Quail are one of the most popular domesticated birds raised in the United States. Approximately 5 million of the small, lightning-quick birds are raised for their meat and eggs every year in Georgia alone. Quail can be fragile birds, though, and require shelter from poor weather and numerous predators. They may be raised in more or less free range conditions, but attrition is likely to be high. Quail barns are excellent solutions for people who want to raise large numbers of quail.
Determine the number of quail you'll want to keep. Each bird needs about one square foot of space. You can expand space by keeping quail in crates or cages, but you'll still want pens for larger and non-laying birds. Keep in mind that it takes an average of 17 weeks to raise a bird from a chick to maturity, and you likely won't always be raising birds that are the same age.
Check with your town clerk or local building commission to see if you need a permit to build your barn. Some towns will base a permit on the proposed size of buildings; others take factors such as location, planned use and utilities into consideration. You may also want to check with your local agriculture officials to see if you need any special permits to raise or sell quail.
Design your barn so that it fits your needs. A tall barn with a second floor may be attractive, but might not be practical if you're going to let birds roam freely. Be sure you have access to water and electricity. A heat source is helpful, too; breeding quail don't do well in temperatures below 65 or above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Insulate your barn if possible.
Install windows that can be closed and shuttered. Quail kept in cages or crates inside a barn should be placed in dimly lit places between 5 weeks and 14 weeks of age to discourage cannibalism. They should be exposed gradually to more light at 14 weeks to encourage them to eat more so they have enough energy for flight.
Add ventilation that allows air to circulate but that doesn't allow birds to escape -- or enter -- the quail barn. Besides smelling awful, birds kept in poorly ventilated buildings are far more prone to disease than free-range or wild animals, and diseases spread much faster in enclosed spaces.
Build crates or cages far enough apart and tall enough where you don't have problems inspecting your quail. It helps to have bright lights available, even if you only use them once or twice every day. Create a secure, dry area to store feed and discourage predators.
Use a barrier to keep small rodents, such as rats, weasels and foxes, from getting into the barn and dining on quail eggs and birds. Chicken wire or hardware cloth can be stapled or tacked to the bottom of exterior walls and buried about a foot deep to prevent most small mammals from causing havoc.