anyone raise courtnix (Japanese) quail for meat and eggs? I've done some research and would think for someone w small acreage they would be perfect! they start to lay at 6 weeks and can be butchered at 8 weeks. they need very little space and are hardier than a chicken. I'm considering ordering some come spring and hatch my own to keep the flock going. they're small enough dressing will be a breeze!
I've kept some, and they're reasonably easy to keep - but don't be fooled, they are NOT hardier or easier than chickens. They're very flighty, and die of fright or surprise (like rabbits will sometimes) quite easily. They appear to have no homing instinct so you cannot free range them, they have to be caged for their own safety. If you raise them from hatching and handle them daily they're a bit more relaxed about people, but even my hatchling babies are pretty skittish.
They will lay an egg a day as long as they get enough light, so they have that going for them. But they're not smart enough to get out of the weather, and will just sit and shiver in the rain instead of going into a shelter or even hiding under something. A solid roof to the cage is a good thing. They also refuse to eat any new food, including mealworms - if you want them to eat something, make sure they get it as chicks so they aren't scared of it. (Yes, my first batch of quail were frightened of mealworms)
When dressing for meat, the easiest way is to skin them and butterfly/spatchcock them to get the guts out. Lots of youtube videos on technique.
I raised these little guys for years - super easy to do.
They do lay eggs early, and the eggs are lovely and delicious. I found that butchering them was a lot of work for not a lot of meat - and it was dark meat at that, so not my absolute favorite.
Personally, I am looking into raising the Texas A & M quail next (and am curious if anyone out there has experience with them??) because they are supposed to be a heavier breed with good egg production and the meat is milder and less gamey than the coturnix (or pharoah D-1) quail. I'm all for more meat and more white meat at that. Although the texas breed isn't straight up white meat, it is closer to it than the other.
Our main issue was with manure - what to do with all those droppings. For little birds they poop a whole lot of poop. And everything else Danielle said is spot on. Another thing that was curious was the male's call - it sounds like a person standing in the woods flapping one of those olde fashioned saws - the ones people make music on? It was interesting and loud. Too loud for our suburban lot, it turned out, so be prepared to either butcher the males, or get used to that creepy/awesome call they do. I personally loved the sound of it, but our blockhead neighbors at the time just about had a hemorrhage over it. Now we are on our land so I don't consider it an issue at all.
I will be making a modified chicken tractor for our next bunch - one that is 24 inches tall with a softer roof and a rain cover out of flexible plastic sheeting - quail flush UP and can brain themselves on hard roofs if they get enough altitude and momentum. I have seen people make hutches for them over giant worm bins and that is a good option if the balance is right. (Enough birds to poop but not too many to overwhelm the system). A good way to make nest boxes is to cut a hole in a big milk jug and fill the bottom with sand and attach the whole thing to a wall - the birds love the seclusion and can dust bathe at the same time.
They are particularly poor setters - I never hatched out any under natural circumstances and always had to use our Hovabator to get a batch sprung. We had ours over many cold winters here in the PNW, but the lowest it got was around 5 degrees - they were cold but I would cover their coops and put them close to the north side of our house for shelter. Just make sure they are away from drafts and damp and insulate the hutch well and they should be okay...
We used that game bird feed with them as well, and introduced grubs and mealworms early b/c that thing about them being scared of new things is true to a degree. I didn't find that they powered through the feed at an alarming rate and was always surprised how long the bag lasted.
Anyhow - that's all I got. Good luck to you! You have experience with the pheasants, so quail won't be too much different!
Yeah, but how did the squirrel get in there? Was it because of the tiny ad?