Do Quails Need Nesting Boxes? (explained)

When it comes to being self-sufficient, or just adding some fresh, homegrown produce to the dinner table, chickens are usually top of everyone’s list. However, in my experience, quails are a far easier bird to raise for both meat and eggs.

I have spent the last 20+ years raising my own chickens, ducks, and quails, and I spend much of my time these days giving homesteading talks at clubs and shows around the country.

One question that comes up frequently when discussing quails is ‘Do quails need nesting boxes?’.

In this article, I will share some of my experiences keeping and raising these fabulous little birds and explain everything you need to know about quail nesting.

Quails are ground-nesting birds, and as such do not need dedicated nesting boxes as a chicken does. With that said however they do require a safe, protected space where they can make a nesting area, usually inside their coop. Quails will make a small divet in the bedding material in their coop and lay their eggs in there.

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Do Quails Need Nesting Boxes?

When we keep a flock of chickens, we will typically have a coop that has a number of nesting boxes attached to the side of it. These nesting boxes provide the chickens with a private space where they can lay their eggs.

Quails typically do not use these nesting boxes. If you keep a group of quails in a chicken coop, the quails are just as likely to lay directly into the bedding material on the bottom of the coop as they are in a nesting box.

Quails are ground-nesting birds. In the wild, they will pick a quiet spot, usually in long grass or under a bush, and they will fashion a sort of nest out of whatever is lying around. There they will lay their eggs.

When we keep quails in captivity, they need a house where they can go at night, and keep out of the worst of the weather, but they don’t need nesting boxes.

I keep many quail with a number of quail houses like the one in the image (you can check that one out on Amazon.com).

I will put a layer of aspen shavings or chopped straw in the bottom, and the quail will happily lay their eggs in them.

To be fair, providing the quail house is dry and does not have a draught, it will work as a nesting place. Many quail keepers build their own quail houses out of scrap timber they have laying around.



How Much Nesting Space Do Quails need?

Generally speaking, female quails get on well with one another. They do not fight as the males do.

As such you can keep 4 to 6 female quails together in a fairly small space, and they will happily share nests. Female quails are not possessive about their nests or their eggs.

I typically provide my quails with a home that offers around 1sqft per bird, so a flock of 6 birds will typically live in a house that measures around 3′ x 2′ (90cm x 60cm) plus a good-sized run area.

A house that has a floor space of around 6sqft will usually have two or three nests in it, with the quails all sharing nests.

How To Set Up a nesting Area For Quails?

Whether you are using small individual houses for your quails or providing them with a large, central house all the quails use, you will want to set it up so the quails are happy nesting in it and laying their eggs there.

As mentioned above, I will typically provide enough space so there is 1sqft per quail.

Quail nesting bedding material

There are many different suitable bedding materials you can use for a quail nest. I typically use chopped straw or aspen shavings, but hay, corn husks, and cross-cut shredded paper all work really well.

Whatever material you decide to use, make sure it is dry, clean, and easy to replace.

Both nesting and bedding material should be replaced regularly, so go for something that is cheap and readily available.

Where to place a nesting area?

If you have a single house that you use for all your quails, then the chances are they will all just nest in there.

If however, you give your quails a large, free-range enclosure, then you might want to place two or three nesting houses around the enclosure.

Putting them in different locations gives your quails choice, and allows them to choose a nesting place that works for them.

Ideally, the nesting houses should be placed in shady, secluded parts of the enclosure, perhaps behind plants or under bushes.

Can Quails Lay Eggs Without any nesting places?

If you do not provide your quails with any suitable nesting places, they will simply make their own, or drop the eggs wherever they happen to be.

Quails without nesting places will lay eggs under bushes, in any long grass areas, or in their dust bath.

It is far better to provide your quails with safe, dedicated places to lay their eggs, otherwise, you will end up with a higher number of broken eggs.

In Conclusion

Quails do not need nesting boxes as chickens do, but they do need a safe space in which to lay their eggs.

With my own quails, I provide a safe space, either in the form of individual quails houses or as a single, large coop where all the quails can lay their eggs.

Providing the quails have somewhere quiet, dry, and out of the worst of the weather, they will choose that space to lay their eggs.

If you found this article helpful, why not check out another one I wrote recently titled ‘Do quails need crushed oyster shells?’.


Aaron Homewood

Aaron Homewood is HomesteadSavvy.com‘s poultry editor. Arron has spent over 20 years keeping, breeding, and showing different poultry breeds, including chickens, ducks, geese, and quail.​
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