Jul 18, 2012

Building our Quail Coop

I had never considered keeping quail until a generous Facebook fan, (aka: enabler) Christa K, of Rose Shadow Ranch, offered me some hatching eggs. Being a card carrying hatch-a-holic, the answer was a resounding "YES Please!" Christa gave me the Cliff Notes version of how to hatch and raise quail and before I knew it, the eggs were at my doorstep. Given that Coturnix quail take an average of 16 days to hatch, I knew that accommodations would need to be made immediately.
My husband and I sketched out our blueprint on a napkin in a restaurant based on features I told him I wanted: smallish, low ceiling, good ventilation, predator proof, run underneath and removable droppings board. We both envisioned a coop that would be architecturally consistent with our Little Deuce Coop that my husband had built the previous winter. Some of what we hoped to achieve materialized and some did not, but we learned some things along the way and are ultimately very happy with the result. I believe the quail are too.

4/21/12: The location to the left of the Little Deuce Coop was chosen for its level ground and shade.
 4/28/12: Construction begins.
 4/28/12 End of construction day one. The height was much too tall and it was cut down the next day.
 4/29/12 Leftover hardwood from our original house construction serves as the coop floor.
 Leftover Tyvek from the Little Deuce Coop shores up the roof.
Small lack of concentration delays the project ever so slightly.
That makes two coops built, two cords severed. (don't look at me!)
 Droppings board access slot and framed. Ventilation holes cut on two sides.
 4/29/12 Roof finished with cedar shingles and Penelope inspects at the end of day 2.
 5/5/12 Doors attached to front and back.
Ventilation holes to be fitted with rust-resistant, decorative floor registers.
5/10/12 The quail hatched. Operation Quail Habitat goes into overdrive.
Day old Coturnix quail eagerly await their new diggs.

 5/12/12 The coop walls are shingled & circular saw is back in business with a new power cord.
 Access ramp installed (but not for long).
Hardware cloth fitted for run underneath coop, apron dug & hardware cloth buried.
 5/12/12 Day 3 of construction ends with all shingles in place.
 5/18/12 Playhouse window arrives & installed.
 5/27/12 The inside construction begins. The plan was to have a wire floor over the slide-out droppings board.
 5/27/12 In order for the suspended wire floor to be removable for cleaning it had to be hinged, which didn't look or perform as hoped. It sagged and the quail found a way to climb under it but couldn't get out of the droppings area.
The pop door leading to the run also left a lot to be desired by way of design, aesthetics and performance.  It sagged and had to be removed prior to removing the droppings board. (engineers: breathe at this point, it all works out in the end!)
 5/27/12 The droppings board looked good and should've worked (in theory) but was difficult to remove due to the weird pop door access.

Quail do not need traditional nest boxes. Although they do like privacy, often their eggs will be laid on the floor. When they are closer to laying age, I will make little birdhouse type nests for them but they need not be permanently affixed to the coop.  Quail also do not roost at night, so no roosts were required.
The run can be accessed by a hardware-cloth covered door at the back of the coop.
 After living with the set-up for a while, we learned that while the quail were happy to go down the ramp to the run, they would not walk back up the ramp. Live and learn. They're not chickens. They also cannot be allowed to range freely as chickens can because they will not return.

We tore out the suspended floor and droppings board and made a ventilation window of the slot.
 The finished coop.
We added little thresholds to keep the bedding in place and a removable dust bath area.
We suspended a homemade poultry nipple waterer that they took to like ducks to water.
 The Little Deuce Coop in the background and the Mini Me quail coop.
 The last revisions were to add screen doors to both sides of the coop. This allows for excellent ventilation and lots of light to keep the egg layers working.
 Occupants diggin' their new house. 
 Room with a view.
 White Coturnix quail.
 Female Tuxedo quail (don't ask how I know that, just trust me).
  View from our back deck.
I don't want my Button quail to feel left out...
 They're perfectly happy in a hamster cage that we keep on a dedicated shelf inside our big coop.
 I asked for a quail volunteer for this photo shoot, but they're not fond of sitting still.


  1. Wow, your place is absolutely beautiful. Photo #35, GORGEOUS!!!!!!

  2. Maura Wieczorek8/2/12, 8:57 PM

    Love this.....we are just starting to get into quail. Thanks!

  3. Quail rule!!!!!

  4. I WANT to build one now!! LOL they are so neat!! Would love to do an AVIARY here! research research!!
    Thanks Kathy! Sally

  5. If the quail don't come back or will not climb the run into the coop then I have to build a coop to house them permanently. The ones I keep are for breeder purposes and the offspring when mature I can release into the garden. Hopefully they stick around to eat buggs before deciding to look for some meadow or woodlands.

  6. O.K. so if they won't go up the ramp you just keep them in the coop, is that correct? And the wire around the bottom is for protection from predators only?

  7. TheChickenChick4/14/13, 7:28 PM

    Yes and yes. :)

  8. You're so clever. Well done to you and your hubby x

  9. If you are not using the run underneath afterall, an idea might be to make a small worm bed, feed the worms leftover quail feed along with other compost bits and bobs. Nice healthy worms are often gobbled up as an extra protein source for the quail. You could even plant a few little veggies in the corners for some extra fresh occasional greens for the quail.

  10. TheChickenChick6/10/13, 5:42 PM

    Great ideas!

  11. That looks great! I really want to get started raising some birds, I assumed quail would be a 'small and easy' way to start. But what do you recommend. Also I would love some good book recommends. I keep looking at library books and internet info, but I still feel I just don't have a clue! And I won't bring little bird lives into my care until I know how to care for them!

  12. I highly recommend Raising Chickens for Dummies as a great starter book AND Chicken Health for Dummies to have on-hand. I'd start with chickens- I like my quail well enough but they are not as personable or interactive as chickens are.

  13. Do you have the dimensions of the coop? Its looks great!

  14. I love what you did for your quail. i have recently started raising quail myself and i am wondering what are you using for bedding in the quail coup?

  15. TheChickenChick11/10/13, 8:01 PM

    We use horse stall wood pellets or sand. Quail ADORE sand!

  16. Do you think it's possible to train quail to go home to roost each night? What a pity they are not like chickens! Guess I'll have to redo my sketchup drawing.
    BTW I love the shingles! I wish I could go back and redo the my coop, but I already spent to much money.

    Great job!

  17. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 6:07 PM

    Not really. Some quail can be hand-trained, but not most and certainly not as a flock.

  18. Brandon MacDonald2/22/14, 7:46 PM

    Wow! Love this idea of a double decker coop/hutch! This gave me a really good idea on what I'm doing with my bunny hutch! All of your coops are amazing! Thanks for sharing:)

  19. TheChickenChick2/22/14, 7:51 PM

    Thanks Brandon!

  20. Thanks for the info, and great pics, I was wondering if I could use a coop that is far too small for my chickens now, and adapt it for the quail I'm incubating. Now I know to remove the ramp and will use the bottom for a worm farm- great idea from Tina!

  21. we had a button Quail, named Boing... he(?) was a school project the kids hatched them out. we had Boing in a 20 gallon Long fish tank, we did build a wood frame and wire for the top. they can "pop" up quite a ways.. There for the name "Boing" He was a fun little bit, the cats and dog were very curious. all was well, he was just short lived we only had him a bout 15 months... sad. We buried him and put a blue spruce over top the tree is amazing, and that is only 12 years later. The Boing tree carries on.

  22. Glenn Stanford11/16/14, 11:34 AM

    Hello everyone, The assumption that you can't let quail out to "free range" is false. The key is to not let all out together, that away the ones in the coop will call the ones outside back to their home. You must leave a way for the ones that are out to reenter when they come back to the coop/house. Check for some videos on Utube for ideas to make access for your type of set up.

  23. Glenn, I'm very interested in what you say, but I can't see anything on Youtube about this. Can you post links?


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