Planting native grass is key for a natural quail habitat; especially if you’re raising bobwhites because they use grass for nesting and seed forage. I was very fortunate prior to getting started with quail because our 4 acres was covered in a variety of native grass which means I utilized those lush areas.
In the beginning, I raised coturnix using a mobile coop. Native grass really wasn’t a big deal for them but it was nice to have pastures where it was plentiful. My focus with this domestic breed was self-reliance and they had little interest in foraging for seed, they preferred grass for nesting and egg laying. This didn’t bother me because I could see they enjoyed having access to the bugs that were hiding in the grass.
Later I decided to move them from their mobile coop to the new sanctuary where my attention was focused on utilizing an existing structure over what the grass looked like. At the time, there was minimal in this area because originally, we used that space for growing large crops. View here.
When I decided to introduce the farm to bobwhite quail it was apparent planting additional grass seed was necessary because I wanted the sanctuary to replicate what bobwhite quail utilize in the wild. Most of this effort involved me digging up native pasture grass and incorporating it into the sanctuary.
Types of Native Grass
If you’ve decided to raise bobwhite quail then knowing what type of native grass to plant is really important. Native grass will provide plenty of coverage for nesting and food, which makes for a happy and healthy quail habitat; coturnix quail would also enjoy.
There are many native grass varieties and your options will vary depending on where you live. I’ve chosen a few, the most common which are easy to incorporate in any stationary habitat. I went ahead and linked most of them and some could be growing on your land right now.
- Little and Big Blue Stem Grass
- Eastern Gama Grass
- Indian Grass
- Tall Nut Grass – common in pastures, most refer to as a weed.
- Sideoat Grama Grass
- Wild Rye Grass
What Makes this Grass Special?
Native grass is special because it provides shelter and food for quail. Once the grass dries it folds over making the shape of a dome or tunnel where quail nest underneath. Bobwhite quail won’t stay in the same nesting place for very long and will move continuously seeking new shelter and food.
Because of this, it’s important to have additional areas where tall grass appears so they can naturally rotate nests as they do in the wild. This type of setting utilizes their instincts and it’s no surprise they love being on the ground, they camouflage perfectly.
They can fly but if given the preference they travel by foot through tall grass.
Planting a variety of three grasses offers a nice mix that will continue growing and even rest through some of the seasons depending on temperature.
Where to Purchase Grass Seed
Purchasing native grass can be a little tricky depending on available resources. We have this tendency to head to the big box store for everything and I’m going to recommend skipping that instinct because unfortunately they won’t have the knowledge to help.
Begin at small business/privately owned nurseries first or small feed stores. Many times, these specialty businesses sell native grass in pound bag mixes and if they don’t have what you’re looking for they may be able to offer a helpful resource.
Additional options would be to expand your search online, I’ve found a few listed below and please keep in mind I haven’t purchased at any of them, I did look over their websites and noticed they all offer a nice inventory. Love that first one, it’s a family-owned business from Texas.
If you have additional resources on this topic please share in the comments.
How to Plant this Grass
Whenever you plant anything we all know the key to a successful germination and growing period has to do with the foundation of the soil. Make sure you’re planting during the correct season; the soil has been tilled and fertilized prior to adding new seed. This means you’ll have to prepare your stationary coop prior to your quail moving in.
I know this sounds like a lot of work but in reality, it’s more about careful planning and applying common sense. Beyond planting native grass, you can also plant a nice variety of additional edible plants to compliment the grass, get those ideas here.
Raising bobwhite quail in a natural environment is fun and the experience will bring you a lot of joy in addition to some self-reliance. Always choose native grass that will compliment a healthy environment for your quail. I hope you enjoyed and if I can answer any questions please leave your question in the comments.