These are cute little quail that are under a pound when full grown and are mature at 6 to 7 weeks. The ever-impulsive Mr. HenHouse bought five at a livestock auction last July.
They make the most interesting warbling sound and it appears that both male and female warble. Being so small, they hop around the box frequently, and semi-fly. We had thought about building a small aviary for them, but the males don’t do well together when fighting over a female.
While all five can fit comfortably in one box the same size as Guapo’s bachelor pad (about 3 feet long, 2 feet wide, 2 feet high), once they hit sexual maturity the males get aggressive (see point above!). I found out the hard way… I do a walkabout to check on all the birds when I get home from work. When I looked in on the quail one day, I saw one of the them standing next to the waterer, not moving. As I mentioned, these little things are constantly running around. Very active, literally bouncing off walls. Digressing a bit, I’m trying to figure out what kind of toys to get them (as I believe that bored minds lead to bad behavior). So seeing this one so still caught my attention. Poor thing had been savagely attacked, with blood and scabs all over his neck. He was immediately segregated.
And I then conducted what I call the “squeegee” test. You flip the bird over and lightly press just above the genitals. If a white substance comes out (it’s seminal fluid, not semen), it’s a boy. If nothing pops out, it’s a girl.
I ended up with 1 female and 4 males! Just my luck…
Tennessee Tuxedo (female), because she has tuxedo markings, ended up with Snow as her permanent mate. I swapped out the boys with her over several weeks and Tennessee seemed to get along the best with Snow. She was laying eggs frequently, but I’ve cut back on the light they are exposed to to let them all acclimate to spring/summer lighting. As expected, Tennessee has cut back on egg production. Like chickens, the more light they are exposed to, the more eggs you get. I expect her to ramp up soon, though.
So I now have two cages for the quail — the honeymoon suite and the bachelor pad. The boys seem to be fine together, with no female for them to fight over. I don’t see any evidence of fighting. The cages doors have clear plastic on the bottom, as you can see in the photos. This helps reduce drafts and is a design we trialed with chicks. In addition, we have white plastic (not sure what it’s called) on the floor of the cage. This a type of wall covering seen in commercial kitchens and is easy to clean and keep sanitary.
While the quail are entertaining, I still have not decided where I’m going with them. I can’t put them in with the chickens and guineas. So, do I raise and sell? Or only sell the eggs? Or is that taking on too much? I have to admit, after this winter, I need a bit of a break. The good news is that their lifespans are pretty short, about two years. Worst case, they become low maintenance pets until they die. In the meantime, I have pretty little eggs to eat!
I’ll leave you with a photo of the some of the chickens dealing with the snow. The path they are on is about 3 feet above the ground. Thankfully, the snow is mostly gone by now and they are having way too much fun free ranging.