Why You Should Consider Raising Quail: The Ultimate Urban Livestock
Some people just don't understand why some of us are willing to pay $4 a dozen for farm fresh eggs. I mean why would you if you can just pick them up for a buck fifty at the grocery store? Well not everyone has had the pleasure of trying a fresh egg that hasn't been irradiated and sitting on the shelf for several months. And some of us have been spoiled and will never go back. But there's another psychological component that truly makes an egg taste even better, and that's when you've only had to walk out your back door to get it. The experience of caring for the animal that produced it for you is an incredibly satisfying experience.
If you're one of those people that travel to a local farm or visit the weekly farmer's market to get your eggs,I applaud you. I've been in that boat myself, and it's great to support local farmers. But what if you could get those eggs from YOUR backyard? I know what you're thinking, "I'm not allowed to have chickens where I live." It's true, many cities and municipalities have a ban on chickens, ducks and other poultry. If your lucky you can have a few chicken hens, but of course that limits you to eggs alone and no chance for raising your own meat. Thankfully most cities don't have a specific ban on an incredible alternative, the Coturnix Quail.
Most legal language that refers to backyard birds is targeted directly at chickens, or to farm poultry in general. This includes ducks, geese, turkeys and the like. But interestingly enough, Quail are usually considered a game bird rather than a form of poultry. And in places where game birds are regulated, the Coturnix is often not included as it is not a native species. And since it is not capable of surviving or reproducing in the wild, it is often overlooked. This opens up a great opportunity for anyone who has wanted to have their own birds or produce their own meat or eggs, but is restricted by a local government body. And here are the top reasons YOU should give it a try.
1. Healthier Food
It's not a big secret that the food most of the food available today is not healthy for us. New information is coming out constantly about the dangers of our modern diet from consumption of high fructose corn syrup and other sugars, to GMOs and pesticides. And even if we don't subscribe to all the data out there, we all know how unhealthy our food is in one way or another. And many of us brush that aside being overly busy or concerned with other life issues. And I don't blame them, I totally understand. But the fact is that we are sicker than ever before because of this modern western diet. And what's worse is the cost of real quality food compared to all the garbage that's out there. Well what if you could offset some of that cost and still get quality food by producing it yourself? Coturnix Quail are easy to raise, hardy in weather extremes and they produce a better quality egg and better quality meat than chickens.
2. Small Spaces
You might only be able to support a couple of hens in an urban backyard, and that's if the city even allows them. They need not only a space to roost, but also space to forage to one degree or another. This means a large coop and usually a run for the coop as well. The great thing about quail is that they have been bred for thousands of years to be raised in cages, and they truly are happy living that way. They are ground dwelling flock birds, so they don't roost and they feel more secure when they are around other birds. This means you can raise them in a shed or even in your garage. Many urban farmers raise hundreds of birds using just a single corner of their garage with a stacking cage system. This also keeps them out of site, which keeps them out of mind to the neighbors.
3. Hyper Production
Even the fastest growing commercial chicken breeds takes three months to reach slaughter weight. And egg layers don't reach maturity for six months. All the while you are buying feed and taking care of them without getting anything from them. Quail on the other hand reach slaughter weight and layer maturity in as little as six to eight weeks. That means you can raise twice as many birds and get eggs twice as fast. By the time a chicken has finally started laying, a quail has already layed over 100 eggs! This makes quail much more economical. If heaven forbid something were to go wrong and your chickens all died, you're another three to six months from having eggs or meat. With quail you're only a matter of weeks.
If you're thinking about getting into urban farming or just animal husbandry, quail are an excellent place to start. They are hardy in weather extremes, easy to care for and very docile. Which is why they are often referred to as "the gateway livestock." So I must warn you, if you decide to start your own adventure raising quail you just might get hooked. And who knows where your urban farming story will go from there.