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Valley Quail in the backyard

Raising Gamebirds > Brooding and Raising

Valley Quail in the backyard

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Since I've started raising quail (4 days ago), the question I frequently get asked is, "do they have those cute bobs on their heads?"

I would want to raise Valley Quail mostly for fun, and not for meat and eggs like the Coturnix. They could be a Mother's day gift for my wife.

I haven't found as much in depth information on the internet about raising Valley Quail in your backyard as I have for the Coturnix. Most seem to be wildlife guides.

I live on an 8000 sq ft lot, one of the biggest lots in the neighborhood!  :wink:  It backs up to a greenspace adjoining a forested wetlands with brush.

My questions are:
What kind of facilities would I plan on building for them?
Do they nest or go broody in captivity? (might determine if I start with adults or eggs).
Do I need a permit of some sort? I didn't with the coturnix, because they are not a native game bird in this state.

My ultimate dream would be to train them to return to a range feeder like this one in between shrubs, skillfully avoiding any neighborhood cats:

Of course, I'm cheap so I would build it out of recycled Yoshida plastic barrels. Possibly with a call bird.

Another possibility would be a quail tractor of sorts with partial shelter and wire base to keep out predators. I'm building breeder cages for the Coturnix, but Valley Quail may need something different as I've read they are not as good in cages.

Note that I don't have room for a 80x100 flight pen, unless I can drape netting over the top of my two story house and tie it down at the edges of my property. And I'm sure I'd get complaints from the neighborhood association.  :(

Thanks for any insights.


I kept my Valley quail in a small chicken tractor and they never seemed to have a problem.  They got used to me moving them daily.  You might want to look at making a small Johnny House.   I've contemplated doing the same.  I'm not sure they'd stick around though.  These guys like to head for the hills whenever they get a chance. .  We live on two acres in town.  Our situation sounds very similar to yours.  They are also fun just to keep in large rabbit cages so you can hear them sing.  Nice birds to have around.  Mine layed eggs in captivity, never went broody.  In Texas we need permits, not sure about your state.  Definitely check the your wildlife and game dept.  The only problem I saw with keeping these birds in cages was the males are very territorial and will butcher anything else they can get to if there are other males in the area.

Did you only keep one male per cage, then? Was that also the case in your quail tractor?

Did you find that you needed any sort of roost in your quail tractor? Does it have an indoor portion?

The first idea I've had for a small quail tractor is a 3x5 rectangle covered on the bottom with 1/2inch wire. The indoor portion would be provided by a plastic barrel cut in half lengthwise and laying down to form a dome type house. This sounds adequate for some Coturnix but I'm not sure for Valley quails.

Johnny House idea sounds good. Like you, I'm not sure they'd stick around. Maybe if I kept a call bird or two. . .

Also not sure how they would like the sprinklers if the tractor is on my lawn.  :wink:

Once they reached maturity I had to separate them 1 male to 3 females.  This was in the cage and tractor.  I did not use a roost.  I used milk crates, you know the ones that you're not supposed to steal.  I fashioned a littel roof on the carton and they would all huddle inside that at night.  They could get in through the side handle holes.  Your barrel idea would work better than the milk crates.

There were two occasions where I had a male and a female get out.  They headed for the neighbors property and I thought that was the last I'd see of them.  Later that night, after dark, I went out to look at the quail and the two that escaped were laid out flat against the side of the tractor.  They were called back - so a JH might work for a small amount of quail.  Let a few out and keep a large recall set back until you can 'trust' them.

Pics of the milk crates I'm talking about.

What is a Johnny house?


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