Should you start raising quail in the fall? This is a common question that readers ask me all the time.
The answer is really based on your goals and the breed you plan to raise, because there’s several factors to consider.
I raise my quail at ground level, so the following tips are based on a natural environment.
Should you begin raising Quail in the Fall?
Raising quail first begins with deciding on a few key factors these include:
- What are you raising quail for? Eggs, meat or release?
- Which quail breed are you interested in? – Domestic quail/Coturnix (AKA Japanese Quail) or native breeds?
- What type of housing will you offer? – Large or small, this will need to be established in advance.
Raising for Eggs, Meat or Release?
I raise quail specifically for three reasons – eggs, meat and release. This is followed by enjoyment because I absolutely love these little birds.
Well, I guess we could say, four reasons…
When choosing a breed, you really need to decide what your goals are first because:
- Quail have a short life span between 3 and 4 years.
- They’re seasonal egg layers that follow nature within warmer temperatures and hours of daylight.
This means, if you specifically want to raise quail solely for eggs, then wait until Spring if your bird of choice is coturnix quail. They mature between 6-8 weeks and begin laying eggs in the spring and stop in the early fall.
If you want to raise this breed for just meat, then get a flock now to raise out and process before winter arrives.
We always process coturnix around 11 weeks and take note these quail are not for releasing into nature.
If you’re a quail beginner, then I highly recommend my book – Quail Getting Started.
I wrote this specifially for those wanting to begin raising quail on the ground. With that being said, “It’s a beginner’s guide” Focusing on what you need to know to get started raising quail in a natural environment without skipping steps.
If you’re wanting to raise quail in cages off the ground, then this isn’t the book for you.
What About Native Breeds?
This is where it gets tricky because native breeds are completely different than raising Coturnix quail. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise because that would be false information.
I love native breeds because they’re more active in a natural environment.
We raise bobwhites mainly for meat and release because they’re not the greatest egg producers.
They’re eggs are actually a little smaller than Coturnix if you can believe it.
However, I do allow my flock to lay eggs so they can incubate and raise their chicks. I’ve experienced this several times and it’s pretty awesome. Learn more about that here.
If this is also a goal then yes, begin with bobwhites now as this will allow you to thin out additional males for meat prior to winter.
When spring arrives, females will begin to lay eggs when daylight hours and temperatures increase.
At this point the birds will have reached full maturity to take things further on their own.
When bobwhites are provided with a natural home you have a good chance, they’ll want to grow their flock.
The key here is to be hand’s off and allow them to be birds. I know this is hard, because they’re so cute!
But, believe me this is really important espeically if you plan to release.
Let me also say, you’ll be intrigued just by standing back and watching their activity, it’s pretty awesome and how I learned so much about coturnix and bobwhite quail.
Raising Native Breeds to Release in the Fall
Here’s where it gets interesting with Bobwhites because their hunting season in our area begins the end of October – February. I never release birds during this time because my goal is to help repopulate.
With that being said, I have no problem with people hunting the land for food as that is a very natural activity.
If raising bobwhite for release is on your radar then go ahead and begin with chicks now. This will allow you to raise a healthy, mature flock over winter and release after hunting season.
I would also recommend holding back a small portion of that flock for yourself so when they begin laying eggs in the spring you can either incubate their eggs or let them do that for you.
This will prevent having to purchase more quail and help you continue releasing over the summer.
As you can see, if you want to raise quail in the fall, you’ll have a few things to consider. Quail are different than chickens and not a bird that I’ve ever referred to as “Pets” because they have such a short lifespan.
If you’re looking to improve your homestead or even add something neat to your garden area then raising quail might be a neat option.
First figure out your goals and this includes how to house, then you’ll know if fall is the right time for you to begin.