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Raising small livestock on a permaculture homestead can have many advantages over large livestock, especially on an urban or suburban farm. Of all the livestock I’ve raised Coturnix Quail are my favorite for a lot of reasons. Here are 9 reasons you might want to start raising them too.
1. Small Footprint
If you’re limited on space for raising livestock then Coturnix Quail are an excellent choice. You need roughly one square foot per quail. For example, a 30″x36″ rabbit cage like this one from Amazon can easily house 4 hens and 1 rooster quail.
Quail can be raised in a garage or shed or outdoors in an appropriate pen or a tractor. In true permaculture form, a tractor is an excellent way to function stack, and integrate your quail. You can pull a tractor through a garden area and use your quail for soil preparation.
2. High Quality Meat
Of any meat I could toss on the grill or put in the oven, I prefer quail meat above all others. Perhaps most wouldn’t go that far but without a doubt, quail meat is some high-quality, great-tasting meat.
I’ve personally eaten it in about every way you can prepare it and have never been disappointed in the taste. Grill it, Bake it, BBQ it, Smoke it, Fry it, add it anywhere you might add chicken or rabbit meat and it will be delicious!
3. Very Easy To Process
One advantage to raising small livestock is the ease of processing but none are as easy and quick as quail. With a little practice you can cull, butcher, clean, and bag a quail for the freezer in just a few short minutes. I also like that there isn’t a lot of leftover waste to get rid of.
4. Delicious and Nutritious Eggs
I love quail eggs for a lot of reasons but there are a couple of things about them I don’t like. First, the things I like. Quail eggs are low in fat and high in a variety of vitamins and minerals.
1 Quail Egg (9 Grams) Contains
|Choline||4% of the Daily Value (DV)|
|Riboflavin||6% of the DV|
|Folate||2% of the DV|
|Pantothenic acid||3% of the DV|
|Vitamin A||2% of the DV|
|Vitamin B12||6% of the DV|
|Iron||2% of the DV|
|Phosphorus||2% of the DV|
|Selenium||5% of the DV|
So what do I not like about quail eggs? I have to be honest, the size of the eggs makes them difficult to work with. When cracking them to cook with it takes a lot of them and it’s hard to handle cracking the eggs without crumbling some shell into the dish. They are also hard to peel if you hard boil them.
If you are going to use a lot of quail eggs as I do then a quail egg cutter is a must. This simple little kitchen utensil has saved me many hours of agony in the kitchen because of the number of quail eggs I cook with. You can find a quail egg cutter on Amazon to make your life happier.
5. Useful Manure
Just like chicken manure, quail manure is a useful product for the garden but should be composted first. The high nitrogen in quail manure can damage plants if added directly to the garden.
Opinions vary on the best carbon to manure ratio for composting quail manure but I like to go with a 3 to 1 ratio. That’s 75% carbon, (which could include things like bedding material, leaves, paper, etc.) to 25% manure. This mixture turned appropriately in the right temperature and moisture conditions should provide you with rich compost for the garden in approximately 90 days.
6. Quick Turn Around
It is amazing how fast you can go from an egg to a mature quail laying an egg. Let me just take you through the timeline. A quail lays an egg you then put that egg in the incubator and 18 days later a quail chick emerges, it spends 4 weeks in a brooder and then moves to its permanent home, and 2-3 weeks later the quail is fully mature and laying eggs. That’s about a 9-week turn around which I find absolutely amazing!
As a side note, I want to mention the incubator I use to hatch quail eggs. The Farm Innovators Model 4250 with the automatic turning quail egg rails has provided me with hundreds of quail over the years. There may be better ones on the market but I have no complaints about this incubator.
7. Tolerate Heat and Cold Very Well
Where I live winter temperatures can routinely get below 0°F and summers can get over 100°F and neither seems to bother the quail. Like any small livestock, you need to protect them from the elements and keep them dry. Make sure your quail have plenty of fresh water, shade, and good air circulation on hot days and dry shelter with protection from the wind in the winter and they do well.
8. Inexpensive To Raise
A good incubator, a homemade brooder and some cages with feeders and water and you’re in business. If you buy your feed in bulk and supplement with forage like comfrey or other vegetation they enjoy and you’ll find it doesn’t take much money to care for them.
Quail are messy birds with their food, slinging it out of the feeders when they have a chance. A trick that can keep this from happening when in cages is to mount feeders on the outside of the cage that the quail can access by reaching their heads through the cage holes. This doesn’t allow them to sling it as easily and not waste as much food.
Raising quail on the ground is another option that keeps them from wasting food. As they sling the food out of the feeders they will just eat it from the ground later.
9. Income Opportunity
There are a few great options for making money when it comes to raising quail. I have found there is a high demand and relatively low supply of quail eggs for hatching for those who want to start raising quail. This creates a wonderful opportunity for anyone wanting to provide fertilized eggs. Selling chicks is also an option to supply eager future quail raisers.
When it comes to selling eggs for consumption, quail eggs provide a wonderful opportunity. It seems like there are always plenty of people offering chicken eggs for sale but offering quail eggs for sale will set you apart from the crowd.
If you want to sell quail meat I believe this could be another great opportunity. Because of their quick turnaround and ease of processing, quail could be an excellent livestock for this purpose.
If you can find quail or eggs to hatch locally that would probably be your best option for getting started but there are also some great hatcheries online you can order from. McMurray Hatchery is one such reputable hatchery among many that sell Coturnix Quail chicks that will ship right to your local post office.
There you have it, 9 great reasons to add Coturnix Quail to your permaculture homestead. I hope you will consider it because after years of raising quail on my homestead I’ve never regretted it and it has supplied me and my family with thousands of eggs and hundreds of pounds of meat. Happy Homesteading!
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