The costs of keeping Japanese (Coturnix) Quail

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Keeping quail is fairly easy and good fun but only if you like taking care of animals obviously.

When you’re thinking about getting into keeping birds for the first time sure you would want to start with something that’s easy to keep and where you can learn the basics of it as you go. 

Well, Japanese (Coturnix) Quail is just the perfect choice for that purpose. By the time you read through our website you'll have enough knowledge to start your first flock.

Your next question will be the costs of keeping quail, I guess.

It’s impossible to tell the exact costs, as prices are constantly changing; they’re differing by location too and also are subject to the quantity of goods purchased. For example say that you pay £10.00 for a bag of quail feed at your local farm supplier’s if you buy just one bag per week but  you would probably be able to make a deal of £8.50/bag if you bought 10 bags per week from them. Services costs, like water rates and electricity costs are different too. For these reasons I haven’t included any money calculations here but I’ve constructed a small but fairly accurate calculator that will give you the average amount of feed and water that your quail will consume in a day. It will also show you the electricity usage which is on the basis of providing 14 hrs of lighting per day for your quail. These calculations do not come from any scientific research but have been made on the bases of our own experience and they’re about right as well.

If you keep Japanese quail even just for a hobby, you will still get egg production, which is great, especially if you concern about your health. Well, our little calculator will give you an idea of your average egg production that you can expect too.

Obviously I could not make a calculator that would list all the aspects of quail keeping costs as there could be various onetime costs depending on your circumstances. I would add two more items to the recurring costs, and they are wood shavings for their bedding and rat poison for pest control. Now, these are also impossible to calculate on a daily costs basis as you may keep your quail in an aviary, or a large pen, where you will need less of the above as you would keep them in cages. As an idea, if you keep your quail in cages you can count with around 5Kg of wood shavings per 100 birds per week. With regards to pest control you just keep placing the poison down until it finally stays there.

 

Now let’s talk about the onetime costs.

Again, I won’t write any Pound Sterling amounts here, as costs are totally different depending on your requirements on quantity and of course quality. All I’m going to do is note down some stuff that you may need to get if you want to keep Coturnix quail.

First of all, you will need space for them. You can keep Japanese quail outside in a rabbit hutch if you want but that’s the last thing that I would recommend. The reason is simple; Japanese quail does not like wet and windy conditions. If you get a shed however, you can provide them with dry and wind-free conditions which they will thank you for with lots of little quail eggs. An 8’ x 6’ wooden shed will provide more than enough space for the amount of quails that you would want to keep if you wanted to provide your family of 4-5 with quail eggs for example.

Next thing is to do is to build cages for your quail. You may ask now, why do you need cages for them? You don’t necessary, you can keep them on the floor of your shed and they’ll be just fine but it’s a lot better organized and controllable if they’re in cages, believe me. They don’t mind at all as long as you provide them with enough space in there to run around a bit. In a standard size cage or converted rabbit hutch (4’ x 2’) you can comfortably keep around 12 Japanese quail. In addition to that Japanese quail will lay incomparable better in cages than in large pens. Right, there are not many specific quail cages around that you can buy so unless you build them yourself your next best option is to pick up a rabbit hutch and convert it into a quail cage. How you do it is up to you and obviously depends on the actual design of the original hutch too but you have one important thing to bear in mind; quail need light to feel good! So remove as much covering from the hutch as you can. I know there’s not much to do there but some hutches have 2 doors per tier with one leading to the dark hideout as rabbits do like their dark little caves but quail don’t need any of that. You may think it’s going to be good as a nest box. Well, quail don’t use nest boxes so you would only waste space as they would only ever walk in there by accident. So basically replace any darkened solid filled part of the door/doors with welded wire mesh, ideally ½” x 1” size. Now, if you’re lucky enough to have a space large enough to place your quail cage, I mean transformed rabbit hutch somehow in the middle of the shed or narrow side to the wall, basically to expose the front and the back of it, then you should definitely try to remove the rear backing panel of the hutch and replace it with a ½” x 1” welded wire mesh. This will provide your quail a bit more freedom-like feeling and they’ll be more relaxed.

Next thing you’ll need is lighting. If you want your quail to lay well all year round then you’ll have to provide them about 14 hrs of light per day. This should be a warm white light source and not a sharp bright light, otherwise your birds will get aggressive and start to fight. I would recommend a 4’ fluorescent light with warm white tube. I you want to go “greener” than that nowadays you can get low power consumption LED light tubes instead. These are more expensive but you’ll save on power and apparently they last virtually forever. In addition to that depending on where your shed is positioned you’ll have to think about a suitable power lead to supply the power to the shed. If this is lead externally it will have to be an armed cable for safety reasons. Please consult with an electrician if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

Next thing you’ll need is drinkers and feeders for your quail. There are so many types of drinkers and feeders out there that is really just your personal choice what type you prefer. My personal favourites are the through feeders and drinkers that you can fit to the outside of the cage. This way first of all you’ll save space in your cage and secondarily your birds will not mess into their feed and water. To my experience this is much more organized, cleaner and healthier setup than placing the drinkers and feeders inside the cage. To achieve this all you need to do is to cut large enough holes in the mesh (not too large though) to allow your quail to push their heads through. You can get plastic or galvanized feeders and drinkers.

There is one more thing that worth investing into and that is pest control. Do not neglect this, it’s very important. Your birds and their feed will attract pests and you don’t really want mice and even worse rats running around your yard, do you? Depending on the quantity of the feed that you need to store you’ll have to get a suitable container to store it in. A feed box or a plastic drum with lid would suit on a small scale. You should also get mice traps and poison and place them around in your shed. 

Your last item will be the birds themselves. A Japanese quail can live between 2 and 4 years of age so these costs are not really onetime costs but then again not too frequent either. The price of the adult Coturnix quail varies between £4.00 and £7.00 for a hen and between £1.00 and £3.00 for a cockerel. This again depends on the quantity purchased. Try to source them from good breeders as you will pay a higher price at petshops.

Right, let’s summarize what you’ll need presuming that you have nothing for a start:

1.       Place for your quail – shed, barn, stable, etc.

2.       Cage(s) 4’ x 2’ floor area for every 12 birds

3.       Lighting and power lead.

4.       Drinkers and feeders

5.       Feed box or drum

6.       Mice traps and/or poison

These are the onetime costs (except from the rat poison) that you’ll have to count with if you want to start keeping quail.

 

The calculator below will give you a nice idea of your recurring costs of keeping Japanese quail. It will show you how many cockerels you'll need to have fertile eggs, how many eggs you can expect, how much feed and water will be used and also, how much electricity will be needed for their lighting. All the calculated results are on a “per day” basis.

Just type in the number of quail layers (hens) that you would like to keep in the box below then click “Get Results”... and...Voila!

Quail Keeping Costs Calculator

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