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Advice on keeping quail

PUBLISHED: 17:58 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 21:07 29 April 2014

My family and I wish to keep quail. We’ve got a rabbit hutch which fits over a one metre square run and wondered whether that would be suitable (after a thorough clean, disinfect and dry) to house a few quail. I could easily extend the run to twice that size, or have a second run to transfer them to during the day. However, would I need to fit a light-bulb or similar for heating? If you think it’s workable, which type of quail would you recommend? We’ve found a few suppliers on the internet, but I’d rather have your advice before purchasing.Frederick Snape via email

My family and I wish to keep quail. We’ve got a rabbit hutch which fits over a one metre square run and wondered whether that would be suitable (after a thorough clean, disinfect and dry) to house a few quail. I could easily extend the run to twice that size, or have a second run to transfer them to during the day. However, would I need to fit a light-bulb or similar for heating? If you think it’s workable, which type of quail would you recommend? We’ve found a few suppliers on the internet, but I’d rather have your advice before purchasing.

Frederick Snape via email


VR writes: It depends what you wish the quail to do. If you are after the egg-laying Coturnix, then your set-up sounds fine for the summer, and they will not need the heat lamp. However, these quail will have to come indoors in the winter as they are very susceptible to pneumonia, especially when on damp grass. They are hopeless mothers, so eggs need to be incubated. The tiny chicks hatch in 17 days and are completely suicidal, trying to escape and/or drown. The water fount needs a very narrow lip, otherwise they will drown, so pebbles in the lip will help to prevent this at the start. Chick crumbs without coccidiostat will be needed and you may have to put these through a blender to make them small enough for the first week or so.


Adults are fed on chick crumbs (without coccidiostat otherwise it gets in to the eggs) plus some millet.


Hens lay at just six weeks and live for about 18 months, after which they are still edible.


The cocks have a loud trill for a call, so noise may be an issue.


If you are after the ornamental quail (about 48 different species) then you will need to build a covered aviary with plants for cover for the birds, sand on the floor which can be raked clean regularly and a heated shelter area. Some of the ornamental quail will hatch their own, but most will need incubating.

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