Raising quail has become very popular in recent years in many farms, homesteads, and even homes.
Quail do not require a lot of space, which is great for a smaller setup. Quail such as the Coturnix quickly mature in 6-8 weeks, where chickens can take up to 6 months. Though quail lay smaller eggs, they are consistent layers, laying up to 300 eggs a year. Quail are a great dual purpose bird if you are looking to raise a breed that is good for both meat and eggs. The benefits of raising quail just keeps on going.
There is one downside though, that many who raise quail will mention – quail poop, a lot!
If you are new to raising quail, you will learn very early on that quail can start to smell a little quicker than some other types of poultry. Here are some tips to help ensure your quail are happy, healthy, and smell great too!
Keep It Clean
The first step in keeping quail smells away is to keep them clean. Dry, poop free bedding that is changed frequently will keep any smells at bay. A great bedding to use is pine shavings. This is readily available and is not too expensive. Compressed pine pellets that are normally used for equine stables make a great bedding alternative as well. Some like to incorporate construction sand into their coop setup. The birds love to dust bath in the construction sand, and you can scoop to clean as you would cat litter.
Hemp bedding has also become quite popular for quail and other poultry flocks. This allows for absorption of moisture and smells right into the bedding to be composted for the garden when it is changed routinely for fresh bedding. This way, their refuse can be a great fertilizer for your garden or flower bed. Don’t waste free fertilizer when it literally is given to you by your tiny, short statured flock. Stay away from straw and hay as it will hold smells and moisture badly and will cause foul odors. Also, cedar chips can be very harmful to birds and can cause respiratory ailments.
Commercial Quail Coop Cleaning Products
There are plenty of commercial scent control products available at your local feed store. SWEET PDZ Chicken Coop Refresher is great for easy scent control and cleanup. This product can benefit many different animals on your farm.
First Saturday Lime is another great product that works by neutralizing the odor of your flock’s feces. It too is safe for them to use as a quail dust bath but be aware to let them dust off outside before bringing them inside an occupied dwelling (your family will thank you!).
Commercially bought sprays such as Pure Planet Poultry Spray allow a quick mist of my little quail coop to deodorize it and keep the smell down.
It will also repel bugs that will of course cause trouble in other ways. Remove your quail from the coop, and spray the bedding and walls along with all surfaces. Then let a few moments go by to air out any vapors and then place your feathered friends back in their home.
You can also make your own quail “anti-stink” products out of very easy to find or even grow ingredients. Lavender is a miracle herb when it comes to unpleasant scent control. Harvest the lavender when it is blooming and dry it by tying it into bundles and hanging it upside down in a warm, dry location. When fully dry, you can simply rub the dried stalks to harvest the flowers and dried leaves. Add this mix in and around your quail friends for a pleasant and cheerful scent. Lavender is also noted to calm your flock.
Oregano also can be added along with many other herbs such as spearmint and peppermint varieties. Try also other herbs such as rose hips, sage, basil, calendula, rosemary, and coriander. Ultimately let your nose be the judge on what herbs you prefer to use for your little birds. They aren’t too particular about smells anyway and you can even hang clumps of your herbs around the coop too for deodorizing.
What about homemade sprays? Well you can make a spray of 50% water, 50% white vinegar, and 10-15 drops of lavender essential oils for a great DIY anti-smell spray right at home. If you use this, spray their area when the quail are not in the coop, give the spray a chance to diffuse for a little bit before adding the quail back in. Pack your now favorite spray in any glass or plastic spray bottle that is easily found cheap at any retail store. Now you can apply to nooks and crannies in the coop where normal cleaning will not get to.
The Deep Litter Method
The deep litter method has become quite popular for chicken flocks and can be quite useful for the quail aficionado too. It essentially makes your birds work for you by making true compost.
How does this work?
Well the birds scratch at the bedding to get at scratch grains you add to their pine shaving bedding. When they do that, they turn their bedding and mix any ingredients such as wood ash, backyard grass and leaves, along with other compostables that are safe for your birds.
The key to success is to keep them turning their bedding. Their constant pecking and scratching should turn over the layers and allow composting to occur easily.
You can also help them out by using a small rake when feeding time has arrived. Microorganisms will feed on the quail feces and if done right, it will remain scent free. This method will allow for great fertilizer manufacture for your gardening needs. Scoop out this compost regularly and add it to the garden or flower bed. Let that compost set for a bit though before applying to plants and seedlings to avoid damage to the plants. New compost is like a good wine and needs time to mellow…
Quail Coop Setup
Many quail coops or cages available on the market have mesh or grate style bottoms that allow poop to drop out into an awaiting tray away from your birds. This keeps the birds from walking in their own feces and ultimately also getting it in their feathers.
A clean and dry bird is a non-stinky bird and your feathered friends will thank you for a commercially made version or even a well built homemade style of this incredibly simple but effective clean coop. A great setup is the Hatching Time Quail Layer Cages. The plastic design is easy to clean just by lifting off the cage from the waste tray.
Set the quail coop cage without the tray in grass or the garden to give your quail a treat of foraging for bugs and greens. Eggs laid in this quail coop roll down into the area up front above the bottom tray for easy harvesting. The water container and feed tray keep everything also nice and tidy. That is a great help when trying to keep your miniature flock scent free. A quality quail cage is instrumental for keeping unnecessary drama down in the long run during cleaning and overall use.
For the DIY’ers out there, why not make your own boxes? Take a look at the commercially made quail boxes and decide what will work the best for you. A small flock really benefits from the mesh bottom over a poop collecting tray.
This can be accomplished by making a wooden box with a lid and a screen secured to the open bottom. Why not use a clear plastic box and cut a hole in the bottom for mesh? I would choose clear to give your birds more light that helps with egg production. Use your imagination and make your custom quail coop box or boxes as big as you want and even possibly stack them.
Proper Air Flow for your Quail
Without proper open air flow your quail can develop a less than savory scent. Make sure that your birds are housed in an area with plenty of air flow.
Also be sure their coop allows for plenty of air flow which in turn will keep their bedding drier and any stinky scents to linger and get more potent with age. Remember, moisture is the enemy that must be dealt with if you are going to keep a smell free quail coop.
Space is Important
We all need our personal space right?
Overcrowding is very bad for any bird and quail are no exceptions. Overcrowding quail or any bird species can lead to a long list of health problems and incredible stench problems. Properly spaced quail will stay cleaner and happier longer between cleanings.
Take these numbers as examples for proper quail numbers in your coop per square foot. For Coturnix quail one bird for one square foot is a good spacing. For a pair of button quail one square foot will work well.
Location, Location, Location
As with real estate, location is everything when planning on where to set up your quail coop. This really comes into play when we are talking about the smells that might come from your feathered friends. If you have your tiny flock inside of your home, it is best to place them in an area that has good ventilation and is not right next to your bed!
The quail even when properly cleaned and the tips above observed will still have a slight birdy smell. The more birds you have equals more of a chance of smelly human living quarters. A spare room would be best for your quail coop needs or even a garage that has good ventilation and is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Just like us, quail like to be comfortable.
If your birds are to be outside birds, a covered coop out of direct sunlight and impervious to rain and the elements will work great and keep any future quail smell issues out of your home. Remember moisture is your sworn enemy when raising and keeping quail so always be sure the little ones are nice and dry at all cost.
Also make sure to armor against predators or even the family cat or dog. Your cat or dog might just be “playing” but the quail will not know the difference.
Do happy quail smell better? I believe so!
The above tips will certainly help you keep your quail to stay happy, healthy, and keep the “quail smell” down. Keep to task on routine cleaning and the tips above and you will be able to enjoy your quail without smelling them too.
Be sure to get others into the routine such as children and adults alike when enjoying your little flock. A little cleaning and care job spread out between many people can be easier to accomplish and will teach others also about your small feathered friends.