DIY Quail Care Accessories - Mother Earth News

DIY Quail Care Accessories – Mother Earth News

In my years raising Japanese quail, I’ve discovered two pieces of “quail furniture” that are essential to quail care: a shelter to hide in, and a good dust bath for poultry! I’ve also learned that any quail that spends a lot of time in it is likely to get dirty with droppings, so use a high-gloss paint on the furniture to make it easier to clean and repel moisture. Read on to find out how to do these hands-on projects.

The dustbin is made of two boxes that overlap one inside the other. The larger outer box has a solid plywood floor, while the smaller box has a fabric floor. What I meant by this design was for the cloth to sit beneath the contents of the dust bath, and when it got dirty with droppings and droppings, I could lift up the inner box and basically sift through the unwanted material. This is made easier by adding finger holes in the inner box.

Quick and simple poultry dusting box

Tools and materials

  • 8-foot long 1 x 3-inch joint board (1)
  • Sandpaper and sandpaper block (120 grit or so)
  • Electric drill with 3/32-inch drill bit and 1/2-inch drill bit
  • 1-1/4 inch #6 wood screws (14)
  • Power driver with correct screwdriver for #6 . screws
  • 3/8 inch plywood, large enough to cut a 1-square-foot piece
  • The saw of choice (for cutting 1″ x 3″ boards and plywood)
  • saw
  • High-gloss primer or primer (such as Kilz) and
    high gloss paint
  • paint brush
  • 1/4 inch piece of cloth (either galvanized or laminated will work)
  • Tinsnips (for hardware cloth cutting)
  • T50 1/4″ (6mm) Stapler and Staple Gun

Assemble the poultry dusting box

To begin this simple project, cut two of each of the following from an 8-foot 1 by 3-inch joint board: 8-1/2 inches, 10-1/4 inches, and 11-3/4 inches.

Take the 1″ x 3″ boards that were cut to the four different dimensions listed above, and smooth out any rough edges with the sanding block. Place the two 8-1/2-inch boards between the 10-inch boards to create a square, with the 10-inch boards on the far outside. Drill two evenly spaced holes in each corner with a 3/32″ drill bit. Then use two screws to secure each corner. This will be the smallest inner square.

Place the 10-1/4-inch boards between the 11-3/4-inch boards to make another square, with the 11-3/4-inch boards on the far outside. Pre-drill two equal holes in each corner with a 3/32″ drill bit, securing each corner with two screws. This will be the largest outer box. Make sure the smaller box can easily fit inside the larger box

Mark the floor

To mark the floor, use the two larger boxes as a template, and trace its outer dimensions onto the 3/8-inch plywood. With the saw, aim just inside the marked line while cutting the floor. This will help ensure that there is no bulge from the bottom of the box when assembling. Smooth the edges and any rough areas on the surface.

Arrange this piece of flooring over what will be the bottom of the larger box, making sure the edges are aligned and the sides of the box are aligned. Using a 3/32-inch drill bit, pre-drill three holes in the floor and in the 11-3/4-inch walls, and two in each smaller wall. Secure the floor to the sides with 10 screws. Make sure the screws are flush, or even slightly countersunk. This will prevent the box from ripping when it is in the barn.

To make the finger holes, take the smaller box and mark the approximate longitudinal center point on each of the 8-1/2 inch boards. Using a 1/2 inch drill bit, drill a hole a little higher than the transverse center. Move slowly and don’t apply too much pressure while drilling to avoid splitting around the hole. Wrap a strip of sandpaper around your finger and smooth the inside and edges of each drilled hole.

drawing and assembly

If using a primer, apply a rich layer to all surfaces and allow to dry completely according to product instructions. Follow this up with a coat of high-gloss paint, making sure to generously cover the floor and inside of the boxes. I went with a high-gloss paint marketed as “paint and primer,” and applied a generous first coat all over, then applied a second coat to the plywood floor and the inside of the boxes for added moisture protection. Don’t forget to draw inside the finger holes.

Once the paint has dried, it’s time to add the “sifting” floor to the smaller box. Unfold a section of the cloth and place the smaller box on top. Align two edges of the box with a corner of the hardware fabric, and cut the remaining two sides of the hardware fabric slightly smaller than the outside dimension of the box. Using a staple gun, staple the cloth to the bottom of the smaller box every 2 inches or so, being careful not to staple too close to the edge and split the wood.

Complete poultry dusting box! I like to use wood ash, sand, and a bit of dry dirt (free of chemicals and fertilizers) for my tans, but the mixture will work with any poultry dusting bath. Quail birds are sure to love it.

Quail Care and Enrichment: Quail Shelter Fund

Tools and materials

  • 3/8″ or 1/2″ plywood (this is a great project for using up small leftover pieces!)
  • 1″ x 2″ fur stripe board (usually sold 8 feet long), cut lengthwise into four 7-3/4″ pieces
  • 3/32″ electric drill, plus drill bits for jigsaw entry points
  • Jigsaw (to cut doorways)
  • Preferred saw (cutting walls and ceiling out of plywood)
  • saw
  • Sandpaper and sandpaper block (120 grit or so)
  • 1 inch #6 screws
  • Power driver with the right little screwdriver
  • High-gloss paint with primer, or high-gloss primer
  • paint brush

Quails love to hide in bushes or woods in the wild, and providing shelter away is a key component of caring for domesticated quails too! This shelter box has two solid walls, two walls with cut-out doorways, and a roof piece. All cut from 3/8″ plywood and framed with four 1″ x 2″ pieces at the inside corners. The outer dimensions of the finished shelter box are 10″ wide, 14″ long and 8-3/8″ high.

Start quail shelter

To start making the shelter box, mark out pieces of the following dimensions on the plywood:

  • 8 x 9-1/4 inch pieces (short walls) (2)
  • 8″ x 14″ pieces (long walls) (2)
  • 10″ x 14″ piece (ceiling) (1)

On one of the 8″ x 9-1/4″ pieces, mark a doorway that is 5 inches high and 3 inches wide, about in the middle. On one of the 8″ by 14″ pieces, mark two inserts, roughly equal in size, 5″ by 3″ in size. Drill holes in each corner of the doorway, trying to align the marks as closely as possible. Cut each entry with the saw using one drilled hole as the entry point for the jigsaw blade, and the next three for the pivot points, until you’re done cutting. Once the doorways are cut, use the saw of your choice to cut the pieces of plywood (four walls and one roof piece). This arrangement of cutting doorways first and walls second will reduce the risks posed by cutting doorways while carrying a small piece of plywood.

Sand and support your quail shelter

Using the sanding block, smooth all edges and any rough surfaces. Pay special attention to doorways, as they should be free of any cracked or jagged edges for quails to pass through.

Next, take one 1″ x 2″ board (cut to 7-3/4″) and align the narrow edge with an 8″ x 9-1/4″ wall piece, along the 8″ edge. Make sure the 1″ x 2″ end is flush with one side of the 9-1/4″ wall. The 1″ x 2″ bracket will not meet the end of the other side. This design will help the shelter box to settle into razor or lawn bedding.

Using a 3/22-inch drill bit, drill two equal holes through the wall, in a 1″ x 2″ piece. Secure with two screws.

Repeat with a second 1″ x 2″ board on the opposite 8″ side.

Repeat these steps with the second 8″ x 9-1/4″ wall piece and the remaining 1″ by 2″ pieces.

Add the finishing touches

Take a 10″ x 14″ wall and align it with each of the 8″ x 9-1/4″ wall pieces, so the wide edges of each 1″ x 2″ board rest on the inside of this longer wall. Shorter plywood walls should be aligned with the edges of the longer wall, with no gaps.

Using a 3/22-inch drill bit, drill two holes equally spaced down the lengths of each 1″ x 2″ piece. Secure with two screws on each side. Repeat with the fourth wall.

You should now have a chest with two walls that have entrances, and two that don’t. This will create a sheltered corner in the box that the quail can use as wind cover if necessary.

Align the ceiling piece on top of this box, making sure the edges are flush. Pre-drill holes in each corner of the ceiling, going for 1″ x 2″ pieces. Secure with four screws.

If you’re using a primer, apply a thick coat, let it dry according to the product directions, and follow with a coat of high-gloss paint. I used a high gloss primer for this project, applying a first generous coat and then a second coat where the bottom edges touch the floor. After applying the paint and primer, the quail’s shelter box will be complete.

These two pieces of DIY “quail furniture” will quickly become favorites in your barn. With enriching quail care in his dust bath and shelter box, your quail will be completely satisfied!


Kelly Buhling is from Lawrence, Kansas. She works as a classical violinist, but between gigs and lessons, she goes out in the garden or spends time with her animals, including quails and French Angora rabbits. Kelly also spins angora fibers from her rabbits into sewing threads. She enjoys finding ways that her animals and her garden can benefit each other for a more sustainable urban home.

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