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I have been keeping quails, chickens, and ducks on my homestead for well over 20 years, and during that time I have tried keeping them in several different ways.
I have kept quails as free-range birds with large walk-in runs, I have kept them in mobile chicken runs that I move around my field, and I have kept quail in cages with 4 to 6 birds being housed in each.
All of these methods of keeping quails had their pros and cons.
In the article, I will address a question many new quail keepers have, and that is ‘Do quails need to be kept on the grass?’.
Quails do not need to be kept on grass. Quails do not eat grass and therefore there is no major benefit to keeping them on grass. Some homesteaders like to make enclosures that are as natural as possible, and keeping quails on grass does create a natural feel.
Do Quails Need Grass?
Quails do not need to be kept on grass. Grass does not form part of a quail’s natural diet, and although they may pick at the grass, they do not eat it like a chicken or a duck might.
There are however some benefits to keeping your quail on grass. these include;
In my own experience, when quails are kept on grass, they do typically show more of their natural characteristics.
Quails spend a lot of time pecking at the ground or plants and bushes, looking for bugs and seeds to eat. They will also eat small worms when they come across them.
I have found when quails are kept in cages they do not tend to show these behaviors.
Quails kept on grass do also tend to be slightly leaner than those kept in cages, although the flip side is I find they will consume more food than their cage-raised cousins.
The other major advantage you will find when you keep quails on grass is that they will make their own dust baths. Providing the quails have access to a piece of dirt that is dry, they will quickly turn it into a dust bath area.
Downsides of Keeping quail on grass
Although there are benefits both to the quails and the homesteader to keeping quails on grass, there are also some downsides.
Unless you are keeping a small number of quails in a large run, quails will eventually destroy the grass in their run, much like chickens will.
Ideally, when quails are kept on grass, their run should be mobile so you can move them around every few days.
Quails that are kept on grass may also be more susceptible to predators than those kept in cages, especially if those cages are elevated off the ground.
Snakes, weasels, and rats are the biggest problems for quails that are kept on the ground. All three will happily take a quail, even in broad daylight, so you do have to be weary.
In the wild, when confronted with a predator, quail tend to shoot upwards, flying to a branch on a bush or tree above them. Typically in a run, they can not do this and so predators can often pick them off more easily.
Quail do not need to be kept on grass. They do not eat grass, and as such it does not directly offer them any benefits.
However, when we do keep quails on grass we often see them demonstrate natural characteristics they do not show when kept in cages.
I do keep the majority of my own quails on the ground, but not always on grass. It is more the keeping them on the ground rather than in cages that have the biggest benefits to my quails.