For most homesteaders, poultry is the “gateway livestock,” the first animals purchased as you try to raise your own food. And chickens are easy to raise, and a wonderful source of eggs and meat.
But when you are thinking about what kind of birds you want to raise on your homestead – for food, for profit and for fun – maybe you also should consider quail. More and more homesteaders are giving quail a try.
Here are five reasons why quail might be a good choice for your homestead:
1. Fast food
Standard meat chickens, while delicious, can take 14-16 weeks before they are ready to eat. Most quail, on the other hand, can be butchered eight to 10 weeks after they hatch. Quail are small, but they’re delicious; you can find them on the menus at the finest restaurants. And if you raise your own, you can try out numerous quail recipes in the comfort of your own kitchen!
2. Great egg layers
Most species of quail are prolific layers of small, mottled eggs. Some species, like the bobwhite and coturnix quails, lay hundreds of eggs per year. Pickled quail eggs are a delicacy all over the world, and every homesteader should have a jar or two on hand for a tasty treat.
Quail also are consistent layers of fertile eggs that are simple to incubate, too, making it easier for homesteaders to keep a steady population of quail on hand.
3. Quiet in the coop
Compared to chickens and other poultry, quail are quiet and easy to maintain. If you are concerned about neighbors and noise coming from your homestead, these may be the perfect birds for you. Most homesteaders keep their quail in some sort of small coop. They don’t need much space at all, and free-ranging them is not really practical. If you’re raising them for meat, you can just harvest older adults, and replace them with the chicks you recently hatched.
4. Easy and cheap to feed
Quail are much smaller than chickens and cost considerably less to feed. If you are raising your quails to harvest, then a good, high-protein turkey starter will suffice. Quail also enjoy the same kind of table scraps you would feed to your chickens. If the quail coop has access to the ground, your quail will almost certainly forage for insects, seeds and grubs. Raising mealworms is also a great treat and protein supplement for the birds, as well.
5. Something completely different
While quail are not rare, they are not exactly common, either. Raising a few quail can offer a homesteader some quality economic benefits that a flock of chickens almost certainly wouldn’t. If you can keep a consistent supply of quail on hand, you may be able to sell them regularly to local restaurants that feature them on the menu. They also are great birds to trade for other items needed on the homestead, and are easy to sell on sites like Craigslist, too.
Have you owned quail? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below: