Apart from meat, egg production is probably the most common reason why farmers raise quails, hence, the need to get the whole process right. Nesting boxes are important tools in poultry farming, and you might be wondering whether quails need them when laying.
Do Quails Need A Nesting Box? Roosting bar and nesting boxes are not necessary parts of quail housing, although nesting boxes might improve the productivity of quail hens. Quail are the smallest poultry birds, thus their housing should be safe and enclosed to protect them from predators and prevent them from flying away.
Do Quails Need A Lot Of Space To Live In?
Quails are among the smallest categories of poultry birds and they do not need as much space as other larger birds to thrive. An area covering about 1 square foot for each bird is more than ideal for quails.
Among a lot of animals raised for their produce, quails are classified as one of the easiest species to handle because of their simple feeding habits and personality. Quails are also great to raise because they provide a source of both meat and eggs, which are both highly sought after.
The right type and amount of food, supplements, and medicine, and a sufficient amount of space will improve a quail’s performance and output.
Quails are not very large, and their space demands are also moderate. On average, your quails need a spacing of 1 square foot per bird to feel comfortable. This spacing offers them enough room to walk around, eat, exercise, and hide.
There should also be some spacing when it comes to their feeding containers and drinking outlets since quails can get competitive when feeding. Quail feeders should be spaced at about 1 inch while their watering outlets should be spaced at one-third of an inch.
The spacing in a quail enclosure can be affected by the purpose for which you are raising the birds. If you are breeding quails for game hunting, it is better if they are physically active, helping them grow into fast, strong fliers.
Quails that are raised for hunting might need at least 2 square feet of space per bird for the best results. Such an increased space is important as it gives the quails more room to exercise their wings, maybe even fly around, making them perfect for hunting.
Quails that are raised for meat do not need up to 2 square feet per bird since exercise is not necessary. In fact, placing quails for meat in large enclosures can be detrimental because their constant moving around can make them lean, reducing their meat content.
Apart from the amount of space needed by quails on the ground, you also need to consider the height of the quail’s enclosure. This factor is important because quails fly, meaning they will need some vertical room to be able to move around freely within the enclosure.
When startled, quails get skittish and will instinctively fly upwards at a rapid speed. Since this might happen quite often, it is important that the height of the enclosure is neither too high nor too low, since startled quails can fly straight into the roof of the enclosure and get injured.
For a regular quail enclosure, the recommended height is 12 inches (30 cm or 1 foot). At this height, quails will have a sufficient area for movement, but the roof will not be high enough for quails to slam into with damaging force when startled.
At first, this might seem a bit low, but you can also have the roof higher like 6 feet, high enough so that you can walk in the enclosure. Such a walk-in system described above makes it easier for you to have close contact with the quails. Also, it is perfect for quails that are raised for hunting as their flight abilities will be refined.
Do Quails Need A Nesting Box?
Getting a nesting box for your quail hens can be very helpful for them overall since the nesting box will make them feel a lot more comfortable when laying eggs.
Quail won’t build nests as chickens do, so when you think of giving your quail a nesting box it isn’t necessary so that they can lay their eggs in a nest rather it can be more beneficial because you provide them a safe space.
When it comes to laying eggs, quails are not very picky as they can lay eggs anywhere in their pen if a nesting box is not provided. While nesting boxes are not absolutely compulsory, they can go a long way in helping the productivity of quail hens.
It is possible for female quails to get uncomfortable and anxious if there is no separate, comfy spot for them to lay their eggs. The presence of a nesting box in a quail enclosure can provide a feeling of security and privacy for the quails.
One major factor to note about nesting boxes is that they should be installed in a calm environment. Quails can get startled easily, and females that are about to lay an egg are even more nervous than the average quail.
If the nesting box is not in a relaxing area, then the chances of your quail hen laying there will reduce drastically, sometimes to zero. This means that your quails are likely to reduce how often they lay, and sometimes they might stop laying altogether if they are under stress.
Nesting Box Advantages
As mentioned above, quails will feel safer when they have a spot to lay their eggs. If the nesting box provides enough calm, it can positively affect the rate of egg production.
- Easy Egg Collection
The presence of a nesting box will also make it easier for you to collect their eggs since they will all be gathered in one place.
- Fewer Broken Eggs
A nesting box will also reduce the chances of encountering cracked or broken eggs. If quails lay eggs at random in their pen, these eggs might accidentally get cracked by the birds when moving around.
Since the nesting box is a safe enclosure, the eggs will be protected and will likely be found whole.
Setting Up A Nesting Box
Setting up a quail nesting box is a simple task as long as you get the positioning and dimensions right. A nesting box is simply a wooden box with an opening in front through which the quails will enter and leave.
- Size and Shape
The size of the nesting box should be determined by the size of the quails that you are raising.
As long as your nesting box has enough room for a quail to sit comfortably, then you are good to go. Also, the nesting box can either be a square or a rectangle, as either shape will be appropriate as long as the size is right.
Knowing where to place your nesting box is another vital factor that can affect the chances of your quails laying in the box. You can decide to simply place the box on the ground in a secluded part of the quail house.
Alternatively, you can fix the nesting box to the wall of the enclosure, at a height that is slightly above the ground. The more isolated the box is, the higher the feeling of safety.
Some like to give them nesting materials like leaves, straw, and corn husks. But all they do with the nesting material is pick through it and throw it around. You don’t really need to provide them with nesting material.
Exceptions: The Button Quail
You should note that not all breeds of quails will look forward to laying in a nesting box. For instance, the button quail is not likely to use a nesting box, no matter how comfy or nicely set up it is. The button quail is also known as the Chinese painted quail and it is the smallest quail breed in the world.
Button quails prefer to lay their eggs in holes in the sand, rather than in dedicated nests. Also, button quails might lay eggs at random spots in their enclosure, without any preference. If you are raising button quails, installing nesting boxes is completely unnecessary.
How To Set Up A Quail House
When setting up a quail house, you need to take note of the essential components, which include the fence, floor roof, nesting box, and dust bath sand. Getting each of the components right will help provide the best environment for your quails.
Building a proper enclosure for quails is important because it can directly affect how they live; their feeding, reproduction, safety, and overall behavior. Below, we will break down the all-important parts of a quail house and how you should set them up.
The bottom of a quail’s house is one of the most important considerations to make since it is directly intertwined with the type of enclosure to make. You can either choose a wire cage that will be placed above the ground or a floor pen that is placed on the floor.
In each of these options, there are advantages or disadvantages that should help you choose which you prefer.
- Wire Cage
If you choose to build or purchase a wire cage for quails, hygiene will be a major advantage for you. Wire cages have a lot of space at their bottom, meaning that fecal matter will simply drop through the bottom, and out of the cage.
Spilled food and water will also be able to get rid of easily with a wire cage since they will fall through the wire at the bottom of the cage. When the contaminants in the bird enclosure fall out themselves, it reduces the need for you to clean up often.
Also, with a wire cage, your eggs will be cleaner than in a floor pen because there is no dirt in the cage that can stain the eggs.
- Floor Pen
With floor pens, you have the option of either building the enclosure over the natural ground, or over a regular floor, usually made from cement.
By breeding quails on natural earth, you will not need to spend any money on building a concrete floor. Also, a natural floor can help quails feel like they are in a natural environment, and they can peck the to find seeds, grit, and insects.
If you are using a concrete floor, it can be easily cleaned up as opposed to natural ground. Concrete is solid, so you can simply sweep and wash the surface thoroughly. Also, concrete is durable and can be used for years, unlike earth which can be eroded and changed every once in a while
When raising quails on a concrete floor, the floor should be covered by wood shavings that are around 4 inches deep. These shavings act as bedding, providing warmth and comfort for quails.
The walls of quail houses are made from wire mesh since it is cost-effective and provides unlimited ventilation. You should avoid using chicken wire for the fence since it is too big for quails. Use a wire mesh with a diameter of about 0.25 inches (7 mm).
Quails have a lot of predators such as snakes, foxes, dogs, owls, cats, and other smaller animals that might not attack them directly but might steal their eggs and food. It is important to have a strong wire fence with tiny holes so that these predators are kept away.
You should keep in mind that quails are naturally fragile birds and they are very susceptible to diseases. To ensure maximum health, your quail enclosure should be separated from wild birds and other poultry birds like chickens, as they can get your quails infected easily.
Since quails can fly, it is important that the top of their enclosure be closed off, keeping them from escaping. Apart from keeping quails from getting out, a proper (1 foot high) roof will also prevent potential predators from attacking and entering from above.
Earlier in the article, we mentioned that quails fly upwards very fast if they are threatened and they can slam into the roof of their house at high speeds. Installing the roof to the right height is a good way to prevent injuries.
If you would like to further increase security you can stretch out a soft net below the roof which will definitely prevent injuries when they suddenly fly upwards when startled.
Cultivating plants in your quail enclosure is a great way to make the pen feel as natural as possible. The presence of plants can give your quails comfortable spots where they can rest and hide away from the heat on a sunny day.
Do Quails Need A Dust Bath?
Dust bathing is a practice that is common among a lot of birds including quails, and it is a rather important process as it helps remove parasites and keep the feathers in good condition.
Animals engage in different grooming processes to maintain good health, and in the case of birds, dust baths are a necessity. Parasites like mites and lice are always looking for places to live, and the feathers of birds are a good option.
When quails dust themselves, the parasites hiding in their feathers will be removed and the feathers will be made smoother. By setting up a dust bath in your quail house, the quails can groom themselves, staying clean and healthy.
How To Protect Quails From Cold
Quails are built to withstand cold temperatures, and some breeds, such as the Coturnix are more resistant to cold than others. The birds usually huddle together in the winter, but you can find ways to help them stay warm in cold weather.
- Seal Off The Sides
First, you can close off some sides of your quail enclosure to keep out the cold. If the quail house has four sides made from wire mesh, you can block off three of them, leaving just one open for ventilation.
- Comfortable Bedding
You can also add bedding made from wood shavings as this can help conserve heat. Beddings are very necessary for quail enclosures that have cement floors because cement tends to get very cold.
- Heat Lamps or Light Bulbs
Heat lamps or light bulbs are additional ways that you can provide heat to the quails, ensuring that they are comfortable in cold weather.