Have you considered raising quail? Not sure what to expect the first few weeks? Keep reading to learn about my experience with buying day old quail chicks through the mail.
We ordered 50 day old quail chicks for a total of $115, which was $1.50 for each chick plus $40 shipping. We ordered them from here. It took 2 days to receive the chicks at our local post office after they were shipped. Upon opening the box there was one chick that was dead and 4 others that were barely hanging on to life. Those 4 died within an hour or so of getting home.
The brooder box was ready to go when we got them home. We just used an old plastic tub with wood shavings at the bottom. We also had a heat lamp with a red bulb in it. I chose the red bulb because I read somewhere that they preferred red bulbs. I don't now if that's true but it works and was the same price.
For the water dishes I just used some old small tupperware that I had. I put little glass stones in the bottom of the water dishes so that the chicks wouldn't drown. Apparently quail chicks are not very bright and will drown in even a little bit of water.
For food I just put chicken starter in a blender to make it very fine and put it in another small tupperware.
I filled the water 3 times a day and the food once a day. After losing 5 chicks within the first hour, 5 more died throughout the day. I was consistently checking on them so I could see them as they started to get weak. I would dip their beaks in water and show them the food but for some reason they just wouldn't move much. It didn't help that the other chicks seemed to like to stand right on top of the weak ones. Because of this I put the weak ones in a tupperware so that the healthy ones couldn't trample them. It did not help. So by the end of the day we lost 10 of them out of the 50.
By the morning 3 more chicks had died. I don't know if I had done something wrong but they seemed fine the day before and then they were just dead. All the others looked fine. I kept their water and food filled.
By the end of the day, 3 more chicks died so out of 50 chicks we have 34 left.
Today we decided that the chicks were big enough to handle a bigger feeder and waterer. They are doing just fine with it and none have drowned in the waterer.
Today I noticed that the quail started to fly up enough to get out of the plastic tubs they were in so my husband put chicken wire over the boxes so that they wouldn't fly out.
I was so excited today because we finally were able to transfer the quail from their plastic tub brooder boxes to their permanent coop. My husband made their permanent coop out of extra wood, tin and chicken wire we had laying around the farm, so although it is not the most beautiful coop it sure does provide them with a lot more room. We did not open the doors for them to use the run yet because we want them to get just a bit bigger before they are able to go outside.
Today we were able to open one of the runs for the quail. They seemed very excited to go outside. They had never been in the grass before or outside for that matter. They did not rush outside but slowly we saw a few at a time go outside and explore. We will leave the run open even at night because the weather is decent but when it starts to get cold we will close the run at night so that the quail can stay warm.
Our free range chickens were curious and went up to the run. The quail could stick their head out through the chicken wire but they couldn't actually get through it. I was worried the chickens might hurt them but there were no problems.
We now have both doors open to each run. The quail are using both runs and they all look healthy. Sometimes when we open the lid for the coop a quail will fly out. This hasn't been too much of a problem yet because when they fly out they just stand by the run where the other quail are so we are able to catch them right away. I'm hoping they continue to do that when they get out otherwise they would not survive on their own if they fly away. We are trying to be more careful when we open the lid.
We haven't had any problems with the chickens, ducks or even the dog going up to the run. They still poke their heads out of the chicken wire but luckily our dog doesn't bother them. In fact our dog doesn't even bother the chickens and ducks, both of which are free range.
Although our quail are still too young to be laying eggs I look forward to when they do. I plan to sell them at The Egg Shack (read about that here).
I do not know how to tell if they are male or female so I guess I will get a better idea of their sex when they start laying and I count the number of eggs we get each day.
Overall, the first few weeks have been great. I must admit I was very worried at first because so many of the chicks had died but after the first several days they all seemed healthy and caring for them is pretty easy. Just feed and water them each day and make sure they have an adequate living space with plenty of room and a heat lamp. They are such a nice addition to our growing farm!
Please comment to share any stories or suggestions you have about raising quail!