Bobwhite Quail Resources

UF/IFAS EDIS Educational Publications

  • Bobwhite Quail Production (4.95MB pdf) : This publication was developed to assist both the novice and the seasoned quail producer and should provide basic information needed in the production of quail for a hobby or for business
  • Construction, Insulation, and Ventilation of Game Bird Facilities (63KB] : Satisfactory housing for game birds can be provided by building new structures or by modifying existing buildings. Either way it is important that the structure be built to stand up to Florida's high winds and to be properly ventilated to provide comfortable conditions for birds in both the summer and the winter

Current Status of Florida's Game Bird Industry*

Game birds such as quail have been produced domestically in Florida for many decades. The early industry was almost exclusively a part-time, or hobby, type of production system. Each farm produced small numbers of birds, with few farms growing more than 1,000 birds annually. Since about 1980 the number of birds per farm has increased, resulting in many operations having game birds as the sole or primary source of income.

The wild bobwhite quail is historically the most common game bird in Florida and the Southeastern states (dove, duck and turkey are also native game birds in Florida, but are much more difficult to produce domestically). Because of extensive land development for both farming and urbanization, natural habitat for game birds continues to be dramatically reduced. Consequently, the number of hunting preserves and plantations in Florida has increased rapidly in the period from 1982 to 1991 (from 56 to 89). These preserves and plantations not only provide controlled hunting but also contribute birds to the wild populations.

The preserves and plantations are the primary markets for the game bird producers (estimated to be 350 to 400 in Florida in 1998). Quail and other game birds are also produced as specialty food products for private, grocery, and restaurant use.

The current trend for the industry is increased size of each production unit, and increased specialization. In the past, a large percentage of the producers maintained a breeder flock, hatchery, and grow-out units. Many of the producers now purchase chicks or eggs and operate only a grow-out operation. On the other hand, others specialize in maintaining large breeder flocks and large, efficient incubators to produce chicks for sale. This type of specialization simplifies management for the grow-out farms and will likely result in better disease control, management, and end product.

There are a number of difficulties inherent in the game bird industry. The birds are less adapted to domestic conditions and their temperament makes them more susceptible to stress conditions. Thus, management is more difficult than with chickens. Diseases are a greater problem for game birds than for domestic birds because less information is available on those diseases, few antibiotics or drugs are available and/or approved for treatment, and vaccines are not available, except for quail pox.

Reasonably good information is available about nutritional requirements of most game birds. However, because the volume of feed consumed on each farm is usually too small to make possible bulk feed purchases, feed cost is relatively high and feed formulation control is often in the hands of the supplying mill.

The production of meat quail has been exploited very little in Florida. Currently, there is no quail processing facility in the state that is large enough to be subject to USDA inspection. Although Japanese quail (Coturnix) are produced around the world for both meat and eggs, the bobwhite has been used much less for those purposes. The two quails differ in that the Japanese lays spotted eggs, have all dark meat, and reach market weight at about 6 to 8 weeks of age, whereas the bobwhite lays white eggs, has white breast meat, grows larger, but requires 10 to 16 weeks to reach market weight.

Game birds are unlikely to become competitive with chicken and turkey on a meat product volume basis. However, quail are portion-size and are suited to airline, cruise ship, restaurant and other types of portion control meals. It is a market which probably has potential for future development.

* Adapted from UF/IFAS EDIS document PS39, one of a series of the Animal Science Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date March 1998. Reviewed 2003. . Author: H.R. Wilson, professor, Dairy and Poultry Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.



Upcoming Quail Conference: October 5-6, 2006 in Monticello, FL. A program for landowners, managers, hunters and others interested in quail habitat management, hunting, and best natural resource management practices. Registration fee: $60

Visit the Conference site here or download the brochure with agenda: Quail Conference Brochure(435KB]

News Release: Farmers Can Benefit Under New Program by Providing Bird Habitat - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is encouraging north Florida farmers to improve quail habitat and providing compensation for those farmers who do so, under a federal program initiated last year.

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