Keeping Quail only just occurred to me, and it has it's attractions...
So these are my questions:
- Do male quail crow?
- How much space do Quail need?
- How does their care vary from Chicken care?
For Japanese quail (other quail have different needs):
Male cocks 'call' which, IMHO, is WAY worse than a rooster crowing. It's supposed to sound like "co-tur-nix" hence the latin name for Japanese quail. It's a high-pitched trill. One male with a group of hens, where you have no other male within sight or hearing, doesn't tend to call much. As soon as you have two males in the vicinity, expect lots of competition singing at all hours, including through the night if there is ANY light near them.
Technically they only need a very small amount of space... have a look in the Turkeys, Guinea Fowl & Quail forum for more information about that. Like chooks, the more space they have (with appropriate cover, protection etc) the happier they'll be.
Quail will fly away if free ranging, so need to be kept enclosed.
Feeding as chicks (to about 6 or 8 weeks old) it's important to give them the higher protein they need compared to chook chicks. Their growth is RAPID & decent feed for quail chicks is VERY important.
They'll lay from about 8 weeks old, if they reach 8 weeks old when the day length is long (or under artificial lighting conditions).
They live anywhere from 2 years to 6 years (ish) depending on who you ask, and what conditions they're kept in.
Once adult, they can usually lay well on a complete chook layer feed - and lay daily.
Introducing new quail to an existing group can result in the death of quail - can be done but read up on how BEFORE attempting it. I do it regularly enough & have had only one incident where one quail looked like it had lost it's eye - it hadn't, and is now fine. Damage can be done in moments & blood more likely to be drawn than with chooks so, again, read up on introductions BEFORE attempting it. Young chicks generally not an issue - but from about 4 weeks plus can be a problem.
Cholesterol level in quail eggs WAY higher than in chook eggs - they're VERY rich & mostly yolk. Very tasty, and particularly yummy in mashed potato instead of using chook eggs, and because they have a stronger taste you don't need to use many.
They get similar illnesses to chooks - coccidiosis & worms being the most common - treating with chook products for those is fine & in the water is ideal.
They drink a LOT compared to chooks, in my opinion, so allow a large water container compared to the size of the quail.
They supposedly lay 'all over the place' but mine lay in one of two clay pots I have in their aviary which are placed on their side with soil in the bottom - they love laying in there, and newbies to the aviary soon start to lay there, copying the older hens. I have one pot near the door so I can reach for the eggs without having to step inside.
Mice will eat them & their eggs, so make sure any enclosure is mouse-proof. Eggs will 'vanish' & quail feathers be eaten as first signs... or chicks can be killed & eaten completely - although you'd have those under heat anyway.
They love to have lots of cover to hide behind & under.
They poo like you wouldn't believe & you'll have to have a 'plan' to deal with that... I just break up any caked up layers of poop & water them into the substrate, as my aviary is on the ground (with mesh underneath to deter predators) so water drains away & I have plants in there, too.
They eat almost everything ! It's taken me several attempts to find some plants that they haven't destroyed in under a day. They love greens if they have no access to grass.
Enjoy dust bathing even more than chooks do, I reckon. I have a tyre filled with sand for my lot & often all five are in there flapping about like a 'splash' bath. They do kick things all over the place, so the sand is now a mix of sand & the rest of the types of stuff I originally put on the ground for them - pea straw, rice hulls, bark, and stuff like that.