How Rotational Quail Runs Work

Learn to raise quail naturally on the ground using rotational runs for a healthier environment.

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Learn How a Rotational Quail Run Works

Raising Coturnix quail on the ground began with a journey of experimentation.

Finding the right way to house this breed was a little tricky because I wasn’t sure how they would adapt to the ground.

Each set up I created offered a variety of perks and the quail thrived in all of them which was really exciting.

I wasn’t expecting such great results but what I knew for sure, Coturnix quail had no problem adapting because they have strong instincts.

My Two Favorites:

  • The Sanctuary Large set up offered so many perks, if you have the space go for it.
  •  Mobile coop.  Another favorite because it’s perfect for small flocks and urban lifestyles.

Between these two examples I also built the Quail Run that could work as a fence.  My original plan was to extend this structure to the end of our pasture but changed that concept after we decided we would eventually sell our farm.

This run was established in two sections that allowed implementing a rotational concept.

What is a Rotational Quail Coop?

A Rotational quail coop is much like rotational grazing.  This is when the land is allowed to rest and repair while the birds or animals are living and eating in another paddock.  This is the ideal situation for farming as it allows you to work the land naturally.

I believe this is why I’m always seeking mobile options or extremely large spaces for raising quail because it’s healthier for the birds and land.

This particular coop is where I raised coturnix quail, consisting of two 8 x 16 ft. runs covered in chicken wire with a door dividing each section.



Incase you didn’t know, I’ve also written a beginners guide book, Quail Getting Started.  This is for folks ready to take the plunge raising quail on the ground.

When do you Rotate?

Rotation occurs about every two weeks, this may vary depending on flock and run size; don’t forget coturnix quail require 1 square foot per bird.

Once the interior door is opened the quail travel to the new space, my job is to move their food and water ahead of time because it allows for a quick transfer.

The birds enjoy discovering their clean space and once they transfer the door is closed shut.

During those two weeks, the grass has the opportunity to repair and any sign of parasites from feces die off as their host is no longer available.

Many times, it will rain during this period which washes waste back into the soil working as fertilizer, the process is really neat and there’s no chemicals involved because you’re allowing nature to work for you.


What to do if There’s no Rainfall?

If rain doesn’t occur during the resting period then you can water down the grass with a garden hose.

A rotational system allows you to manage the land and raise healthier animals without chemicals.

In the wild animals and birds naturally rotate their living spaces.  When farmland becomes over crowded there is little space for animals to rotate; this can cause a number of health issues due to unclean living conditions.

Placing the quail on clean grass also helps deplete the concern for parasites because coturnix quail do have a tendency to mess where they nest and they’ll stay put if there’s no desire to move.

For that reason, it’s also necessary to move their shelter boxes about every two days forcing them to explore the rest of the run.

Amazing Grass Repair

When you allow the ground to repair you can expect amazing results.

This bermuda grass is an example of a resting paddock thats had time to revive and now ready for birds.  Isn’t that great?

This is what you want the ground to be like when it’s time to move your quail to a clean run.


Once the quail are settled into the new rotation they begin hunting for bugs while searching for new nest areas, corners and spaces close to walls are always a hit first.

Before long their back into a routine and enjoying their new surroundings.

This set up was a very simple build; we assembled with 2 x 4’s, pine fence boards and chicken wire.  The style is very similar to a traditional chicken run with a few changes to provide safety.

With rotational quail runs there is an increased opportunity to enhance the life of your flock while they live naturally on the ground and the best part, it’s easy to implement with basic building skills.


Learn How a Rotational Quail Run Works

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  1. Nicole Hall says:

    Do you know how much it cost you to build the rotational cage by chance?

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Nicole -I built this 3 years ago – prices have changed and will vary upon area. It’s made with eight foot 2 x 4’s, eight foot cedar fence board and chicken wire in addition to hardware. Each section is 8 x 8 if I remember correctly – You’ll have to run the numbers.

  2. Kristin says:

    I’m loving your quail articles! Thank you for taking away the fear of raising them on the ground. I have a few lingering questions…
    1. How small of a lawn is too small for a rotational setup? We have a small backyard (lawn is about 10’x18′). Plan on raising about 8 quail. Wondering the minimum amount of time before you repeat a spot.
    2. Is quail poop dangerous to humans? My kids like to play on the lawn- would I have to be really careful about “de-pooping” after each rotation so my little humans don’t pick up parasite?? This would kind of defeat some of the purpose of a rotational setup, right?
    3. We have a creeping thyme lawn as opposed to grass lawn. Does this make a difference?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Kristin,
      I have no experience with a creeping Thyme lawn so I can’t comment. Coturnix quail would be your best choice in a backyard setting and they require 1 sq. foot per bird. As for droppings they’re no more dangerous than the wild bird droppings that are on your lawn now. I’ve attached a mobile coop link that may be a good option for your space and I would recommend moving at least once a week. First observe their environment, look at the space and visually see when the coop needs moving. Hope that helps.

      1. Kristin says:

        Thank you so much! We are almost ready to take the leap. I’ll be buying your quail book soon and we’ll get to work on that coop.

        Another question that crossed my mind, are sprinklers on the lawn (every 3 days) going to be a problem? Do they do ok getting wet? We’re in California so they would probably dry off quickly.

  3. Judy Krieg says:

    Do you move all their little hiding spots (like tipped over pots, wood boxes,…) also or just have some in each side. I really like this idea!

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Judy – That would be optional but if you provide shelters in both it would be less labor in the long run. The rotational set is really awesome and the quail love it because it offers that opportunity for new discovery.

  4. Patti says:

    Totally fascinating. I never knew there was so much to raising these little cuties.

    1. Carole says:

      Most people just raise them in cages which means a lot less to consider because it’s more of a production based system. I just couldn’t do that so I implemented all types of on the ground options to learn as much as I could and discovered these birds are beyond awesome. Thanks for sharing…

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