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Poultry farming isn’t for everyone, but Oliver Books hasn’t given up on the business despite living in a city.

Over the past five months, Books has raised about 70 Coturnix quails. The small fowl, which can range in color from dark red to mottled browns and whites, weigh between 3 and 5 ounces when fully grown, are calm and require a small footprint.

Books says the city of Rochester has bylaws on raising chickens and ducks within city limits, but does not regulate quail.

“I didn’t want to break any rules,” he says, “so I did my research and noticed there were no regulations on quail, so I thought I’d give it a try. to raise them.”

After watching hours of YouTube videos on how to raise quail, Books purchased the minimum order of 30 from Hoover’s Hatchery. They arrived on April 5.

“The first day was a bit difficult,” he says. “I think the journey was tough for them, but the majority made it through the night and thrived in no time.”

Young quail raised by Oliver Books on Friday, September 23, 2022 in Rochester.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Since that first brood, Books has incubated her own chicks.

“I love hatching day,” says Books. “It’s always so fun to see the little birds come to life.”

Two weeks ago, a new batch of quail chicks hatched. Their soft fuzz, sweet looks, and clumsy legs are adorable.

The books say he tries to keep his flock to around 27 quail.

“I want to make sure the birds I care for are kept in a good environment,” he says.

He raises the birds for both their eggs and their meat. The eggs are white and speckled with large dark brown spots. They are about a third the size of a chicken egg. A quail can lay about 300 eggs per year, and quails usually live for about three years.

Quail eggs are on the menu at Books every day. “I like the ratio of yolk to white, it’s more yolk than a chicken egg, and I think they’re tastier too.”

He likes them fried and boiled and says his father pickles them. He says it takes a “comical” amount of tiny eggs to cook one egg, but the dish is still tasty.

Raising quail
Quail owned by Oliver Books on Friday, September 23, 2022 in Rochester.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

“Quails are prey in nature, so they naturally mature very quickly and are fully grown in 6 to 8 weeks,” says Books. “The meat is kind of duck-adjacent, maybe a bit more docile, and tastes similar to other game birds, like grouse.”

Raising quail has given Books a new perspective on what he eats.

“It really helped me connect with my food. It gave me perspective on how I respect not only the farmers who grow the food I eat, but also the animals that have become food. he says.

Although Books realizes he is privileged to have this opportunity, he says that after raising quail, he tries to source most of his food locally. He hopes to reduce his carbon footprint.

“I want to support ethically sourced foods,” he says. “It’s important to me that I try to make decisions and act based on my values.”

In addition to enjoying the eggs and meat from the quails he raised, Books also sold chicks and adults. He says quail farming is profitable at almost every stage. Eventually, Books hopes to sell its eggs and meat at the Rochester Farmers Market.

Currently, most of Books’ quail reside in a multi-level chicken coop he built for them. The chicken coop takes up minimal space in Books’ garage, and he is working on building a second chicken coop to potentially house more quail.

Two lucky quail have moved into Books’ house and are hanging out with his turtle, Alexander Louis Armstrong. Although most of the quail in Books aren’t named, the two that share the 4×8 terrarium with the turtle are named Red and Smol Potato. He says it’s like a “little Jurassic Park”.

Raising quail
Quail Eggs Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Rochester.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

“Coming down one morning and seeing Alexander the turtle with the two quails nestled next to him warming up under the heat lamp was a pleasure,” he says.

Although Books says he enjoys raising quail, he says one downside is cleaning up after them.

“There’s a lot of poo,” he jokes. “So, so, so much shit.

He adds that birds can sometimes be aggressive towards each other, especially when hens and roosters are kept together. “I honestly think it’s just stupidity,” he says.

Raising quail
Oliver Books feeds its quails on Friday, September 23, 2022 in Rochester.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Books first raised chickens before starting to raise quail. According to him, his partner, Grace Glover, who is “very supportive of his weird hobbies”, suggested he raise chickens two years ago. He enjoyed it and says it helped him prepare for raising quail.

“I’m glad they (quails) weren’t my first experience with birds because they’re a bit pickier than chickens, but they’re a highlight of my days,” Books says.

Besides all the benefits of their eggs and meat, Books says he raises quail because they’re “cute and quirky.” In the future, Books dreams of moving to a plot and building a large aviary for game birds and even ostriches.

Raising quail
Oliver Books feeds its quails on Friday, September 23, 2022 in Rochester.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

For now, Books says he still has a long way to go to achieve his goals with the quail he keeps, but thinks the first summer has been a huge success.

“I wanted this to be part of a journey of self-sufficiency and maybe earning some money,” Books says, “but I ended up really loving these models.”

If you want to see Oliver Books’ Quail for yourself, check them out on Instagram @qrime.quails. You can also direct message this account if you want to buy quail hatchlings or quail eggs to eat or hatch.