There are many reasons to raise backyard quail, but here are my top 5 excellent reasons!
Reason No. 1: Eggs, Meat, and More!
There is really nothing better than fresh eggs, in my humble opinion. I like to head out and gather them fresh just before a meal. Try to get them that fresh at the store. They are great fried, boiled, or my favorite in Creme Brulee! These eggs are better tasting and more nutritious than anything found in the grocery store.
The meat is other worldly. Unlike other animals you may choose to raise, these are perfect sized as a meal for one. Doesn’t have to be, but for that reason alone I take you back to the fresh comment above. Anyway you would cook most fowl will work with quail. I personally like to roast them on the BBQ and have been known to give them the hot wing treatment via Frank’s hot sauce and butter! yes I put the %^&* on everything!
Plus there are other items of use, see reason 3 below.
Reason No. 2: You’re In Control
Having really good food and knowing where it comes from means raising it yourself. Whether that is a vegetable garden or backyard quail.
Know where your food comes from
Doing it yourself means you know how the animals were treated, what they were feed, and how they were maintained. There is simple no excuse for let others control your food who care more about their bottom line than they do your health, period! You feed and treat them well and they will reward you.
Also, with the ever present concern of food borne illnesses from store bought food you will never have this concern with your own eggs and meat.
Quail are a simple easy way to take control over the two items in your diet mentioned above: eggs and meat.
Teaching Your Family Where Food Comes From
If you have children, raising backyard quail is a quality teaching moment. You can use it to talk about how factory farms treat animals and why your way is better for you and the birds.
If you choose to butcher birds, this will really open they eyes and minds of your family on what happens before their food ends up in plastic wrap at the grocery store.
Reason No. 3: Free fertilizer
Sticking to the control theme, how about what fertilizer you put on that garden you decided to grow to take control of your food? Do you really think nature intended for us to use petrochemicals to grow our fruits and vegetables?
Quail Poop is a Super Fertilizer
Quail poop is high in nitrogen and can not be used fresh on your garden, it will first need to be composted. For good composting you need a good combination of browns (straw, wood chips, leaves, etc) and greens (fresh cut grass, quail poop, etc).
Under my cages I will start with a layer of straw. As the droppings build up, I add more hay. It helps absorb moisture and keep any smells down. Then when the pile of straw and droppings start to get the attention of my wife, usually about every 4 weeks, I just shovel it on to the near by compost pile and start with a fresh layer of straw. This way my compost has the correct mix of browns and greens and some is four weeks old and already started to compost.
Everything into the compost pile
I keep a compile of compost piles going and will wait at least a year before using the composted quail poop. You could use it sooner, maybe six months depending on pile size and weather, but I my systems allows for a year and that means I am sure it is composted.
One last thought, I have also used “fresh” compost in the bottom of newly built raised garden beds, aka lasagna gardening. It fills in some of the space saving money on top soil and will compost over time. I DO NOT recommend planting anything you plan to eat that will come in contact with the ground in these beds for the first year. So no lettuce, squash, etc. I usually plant tomatoes and peppers which seem to love it!
Egg shells equal calcium
Don’t forget to save the egg shells and add them to the compost pile as well. They will add much needed calcium to the resulting compost.
Several plants including tomatoes, peppers, and celery will benefit from having crushed egg shells added to the hole before planting.
Reason No. 4: Save money – compared to buying organic eggs, organic meat, plus fertilizer
Just being honest here, it is hard to compete with factory farm raised chicken eggs at $0.70/dozen, so don’t try. If you are talking about organic eggs and organic meats now we have a different story. Organic eggs at the stores around me start at $4/dozen and go up. You could be raising your own organic eggs, controlling the whole process and saving money. All my cost included, my quail eggs cost me about $0.45/dozen. Compared to chicken eggs at a 1:5 ratio it cost me around $2/dozen for the same as store bought organic chicken eggs. I would argue they are better quality eggs since they are fresh.
There will be the initial startup cost of getting pens and birds, but that will be spread out over the lifetime of your flock.
Great Soup/Broth from older birds
While we talked about the organic meat already, how about soup and broths. I cycle my quail on a mostly annual basis. A year+ old bird compared to one harvested at 8-9 weeks is a little tougher. I tend to cook them all day in the slow cooker. The meat will just melt in your mouth. After that, anything left, bones, fat, skin, etc. goes back in to the slow cooker. Add some vegetable scrapes (yes from the garden we grew with the fertilizer made of quail poop compost). I will add a little apple cider vinegar to make it a bone broth. Nothing better on a cold winter day.
Reason No. 5: Decrease your carbon footprint
Listen, I am not into all this mother earth, hug a tree stuff. But it just makes sense to help out where/when you can. Specifically if it means you are eating better, healthier food.
Backyard Quail are sustainable
Because they are small and require minimal space it is easy to keep and raise your own quail. Keeping a male or two to allow for fertilized eggs means you don’t need outside input to increase or replace lost members of your flock.
Cut Down on Food Miles
Food miles become food feet when you raise backyard quail. The food is fresher and no fuel was wasted. Nether by the egg factories or you in delivering it to your home. Straight from the bird to your table with only the loss of a little shoe leather.
Bonus Reason: Fresh Air
Would it really kill you to get outside EVERY day to feed and water the quail? No, it would not! Even in the cold of winter you will be going outside, getting some exercise and breathing fresh air. That is assuming your city/location has fresh air, but that is an entirely different topic.
Before you run out and get some birds…
…stop and consider the commitment
- Backyard quail are 100% dependent on you for food, shelter, and water. Are you committed to taking care of them regardless of schedules and weather?
- There are numerous predators that are a threat in the backyard, dogs, owls, snakes, and raccoons! Are you prepared to protect your birds?
- As quail age, their egg laying will diminish, are you prepared to care for a non-productive bird or to dispatch them?
- While keeping backyard quail can be cost-effective, it does have a cost. Good non-GMO feed isn’t cheap, so make sure you can afford to feed the number of birds you decide to keep
Ready to get started then check out my article on How to easily raise day old quail chicks to maturity