Episode-1071- Raising Quail for Eggs and Meat with MoonvalleyPrepper — 95 Comments

  1. Any concerns about feeding them an entirely grain diet? No free range, no bugs, no greens or berries, etc? I know I try to avoid that set up with chickens.

    Will they eat a more varied diet?

    • I would like to start supplementing their feed with more insects, seeds and sprouts. This year I plan on working to produce as much of their feed as I can through meal worms, black soldier fly larva, sprouts and growing seeds crops for them.

      I did try feeding them weeds that had gone to seed and some bird feeder plants, millet mostly, that volunteered under my bird feeders. They enjoy it and peck at it until it falls through the bottom cage. I think this is another area where a tractor design will shine, being able to add weeds and garden waste to be processed by the birds.

      Even with out supplemental feed they do seem to be doing fine on the Purina game bird starter, but they are omnivores and will enjoy as varied as a diet as you can provide them.

  2. .
    Just a thought…

    Maybe the quail can’t fly because they were raised in captivity, and haven’t developed the muscle tone that they would have in the wild…?

    • Your probably right. I’ll be interested to see if one’s that are kept out in the tractor this summer will be able to fly, I’m planning on giving them more head room when their outside.

      • they can fly and if you put them out in a tractor without a roof you will lose them all.

  3. When you guys were talking about the protein percentage of the feed, I couldn’t help but think that raising mealworms would *really* help. It’s ridiculously easy to do, takes up nearly no space (you can raise thousands in a simple small plastic drawer system, like the Sterilite ones at Wal-Mart), and would provide lots of protein (and fun!) for the birds.

    • I’m very interested in raising weal worms to help supplement the feed. I’m also thinking Black soldier flies, and sprouts might be a great addition as well.

      That’s a great idea about the plastic drawer system, I think I have an old one of those laying around somewhere.

  4. I can’t do chickens in my rural town — I need two acres (ya I know). I can get away with this!

    • Depends on your situation. Look into it and see if it’s for you. If you just want egg layers they are almost completely silent and will live for a couple years.

      • I raised these quail a few years back on the back deck of my condo. No problems. Any questions and they were just “song birds”. Even wrote an article on it that got into Back Woods Home.


  5. Oh Jack…you’re so romantic. “Don’t forget to stop and buy some crap on the way home.”
    Yeah, get that over with so you don’t have to sleep in the chicken coop, dog house, garage, park…..! hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Um…ladies had better be buying some crap for the ol’ man too ya know! It’s not just “ladies day”. Marc Rudov HATES Valentine’s Day.

  6. I would be interested to know how he raises rabbits and fish also. Does he sell rabbit/fish for money or is it all for personal use. I think I heard in the show that the quail are mostly for personal use/food. Great show!

    • All personal use, and gifts. My rabbits are in pretty much your standard hanging wire hutches. I’ll document they trials and tribulations of the rabbit tractor idea this summer.

  7. Holy cow, am I now inspired to do this! Living in a typical rural neighborhood, I knew my options for raising meet and gardening are limited, but now there is hope.
    Is there a link to a step-by-step start-up process for a newbie? I’ve already found quail and eggs on CL, but would like to have everything in place before acquiring them. Thanks.

    Loved this episode!

    • Do some Googling, check YouTube, and check out the links in the show notes, then give it a try. Pretty much everything you need to know is out there.

      I would bet you could raise the females in any situation you could keep pet birds.

      Good luck!

  8. I cant wait to see your quail tractors. I am very interestedin this now. I cannot wait to get started.

  9. I really enjoyed the show. Lots of ideas now
    I am definitely doing the quail tractor project. I was also thinking you could sell the quail eggs to the local Sushi restaurants since you often get the eggs with sushi if you can get enough to make it worth their while.
    I am also thinking about trying a similar tractor system with Chuckers.

    Thank you both

    • Depending on your location you could totally sell eggs to a sushi restaurant.

      Where I am there are lots of pieces of paper that you are required to buy, permits, to be able to sell to a restaurant. I am allowed to make individual sales direct to consumers if I have under 3,000 hens though.

  10. This was a truly wonderful show. I was worried that these birds would be in heavily confined, cramped quarters and have no quality of life but their turn over time is so fast that it’s a constant rotation of birds.

    This sure sounds like something I will try. Plus I paint on turkey feathers so I’d be harvesting feathers to embellish my finished painted feather. Not much of these birds would go to waste. I’m ALWAYS begging for Wood Duck feathers, pheasant feathers, turkey feathers, any pretty feathers. I’m even saving some of the feathers from my Plymouth Rock hens.

  11. When I do the math on the feed cost for food cost its not looking pretty. I calculate $15 for feed to produce the equivalent in $7.50 in store bought chicken eggs. I calculate $7.50 for a meal of 3 quail. Which is 3/4lb to 1lb of quail. What do you guys calculate?

    A quail egg weights about 1/3oz a chicken egg 1.25 oz to 2.5 oz A bag of feed for quail $25 for 50lbs roughly can get it a bit cheaper. So 50cents per pound for feed. Quail eat 2.5 lbs per month. 2 months to raise one or $2.50 per quail. 12 hens laying 10 eggs per day which is about one small chicken egg per day in equivalence. That’s 30 chicken eggs per month in equivalence. That would be say $7.50 in chicken eggs. But we are feeding 12 birds $1.50 each in feed per month. or $18 per month and we have males to feed also.

    You may like quail eggs and meat and that’s fine. But I don’t see how its a good thing to raise unless you can grow much of your own feed. If you could get the feed cost in half it might compete with chicken in cost. I’m talking about store bought chicken. Or am I missing something?

      • Larry, I’d bet money that if you tractored them , fed them fodder, and fed them mealworms, you’d seriously reduce your feed bill. They’re also omnivores, so they can clean up your table scraps just like chickens would, and that will also reduce the feed bill.

        You might also try out the calculations comparing them to purely organic eggs (which are usually a lot more expensive) and/or free range eggs.

        Other things to think about, although they might not have a real calculated cost, are:
        – the chicken meat you get from the store has been pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics
        – the chickens themselves have lived absolutely *horrible* lives, with no space to move, beaks cut off so they don’t peck each other to death in their high-stress cages, never seeing daylight, never having scratched a piece of dirt or eaten a bug
        – you can compost your quail droppings and fertilize your garden; whereas the waste from industry chickens goes into poop lagoons, leaking down into the water supply in a concentrated form
        – you never have to worry about getting a “tainted” bird that the FDA hasn’t caught yet

        Think of it this way: you can treat them just like tiny chickens. Brad works 60hrs a week and this is the best way for *him* to feed and raise them with the little bit of time he has. Someone with more time could easily do things like grow feed, put them in a chicken run, tractor them, etc etc (basically treat them just like chickens) and bring down the cost of raising them exponentially.

      • I’d say $2 -$2.50 a meat bird is about right, so $6-$7.50/ pound. Right now on Google quail meat is selling for about $15 – $20 / pound. Not free or chicken CFO prices, but a gourmet meal at a blue collar price.

        I definitely want to work towards producing as much feed for them as possible, since it will directly lower the meat cost.

        The laying hens cost about $1 -$1.25 each to feed and lay roughly 24 – 26 eggs a month. So about $1 for two dozen eggs, which is equivalent to about 4 chicken eggs. So the equivalent to getting a dozen chicken eggs for $3/dozen.

        So similar cost to chicken eggs, but with much higher nutritional value. Also smaller space requirements.

        I don’t really think its the bird your looking for if your going for lowest cost, but it does offer an exotic meal at a reasonable cost. I always joke that I can’t afford to eat as well as I do, and since I need small scale I have to pay a little bit of a premium.

        Glad you liked the show!

        • ok Ya I miss figured the eggs I think. I think I was figuring a week instead of a month on the eggs. My grandfather raised corn for his dairy cows. He I assume let the corn dry on the stalk, picked it then run it trough a pto driven grinder. He run corn and cob through. Probably even husk, silk, corn and cob, but I don’t recall if he said. It might be worth for those who have a tractor leasing a few acres to grow some corn. Maybe soy beans as well. Could just grind the whole plants beans and all up to make feed. The animals don’t mind the extra fiber usually. Sorghum might be another good plant to grow for this.

        • Yep so you numbers are 3-4 times to high. Keeping in mind that Brad is doing this as a way to have quality protein and keeping his work to a minimum. That alone will up costs. You pay for stuff in labor or money, your choice, when you are working 60+ hours some has to be in money.

          My tractors should cut feed costs, say by 20-30% easy. Adding meal worms would take another 10% if you did it real low tech, low key and low effort. That starts to get real attractive.

          Lastly again we must compare quail to quail not quail to chicken for an accurate ROI. I mean you can say what ever you wish but a 4×2 foot print won’t get close to this out put with chickens, it really isn’t big enough for one chicken as far as I am concerned.

        • Oh, my grandfather grew his corn, got about 100 bushels per acre on a good year. He didn’t irrigate it but did apply nitrogen fertilizer to help it through dry spell grandma said. He ground up husk, corn, silk and cob and mixed it half and half with cotton seed meal that he bought. I assume the cotton seed meal was a protein source. I’m wondering if the birds would eat the cotton seed meal. He fed this to his horses and dairy cattle. He had a grainery and they said mice would get into it. I guess there was so much there that the mice couldn’t eat much of it really.

  12. Oh! Also – Jack, you mentioned finding a line of rabbits that can take the Texas heat.
    Just head over to Texas A&M and get some of their rabbits. They’ve been bred specifically to handle the heat down there, and the university sells them to people who want to breed rabbits.

    • I believe you are speaking of AlTex rabbits, a terminal sire breed bred for meat production and heat tolerance. Find a rabbit supplier further south than where you live, you should be fine. Selective breeding will produce an animal that is genetically adapted to your climate.

      I live in ag zone 10A in south Florida, in town (on a quarter acre, mind you), and have an AlTex buck along with three New Zealand does, and they tolerate the Florida summers just fine. I lose about two months of breeding time due to the summer heat (The buck goes sterile), but have perfectly good production rates the rest of the year. I’ve had rabbits here for almost four years now.

      I also raise quail, chickens, and Muscovy ducks. I started with the chickens, then added quail a few years ago due to better production numbers than chickens. I added Muscovies since they require almost zero inputs. I’ll probably not replace my chickens as they graduate to the Dutch Oven, and will increase quail (for eggs) and Muscovy (because they are almost free food).

      The 6 Muscovies I have forage for themselves in my fenced yard, swim in my 35 gallon fountain about once a week, and rarely eat any of the layer mash or three grain scratch I put out for them. They seem to prefer grazing on the grass, weeds, and insects. If you want low-input birds, these would be it. Egg production is far less than quail or chickens though.

      Thanks for the motivation, Brad….I’m firing up my incubator this week to increase my quail numbers 🙂


  13. What a great show today… just listened to the podcast. Your presentation and information has really changed my mind in regard to raising quail.
    Congratulations on your success and thanks for sharing it with us! I got a lot of great ideas cookin’ now!

    • Thanks for the kind words.

      Check a few of those links out in the show notes, and if your situation allows give it a go. I have been very impressed with how productive and hardy these little buggers are. Feel free to contact me on the forums if you have any questions.

      Good luck!

  14. Can’t wait to hear this episode – these little bastards eat my seedlings every year! It would be much better to actually get some production out of a few of them that I (ahem) snatch from time to time. I do have bird netting ready to go this spring, so I think this time around they can kiss my a$$ as far as eating my seedlings! 😀

    • We have so many of these wild, and rabbits, in northern NV, that if anyone even got suspicious, you just blame it on the coyotes (which we have tons of too). Good ol’ circle of life…. 😉

  15. Question. Is there a reason that you did not want to use bobwhite quail? Are the too big or are their egg production lower than the breed you use? Thanks! P.S. Great show!

    • Glad you liked the show!

      You could probably do the same thing with bobwhites. From what I’ve read bobwhites will get bigger than that Coturnix, Japanese, quail. They also take about twice as long to do so, ~16 weeks. So more time for a larger bird. The bobwhites are also a little more wild and prefer to have a fly pen once they have developed.

      The bobwhite also don’t lay nearly as many eggs per year as the Coturnix, about 50% – 60% of what the Coturnix lay. I think 150/year compared to 300+/year.

      Now if you wanted to seed some birds at a BOL, and just keep some feeders and water to help keep them around bobwhites, Tennessee reds or any other new world variety might be what your looking for.

      Each one has it’s strengths and weaknesses, just depends on what your situation is. Different tools for different fools 😉

  16. Great timing! I’ve been wanting to get into quail for a long time so I look forward to listening to this when I get a chance.

    • Awesome!

      Let me know if you have any questions, I’ll check back here periodically or feel free to get a hold of me on the forums. There’s lots of great info out there, and some good resources in the show notes to get you started.

      • Great show. I think I have enough information right now and can’t think of any questions that haven’t already been asked. Thanks for sharing everything!

  17. I am buying a house with 1.3 acres in our town at the end of the mo. I have been interested in this because the local city just made chickens more difficult ($270 permit/approval process) neighbor input ect. It seems like you could use the sprouting system recently talked about on the show with raising quail. I don’t know how the costs would stack up, but it seems like a reasonable way to marry two good ideas together. I would also like more info about raising Tilapia in a pool you briefly talked about. Great show and great idea!

    • Depending on where you live you might be required to buy some papers from the local, city or state gov. to raise game birds. Alternatively, you could befriend your neighbors, make sure it’s not a nuisance, and be very considerate of their concerns. Also bribing with free eggs, meat and compost goes a long way with the right people.

      I’m very excited to start sprouting for the quail and the rabbits. I think it will be a great way to cut feed costs and give them a more nutritionally varied diet. From what I’ve researched the feed savings can be up to 50% for rabbits fed sprouts, so even just doing it for them would make the ROI of the fodder system worth it in a short time.

      For the fish I basically just setup an 8′ dia Intex swimming pool and filled it most of the way up. I used this as sort of a grow out container for the fish. Watered the garden with the fish water, sump pump and a hose then refilled the pool with ground water. Seemed to work out pretty well, nothing fancy just a cheap, $35 1,000 gallon tank. Not sure on the longevity of it, but I got it used and it’s work for me for 2 seasons.

  18. Great show. Brad is so practical. How easy would it be to scale down to say a dozen layers? Please have him back to give his practical approach to tilapia also.

    • It would be very practical to scale it down, that’s actually how I started. For 12 layers you could keep them in something as small as 2′ x 2′ 9″ tall. My laying pens are setup exactly this way. Once I was happy with them and convinced they would work, I just replicated the system to add more cages. Small and scalable solutions 😉

      • Hey Brad, that relates to my question. How long to the layers live?

        If you wanted to do meat production warmer months only and keep the egg layers going all winter would that work? Suppose someone had the layers in the garage, and had a tractor system for the eatin’ birds that they used in the spring/summer/fall. Do you think you could keep that group of layers that you develop through the summer going all winter and then start hatching again the next spring? I’m way more interested in producing eggs than I am in harvesting little birds for meat.
        I’m in MN

    • Yeah, I was on for a little over 3 hrs last night. Lots of great questions. If you have any questions feel free to ask them here or get a hold of me on the forums.

    • yes, I thought so.. there were a bunch of us on the survival podcast channel. were we in the wrong place? I was there from 4pm (PST) until nearly 8pm

      • You might have been in the wrong channel. I’m not super familiar with Zello, I had logged in and listened before but only a handful of times. I got on a little before 8pm est and stayed on until a little after 11pm est.

        It seemed like we had a new round of questions every hour, not sure of the time zone difference threw people off. In between quail questions there was some fun conversations about guns, meteors, star trek, and other randomness.

        Feel free to chime in with any questions you have if you missed the Q&A.

        • *groan* there are 2 channels.. The survival podcast.. and The survival podcast network. NOTE TO ALL: it’s the network one..

  19. Great show and information. Can you provide a some additional information about the PVC that is used for the feed trays. All I can see in the pictures is the back and I’m trying to understand what the side that faces the cage looks like. They look like a really great idea that I would like to use even for my chickens, turkeys, and ducks when they are small. With the feed trays that I get from Tractor Supply, I end up wasting more feed than the birds eat.

    • I’ll snap a few more pics from the back angle as soon as I get a chance, a couple of others were asking about this on Zello last night. It’s basically just a slot cut about 1.5″-2″ wide, almost the entire length, that they can stick their heads in.

      I’m working about 25hrs this weekend so I probably won’t update the pics until early next week, but if I find I’ll update sooner.

  20. This was such an awesome show. I think I have the wife talked into doing quail in the garage! I am stuck in suburbia for awhile, so this would be an awesome way to supplement our diets with high-quality protein!

    Thanks moonvalleyprepper! You are so practical and inspiring.

    • Thanks for the compliments, and glad you enjoyed it! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need anything clarified.

  21. I’ve been keeping a half-dozen quail in a bottomless cage on the ground for a couple months now, and I’m finding they definitely don’t scratch like chickens like I had hoped. They do seem to nest (and bathe) in a shallow depression bare dirt, but they do not eat/scratch weeds or grass, rather they just hide in it. That said, if anybody is thinking a quail tractor will work like as well as a chicken tractor, you will get the manure but not the weed control and not the scratching that you will get with chickens.

    Question for Brad: How do you sex quail?

    • The males have a rust colored breast, while the females have a speckled breast, at least the Japanese one’s do. If you have something like the Texas A&M you have to flip them over and look.

      Great info about the open bottom cages, thanks!

  22. Can you compost their waste just like you would with chickens? Would they also eat kitchen scraps like chickens. I hate to compare but I’m weighing the pros and cons for both.

    On a side note I vaguely remember having hard boiled quail eggs in the Philippines but was too young to really remember how my father took care of them. I have really great memories of pan fried quails though!

  23. Sorry for the simpleton questions. Found all the info I needed on the forums. Thanks for this episode! I’m super excited! Way to get everyone fired up…

  24. Interesting show. The economics don’t look that good, but they are cute. This might be a good application for spouted grains. In addition worms from compost? Quail are sensitive to wet moist areas. I was thinking that you could release some of your male quail who could come and go and forage outside..I would think that the males might keep close to the caged females.. any thoughts.?

    • I don’t know if the males would stick around or not. I think the neighbors cat might get them, but depending on your situation it could work and might be worth an experiment.

  25. Ok just listen to the show have to throw my 2 cents in here.
    The food you cant store long term at least the purina it starts losing nutrients at 3 months this came straight from a nutrishinst at purina which if you call them they will talk to anyone ask your local feed store for the number.
    Next the chicken nipples i did not have any luck with them and the quail they work great for chickens not quail. Thats all i have for now. Thanks

    • I don’t doubt a Purina rep would tell you that, after all they want you to throw out that old nasty food and buy fresh stuff. I’m sure the stuff I get from the feed store is at least a few months old, not from sitting on their shelf but being passed along the distribution chain. I also keep a couple months supply on hand.

      I really have no way of testing the protein % after this wait, but it doesn’t seem to affect the birds at all. No bad smells, no birds turn their beaks up at it. I’m not sure how it would hold up after a year +, but 3 months expiration time kinda seems like an expiration date on bottled water to me.

      Thanks for the info though!

  26. Something that wasn’t touched on–Incubator energy consumption. Could you expand on this? How much energy does the incubator use? How many days does one run it? Very good interview by the way

    • One more reason I want to get a kill-a-watt. The Top hatch incubator uses a 75w bulb for heat, I think, then a small amount for the turner. I know Little Giant makes a 12vdc one so it can’t have to much of a power draw.

      Incubate for 17-18 days.

      • I have a kill-a-watt thingy. It works great and does what its supposed to do. Just remember not to glance at it an think, “Oh it only used 118” kilowatts.. then to realize it was showing volts at the time you read it. Also it doesn’t have a lighted display so don’t think you can pull it from the wall socket up close to read it. As soon as you do it wipes the data. ha

  27. I have some old books on raising quail.
    and in them it talks of pulling out the extra male , And keeping them in a dark pen to fatten them up faster.
    Any thoughts on this ? Thanks

    • I’ve never heard of that before. I wonder why you would put them in a dark pen. Seems a little cruel to deprive them of light for their last few weeks alive. I’m not sure on this one, I guess I would wonder why the dark pen?

  28. Great show. I just started looking into quail a couple weeks ago, so this was a real treat to listen to.

    Two questions:

    1. Is there a way to sex them or do you just wait to see if they lay or crow?

    2. Could you describe the setup you have for housing your layers a little more. I couldn’t quite picture how you have it set up to where the eggs roll forward.

    Thanks for all the information.

    • You can sex the regular Cotournix colour phase by the feathers on their chest. There are vids on Youtube that show far better than I can describe. With the all white Texas A&M variety, the best I could do was isolate them for a day and see if they drop an egg. If so they are good egg laying females; if not, they are either male or poor layers, either way…


      • Males have a rust colored breast, females have a speckled breast. I have pics of both on my flicker link up top.

        You can also vent sex them by flipping them over. The males have a white foamy substance near their vents. Also what Ben said about isolating and determining by egg laying works.

  29. moonvalleyprepper, Do you have any recomendations for places to buy eggs and or chicks to get started?


    • I checked craigslist and found 3 people who were selling chicks for $1 each. They seemed to be up every few weeks and took orders to hold them. If you haven’t hatched eggs before I would definitely start with chicks.

  30. Absolutely awesome show. I raised these for several years back in my condo days. Hearing your story is like listening to a kindrid spirit. The story about worrying about the neighbours hearing the males only to find out they had no idea actually happened to me almost exactly.


  31. Thanks Ben!

    They are a lot of fun, very interesting and entertaining critters to keep. That’s pretty awesome that you were able to keep them in a condo, I’ve suspected apt dwellers could get away with some egg layers as long as they didn’t get too crazy with it. I couldn’t believe my neighbor had no idea until I told him, oh well he thought it was pretty cool anyways.

    • I kept a thin table cloth over them most of the time. From the ground, my cages just looked like a plant table. Had over 50 at one point. Of course it helped that the neighbour at the time had a *puf cough* smoking habit that I kept quit about, so he wasn’t in a position to turn me in…

  32. I’m really late listening to this show but I also started raising quail in my suburban neighborhood last year. I did initially raise them in a tractor and they seemed to love it and were doing great until disaster struck. They were discovered by rats and we lost 7 birds in 5 days out of the 20 we had. We now have them in the same A-frame pen but it is totally enclosed with wire and the floor is raised off the ground. We also moved them further away from the fence to a completely different side of the yard. I would highly caution that if you are going to tractor during the day that you lock them in an enclosed rat-proof structure at night.

    • Good point Mouse. I found muddy cat (possibly racoon) tracks on the tarp I threw over quail tractor a couple nights ago. It has an open bottom, but I’ve staked the tractor into the ground to keep them safe.

      They are of laying age but have not started yet – I wonder if I should add some artificial light to increase their photo-period or just wait for longer days to arrive.

  33. Brad, I’m in Port Huron and would love to see your setup first hand and maybe purchase some of your eggs. I’ve never raised any livestock at all, but have been considering rabbits and now quail. If you interested, hit me up at

  34. Great info! I just picked up a small flock for my trial run. I’d like to build something similar to what you have. Could you take some pictures of the PVC feeders and a shot of your whole cage setup? Thanks for sharing!

  35. another great podcast.
    Moonvalleyprepper, did you get a chance to snap a few more pix of the pvc feeder troughs you are using?

  36. for your fresh quail egg you can get it at kaye farm 5, popoola street afobaje estate otta ogun state call 08055320992 or 07030793266

  37. Excellent episode! I hadn’t ever thought of Quail (city boy). I’m now moving to AG/Residential zoned home and for sure on to do list. I’ve not found much “quality” instructional information on the web relating to Quail but Brad has really painted a good picture of how to get started. I’m in south Florida so it will be interesting how they will handle the heat. Kudos Jack, great show.