The amazing Mr Alviti over at An English Homestead asked if we'd done a post on Building Our Quail Coop, as you can see I posted the initial build but never got around to showing us finishing it off, but you get the general gist of it. There has been a few other people interested in keeping quails so I'll try to give some of the reasons we built it the way we did and I'm happy to answer any questions people have.
One of the main considerations with quail housing is that if you give them too much headroom you might think you are doing them a favour but you could end up killing them. They startle easily and have a tendency to flush straight upwards, if you give them enough room to build up speed it is not uncommon for them to hit the roof of the enclosure and break their own necks, whereas if you keep the roof to around 12 - 14" then they don't have the room to fly upwards so generally don't attempt to. It also helps them feel enclosed and safe so you end up with much calmer birds.
If you've been following the blog you may remember the Poop post, this is the reason that the coop was built with a wire floor, if you use something with small holes, like 1/4" then it doesn't put pressure on the birds feet but still allows the muck to fall through. I would imagine you'd have to clean them out daily if you had a solid floor, and even then they'd spend a fair amount of time wading in their own filth, far better for healthy and happy birds to keep them on wire.
Using wire on all sides also goes a long way towards keeping things rat proof, which is essential as a hungry rat will be more than happy to kill and eat your birds, Unlike chickens quail aren't big enough to defend themselves from a fully grown rat.
|I actually changed the wire on this front section of the cage for a different square type of wire as even after grinding with the Dremel it was a little sharp at the ends|
Another thing quails love more than anything is to poop in their dinner. We've eliminated this fun filled pastime by having their feeders outside the cage and they put their heads through the holes and enjoy a poop free meal. Similarly we use a bottle/nipple drinker for the water and this is mounted externally too, so the Quails can be fed, watered and the muck cleaned away all without even opening the door to the coop, which means the birds are not disturbed and feel a lot ahppier with you going about your business. Some coop designs I've seen incorporate a sloped wire floor with a gap at the front so you wouldn't even have to open the cage to collect the eggs as they roll our for you, but I find this a tad too lazy, I like checking the birds then I collect the eggs and have started to hand feed them with mealworms so they are not so nervous around human hands and are far happier to be picked up and handled now, a few even let us stroke them now! To try to stop them getting bored in their we have a couple of cuttlebones mounted on the inside of the walls (which they LOVE to peck away at) and try to give them handfuls of dandelion and dock leaves, usually I poke these into the wire all around the cage and they have a whale of a time running around pecking at it and eating it.
In theory this coop could hold 2 dozen quail, we only keep them in the top half at the moment as I like the option of having a separate area in case one of them ever gets ill or injured. I also plan to build a tractor to let them semi free range when we're at home to keep an eye on them, plus it'll give me a chance to periodically disinfect the coop floor.
Hope this helps the people that are thinking of doing it themselves, please feel free to fire any questions you have at me :)