I think I’ve had my first-ever quail for all of 3 weeks now. They were just ready to move from the brooder to the big-boys’ pen when I met Jamie in a parking lot to pick them up in my cardboard box. (See my first post about them Here.) (And if you want to catch up, the second post is Here.)
I researched and researched, read everything I could find, and still didn’t feel worthy to put these 10 little precious lives under my care. I’m a very hands-on person, and learn so much more when I start doing something myself. So here I am.
And it’s true. We all learn more by doing than reading. But there is one thing that won’t take you but 10 seconds to learn. Quail LOVE A DUST BATH!! The second you place it in their hutch or pen, they all want to be in it at the same time. It’s the darnedest, darling-est thing I’ve ever seen! Funny, too.
They wiggle their wings to cover their bodies in it, sand gets flung into another one’s face, one head I can’t find, then realized it was because she was in upside down, and another one is laying on her side with her feet sticking out, flinging a tiny bit of sand with her toes. Ha ha ha! You can’t make this up!
As fun as it is to watch those silly little birds in their dust bath, there is another reason to provide it for them. They naturally fling dirt and sand on themselves to protect their bodies from mites, just like chickens do. It’s important that they are able to give themselves a dust bath everyday.
What is the dust bath made of?
Usually, the dustbath is made with playground sand, which is really just broken down rocks. Quickrete even sells sand. You can find it in most DIY stores like Lowe’s and The Home Depot. I bought my all-natural playground sand from Lowe’s. You can also use dirt, but it need to be cleared of any fungus or other nasties that can be in the dirt by putting it on a cookie sheet and placing it in the oven on one of the lowest settings for about 20 minutes. I’m just not up to doing all of that when sand is just as good.
It also helps to put food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) in with the sand. I pour a little pile of it on the sand and mix it up with my hands. I think I’m going to add a bigger pile next time, because DE helps with parasites very well.
You can also add coffee grounds, which quail love! I don’t know why they love it, but they do. I think it’s best to use spent grounds that have dried out some from your morning brew. Waste not, want not!
I know that chickens also like some herbs in their dust bath, but I haven’t read yet where quail do or not. I’m thinking they do, but I haven’t tested it yet. So many herbs detract insects, that I think it would be beneficial. If you use herbs in your quail dust bath, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you!
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What container should be used for the dust bath?
Whatever you want! When my quail were in the rabbit hutch, I used a square Tupperware container that 3 quail could fit in at a time. Really, two were comfortable in it though. I considered it way too small for having 10 quail. Now in the larger pen I use a cat litter box. Lol! We had a spare one that we hadn’t yet thrown out, so I scrubbed it up real good, made sure it was good and dry, then poured in the sand and DE. Once it was good to go, I place it in the pen and watch those silly birds for a few minutes before leaving. They can be so entertaining!
Now that they’re out of the hutch, I purchased some items to grow micro greens for them and realized that the 10” x 10” hole-less plastic trays would be perfect to put in the hutch, just inside the wood door. Plastic 10”x10” and 10” x 20” (1020’s) trays are popular and most often used for growing micro greens. I bought mine through TrueLeaf, online. I also bought my micro green seeds there. So the hutch is a great size to put that 10”x10” tray inside the wooden section for their dustbath. Here’s the type of hutch I’m talking about:
If you would rather buy online rather than going into a store, you can contact each store first. I am sure they each have some kind of pickup option right now.
If you do not want to do that, here are some of the items mentioned above from Amazon:
Absorbent Products Inc. Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth with Calcium Bentonite
BAHA Natural Play Sand 20lb for Sandbox
I have to admit, I am so very happy that I decided to get quail. They are so sweet and funny! And so much happens with them that I can’t keep up with sharing all of their shenanigans!
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