There are over 130 different kinds of quail throughout the world but, if you are thinking of raising your own, there’s a handful of top-notch quail breeds suitable for the homesteader. Out of the 130-some quail breeds, 5 are most commonly found in the backyards of bird lovers.
Each breed offers something a little different, so which is the best for you? Read on to find out!
1. The Best Quail to Raise for Profit: The Coturnix Quail
The Coturnix quail is the most popular breed of quail amongst those looking for a bird that can produce a lot of protein. Because of their rapid growth rate, the Coturnix is ready for processing at approximately 9 weeks of age. Compared to the time it takes a standard chicken to mature, that’s a pretty speedy aging process.
The Coturnix dresses out at around 8 ounces, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s more than the rest of the quail breeds on this list.
This dual-purpose breed can lay up to 200 eggs per year and starts laying eggs at 6 weeks of age. Again, that’s amazing compared to the how long it takes for chickens to lay which is 24 weeks.. With that being said, a quail has a much shorter lifespan than their chicken counterparts; approximately 2 years.
So, if you want a quail breed for both meat and eggs and fast, this is the bird for you and your family.
And if you plan to make a profit on your quail meat, the Coturnix is the broiler of quail.
2. The Best Dual-Purpose Quail Breed: The Bobwhite Quail
Did I say, dual-purpose? I mean tri-purpose, because this is a fantastic breed for meat, eggs, and to raise for sport.
Bobwhites are another favorite amongst homesteaders, though they don’t mature as quickly as the Coturnix quail, which is why they aren’t a favorite for a commercial operation.
This plucky little bird is named after its call, which sounds like they are singing the words, “bob white.” Their song is undeniably adorable, and it makes sense that they were named for it.
Bobwhites are approximately the same size as the Coturnix at maturity, but again, it takes them longer to get there. They will also lay eggs regularly for their farmers; however, they don’t lay nearly as much as the Coturnix; only about 100-200 eggs per year.
If you are an avid hunter or would like to raise quail for sport, you could take your pick with either the Coturnix or the bobwhite. However, the bobwhite tends to flush better than the Coturnix. Flushing is a desirable flight pattern for bird hunters and dog trainers.
The bobwhite is an irritable little quail, which also makes it a great game bird for hunters. They are a tad more agile, get off the ground faster, and thus are much more challenging to hunt.
3. The Best Ornamental Quail Breed: California
There’s no denying that quail are pretty little birds, with trill-like songs. Lover’s of poultry and other avian creatures may simply fall head over heels for the quail. In that case, perhaps meat and eggs aren’t as important as entertainment and companionship.
When you picture a quail, and the adorable cartoon-like bird with the topknot from Bambi goes scurrying across your thoughts, you are probably thinking of the California quail.
California quail are mostly kept for pleasure, and to add an exotic aesthetic to the yard or home. This breed tends to be much smaller than the Bobwhite and Coturnix; thus, there is very little meat or eggs to be had. That’s not saying the California quail couldn’t be eaten, or eggs be sampled, but there’s probably not much of a meal to be had even if you feed them properly.
4. The Best Pet Quail: Button Quail
The Button quail is the teeny-tiny version of the larger quails mentioned here and is another novelty-type bird. You can even find these cuties in some pet stores.
The Button has all the quirks and behavioral traits as the wild quail, and the quail raised for meat, they are just smaller and easier to keep in an aviary or some type of ground pen.
So, if you just want a pretty little quail, or five, for your collection and aren’t concerned with meat or eggs, this is your go-to quail.
As an added bonus, the Button quail is also a quieter breed of quail, so if you have an indoor aviary, they shouldn’t cause too much trouble with the neighbors and should be perfectly happy as long as you have a quail feeder and water inside.
And if you decide to allow your Buttons to hatch their chicks, or incubate, plan on having the cutest little chicks bopping around the brooder.
5. The Best Wild Quail to Attract: Blue Scale Quail
Remember, quail are considered game birds, and they live in the wild. Perhaps raising confined quail isn’t really what you are after, and maybe you’d rather attract wild quail to your property.
Watching quail interact with their natural environment is a treat. They are ground birds that keep busy by foraging for grains and seeds. Quail aren’t known to be noisy game birds, unlike the Guinea Fowl, and some enjoy their soft cooing and trilling songs.
If you want to attract wild quail to your property, consider targeting the California, depending upon where you live, but another well-loved wild quail to consider is the Blue Scale Quail.
The Blue Scale is a pretty, exotic-looking, little quail that does very well in the wild. They are hardy and travel in coveys most of the year.
In general, the Blue Scale is mostly found in the wild, unlike the bobwhite and Coturnix. To some, it would be laughable to consider free-ranging these quail because of their large size; however, let’s not forget that quail are game birds and are excellent at foraging and surviving in the wild.
As you can see, there’s a little something for everyone in the quail family. Whether you are looking to profit from your birds, or just add a pretty little pet to your aviary, there’s a quail for that. Be sure to check out our complete guide on raising quail.