If you are limited on space, or just over your chickens, but you love the thought of raising your own meat and eggs, you might want to consider raising quail. Due to their small size, they are ideal for those who want something relatively easy to care for.
Quail meat is considered to be quite the delicacy. It is tender, juicy, and a tad more flavorful than chicken. Purchasing quail meat from a grocery store will not only set you back a couple of big bucks, but it is also hard to find. If you want to try quail before you buy quail, consider a date night at the fanciest restaurant you know.
Raising quail for meat can be quite lucrative, so if you are looking to start a new meat operation, quail will probably make you some decent dough.
Not surprisingly, quail eggs are also a lovely little delicacy. Picture pretty spotted little eggs in a basket during springtime holidays, or a soft boiled quail egg cracked over your asparagus.
Quail eggs taste very similar to chicken eggs, in fact, you probably can’t even tell the difference in flavors. Since they are smaller, however, you usually need two quail eggs to make up for a chicken egg when baking or cooking.
The nutritional value between chicken and quail eggs stay about the same, depending on how they are raised. Some will tell you quail eggs are slightly more nutritious than chicken eggs.
The Coturnix Quail – A Dual-Purpose Quail Breed
The nifty thing about quail is that you don’t typically have to choose between two different breeds of quail to have both meat and eggs. So if you are used to having broiler chickens and laying hens to satisfy your protein needs, you will be delighted to know that one of the most popular breeds of quail is considered to be dual-purpose.
The Coturnix quail is your best bet if you want a bird to supply you with both meat and eggs, so throughout this article, that’s the quail we are talking about.
The Coturnix is widely known for its “heft” in that it produces a nice bit of quail meat for the supper table. This quail comes in standard sizes and jumbo…so depending on the amount of space you have, you may opt for the big version which weighs in at about 13 ounces of meat when all is said and done.
As a quail that can keep up with the most productive chicken layers, the Coturnix can lay up to 300 itty bitty eggs per year if healthy and happy.
So, as you can see, the Coturnix quail is the whole package if you are looking for both meat and eggs from your birds.
Raising Quail for Meat
Let’s say you are raising your quail for some extra meat for your family, and you aren’t planning on doing any large scale processing or meat sales. You can easily care for your meat and egg birds in the same manner.
However, if you do want to get the biggest bang for your buck, and you want a big juicy quail supper, you should consider implementing the following things for your meat-specific quail.
Raise in the Dark
It may sound a bit rude to raise quail in darkly lit areas, however, those who have come before us know that limiting meat birds’ movements makes them grow fast and gain weight quickly.
If your quail wake up to the sunlight, they naturally become active and flighty if they have a lot of space to bomb around in. This can cause them to lose their muscle mass, and in turn, their meat can become tough. So, for example, free ranging quail would not be a wise option if you are wanting them to gain mass quicker.
Since it sounds pretty unfair to keep your quail in darkness, perhaps consider investing in an instant pot or crockpot for your quail.
There are quite a few different kinds of feed for game birds, and the type of feed you choose depends on how you plan to utilize your quail.
If you are keeping all your birds in one pen, and all are being kept for both meat and eggs, you can feed everyone the same thing: a maintenance blend.
However, if you want fast-growing quail for meat, you will need a finishing feed that is high in protein and formulated for meat game birds. This feed is also used for raising quail for hunting purposes. We have a complete guide to feeding your quail if you are wanting something more specific.
Your Meat Birds May Lay Eggs
If you keep your meat quail in the dark, they probably won’t lay as many eggs as those exposed to the sunlight every day. However, you can still expect to gather eggs from your meat birds on a fairly regular basis.
Raising Quail for Eggs
You might have guessed that there are only a few differences in how you would raise quail for eggs vs. meat. So, let’s go over some of the important tidbits of info on your layers.
What to Feed Quail for Eggs?
Layers Need Calcium
Quail are tiny birds, and they lay a lot of eggs. To keep up with their own egg factories, they need lots of calcium in their diet. There are game bird layer feeds explicitly formulated for quail being raised for their eggs.
Layers Lay Everywhere
Unlike chickens, quail lay their eggs anywhere, and everywhere. No need to worry about a nesting box for these little bitties. If you are raising your quail in a ground pen, they will plop their eggs all over the pen. If you plan to collect eggs, you may want to look into a cage that has an egg-collection tray in it or creating one yourself like the one shown here.
Remember, eggs left unharvested can get dirty or squished, so be sure to collect regularly.
Should I Separate My Quail?
While you can raise quail for meat and eggs, and keep all birds together, there are some obvious reasons to keep them apart if you are raising for production and yield. Feed formulated for one use will not benefit a bird intended for a different purpose. This goes for the same for other birds, even if you are raising both chickens and quail for the same reason, it is recommended to separate them as well. Bottom line is, before you buy your chicks, consider whether you want eggs, meat, or both.
Regardless of which protein is important to you, you can easily make any situation work by either separating them or keeping them together. Just remember, that if you keep them in the same pen, neither yield will be optimized, but both will probably be sufficient for your family.