Great Lakes Permaculture Portal

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Raising Quail on 1/3 of an Acre by Brad Davies

what a pair

A female Pharaoh Quail (left) has a speckled breast, while a male (right) has a red breast.

The ethics underlying a permaculture design system are earth care, people care and equitable return. Often when approaching a property design, plants are established first, and then animals are introduced into the system. This helps avoid degradation by overgrazing during early stages of plant life. One notable exception to this rule is the introduction of goats into dense shrub land as a way of clearing the land with fewer human inputs.

Another exception is shown in the approach taken by Brad Davies in the establishment of his small suburban property. Brad recognized that meat and eggs were a large portion of his grocery budget, so he decided that in order to make his system economical, he would need to raise some form of livestock. He chose quail and rabbits as they have been bred to live comfortably in small spaces. You can read more about his methods and experience in the e-book Raising Quail for Meat and Eggs hosted here on the Great Lakes Permaculture Portal.

This method of confining animals to allow for the establishment of trees and other plants has been used with great success in the rehabilitation of the Loess Plateau in China. Goats, which had been allowed free-reign of the hillsides, were penned, allowing plant life to grow back on this highly disturbed land. The trade off of this method is that food must be brought to the animals, and animal density must be considered so they are not stressed. Growing nutritious food nearby onsite is a very good way to decrease inputs in this system.

It is also important to note that animals do play a vital role in providing ecosystem services, especially on flatland, where their hoofs create water holding divots, and their manure returns nutrients to the land. For more on this, see the work of Allan Savory. Now that he has a good amount of experience raising quail, and his plant system is better established, Brad has begun experimenting with alternative growing systems. You can read a bit about his experience with using quail tractors in his e-book. In the future he wishes to develop a scalable paddock system as a part of providing his quails’ food needs onsite.

Brad wishes to spread knowledge of raising quail to other folks across the bio-region and encourage the use of quail as an element in permaculture design systems. We hope his e-book serves as a foundation for development of your own system for Raising Quail for Meat and Eggs.