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January 03, 2007

Quail

My kids adore quail eggs, due in large part to their gorgeous brown speckles and miniature size (they were convinced that they must have chocolate inside the first time they had them).
It occurred to me the other day while I was boiling some for breakfast that I might be able to get away with keeping quail as pets. I found this article on the Cityfarmer website about raising them in the city. I wouldn't be raising them for meat, but most of the information still applies.

They are apparently very quiet and easy to clean up after (because their waste is solid) - what I don't know is, how many quail would it take to keep the four of us in fresh eggs? They're so cute that it isn't at all a stretch to imagine keeping them as pets.
Does anyone have any experience with these birds that they'd be willing to share?

10 comments:

Chelee said...

I'm very curious to find out about this as well. We've thought about chickens but they seem so big and messy. What do their eggs taste like?

Carla said...

The eggs really are beautiful. Who wouldn't adore them?

El said...

My guess is you'll need a lot of birds. We've got 3 chickens and they supply us 3 people well, but 6 birds would help all the requests we get for their dee-lish eggs. My other guess is that quail probably aren't as domestically adaptable as a chicken is (it has to do with 4,000 years of chicken husbandry) so you may need to be satisfied with a few precious eggs.

Cheryl said...

Chelee - They taste just like chicken eggs.
I'd have chickens if I could, but we're not allowed to here (although our neighbors found one in their front yard last year, so someone must be raising them!).

El - You're probably right about needing a lot of birds to get enough eggs, most of the things I've read talk about using them as meat birds rather than egg producers. I guess I better do some more research.

Phelan said...

I have thought about getting them. Maybe on the next round. We like to hard boil their eggs, then crack them without peeling and allow them to soak in tea. This gives them the marbled look once peeled. {We also do it in food coloring, my boys love it} They make interesting deviled eggs.

Teri said...

I saw some quail chicks at the feed store. They were so cute! I met a man once that raised chukars. He called them his "insecticides". He had small fenced areas that he grew peas on trellises and the chukars had the run of them. They also had a small shed they were put up in at night.

Cheryl said...

Phelan - Oh, they'd make cute deviled eggs. We'll have to try the tea thing out next time we have them!

Teri - What a great idea - a chukar tractor! I'm off to research chukars...

shannon said...

I know coturnix quail are easy to keep in a hutch, almost like rabbits, and they start laying super -early - at 6 weeks compared to 6 months for chickens! I'd get at least six, since you'll want at least a few. It's one of the things we want to try one of these days too!

Cheryl said...

Shannon - Wow, six weeks is amazingly quick! I've heard that they don't need a lot of space, which is why they're so appealing. Six birds sounds very manageable.
Thanks!

Andrew Cavanagh said...

Each hen will lay about 300 quail eggs a year.

Quail eggs taste pretty much like chicken eggs...the yolk is a little larger relative to the egg size.

4 quail eggs are equal to about one chicken egg.

So if you had 4 people and you wanted the equivalent of 1 chicken eggs each a day (4 chicken eggs a day) that would be about 16 quail eggs.

To get 16 quail eggs a day would take about 20 quail hens.

The good news:
# Quails are usually very reliable layers so you tend to get close to the same number of eggs day in and day out. You'll get a BIG egg return on your feed...quite a bit more than chickens.

# They're good tempered. Usually the only problems you get are if you have more than one rooster in a cage.

# They don't require big cages. In fact low cages (one foot high) are best so they don't jump too high and "brain" themselves on the roof.

Having said that I'd give them lots of space to run and move if possible.

They prefer being on deep litter and being able to run amongst plants.


The bad news:
# They're pray for nearly everything from snakes to rats, cats, dogs etc. so you need to make their cage secure.

# You should probably have one rooster to three hens. If you're only keeping them for eggs you don't need roosters which makes things a lot simpler.


As a general guideline I'd say quails are perfect if you're already going to buy feed and you make a good secure cage for them...preferably something that can take deep litter on the floor.

Chickens will devour a wider variety of scraps more readily than quail so if you're after waste disposal you should probably have at least one or two chickens.

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