Quails are underrated poultry birds. They may be tiny compared to chicken, but these dual-purpose birds provide healthy meat and tasty eggs, making them perfect for homesteading.
Are you looking for quail breeds that are ideal for new poultry keepers like you?
There are about 20 quail species globally, and 6 of them can be found in the US. Each has different strengths, but not all quail breeds are suitable for poultry farming.
So, today, we’ll give you a quick tour of the quail world and introduce you to the:
- Different types of quails you can choose from
- Best quails for eggs and meat production
- And provide tips on how to raise quails
If you’re a beginner looking to start a quail farming business, you’ll gain many insights from this quail-comprehensive guide.
Quails Breeds That Are Ideal for New Poultry Keepers
There are two main types of quail, or species homesteaders prefer to get, and each has different varieties that have been bred to produce various colors and characteristics.
To identify what quail species fits you, you need to consider some factors as their meat, egg-laying capabilities, looks, and temperament.
You have to decide what matters to you the most to make the right decision.
The amount of room you have for your quail may also be a factor in deciding which variety you want for your farm. Some birds need bigger cages and higher roofs than others.
You also need to know the advantages and disadvantages of each breed and their availability.
So, what is the best quail to raise out of the many choices out there?
1. Best Quail for Eggs and Meat: Coturnix Quail (Coturnix japonica)
It is also known as Japanese quail. This type is popular among small poultry farmers and new homesteaders because they’re a dual-purpose breed.
Coturnix quail are tiny birds with a robust physique and mottled brown, white, and gray feathers with a size that’s in between the size of a songbird and a crow.
There are different types of Coturnix quails, including:
- British Range
- English White
- Manchurian Golden
It reaches full maturity at 6 to 8 weeks and can produce more than 100 eggs in a year, beginning at 6 or 7 weeks old.
- Texas A&M
The breed produced by the university of the same name has lighter meat and skin and reaches 12 ounces in just eight weeks. Thanks to their top-notch quality, the Texas A&M quail eggs are famous and in demand.
Why Coturnix Quails Are the Quail Breeds That Are Ideal for New Poultry Keepers?
These Birds are the Best quails for Meat Production
It’s the best quail for meat and egg production because it only takes 6 to 8 weeks for them to fully mature and start laying eggs, making them the most lucrative option.
They’re the Best Egg Laying Quails
It has to be the best egg-laying quail on this list, with an average of 300 eggs produced in a year. And their eggs only take 17 to 27 days to hatch.
They Have a Docile temperament.
Another quality that makes this bird perfect for new poultry keepers is its easygoing but hearty temperament. They’re not hard to tame, and they can be cuddly at times. They show little to no aggression, and they can tolerate cold climates.
The Disadvantage of Coturnix Quails:
Prone to predators
The only downside of this quail bird is its inability to fly a few more inches off the ground. Therefore, they’re prone to predators, especially in the wild, and you can’t use them for training hunting dogs. However, they can still assist puppies that are practicing.
2. Best Quail for Sports: Bobwhite Quail
This quail bird has to be one of the most popular on this list. Cause why not? It’s beautiful and helpful in hunting and training bird dogs. On top of that, they have pretty good meat.
Bobwhite quail’s size is almost similar to Coturnix, but they look different because they have markings on their faces that seem like eyeliner.
This quail breed has a peculiar call that rises in pitch and almost sounds like the bird is saying “bob-white.” Many people are raising Bobwhite quail for hunting and sports dog.
Bobwhite quail come in roughly 22 different types, most of which differ primarily in color, although some have been carefully developed to be more aggressive than others for hunting purposes.
Advantage of Bobwhite Quails:
They can fly high
Bobwhite can fly like any other bird. Many people use a bobwhite quail to train hunting dogs. Also, they tend to fly up when they get startled and might hit their head on the roof and die.
Therefore, this quail breed needs a high roof. A netting roof can also be an alternative.
They can incubate their eggs.
Bobwhite quail will incubate their eggs, which may be desirable for homesteaders wishing to increase their quail population without incurring the cost and effort of learning to hatch eggs properly.
The Downsides of Bobwhite Quails:
Difficult to raise
Unlike Coturnix quails, this type of quail takes 16 weeks to mature and become a good flight bird and 26 weeks to start laying and reproducing. That sounds like a lot of waiting time right there!
Needs a cage
For the bobwhite, you’ll need netting and space to fly around. Coturnix does not need to be kept in a cage.
Takes a long time to develop
Bobwhite quail, like the Coturnix, can be utilized for meat and eggs, but it takes 16 weeks for the bobwhite to mature. That’s a two-and-a-half-month extension, and it doesn’t start laying eggs for another month.
Some are aggressive
There are bobwhite quail strains that have been selected to remain wild and have been cultivated expressly for release in hunting preserves. For example, the Tennessee Red bobwhite is very violent and cannot be kept with other birds.
Other Types of Quail You Might Want to Consider:
1. California Quail
If you’re just looking for a fancy pet bird, this might be the one for you.
This quail bird boasts a comma-shaped plume that protrudes from the forehead, comprising a cluster of 6 overlapping feathers.
Males look plumper, short-legged, forward-facing birds with black and white scaly bellies with chestnut patches and white streaks on the side. They have a black face outlined in white and a rich brown crown.
On the other hand, the females don’t have the solid black and white head markings as the males since they’re primarily brownish-gray on the neck and face.
This quail breed is the official bird of the state of California, and you can find it everywhere in the state. It looks similar to the Gambel quail in many ways, and they’re both ornamental birds.
These birds don’t mind if there are people around them. That’s why you may be able to spot them in city parks, suburban gardens, and agricultural areas. Their attractive look makes them a head-turner and an excellent addition to finches, softbills, and tiny parrots.
Their nurturing nature
Broods of this quail may live with their parents, and the adults care for their young ones well. That parenting technique helps the young ones live longer.
Not a great layer
This breed is not the quail breed that’s ideal for new poultry keepers looking to harvest lots of eggs since they’re not as productive as Japanese or Coturnix quails.
2. Gambel’s Quail
These quail birds feature a unique turf on their foreheads and different patterns, including gray, chestnut, and cream. They can be found in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.
They mate in single pairs, and these birds can fly to escape to the wild when not in a cage.
And here’s a fantastic fact about the way they hatch eggs:
The mothers call their chicks, and their eggs will hatch in synchrony. That’s undoubtedly an exciting sight to behold!
Most people raise Gambel’s quail because of their beautiful feathering. Females are usually short-legged with short and forward-facing crest, buffy belly and chestnut patches, and white streaks on the side.
But male Gambel quail are more colorful because they sport creamy buff belly with black patches on the center and a bright cinnamon crown, and their topknot is longer. On the other end, females are relatively gray on the head and neck with shorter topknots.
The mated pairs of this bird may attack other quails or birds that dwell in the ground. That’s why it’s best to put them in aviaries.
Demands lots of time and attention
These birds also take six months to mature. And it takes time before their youngs learn to eat, so the parents feed their babies longer than other quail species. Therefore, it’s not among the quail breeds that are ideal for new poultry keepers looking for a profitable option.
3. Blue Scale Quail
These birds are among the rare quail breeds that you can find in the wilds of Kansas, Colorado, and Central Mexico from September to April. Also known as cotton tops, they’re friendly, and they prefer to live in large groups.
Their attractive patterns on the side of their body, head, and topknot make them look more striking. They like to nest in sandy soils, and when they get scared, these tiny birds don’t fly. They run away instead.
They’re good layers
These birds may not be as excellent a layer as Coturnix, but they are strong layers that produce spotted eggs, and they have a calm and gentle temperament you would love.
Rare and expensive
These birds are also hard to find and purchase because, as mentioned earlier, they belong to the rare quail breeds.
4. The King Quail
You may recognize this quail quickly, thanks to its distinctive blue shade in its body and black and white pattern on its neck that stretches through its beak.
It’s also called Button quail or Chinese-painted quail. They weigh about 1.5 to 2 ounces, and they’re ideal as pets and can live in aviaries as long as you provide them quality feed and water.
They mature fast
These birds reach full maturity in about 12 weeks, which is fast enough compared to Bobwhite quails and other species in this list.
Not hardy in a cold climate
King quails thrive in warm climates but can’t endure cold temperatures. So, it’d be best to put their cage indoors unless you live in a warm area.
These striking birds are good at brooding over their chicks. However, the stress of laying eggs overwhelms them and causes them to die.
5. Mountain Quail
It is a giant quail breed in the United States that weighs about 9 ounces at full maturity. Like the Bobwhite and Gambel quail, this breed also takes six months to be fully mature, but it’s a lot more expensive than regular birds.
Unique plume reveals their mood
Demanding of time and effort
Raising this quail species take lots of time and effort since you have to hand-feed this bird until they learn how to feed themselves.
These birds can be very aggressive towards children and other birds. So, they’re not the quail breeds that are ideal for new poultry keepers with children who love to play with birds.
How to Raise Quail Breeds That Are Ideal for New Poultry Keepers
After finding and purchasing the quail breeds that are ideal for new poultry keepers like you, it’s time to take the next challenge, raising these birds. This can be a bit tricky since you’ll need to make sure that you will meet all their needs. But we’ve got you covered.
Here are some tips on how to raise the best egg-laying quail like Coturnix and other quails.
1. Secure the quail’s house and run
You need to protect your quails from different predators, including rats. Some rodents may just look for food at first and gorge on it. Others will leave if they don’t find any food, but the desperate rats might attack your quail.
It might sound terrifying, but you can keep your birds safe by securing the runs and quail coop with a durable wire mesh. It would also help raise your cage off the ground for about 4 inches because rats can burrow on the ground and enter.
Since quail produce lots of ammonia in their droppings, their house must have proper ventilation. They can live with or without a run since you can incorporate some grass or other greens in their diet.
They don’t need to have elaborate nest boxes and perches, so it’d be best not to spend a massive amount on chicken coop just for them. Hence, they need a house similar to rabbit hutches with a dark place to lay eggs.
You will also need to make adjustments for your quail’s safety during the winter months. When the temperature hits the freezing point or below, some people move the cage into a garden shed or garage.
But you can keep outside as long as it has enough bedding materials and insulation, and you’ll shut their house during cold and wet days. You must also cover the ventilation when there are strong winds.
2. Provide quail food that meets their needs
If you want your birds to be healthy and yield more eggs, you have to give them food that meets their protein and other basic quail nutrient requirements.
You can support young quails’ growth by giving them the best quail feed with at least 24% crude protein level.
You may also notice your birds do feather pecking if they get bored or low in protein. Since their feathers are composed mainly of proteins, they’ll be tempted to eat them due to the deficiency. So getting the right food is crucial.
At the age of 5 to 6 weeks, you need to transition them into a grower/finisher feed. Turkey feeds have more protein than chicken feeds, so they’re more ideal for quails.
By the 10th week of their lives, they’ll need breeder feeds with 18 to 20% protein. You may find some specialist quail feed with seeds and pellets by this time.
Note that adult quails can consume 15g of feed per day, and you have to support them with green foods, like grasses and other leafy greens.
3. Give them some boredom busters
Quails birds tend to be bored in their home. So, if you can’t let them free-range, it’d best to provide things to climb on, like logs. Pieces of wood on top of some bricks will also do.
They’d also love it if you could allocate an area where they can dust bath and relax.
4. Treat lice as soon as possible
Your quails may also suffer from over-preening if they’re infested with lice and other parasites. So, we recommend getting it treated with treatment the same as chickens as soon as possible. Your quails will surely thank you for that.
Benefits of Raising Quails for New Poultry Keepers
These birds are becoming a popular choice for homesteaders, and there are many reasons why raising quail is beneficial and fulfilling. It includes the following:
Quail eggs and meat are profitable.
Most quails are edible, even the wild ones. But as mentioned above, the quail breeds that are ideal for new poultry keepers are the Coturnix quails because they take less time to mature. By the young age of 6 to 8 weeks, they can already start laying eggs, and you can already harvest their meat.
You can also sell quail meat in high-end restaurants, local establishments, and farmer’s markets. But you’ll need to check your local laws to ensure you’re following the protocols.
Their feathers can be used for crafts.
Many fishermen like using exotic-looking quail feathers to create fly lures since it’s petite and fits the bill perfectly. Ornamental birds are a bit expensive, though.
Quail manures are good fertilizers.
Raising quail will benefit you from gardening because their manures are good fertilizers like chickens. However, it’s high in nitrates.
Therefore, you’ll need to age it for a few months and add a straw and other compost to get the right mixture. Otherwise, your plants will get burned and die.
Quail birds can clean themselves.
In case you didn’t know, quails take hygiene seriously. They love having dust baths to keep themselves mite and pest-free like chickens.
So, this calls for the need for sand to enjoy a spa break.
Common Questions by New Poultry Keepers About Quails
Are quails easier to raise than chickens?
Raising quail is easy because, aside from the fact that they’re less than half the size of chickens, they also don’t cost much to feed. These birds also don’t take too many resources, time, and space in your backyard.
Are quails low maintenance?
Quails are low-maintenance birds since they live in a hutch that is easier to build and clean than a coop. They won’t take much of your backyard space. Additionally, these birds cost less than chickens, and they’re a more budget-friendly option.
How many quail should I start with?
You can start quail farming even with just a small capital. You can start with about 40 to 50 birds, then increase the numbers. The recommended of quails is three females for every male.
Can you put quail and chickens together?
You can raise chickens and quails together, but they need a separate coop section and aviary. This way, you can protect your tiny quails from aggressive chickens.
Chickens can free-range too, but most quail farmers advise not to let quails because they could fly away and never return. Although it’s possible for you to free-range your quail, it’d best to keep them apart.
How many quail can I keep together in a cage?
If you put your quails on a wire cage that’s lifted off the ground, you can give 1 square foot of space per quail. So you can fit five to ten quail in a ten-square-foot enclosure. The usual cage size for a quail cage is 15 inches high and 18 inches wide.
Since these birds’ manure can quickly pile up together, it’d be best to put their cage off the ground, preferably on a wire cage to protect them from parasites and diseases from the droppings.
Is it profitable to raise quail?
Quail farming is a very profitable business. You can sell a processed quail bird for about $15, and their eggs’ price ranges from $3-$5 to as much as $10 per dozen, depending on your location.
Unlike chickens who take 5 to 6 months to fully mature, quail breeds that are ideal for new poultry keepers like Coturnix reach full maturity in just 6 to 8 weeks. And you can already expect them to lay eggs at that young age. Sounds appealing, right?
Are quail worth raising?
Yes, keeping and raising domesticated quails for eggs and meat is worth it because even if their eggs are tinier than chickens’, they have tender meat and delicious eggs.
On top of that, their size is manageable, and they’re easy to raise. These dual-purpose birds are not just enjoyable to care for. It also provides you with an egg-citing opportunity to start a new business venture.
Are quails noisy?
Male can be nosy, especially in the breeding season, and they call most of the night. But there are quite types of quail like the Coturnix quail. You might find their sound pleasant instead of winding you up.
What is healthier, chicken or quail?
Quail meat provides more minerals and amino acids, and it has four times more vitamin C than chicken. It also contains vitamin A but others don’t.
So, quail eggs are healthier, although it’s smaller than chickens. These tiny eggs also offer more fat, protein, iron, vitamin B12, and riboflavin than chicken eggs.
So, What Are the Quail Breeds That Are Ideal for New Poultry Keepers?
To wrap it up, California quail is the quail breed to go if you’re just looking for aesthetics and pleasure. Button quails are also gorgeous. That’s why it’s a popular choice as pet quail.
However, Bobwhite quails are ideal for new poultry keepers planning to raise quail for hunting and sports and provide some meat and eggs at the same time.
On the other hand, the Blue-scale quail, one of the rare quail breeds globally, is the choice for those who like collecting unique quail species. They’re expensive since it’s one of the rare quail birds, but their calmness and gentleness can make them worth the price.
But the quail breeds that are ideal for new poultry keepers is the Coturnix quails because it only takes 6 to 8 weeks to reach full maturity and start laying eggs. At that time, they’re ready for the dinner table too.
They’re the most profitable option and the easiest to raise. Since Coturnix or Japanese quails are calm like the Blue-scale quail, it’s also a quail ideal for children.
So, which of these birds do you plan to purchase as a new poultry keeper? Please share it with us in the comment section below.
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