Indigenous to the United States, bobwhite quail are known for their whistling call. Bobwhite quail are raised for hunting preserves, restocking birds in the wild, meat and eggs. Bobwhite quail are covered in adult plumage by 10 weeks of age. Their sex is determined by feather patterns at 12 weeks. The birds mature at 16 weeks.
Contact the state department of wildlife for information about raising bobwhite quail in confinement. Many states require a license or permit to raise the birds.
Purchase fertile bobwhite quail eggs from a reputable breeder. Place in a clean incubator. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation for the incubator temperature and humidity. Turn the eggs three or more times per day. The eggs hatch in 23 to 24 days.
Alternatively, you can purchase day-old bobwhite quail chicks from healthy stock. Place the chicks in a brooder. A common design for a brooder is a litter floor pen, an enclosed area inside a shed or garage with two inches of litter. Wood shavings or peanut hulls are commonly used as litter and heat lamps provide warmth. Provide one square foot of brooder space for three chicks up to 10 days of age. Afterwards provide 1 square foot of space per bird.
Set up the brooder at least 24 hours prior to adding the bobwhite quail chicks. The chicks require a temperature of about 37.8 degrees C during the first week. The temperature is reduced by five degrees F each week until the chicks are six weeks of age. If the weather is warm, the brooder is not required after the birds are six weeks old.
Purchase game bird starter feed with a protein content of 28 per cent for the young chicks. For newly hatched chicks, place the feed on a flat surface. Gradually switch to a shallow feed trough. Provide fresh clean water at all times. A half-gallon fount provides water for 50 chicks. Purchase shallow founts, specifically for quail, to prevent drowning.
Construct an outdoor pen for six-week old bobwhite quail. The pens protect the birds from predators and inclement weather. A five-foot by 10-foot pen covered with wire fencing is suitable for 50 birds. Add a shelter and cover for the birds. Switch to game bird grower feed at eight weeks of age and to a maintenance or breeder diet after 14 weeks.
Clean all pens, shelters, waterers and feed troughs carefully. Provide adequate space to prevent cannibalism Carefully inspect the birds regularly for signs of disease or pests.
Things you need
- Fertile bobwhite quail eggs or day-old chicks
- Incubator for the eggs
- Brooder for the young chicks
- Quail water founts
- Game bird starter, grower, breeding or maintenance feed
- Outdoor pen
- Alabama Cooperative Extension; The Propagation and Commercial Use of Bobwhite Quail; December 1996
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Bobwhite Quail Production; Peter A. Skewes, et al.; 2009
- Pennsylvania State University; Agriculture Alternatives; Bobwhite Quail Production; Philip J. Clauer, et al.; 2002
- Mississippi State University Extension Service; Brooding Chickens and Quail; Tom W. Smith, Jr., Ph.D.