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I have been keeping both ducks and quail on my homestead for over 20 years. I have bred many hundreds of birds over the years and I now spend a lot of my time giving chicken, duck, and quail keeping, breeding, and showing talks at clubs and shows around the country.
Over the last two decades, I have tried keeping ducks and quail together on more than one occasion.
In this article, I look at the pros and cons of keeping ducks with quail and share my experiences to help you make an informed choice and answer the question ‘Can ducks and quail be kept together?’.
In my experience, it is not a good idea to keep ducks and quail together. Ducks and quail require very different living quarters, with ducks liking open space and access to water whereas quail generally need to be kept in an enclosed run otherwise they tend to fly away. Ducks are messy birds that like things damp, whereas quail prefer dry land and dislike being wet.
Can Ducks Live With Quail?
I have tried keeping ducks and quail in the same enclosure on more than one occasion. It always seems like a good idea. Ducks are messy eaters, and quail spend a lot of time picking up the food the ducks spread around. Quail do not require much space, so they can squeeze in with the ducks right?
Truth be told, whenever I have tried this combination, it never works out well. There are many reasons I have found it does not work. These include;
Ducks like an open run but quails need to be enclosed
If you have ever kept either of these birds, you will know they have very separate requirements when it comes to housing.
As a general rule, ducks need a fairly large, open enclosure where they can move about freely. Many species of ducks actually like to run or at least waddle fairly quickly.
Ducks need constant access to a volume of water like a pond or small pool, whereas quail are very poor swimmers and, in my experience at least, get into trouble and sometimes drown if they land in the pond.
Quail like their run to be a smaller, more intimate affair where they feel enclosed and safe. They typically like there to be lots of hiding places or at least line of sight blocks where they can get away from one another and keep out of sight of potential predators.
Ducks like it damp, quail prefer it dry
Ducks are famed for their love of the water, and they spend much of their day in and out of the pond, splashing around. What naturally then happens is the ground around the pond becomes damp and muddy, and the whole area becomes a mess.
Ducks do not mind this one little bit. They have evolved living in these conditions.
Quails on the other hand come from dry grasslands where they like to have a dust bath in the dry soil.
Quail are also ground-nesting birds. They like to find a dry, secluded spot where they can lay their eggs, and then sit on them until they hatch. They very much dislike an enclosure that is wet, muddy, and churned up because of the ducks waddling around all over the place.
Ducks should not have free access to food all day long, quail should
Ducks are greedy birds. They can not be trusted to have free access to their food all day long as they will almost certainly gorge themselves.
Ducks need to be offered food twice a day, ideally once in the morning and then again in the evening.
Quail on the other hand generally need to have free access to food. Quail like to eat little and often. They tend to peck at their food, taking small mouthfuls and then wandering off before returning for more a few minutes later.
If you keep ducks and quail in the same enclosure, the ducks will very quickly eat the quail’s food.
Ducks are brave, quail are timid
Ducks are brave birds that do not startle easily. They waddle around their enclosure, sometimes running, but always moving around in a clumsy fashion. They are not graceful birds.
Ducks do not scare easily and they will even chase off a would-be predator if they feel they are in a large enough group. I have watched my own flock chase a friend’s dog off when they didn’t want her near their pond.
Quail on the other hand are very timid birds. They have evolved to fly off at the first sign of danger.
When quail are startled they fly straight up into the air. This is one reason it is often recommended that quail are kept in low runs, so they can not keep shooting up and banging their heads on the roof of the run.
If you keep quail and ducks together, your quail will spend the whole time living on the edge, getting ready to run or fly off every time the ducks come anywhere near them.
Living like this will cause the quail to become stressed, which in turn often leads to them succumbing to diseases.
Ducks and quail are very different birds. They require totally different living quarters, with ducks loving the open space to move around and forage in, and quails preferring a smaller, more enclosed setup where they feel safe and out of the reach of predators.
Ducks love to get wet and they will quickly turn any enclosure they live in into a damp, muddy mess. Quails on the other hand prefer it dry. They like to have a dust bath in the dry, loose soil.
Quail also need free access to their food. They eat little and often throughout the day. Ducks on the other hand can not be trusted with free access to food, and they will eat all their own food before eating all the quail’s food too.
I can not recommend enough how enjoyable it is to keep both ducks and quail, but just not in the same enclosure.
If you enjoyed reading this article, why not check out another one I wrote recently titled ‘How Much Space Do Ducks Need?’.