I think it is fair to say that eggs are a big part of Rising Kale Farms. A very big part. With 165 chickens of varying breeds and 40 Pekin ducks, collecting eggs each day can be a daunting task. Ducks lay their eggs in the morning just before dawn, so collection happens around 7:30 or so. The chickens have been “trained” by light to do most of their egg laying after noon, so we generally collect them mid-afternoon.
When I starting keeping chickens, it was easy. Make sure they are fed…give them fresh water…collect the eggs. Simple. Then the flock grew. Not only in the amount of chickens that we kept, but the breed we chose for their specific color of egg. Then came the ducks. Of all the things that I had read, the one thing that really grabbed my interest was that the eggs were considered “gigantic.” Thank goodness for their size, or it might be impossible to find them each morning…as I may have mentioned before, duck tend to bury their eggs.
Now that everything is running smoothly, I’m ready to add to our brood. I’ve been doing some research on the little bird known as the quail. It seems common enough, but a very unlikely bird to raise for their eggs. Let’s face it, raising quail for eggs is the polar opposite of the eggs that I collect from the ducks. They are about the size of a large speckled marble. But, they are prized by chefs around the world, just because they are rare…at least in the food world.
I discovered that quail are nothing like chicken or duck in the way they are raised. If you are raising them for their eggs, you keep them somewhat confined to a small space. Yes, they are caged. They nest, breed and lay their eggs on the ground, which is instinctively where they feel the safest. It has been said that quail don’t really care to fly, however, quail will take flight if they absolutely have to, but they are more likely to scurry about on the ground. They can dart in and out of thick underbrush at speeds of up to 12-13 mph. If given room to fly in a small cage, they often will hit their heads on the top of the cage and hurt themselves, often losing consciousness. Yikes!
As for the humanity of raising quail, my plan is to follow what I believe to be the best way to treat these little creatures…as well as humanly possible for the 2-3 year lifespan that they have been given. I will feed them the best of grain and feed, which I plan on making from scratch. I will sprout rye, spelt and sunflower to give them daily with plenty of fresh water. They will enjoy lite jazz and opera, as do my other fine feathered friends. And, although they will be raised in cages, I will provide the recommended square footage per bird, in a safe, protected environment [my new barn] where they will have fresh air and sunshine streaming in through the windows at either end of the barn. I hope that you will follow along as we discover these little creatures and all of their characteristics.