Sure it sounds like a desperate cry from someone feeling inadequate… but its true, bigger isn’t better! I know, I know, the statement tends to take your mind down a dark and somewhat inappropriate road, so let me put us on the right track… we are talking homesteading. And when we are homesteading in a limited space, we need to bridle our egos, and embrace the small…
Rabbits vs Cattle
I grew up on a family farm in southwest Wisconsin. My grandpa and uncles run dairies and my dad has a beef herd. Cattle are definitely the focus of the farm. So, when I came out of the proverbial closet to my dad as a “rabbit farmer” I got the full force of ridicule from Cattle Camp Klein… that is, until I broke down the numbers for them… I have published a number of articles on rabbit efficiency in homesteading here, so we will skip that today. Needless to say, they were impressed! In a tenth the space and a fourth the feed, rabbits could still produce double the meat that cattle could do. Plus, not many HOA neighborhoods would allow cattle! In short, rabbits are feed, time and space efficient, provide healthy meat and great fur… and some are studying rabbits for milk! You can milk anything with nipples…
Quail vs Chickens
So, lets talk eggs!! Sure everyone wants a big fresh chicken egg to do their baking, cooking, and provide breakfast… But raising chickens isn’t always conducive to those homesteading in town. Many neighborhoods, HOAs and cities are openly HOSTILE towards chickens! Dumb, I know… they don’t bark at all hours of the night, they don’t crap in the neighbors’ kids’ sandboxes, and there are already noise and smell ordinances that could be enforced… why outlaw them? *Deep sigh* well, there are alternatives to chickens.
I’ve covered Muscovy Ducks already, but we’re keeping it small today! Quail is the mighty yet tiny replacement for chickens!! They are small, easily managed birds. With proper equipment they are very low maintenance. The hens lay around 300 eggs a year and start laying as early as 35 days of age. By comparison, chickens lay 260 eggs a year, and don’t start until they are 6 months old, roughly.
Quail are 40% more efficient than chickens. It takes 4 quail to replace one chicken in egg volume, even though it takes 5 quail eggs to replace one chicken egg. They just lay more. PLUS the eggs are MUCH more yoke rich, making for a richer, more enjoyable taste. You can raise the birds for their meat as well! Delicious little morsels!! Depending on the breed, you get about 4 ounces of meat from the breasts, and about half an ounce to an ounce from the legs. And boy are they TASTY!!
SO remember folks, its not the SIZE of your meat source that matters… Its the function, effectiveness, efficiency and all the fun you have raising it! So if you’re into efficient homesteading, get out there and breed some bunnies and keep some quail!!