Getting Started


Interested in raising quail or other game birds? First you will need a cage.

A good general guideline is to have two square feet allotted for every adult bird. My cages are made of scrap lumber and chicken wire. I used small hogrings to attach the wire to the wood. Construction does not have to be overly robust, as walls made of wire won't encounter many shear forces from the wind, and need only keep small birds inside. The bottom half of the cage, however, should be made sturdy enough to prevent animals such as skunks, cats, or dogs from breaking in. It is also wise to extend the chicken wire a foot into the ground so that animals cannot tunnel in or out.

Your cage will also become a magnet for neighborhood cooper's hawks (link), which are fond of killing the birds by sending the birds into a panic and then grabbing their heads as they poke them out of the wire openings. I solved this problem by lining the lower 8 inches of the cages with thin boards. To make construction easier, my first cage was only six feet tall. With the exception of coturnix quail, however, all the quail varieties like flying to high perches at night, and every additional foot of height is thus greatly appreciated. My largest cage is eight feet wide, fourteen feet long, and eight feet high.

General guidelines

1. Commerical hatcheries typically have a ratio of one male to 3 or more females. This is done to minimize territorial disputes between aggressive males, and is adequate for fertility purposes.

2. Give your birds a place where they can have shelter from the rain and shade from the hot sun. Also, cover the food and the water so that they don't get drenched in downpours

3. Purina "Game Bird Chow" comes in different varieties depending on the bird's stage in life. This is a good feed, but expensive. I have found Turkey Starters and Growers to be adequate. I also mix in chicken scratch for adult birds. They particularly seem to like milo and wheat.

4. Birds raised on processed feeds love fresh fruit, vegetables, and GREENS.

5. Keep the cage clean and put the feed in a place where rats can't get to them. Cockroaches can be a problem if the cage isn't clean.

Hatching and Raising Chicks

Hatching and raising baby quail can be fun but is not for the faint of heart. The little birds are very delicate and need outside warmth. Using a normal light bulb as a brooding lamp is often a problem, because it induces the chicks to pick at each other and even cannibalize each other (!). I solved this by spraypainting the lightbulbs blue. You can always buy commercial brooders but they're rather expensive, and how serious are you about all this anyway?

It's best to raise the birds in brooding cages until they're large enough to go outdoors. This is usually around 4 weeks or so.

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by Ming Kuo