Many homesteaders and backyard poultry keepers are looking for new birds to keep. Sometimes you simply don’t have the space for chickens or ducks and are looking for an alternative.
Quail are often touted as an excellent alternative to chickens and are a productive and fascinating small bird.
They can be kept as pets but are also raised for meat and eggs. Because of their small size, quail are a perfect choice for people with limited garden space.
Quail cost less to buy and keep than chickens. Depending on the age, a quail costs between $1-$5. They require smaller coops, and these will cost less. Quail consume less feed, which also lowers expenses.
You will need to keep more quail than chickens, however, to produce the equivalent in meat and eggs.
Quail are a fantastic small poultry choice that more people should be keeping. Especially if you have limited space, they make a great backyard poultry option.
While some by-laws do not allow chickens, ducks, and geese, you may be able to keep quail. They are smaller and typically make very little noise. Their meat and eggs are a delicacy and cost more per pound than chicken meat and eggs.
These interesting birds are a joy to keep, but there are always costs and maintenance chores involved with any livestock or pets, which you need to consider. However, quail cost considerably less than chickens, and I’ll walk you through all the costs you need to consider when keeping quail.
How Much Do Quail Cost?
Quail are cheaper to buy than chickens, and there is a range of breeds to choose from. Although quail mature much faster than chickens, they live much shorter lives—approximately 2 years.
It is cheaper to buy from a hatchery, though you will often be limited to a minimum number of birds which may not be feasible.
The price will depend on the age of your quail and the breed. You can also buy quail as eggs and incubate them yourself.
Young quail can be as cheap as $1 a chick, but be aware you will not be able to sex them. If you only want female quail for egg-laying, it is better to buy mature quail at point-of-lay. You will not need a male quail as the hens will lay unfertilized eggs.
The most common and hardy breed is the Coturnix quail.
The Coturnix is a popular quail breed that grows quickly and is good for meat and eggs. Coturnix quail are ready to lay at 6 weeks and ready for meat-processing at 9 weeks. A Coturnix quail can lay nearly 200 eggs a year.
The average cost for a Coturnix quail is $4-$9, depending on the number of birds.
Northern Bobwhite Quail
The Northern Bobwhite quail is a common game bird and more popular with hunters. They are good dual-purpose birds for meat and eggs.
A bobwhite is mature for meat at 16 weeks, and females will begin laying at 24 weeks. They take longer to mature than the Cortunix quail and only lay between 100-200 eggs annually.
The cost of a bobwhite quail is around $4, depending on the number of quail ordered.
California Quail and Button Quail
The California quail or California Valley quail is a beautiful ornamental quail with a distinctive little comma-shaped plume on its head. They are a highly sociable species and are kept more often as pets than for food production.
The cost of a California Valley Quail is around $4-$25
Another good pet choice is the tiny button quail, a diminutive, quiet bird that can be kept in small ground pens and aviaries. Again, while you can eat the eggs, these birds are generally kept for pleasure rather than food production.
You can buy button quail for about $30 for a breeding pair.
How Much Does A Quail Coop Cost?
Quail need around 1 square foot of floor space for each bird, and preferably more than that. Bear this in mind when building or buying a coop.
The first thing you need to do is know exactly how many quail you will be keeping so you can plan accordingly, as they cannot be allowed to free-range.
Unlike chickens, who can fly only a short distance to roost, quail can properly fly. This means that your quail will need to be confined to a sizeable coop at all times. If you have the space for an aviary, this will allow them more freedom of movement.
There are different breeds of quail, some hardier than others. If you live in an area with very cold winters, a species like the beginner-friendly Coturnix quail is an excellent choice. Coturnix quail are cold-hardy, common, and fast-maturing, making them a good choice for outdoor coops.
Good options for quail coops include:
- stacked quail cages
- ‘quail tractors,’ similar to chicken tractors, but smaller
- quail ground pens
What you can expect to pay:
Price will depend on size and material, but here is a rough guide to expected costs for coops.
|Coop Type||Cost||Number of Quail|
|Small animal hutch||$160-$180||10-12|
|Stacked quail cage||$430 for a three-layer cage||45-60|
|Quail tractor from Eglu w/6foot run||$620||30-35|
However, you can keep costs down by building your own quail hutch using a plan like this one https://backyardpoultry.iamcountryside.com/coops/easy-quail-hutch/ or modifying designs for a chicken tractor. https://farmmarketingsolutions.com/stress-free-chicken-tractor-plans
How Much Does Quail Feed Cost
Quail will need access to food and water at all times, so don’t forget to add the initial costs of feeders and waterers to your calculations. You can buy chick feeders online for around $10.
Quail need a higher protein percentage in their food than chickens do. You will need to buy food that is 20%+ protein.
Rather than feeding your quail on chicken food, buy them maintenance quail/gamebird feed or turkey feed. Chicks will need to be on starter feed for the first 6 weeks.
Feed costs range, but generally, you’ll spend around $2-$25 on about 40lb of feed. An adult quail will eat around 0.6 ounces of food a day, so a year’s food supply for around 10 adult quails will be around $100.
Quail love fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables, so add these to their diet to keep them healthy and to keep them entertained. Some quail keepers suggest tying fresh greens up in bunches so that the quail can peck at these. Treats like mealworms and soldier fly grubs will go down very well.
The Cost of Quail Bedding
If you keep quail in a hutch, they will need suitable bedding such as pine shavings, corn husks, or sawdust.
The cost here will vary, but pine shavings cost about $34.49 for a 141L bag from Amazon as a rough guide.
Bedding will need to be regularly refreshed and composted, so take this cost and the need for a composting space into account.
The Real Cost Of Keeping Quail
Even though they are smaller and easier to keep in contained spaces than chickens, quail still need daily maintenance. They produce a lot of manure which you must deal with. The cost here is less about money and more about time and effort.
Quail cages will need to be cleaned regularly to prevent disease and smell. Quail manure is high in ammonia and will need to be composted before being used in the garden.
It would be best if you power-clean your quail cages monthly to remove hardened feces and keep your flock healthy. Use hot soapy water to scrub the cages clean, and allow them to dry thoroughly before your return your flock to the coop.
Quail, like all pets and livestock, will need fresh food and water daily. They are messy eaters and drinkers, so avoid feces in their food and water by daily cleaning or using an automatic waterer with a nipple system.
Quail make great birds to keep for pleasure or production, but you must get the right type of bird.
If you’re interested in broilers and layers, you can buy Coturnix or Bobwhite quail for around $5-$10 a bird. Ornamental and miniature species are usually kept as pets and an average of $15-$25 a bird.
The initial set-up costs will also be for hutches and coops, feeders, waterers, and lamps and brooders if you wish to raise chicks. Food and bedding are ongoing costs but expect to pay between $100-$250 a year for food and bedding for 10 quail.