White Oak Quail Tractor

Posted on: July 10th, 2014 by

This post is several months behind.


My wife came across some Coturnix quail chicks while at Rutledge Flea Market. Just four chicks but enough to give Coturnix Quail Chicksquail a try. We have since hatched 24 quail from eggs given to us by our neighbor.

With all these quail we needed a good home for them. With the abundance of white oak that we get for free from a local stave mill I decided to build it from wood. White oak is very weather resistant and much stronger than pine. It is also much heavier which isn’t a downside when your building a small tractor.

Quail TractorGetting the angles right was the hardest part of the construction job on the quail tractor. I am happy with the results, although for me wood is much more work than PVC, although free is a good motivator for me.

The quail tractor is 6’+ long and a little over 2′ wide. The frame is of Missouri Quail Tractorwhite oak. I divided the cage into two equal sides to house my breeding stock. Each side has 1 1/2″ PVC water and feed silos. The feed tubes/silos hold 1lb of feed. The water tubes/silos hold 1/2 gallon.

Feed tube endI used 45 degree angles and end caps for the bottom of the feed tubes. A 90 degree elbow will not allow the feed to continue down the tube. I cut the top allowing the birds to have access to the feed. I then used a piece of poly to make a roof over the end of the tube to prevent it from getting wet.Feed Tube Rain Shield

Keeping quail is a lot different than chickens. Free ranging quail just doesn’t work. Quail are also much smaller and the chicks can fit thQuail Tractorrough 1″ chicken wire. Quail are active at night, and they can fly better than the average chicken.

Using some of the differences to our advantage I installed a walkway solar light in front of

High Protein Attraction Device

High Protein Attraction Device

the coop on the quail tractor. The light comes on automatically of an evening and has a small solar panel on top to recharge its batteries during the daylight. These cost $1 at many different stores in my area. Some of the stores that have them for $1 are Walmart, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Menards.

The quail being active at night wait around this hanging walkway light when it lights up. Bugs attracted by the light Bug Attractionare eaten by the quail. What a great way to get some range food in the diet of a city slicker bird. While I have not tested this my bet is the quails diet is supplemented enough by the bugs they could survive just fine on a lower protein ration.

Another possibility is running the quail tractor through the garden. It would work like a debugging tractor attracting Quail Tractorbugs from the garden to their demise. The tractor is narrow enough to fit between rows, so if I have a bug problem this year I will give it a try.

The light is already a proven concept and I have watched my quail eating the bugs attracted by the light. The solar walkway light is an easy way of supplying a light with no maintenance or cords. I highly recommend you try it if you have quail.

My Youtube Video of the Quail Tractor

Farm Updates

My rye field is doing very well. It is about 6′ tall and dense. I am looking forward to harvesting it. I wish my spelt field was doing half as well.DSCF8077



8 Responses to White Oak Quail Tractor

  1. Isaac had this to say about that:

    I have seen your video and I am really interested in using your design of the feeding silos. I understand how the feed one works, but could you send me some info on how you got the water silos to work? Btw, great videos and good helpful information!

    • JL had this to say about that:

      It is pretty straight forward, I driller a hole in the end cap that was large enough to snuggly fit a chicken nipple waterer and used a little PVC cement to make sure there were not any leaks. They also sell fittings on Ebay that are threaded for the chicken nipple waterers.

  2. Javier gonzalez had this to say about that:

    Excellent idea. My son is trying to look for a science fair project. Any possibility we can get materials and building process. Thnx

    • JL had this to say about that:

      Well the tractor was built out of scrap materials, so following my steps without the same scrap wouldn’t do you any good. It is a pretty straight forward design, if you have a particular question about something I will try to answer it. Thanks,

  3. Kelly had this to say about that:

    Hi there,

    Nice design. Do you have any predator issues? I have read online that tractored quail can have more issue with disease, predators, etc. I’d be very interested in an update on your quail tractoring project. We have been tractoring our chickens, and I’d love to extend this benefit to our quail!

    • JL had this to say about that:

      I did have a predator issue with an older kitten. The cat could fit its paws through the chicken wire and dismember the quail and pull the pieces back through. It was pretty gruesome and we suspected a raccoon at first, although that didn’t make since as they usually don’t come this close to the house with the dogs on duty. One day while coming home at night I caught the kitten doing the deed with my trucks headlights. The quail will just stand there while their neighbor is being killed and wait for their turn. Even though all they would have had to do is retreat into the house, the quail didn’t get it and became dinner.

      I tractored some of my quail all year. I will continue to do so but have come to the conclusion that quails do not work in this system as well as chickens. I will continue to work with the quail in tractors, but my small breeding flock has been moved to a stationary home which is above a tilapia pool. The tilapia feed off the dropped quail feed etc and it looks like it will work as a good system. Sometime I will do another post on quail and this setup which is a 2×8’ quail hutch set over a 4,000 gallon above ground pool.

  4. Patricia Stone had this to say about that:

    I am new to quail and trying to figure out the best pen to build. I love this concept, but I am curious why you feel they do not work well in this system. I was hoping to build something similar to this that would have a “permanent” location but also lightweight enough to set out in the yard on nice days for free-ranging via quail tractor. I definitely think I would do all in 1/2 in. hardware cloth here as I have spotted cats. Thanks!

    • JL had this to say about that:

      I think there is potential in tractoring quail, if I built another quail tractor it would have 12″ side boards at the bottom to prevent critters from getting to the quail. 1/2″ hardware cloth has failed me on one of my quail runs. I had opossums get to my quail through the hardware cloth at the bottom of a standing cage and they ended up killing a lot of quail in one night. So for my future standing quail cages I will be building a double floor to prevent critters from being able to get their fingers into the cage. You really have to protect quail as they will watch their neighbor getting pulled through piece by piece and patiently wait for their turn. So unprotected edges or bottoms are inviting critters to eventually figure a way to dismember your quail. I kept quail for several years without this problem and then I lost a lot quickly and I learned my lesson. So build with safety in mind, double floors on standing cages with a mesh bottom and sides of the cages protected.