Quail in the house! Stephanie’s North Carolina Garden Coop

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Keeping Quail in a Backyard Chicken Coop Can you house quail in a backyard chicken coop? Quail yes!

Just ask Stephanie near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She and her son used The Garden Coop DIY chicken coop plans to build a spacious poultry paradise for a mixed flock of quail, bantam hens, and. . . read on to see what else.

SEE UPDATE BELOW

Yet even though people have been keeping quail for thousands of years, you won’t find them at the top of the list of common backyard pets.

“By far we get the most requests for chicks, and ducklings are becoming more popular as well,” says Naomi Montacre, owner of Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply in Portland, Oregon. “We do get some requests for quail, though, and we have sources to put people in touch with.”

Naomi believes that as more city folk get into raising chickens, they’ll open up to other possibilities over time. “I don’t think any bird will surpass the chicken in popularity,” she says. “It’s easy and classic. But I do know that the people who like quail really like them.”

Safe to say Stephanie is one of those people. We asked her more about her decision to include this tiny game bird in her backyard menagerie. Here’s what she told us:

I grew up in the Western North Carolina mountains and had free-range chickens there, which was the best childhood experience ever. For my birthday, I bought an incubator and decided to hatch out eight quail.

I had intended on turning them loose at my parents’ property in the mountains, but the kids and I bonded with the little guys and couldn’t bear to let them go (free-range quail are synonymous with “dinner”). They are bobwhite quail and make such a pleasant unobtrusive sound. All my neighbors love them and have enjoyed watching them grow into adults.

Quail may mean dinner for some, but it’s the quail’s tiny eggs that are the prize for many backyard fanciers. They’re considered a delicacy in many parts of the world and, although small, pack a serious nutritional punch. Quail eggs may also serve as an alternative for people with allergies to chicken eggs.

Inquisitive about quail?

Bobwhite quail in house built from The Garden Coop plans

While you may need to dig a little deeper for information on raising small game birds in your backyard (at least compared to what’s out there on chickens), if you like variety or are drawn to the docile temperment of quail, it may be well worth the research. Here are a couple of obvious places to start:

  • BackYardChickens.com Quail Forum – Yes, there’s a special quail forum on BYC.com, as well as forums for pheasants, ducks, geese, turkey, ostriches, and more.
  • The Game Bird Gazette – A how-to magazine on keeping and raising pheasants, quail, partridges, peacocks, pigeons and doves, ducks, and other game birds.

So how’s life in the coop?

Quail, chickens, chukar pheasants all share this backyard coop, built with The Garden Coop plans.Stephanie tells us that The Garden Coop has been working perfectly for all her birds. It has all the essentials for housing just about any type of poultry or backyard bird — shelter from the elements, plenty of room and height, security from flying and digging predators, light, ventilation, and easy access for care and cleaning.

More importantly, it’s something you can build yourself and customize to your needs, beautifying your backyard while helping you stay on budget. Pre-built or custom-built chicken coops often run double or triple the cost of materials, so if you have the time and like to learn new things, DIY is the way to go.

Quail and bantam hen share the roost in Chapel Hill Garden Coop poultry house

So given that sometimes birds of different feathers flock together, what’s next for Stephanie’s Carolina coop? “We’re going to incubate a few chukar pheasants to add to the mix,” she says.

UPDATE: Three and a half years later. . .

Stephanie sent us this update to let us know how the co-housing experiment played out for her birds:

I have now completed the “quail experiment.” Chickens and quail are just so different, it doesn’t really make sense to combine them housing-wise. The quail cannot be let out because they’ll fly away, whereas the chickens like to be let out every day to free range and they wander back home at dusk. Also, although either bird will eat the other’s food happily, they have different protein requirements which will make a difference in the long run.

I had always intended to release the quail into the wild to help replenish their numbers in the North Carolina mountains where deforestation and predation have really hurt them. I’m sure they are much happier there, as they were nervous little creatures and not nearly as personable as my hens.

She says her hens are still happy in the coop, and she continues to get positive feedback from those who see it.

Thanks to Stephanie for sharing her pictures and experience. Do you keep backyard birds other than chickens? Any special housing tips to share? Let us know with a reply below.

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14 Responses to “Quail in the house! Stephanie’s North Carolina Garden Coop”

  1. Ali says:

    I have a coop very similar to this and have recently moved quail in. The coop was originally designed for chickens. I see you have a ladder to allow access to the enclosed area. Do your quail use it, and if yes, did it take your quail a while for them to learn? Mine haven’t taken to it yet, but hope they will so they can get off the wet ground if needed during rain. Thanks for any advice! -ali

    • Stephanie Wilser says:

      Hi Ali, My quail didn’t use the ladder but I opened the inside access door and they flew directly up to the enclosed area only to explore. They preferred to sleep on the ground in a tight huddle as quail will do in the wild. My experience taught me that quail do not do well with hay or straw on the flooring as their feet need to remain dry and clean lest they become diseased. If you are planning to only have quail, modify by covering the floor in hardware cloth with no straw or hay to get wet and dirty. Although the quail and bantam chickens got along well, they really need different types of enclosures. I eventually released the quail in a mountain meadow where they have since reproduced (amazingly enough with all the predators!). My coop now houses five standard hens. Hope this helps!! Stephanie

  2. Melissa says:

    I have 12 baby quail and wanted to know if I could have a couple Banty hens with them. I heard that chickens have diseases that will pass to the quail?

  3. rachel says:

    We just had a baby quail move into our chicken area. So cute! They are all getting along well so far…

  4. kyielmae says:

    What are the materials used in making quail coops?

  5. Sophiathebackyardfarmer says:

    Are chickens and California quail compatible? I have 2 pet hens and I am thinking about getting 3 quail.

  6. john says:

    Do quails need a perch to roost on?

  7. kathy says:

    John, I raise jumbo Wisconsin bobwhite. If you are interested in lower amounts such as 10, 20, 50, or 100, I sell on ebay. Please check there. My seller name is katgotsteve. Thanks

  8. John says:

    I would like to raise quail, but I find most places have a minimum order of 100. I just want 10-15 to raise for educational purposes for students in Indiana. You have to have a permit for Bob Whites or Tenn. Red quail. Looking for a breeder of chicks for other varieties.

  9. Andrew says:

    Is there any good adaptation suggested to make the chicken coop compatible for chickens and quail? I’m guessing that you’d want separate feeding areas and a way to keep the quail food away from the chickens.

    • Andrew, I’m not sure what you’d do, as I’ve never kept quail. But when we’ve separated our chickens within the coop, we sectioned off the space beneath the henhouse for one group and the henhouse and remainder of the run went to the other group. That might be a starting point for you.

  10. Cherry says:

    Hi, I am from the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area but now live in Raleigh. I have taken care of other people’s chickens over the years, and when I was a child my family raised pet ducks for our pond. I was interested though in learning about bobwhite quail. I am very fond of them and think they are just adorable, but wanted to know more about them such as eating habits, roosting, their egg-laying season, etc.

    Is there a difference between the northern bobwhite and the southern ones. Are they a different breed? Also, when I was looking online they had bobwhite eggs with speckles and ones that are white. Are these also different breeds?

    • Thanks for your questions, Cherry. Hopefully, someone familiar with raising quail can reply with good answers. You might also try searching “game bird hatchery” online. Hatcheries should have specific information about different breeds of quail.

  11. Jennifer Doherty says:

    Oh how fun! I wouldn’t have thought of raising quail right along with chickens, but there you have it! Love it! :) Great post!

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