what is going on inside them. And we will share that journey with you as well! Here is our video as we get started. Enjoy! And feel free to leave comments and questions!