I want ducks! I really do, but Paul brought up a good point, our property is pretty small and ducks will turn anything into a mud puddle. We had plans to build them a secure area with a pool, and we still might, but for now, I think we will be duck-less. I have mixed emotions about this but for now, I think it is for the best.
We still want a different egg and meat source other than chicken, so after a bit of research, we decided to give quail a try. Quail are a common backyard bird that have many benefits on a homestead.
Quail are smaller and quieter birds. They require significantly less room (1 square foot per bird, vs. chickens at 3-4 square feet per bird) and quite content living in a caged hutch. I had reservations about keeping any critter “caged” up, but apparently, quail do much better in such habitats. They don’t free range without running or flying away and they can actually do more harm to themselves in a big space. They tend to fly into things and if their habitat is too tall, they can break their necks. Apparently, they are pretty low on the totem pole of poultry intelligence. It is common to keep quail in a green house and most likely, they will be one of the occupants of our green house.
According to the available literature, quail eat less per body mass ratio and are very healthy sturdy birds. They do not roost or lay their eggs in a nesting box (they pretty much lay where ever they feel like) and start to lay at 6 weeks (versus a chicken that usually starts laying at 6 months). Male quail do not crow, so keeping both sexes is possible in a backyard setting (no pissed of neighbors is a good thing) and allows for fertilized eggs and hatching of eggs.
Quail eggs taste similar to chickens eggs, although about three times smaller. They make an adorable egg salad or egg drop soup. Quail meat is lean and tender. One quail is a serving size for one adult meal.
*All pictures are courtesy of Mother Earth News and Wikipedia.
I am looking forward to welcoming quail chicks to our homestead. They are super cute and make the cutest little chirping noise. It will be fun to have the kids collect teeny-tiny eggs.