Coturnix quail size

Coturnix quail size DEFAULT

Now you’ve decided to raise some quails. The next thing is deciding which quail breed will be best for you. With over a hundred quail species, deciding on the best can be difficult.

When I tell people I’m raising some quails in my backyard, they just assume it’s the Bobwhite breed, but that’s not the case. So, what species of Quail breeds should you raise?

I’m going to show you the best quail breeds to raise to meet your meat, eggs, and hunting need – whichever the case may be.

Quail Birds

Quail is a general name for a group of medium-sized birds, popularly raised for meat, eggs, and hunting. They’re colony breeders, with a preference for nesting on the ground. Quails are generally inexpensive to purchase and raise.

They are grouped by scientists into two families – the Old World and the New World – which share physiological characteristics. The Old World Quail (the Phasianidae family) consists of the Coturnix quail, where we have the Common quail, Rain quail, Harlequin quail, and the Brown quail.

The New World quail (the Odontophoridae family) has the California quail, Mountain quail, Bobwhite quail, Gambel quail, and Elephant quail.

The birds are highly nutritious, containing protein, vitamins, and minerals. An average quail lays about 200 eggs every year, and are most productive when they’re between 2 and 8 months of age. The most popular breeds are the Coturnix quail and the Bobwhite quail, but there are several other species of the fascinating bird.

There are over 130 quail species, so picking the ones to raise will depend on whether you want to raise them for meat, eggs, or hunting. However, it’s essential always to consider the quail’s size, age of maturity, egg production, and ease of caring for them before making your decision.

Here are the seven best quail breeds to raise:

1. Coturnix Quail

quails species

The Coturnix Quail is the best quail breed to raise for meat and egg right in your backyard. They offer lots of eggs and meat compared to other quail breeds. They belong to the Old World category of Quail birds and tend to be very hardy.

The Coturnix Quail is also known as the Japanese quail, Pharaoh Quail, or Jumbo Quail. They’re the easiest Quail breed to raise, as they have a very calm temperament. If you’re new to homesteading, they’re your best bet.

The Coturnix comes in different colors; it requires a small place and little attention.

The bird reaches maturity in about seven weeks when they start laying eggs. So you don’t have to wait for several months to lay your hands on quality eggs and meat. If you need the hens to lay and hatch their eggs, you’ll need one rooster to about three to seven hens.

There are different types of Coturnix you can choose from:

  • Golden Coturnix
  • Jumbo Coturnix
  • English White
  • Tibetan
  • Tuxedo
  • Rosetta

So which of them is the best to go for? I prefer Jumbo species. If you’re looking for a quail species to produce you enough meat and eggs, I suggest you go for the Jumbo. They’re easy to identify and a lot calmer compared to other birds. We have a complete guide to raise quail if you are wanting something more specific.

2. The King Quail

quail species

Also known as the Button Quail or the Chinese-painted Quail, these characteristic small birds are prevalent among homesteaders and poultry owners. They’re beautiful birds with colorful feathers, weighing about 1.5 – 2 ounces. They mature very fast, reaching full maturity in about 12 weeks.

Button quails die quickly, due to the stress of laying eggs. They produce tiny eggs, and might not be a good fit if you’re looking to have lots of eggs. They’re, however, better birds when it comes to brooding over their chicks.

They are native to warm climates, so hardly do well in cold temperatures.  It’s better to keep them in cages indoors, except you live in a warm area. The King quail prefers to be in the company of other birds, and so you should keep them with at least one other bird.

Button Quails are great pets and can be an excellent addition to your aviary. As long as you have quality quail feed and water in the aviary, they’ll do just fine.

3. Bobwhite Quail

best quail for eggs

Scores of people raise the Bobwhite Quail for a couple of reasons. Top on the ladder is that they are good hunting birds, although they also make for an excellent meat source. There are about seven types of Bobwhite breed, all of different sizes, with the largest type reaching about 6 ounces. The species do not produce enough eggs as other species.

The Bobwhite Quail takes about six months to mature, meaning you’ll have to wait a long time before reaping your rewards. However, they can lay throughout the year once they attain maturity, as long as the conditions are right.

Also, they are pretty aggressive birds when breeding, so it’s best to keep them in pairs during that period. They are native to the United States, so you might need a permit to raise them.

If you’re raising the Bobwhite for meat, you have to keep them in cages and prevent them from flying. Since the specie has not been entirely domesticated, they can occasionally be startled.

When they feel startled, they fly up and could hit their head on the roof and die. If you want to prevent that from happening, it’s best to build the roof of their pens very high or use a netting roof.

The Bobwhite is the best option is you want to raise quail species for sport. Although the Coturnix is also a great choice, Bobwhite is far better at the flushing flight pattern. They have great agility, speed, and spontaneity, making them the choice game bird for many hunters.

4. Gambel Quail

quail breeds

Another type of breed you can raise is the Gambel Quail, which is distinctive for the turf on their foreheads. They are native to Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Since they’re native birds to the United States, you’ll need a license to raise them.

The Gambel quails prefer to mate in single pairs. They are flighty birds prone to escaping into the wild because they aren’t fully domesticated. They are quite challenging to raise, demanding lots of care and attention. The birds learn to eat at a plodding pace, and they feed their young for longer compared to other quails.

Gambel Quails are as aggressive as their Bobwhite counterparts and require about six months to mature. Many people raise them primarily because they’re pretty birds, with different color patterns of gray, cream, and chestnut.

5. California Quail

different types of quail

The California quail is often mistaken for the Gambel Quail because of their striking similarities. The California quail is the official bird of the state of California, and it’s found throughout the state. They are ornamental birds, and most people keep them merely for entertainment.

The bird prefers to forage on the ground, and it’s common to find them in public places like parks and gardens. They make an excellent addition to aviaries with small parrots, softbills, and finches.

6. Mountain Quail

types of quail to raise

The Mountain Quail is not a very common species, but they’re unique birds. They are a little more expensive than your regular birds.

Raising them can be tedious, as their young require that you hand-feed them until they learn how to feed on their own. Just like the Bobwhite and Gambel Quail, they take about six months to mature and can be very aggressive.

They are the largest species native to the United States, reaching about 9 ounces at full maturity.

7. Blue-Scale Quail

types of quails

The Blue-scale quail is a rare breed, found in Kansas, Colorado, and Central Mexico.  Also known as Cotton-tops, they are difficult to find for purchase. They prefer to nest on sandy soils and move in large groups due to their social nature.

The Blue-Scale quails are strong layers, producing spotted eggs. It takes about six months for them to mature. Blue-scale quails are very calm and gentle birds. Instead of flying when scared, they run away.

Interestingly, the Blue-scale can be cross-bred with the Bobwhite to give an offspring known as a blob. Also, they can be bred with a Gambel to give a Scramble.


As we’ve seen, there’s a quail bird breed for just about every need. If you need a quail bird for meat and eggs, the Coturnix quail is what you’re probably looking for. If, however, you need a bird that can offer you meat, eggs, and sport, then the Bobwhite quail is your best option.

California Quails are great for pleasure and aesthetics, while Button Quails rank as the most desirable pet quail. If you want the thrill of a wild quail, then you’ll find one in a Blue-scale quail. Indeed, there’s a quail breed for everyone.


Geographic Range

In general, this quail inhabits parts of Russia (Johnsgard 1988) and eastern Asia, including Japan, Korea and China (Hoffmann 1988) as well as India (Finn 1911). It winters in China, southeast Asia, the extreme northwestern coast of Africa, and a subsaharan band north of Congo and including the Nile River valley from Egypt to Kenya. A small population has been found in Angola. Races of this quail are found in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi south to South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia as well as parts of Madagascar. This quail may breed in parts of Europe, Turkey, and central Asia to parts of China (Alderton 1992).


These quail are seen in grassy fields, on river banks, or in rice fields (Takatsukasa 1941).

Physical Description

The Japanese Quail is similar in appearance to the European Common Quail, Coturnix coturnix. Overall, they are dark brown with buff mottling above and lighter brown underneath. They have a whitish stripe above the eye on the side of the head. Legs are orangish-gray to pinkish-gray as is the beak (Hoffmann 1988). In contrast to the males, females usually (but not always) lack the rufous coloring on the breast and black flecking or markings on the throat (Johnsgard 1988).

There are variations in plumage color. Some birds are whitish to buff with rufous to chestnut mottling above. Others have a very dark brown appearance with little to no mottling. In addition, there have been golden-brown varieties bred in captivity (Hoffmann 1988).

Wing sizes in males and females is similar ranging from 92 to 101 mm. Both male and female have similar sized tails ranging from 35-49 mm in length (Johnsgard 1988).


As with other quail, eggs were laid at a rate of one per day (Lambert 1970), with 7-14 eggs per clutch (Hoffmann 1988). An egg averages 29.8 by 21.5 mm is size and weighs 7.6 g (Johnsgard 1988). Incubation time is 19-20 days (Lambert 1970), although clutch sizes have been associated with latitude and length of photoperiod. In Japan, clutch size is 5-8 eggs, while in Russia, clutch size is 5-9 eggs (Johnsgard 1988). The chicks are considered to be mature and able to mate after four weeks old (Hoffmann 1988).

The breeding season varies with location. In Russia, the season starts in late April and continues to early August. In Japan, nesting occurs from late in May and usually ends in August. On the rare occasion, eggs may be found in nests in September (Johnsgard 1988).



From studies of captive-bred Japanese quail, seven distinct displays and calls have been recognized in males. Three of the calls were also observed to be uttered by females (Johnsgard 1988). The call of this quail consists of "deep hollow sounds, several times repeated in quick succession" (Finn 1911). The male's call is typically three notes. The female will utter a "long" call which allerts the male to her receptivity to copulate (Johnsgard 1988). In addition, these quail engage in courtship-feeding. The male will hold a small worm in his beak, uttering a soft croaking call. The female approaches the male and takes the small worm to eat. The male then attempts to copulate with the female (Lambert 1970).

This quail and its European counterpart are migratory. Coturnix japonica will migrate to India (Finn 1911), northern Japan and Korea for the summer (Hoffmann 1988). They winter in southeast China, Hainan, Taiwan, and southern Japan. Their migration covers 400-1000 km, which is remarkable for a bird not known for its flying capability (Hoffmann 1988). Overall, their migration route follows a north-south pattern (Johnsgard 1988).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

These quail eat many kinds of grass seeds, including pannicum and white millet. Their diet consists of a higher degree of protein than Painted Quail as these quail will eat more small worms and insect larvae. In the summer, they will especially seek and eat a variety of insects and small invertebrates (Johnsgard 1988). In addition, they eat grit, especially egg-laying females (Lambert 1970).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

These quail and their eggs provide food for humans (Hoffmann 1988). Japanese Quail are also frequently seen in aviaries.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects on humans by this bird.

Conservation Status

With its broad breeding range, this quail is considered to be relatively secure in maintaining its populations in natural habitats (Johnsgard 1988).

This quail is closely related to the European Common Quail, Coturnix coturnix. In captivity, these quail will interbreed (Harper 1986) and produce fertile hybrids (Johnsgard 1988). Coturnix japonica has been domesticated since circa the 13th century (Hoffmann 1988). In their natural habitat, Coturnix japonica and C. coturnix have not been found to interbreed in areas where they are sympatric. Although these two forms are considered to be in an intermediate stage of speciation, they still warrant designation as two separate species (Johnsgard 1988).


Janice Pappas (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


Alderton, D. 1992. The Atlas of Quails. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications.

Finn, F. 1911. Game Birds of India and Asia. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co..

Harper, D. 1986. Pet Birds for Home and Garden. London: Salamander Books Ltd..

Hoffmann, E. 1988. Coturnix Quail. Taipei: Yi Hisien Publishing Co..

Johnsgard, P. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lambert, R. 1970. Notes on the breeding and behaviour of Japanese Quails. Avicultural Magazine, 76(5): 177-179.

Takatsukasa, N. 1941. Japanese Birds. Tokyo: Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways.

  1. 4x8 paneling for ceiling
  2. Preterite endings spanish
  3. Mha girlfriend quiz

Geographic Range

These migratory quail (Hoffmann, 1988; Alderton, 1992) have a breeding range in Europe, Turkey, and central Asia to China. They winter in India, China, southeast Asia, the extreme northwestern coast of Africa, and other parts of Africa, including a subsaharan band in central Africa, the Nile River valley from Egypt to Kenya, and Angola. There are African races in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi south to Namibia, South Africa, and Mozambique as well as in parts of Madagascar (Alderton, 1992). (Alderton, 1992; Hoffmann, 1988)


Common quail are terrestrial, temperate and tropical birds. Grasslands are the general habitat of common quail. Dense, tall vegetation is preferred, while forest edges and hedgerows are avoided. Cultivated fields of winter wheat, clover, and small grain crops are also used as nesting cover (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)

Physical Description

Common quail are approximately 17.5 cm in length (Alderton, 1992) and weigh 70 to 155 g. The wing length of males is 110 to 115 mm and 107 to 116 mm for females. The tail measures 31 to 38 mm for males and 36 to 44 mm for females (Johnsgard, 1988). (Alderton, 1992; Johnsgard, 1988)


Common quail pair-bonds can be very strong (Johnsgard, 1988). Males arrive in breeding areas prior to the females. They utter loud, gutteral "growl calls" in advance of the territorial call. Once the females arrive, they locate a nest site, then respond to the male's call with an "attraction call" which is a "whic! whic-ic" or " whit-whit'tit." The local male in that territory then engages in a "circle-display" for the female by ruffling his throat and breast feathers, his wing nearest the female droops to the ground, and he dances about in a circle around the female while uttering soft notes. Males will also engage in tidbitting. The female responds with an "invitation call" just prior to copulation (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)

Common quail construct their nests in grass. In Europe the breeding season is from mid-May to late August; in Africa, breeding occurs from September to March, although in Kenya they breed during the wet season, from January to February. Common quail may have up to three clutches per season (Johnsgard, 1988).

Eggs are pure white and approximately 2.5 cm or slightly larger in length (Hoffmann, 1988). They weigh approximately 8.5 g (Johnsgard, 1988). As with many quail, Coturnix are prolific layers (Hoffmann, 1988). Common quail in Europe lay between 8 and 13 eggs per clutch. In Africa, a clutch consists of 6 to 12 eggs; however, the larger number may reflect laying by two females (Johnsgard, 1988). Incubation time is 17 to 20 days (Johnsgard, 1988; Alderton, 1992).

The young quail are able to fly when they are eleven days old (Johnsgard, 1988; Alderton, 1992). (Alderton, 1992; Hoffmann, 1988; Johnsgard, 1988)

Common quail chicks are precocial. (Johnsgard, 1988)

  • no parental involvement
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization


We do not have information on the lifespan/longevity for this species at this time.


Common quail and Japanese quail embark on long distance migrations. Quail no more than two months old have been reported from areas of Europe and northern Africa (Johnsgard, 1988). Common quail fly at night (Alderton, 1992).

Males hold breeding territories where they call and display to attract females (Johnsgard, 1988). (Alderton, 1992; Johnsgard, 1988)

Home Range

We do not have information on the home range of this species at this time.

Communication and Perception

When on breeding territories male common quail utter loud, gutteral "growl calls" in advance of the territorial call. Females respond to the male's call with an "attraction call" which is a "whic! whic-ic" or " whit-whit'tit." The local male in that territory then engages in the "circle-display" to the female by ruffling his throat and breast feathers, his wing nearest the female droops to the ground, and he dances about in a circle around the female while uttering soft notes. Females give an "invitation call" just prior to copulation (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)

Food Habits

In general, common quail consume vegetative matter; however, their protein intake is greater than that of Chinese painted quail, Coturnix chinensis. Females require a high protein diet for breeding (Johnsgard, 1988). Weed seeds, cereal gleanings, and small insects and their larvae, including beetles, true bugs, ants, earwigs, and orthopterans are consumed (Johnsgard, 1988; Alderton, 1992). (Alderton, 1992; Johnsgard, 1988)


We do not have information on predation for this species at this time.

Ecosystem Roles

Common quail have an impact on the plants and insects they eat.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Common quail and their eggs provide food for humans. They are also common, well-liked birds of aviaries.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Humans are not adversely affected by common quail.

Conservation Status

Common quail are not listed by either the IUCN or CITES. However, local population declines have been reported as a result of habitat changes and hunting (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)

Coturnix have been depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphs dating back to circa 5000 B.C. (Hoffmann, 1988). These quail have been bred in captivity in large numbers since the 1920's (Hopkinson, 1926).

Coloration is very similar to Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica. The ranges of these two quail overlap, and they interbreed; therefore, the taxonomic status of C. coturnix and C. japonica has not been settled (Johnsgard, 1988; Alderton, 1992).

DNA hybridization data indicate that Coturnix is closely related to Francolinus and Alectoris (Johnsgard, 1988). (Alderton, 1992; Hoffmann, 1988; Hopkinson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988)


Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Janice Pappas (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Alderton, D. 1992. The Atlas of Quails. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications.

Hoffmann, E. 1988. Coturnix Quail. Canning, Nova Scotia: Hoffmann.

Hopkinson, E. 1926. Records of Birds Bred in Captivity. London: H.F. & G. Witherby.

Johnsgard, P. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

How To Raise JUMBO Coturnix Quail For Meat, Eggs \u0026 Profit - Day 1

Coturnix Quail Farming: Tips For Smooth Quailing

Reading Time: 7minutes

By Carolyn Evans-Dean – If you’re looking for an easy livestock addition for your backyard or homestead, you need look no further than the Coturnix quail for quail farming. They consume very little feed and require very little care to produce healthy, gourmet-quality quail eggs and meat for your family.

The recent surge in urban farming is shining a new light on these fabulous little birds, though they are equally suited to rural areas. First domesticated in Asia, quail belong to the family of birds called the Phasianidae that include chickens, pheasants and partridges.

Coturnix quail are gentle birds that come in many varieties and are easily raised in small spaces. Prized for their meat and egg production, they are considered to be fully grown at six weeks and begin to produce eggs at eight weeks. Unlike chicken roosters, the crow of a male quail is not as loud, nor does it carry as far. This makes the quail a neighbor-friendly choice for anyone who wants to start quail farming, even for those living in the city. As with any livestock, you will want to check with your local zoning office and the state to determine if a special permit is required before getting started with quail farming. In my home state of New York, it is illegal to raise or release domestic game birds without a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Most modern Coturnix quail begin their lives in an incubator, as their parents seem rather disinterested in hatching quail eggs. After 17-18 days of incubation, thumb-sized chicks emerge from speckled shells of the quail eggs. Though sluggish at first, the chicks begin to eat finely crushed game bird feed and drink water within a couple of hours of their hatch and begin running around at top speed. They do seem to have a death wish and can easily drown in a quail waterer. For that reason, we start our birds out with a few soda bottle caps as waterers. We place a marble in the center of it to prevent them from falling in.

Like chickens, quail require heat from a heat lamp for their first few weeks of life. An inadvertent chill can result in death within a very short period of time. The birds grow out quickly with adults weighing in at between 3-1/2 — 5-1/2 ounces and standing approximately five inches tall. The average lifespan seems to range from 1.5 years to 4 years.

Once they achieve adulthood, Coturnix quail have very basic requirements to maintain optimum health. Well-ventilated housing, access to clean water and a high-protein game feed are pretty much all that is needed for them to thrive.

Most people raising quail for eggs or meat prefer to grow them out in welded wire cages, resembling rabbit hutches. The wire used to construct the floor should have holes that are no larger than 1/4 inch in order to allow the birds’ feet to remain healthy. Wire also helps to keep the eggs and birds from becoming soiled. Each section of the cage should house only one male. An additional male in the cage will result in a fight to the death as each tries to assert his dominance over the hens. In a cold climate, fewer daylight hours will curtail laying activities unless supplemental lighting is provided. Quail hens require 14 hours of light per day in order to produce eggs. Though quail waterers are readily available at most feed stores, the water bottles commonly used for rabbits are a far better choice. They keep the birds from fouling the water and only have to be refilled every couple of days, making the daily chores related to quail farming minimal.

Quail are gentle birds, yet they can be a bit skittish. If they should happen to escape from a cage they can be a handful to recapture, even with a net. Our family found out the hard way just how difficult they can be to catch! Their bodies are just small enough to fit in the tightest crevices. Once they have gotten away, they are unlikely to return.

When it comes time to select a meat variety of quail, the Texas A&M is probably the most popular of quail species in America. Compared to other Coturnix quail, they tip the scale at 10-13 ounces in only seven weeks.

quail farming

You may be thinking that you really don’t need to add quail to the mix at your farm because you already have chickens and they produce eggs and meat, too. The big difference between raising chickens and quail farming is in the length of time that it takes to get a return. Chickens begin to lay eggs once they are between 18 and 26 weeks of age. A single quail hen can lay between 72 and 120 eggs during that same time frame. Split equally between hatching and eating, there is the realistic chance that at a minimum, one hen can produce 36 eggs for eating and about 25 new quail chicks to start the process all over again. Admittedly, about half of those 25 chicks will be males and won’t be biologically equipped to lay eggs. That’s okay, though, because they taste great on the grill at 7 weeks of age!

Once you’ve made the decision to start quail farming, you should have a business strategy for maintaining them. This doesn’t have to be complicated. If your family plans to eat the eggs and meat, then that may be all of the planning that you need. If you would like to find a market for your birds or eggs, then you will need to study your local market.

There are a few niches that can be explored to grow a quail farming business. Quail eggs are extremely popular in the Asian community, as they are used in the preparation of many authentic dishes. If you live in an area with a growing Asian population, then you might want to focus on that segment of the market. Better yet … try to locate an Asian market to carry your wares.

Some hunters and dog trainers like to train their animals using live quail. This could be a solution for someone who has too many non-productive, older birds. Look to local game hunting clubs for leads. Additionally, some game hunting facilities purchase birds to stock their ranges for their clientele.

Posting an advertisement on Craigslist might yield people interested in purchasing either hatching eggs or live birds. There may also be a demand for fully dressed birds in your area depending upon local laws pertaining to the slaughter of animals. Once people try quail meat, they will keep coming back for more.

Coturnix quail hatch out in 16-17 days, while most quail breeds hatch in 21-25 days. Quail chicks can easily drown in standard waterers, and extra care needs to be used in the setup. Carolyn's family uses soda bottle caps with a marble placed in the center to prevent accidental drowning

Quail eggs can also be boiled for use as a healthy snack for small children, who tend to have a fondness for tiny foods. When cooked with a splash of white vinegar in the boiling water, they peel easily and can be added to a lunch box.

If you live close to a city, quail eggs are also highly sought after by caterers for use as deviled eggs. Nothing says “trendy party” like bite-sized eggs on a serving tray! Fresh eggs can also be marketed at a premium price to upscale grocery stores.

Raise Coturnix Quail

Once you have established the business strategy for quail farming, it is easy to maintain your bevy (the proper name for a group of quail) at the optimum size to avoid feeding unneeded birds. Should demand for eggs and meat decrease, excess birds can be slaughtered and frozen until needed as meat. When the demand for eggs returns, fertile eggs can be set in an incubator. Within eight weeks, the egg and meat production is back to full capacity.

With very little work, good feed and some great recipes, you can look forward to smooth quailing when you get started with quail farming!

Stuffed Quail with Mushrooms

4 large, skinned quail
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 onions, diced
2 cups fresh moonlight mushrooms, sliced
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup melted salted butter


Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Debone the quail from the back, leaving the bird whole.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and minced garlic over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until caramelized and brown. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add in the breadcrumbs and chopped herbs. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Dividing the stuffing mixture equally among all birds, fill the cavity of each bird. Plump the birds up into their previous shape, then place each in a foil envelope and brush with melted butter. Place the quail in the oven to roast for 15 minutes. Open the foil and continue to cook for another 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve on a bed of rice. Enjoy!

Originally published in 2010 and regularly vetted for accuracy.


Size coturnix quail

Raising Quail for Eggs: The Perfect Solution for Urban Homesteaders

Raising Coturnix quail for quail eggs and/or quail meat is a viable option for small homesteads and urban situations.

You might be interested in the idea of raising pigeons for meat, too.

coturnix quail sitting on a basket of quail eggs

How to raise quail indoors or as backyard quail

I raise chickens for eggs, but I run across so many people who lament that they can’t. Homeowner Association regulations, city ordinances, or quite simply a lack of space confounds many who would like to gather fresh eggs daily.

When I started poking around for alternative ideas for my urban friends, I found a couple of sites dedicated to (or at least tackling) the idea of raising quail indoors.

Jessi from Epic Quailblog and Marcy from High Lonesome Homestead were both kind enough to answer some questions for me about raising Coturnix quail for eggs. Marcy is a busy homeschooler and homesteader and offered very brief answers; Jessi went into some serious detail.

There is a ton of information included here! Use the links below to jump to the answer to your specific question about raising quail.

Take a Peek Inside My Book!

Get a free excerpt from my book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living! You’ll also get my free weekly newsletter, complete with recipes, gardening tips, and a little peek at what’s going on around here — both the zany and the mundane.

Download the Sneak Preview!

Keeping quail indoors

Note: for the purposes of this interview, “quail” will refer to Jumbo Japanese or Coturnix quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica). Other species of quail have different requirements.

AS: Is raising quail really feasible in an indoor setting? What about odor? Are there other issues to consider?

EQ: Quail can certainly be kept indoors in small numbers. They do inevitably have some degree of odor, however.

A spare room, basement, porch, or garage is an ideal space for small quail setups. Ventilation is a key factor for all indoor setups. A ventilation fan that sucks air out of the room, like a ceiling bathroom fan, will remove most of the odor. Somewhere in the room should be a vent or window that opens to the outside for fresh air to come in and replace the stale air being removed.

It is important for the birds to have fresh air. Poor ventilation can lead to respiratory disorders. Note, however, that very young quail up to three weeks of age must be in a draft-free environment to prevent chills and illness as they cannot regulate their own body temperature until they are fully feathered.

quail chicks from above

Where to situate your Coturnix quail

Other factors to consider when raising quail include noise, pests, predators, and the mess factor. Male Coturnix quail do have a raucous call that they use to claim territory and attract females. It is nowhere near as loud as the crow of a rooster, but as soon as the sun comes up they will begin to “sing.”

Having your quail setup right under your master bedroom might not be the best idea. Females can also chirp loudly, and when active, quail running around on a wire floor can sound like a miniature stampede.

Overall, though, they are quiet birds compared to most poultry and game birds. This is one of the reasons they are well suited for suburban living. When I was in university I kept Coturnix quail in my 9’x12’ dorm room on the second floor, and nobody knew about it!

Having feed around has the potential to attract pests like rodents and insects. Keeping your feed in tight containers and keeping cages clean will help keep pests at bay. Also, make sure any windows open to the outside have metal screen or hardware cloth over them.

Quail Eggs: A small space solution

Most cats and dogs and even ferrets will readily go after quail if they have the chance. If you share your house with pets, keep [the quail] in an area that is pet-proof. Even if a cat or dog cannot get into the cage, their presence may frighten the birds to the point where they quit laying, cause themselves injury or death, or suffer from stress-induced ailments like diarrhea or malnutrition.

Coturnix quail housing: Keeping it clean

Anyone who has ever had a budgie or two as a pet knows that birds can make a mess. Quail are no different. Their feathers create a fair amount of dander and dust that can cause allergies and sensitivity over time.

Keeping the quail room well dusted and vacuumed and well-ventilated will cut down on allergens. Quail like to sand-bathe and can be messy eaters, so you are inevitably going to have some mess to clean up some of the time. Carpeting in the quail room is not the easiest to clean. Linoleum or a treated concrete floor is best because it can be easily swept and washed.

Manure that is left to pile up for a long time can grow mold, which can cause a condition in humans called histoplasmosis.

With a basic regime of vacuuming and dusting, though, they are kept clean quite easily.

Dealing with quail manure

AS: How do you handle the quail poop situation? And how frequently?

EQ: When quail are kept on a wire floor, the droppings fall through onto a paper lining. I change the lining every 24 hours to reduce smell and keep things clean. Poop will stick to the wire sometimes and when I change birds out, I scrape the wire floor with a wire brush to get most of it off.

If you have you’re raising backyard quail outdoors, you can rake up the droppings and compost them to make excellent fertilizer – but be sure to age it well as quail poop is very high in nitrogen.

In an indoor setting, changing the linings and feeding the birds takes me about 20 minutes each night.

HLH reiterates: Keep it clean – no rats, no mice, no flies, no odor.

Quail Eggs: A small space solution

Related: Sprouting Grain for Livestock and Poultry

Housing for Coturnix quail

AS: Let’s talk about space requirements and cages. One of the pictures I saw on the Epic Quailblog looks like a two-tier system that fits into the space of a closet! How many birds would that house?

EQ: The short answer I give to this question is usually one square foot per bird, minimum – but more is better. Most quail enthusiasts will agree that Coturnix quail require anywhere from 0.5 to 1.0 square foot of space in a wire-floored environment. For mature birds I like them to have at least one square foot per bird. Younger birds can be housed in tighter quarters as they grow for a couple of reasons – they are smaller, of course, and they are not sexually mature.

The amount of space required also depends on your male-female ratio. Males can be territorial at times and the fewer hens they have to share, the more aggressive they become.

coturnix quail

Breeding quail

For breeding purposes, it is usually recommended that one keeps no more than five hens for every rooster, otherwise egg fertility will fall. At ratios of two or three hens per rooster, however, more fighting will occur and the hens will become more raggedy and more space is needed to reduce conflict.

The cages I have recently set up are 24 inches wide by 74 inches long, which is roughly 12 square feet.

Ideally I could keep ten hens and two roosters in each one at maturity. I could probably double that number if the birds were between 3-5 weeks of age, but as soon as the roosters start to crow, I separate them into their own cage because I do not want them to beat up the hens.

Males become sexually active about a week or so before the females, and when they are young and full of hormones they can be quite rough on the hens and on each other. The roosters in their own cage usually have to be butchered by six or seven weeks of age because they become sexually frustrated and aggressive with one another. Hens live in peace together much more easily.

Raising Quail for Eggs: The Perfect Solution for Urban Homesteaders

Best sizes for flocks of quail

For people interested in breeding and more intensive selection of their stock, it is not uncommon to keep quail in trios or quads – that is, one male for every two or three females, but in their own separate cage. This ensures that the males have nobody to compete with and do not fight, and the parentage of the chicks is more easily controlled.

If keeping with the one square foot per bird model, a trio of birds can be kept in an 18”x24” cage. I have seen birds kept this way in 12”x18” cages as well without a problem, but I have my own standard.

One of those reasons I like raising quail myself is to provide them with as comfortable a life as I can. I prefer to keep my birds in small groups of half a dozen or more with more room to run and move around.


Keeping quail on wire-bottomed floors

Six quail in a six square foot space can create a fair amount of waste in 24 hours. I have kept small numbers of quail on solid floors with shavings as litter, but they require more space and the cleaning is a bit more intense.

Cotrunix quail left to stand in their manure will begin to eat it, which contributes to the spread of disease and parasites. Another thing is the fact that quail are not the best at using a nest box, and you might find yourself doing an Easter egg hunt every day trying to find your eggs.

One of the benefits to keeping quail on shavings is that although it is more work to clean, the shavings absorb and redistribute moisture and so the manure dries and loses its smell quickly.

I would not recommend keeping a number of Coturnix quail on litter in the house, but if you have a garden shed or an old greenhouse, it might be something you want to try. Quail in small numbers are great for keeping insects down in a greenhouse and add some fertilizer here and there too.

HLH: The  minimum for growing out [meat birds] is one square foot per bird. The layers can be more concentrated in a smaller cage.

Raising quail for eggs

AS: What kind of setup would you recommend for a household that wanted the equivalent of a dozen chicken eggs each week? How many quail, and what size cage would that require?

EQ: If the average size of a medium to large chicken egg is about 60g and the average size of a typical jumbo variety of quail is 12-13g, it would take 5 or 6 quail eggs to make the equivalent of one chicken egg.

Quail are very regular and prolific layers, often laying well over 300 eggs in 365 days. This outdoes most heritage breed chickens in egg production and right up there with your high-producing white leghorn. A dozen quail hens under the right conditions could be relied upon to give you about 9-12 eggs per day which would be the approximate equivalent of a dozen chicken eggs [per week].

Quail are like chickens in that they slow egg production during their molt, but they don’t seem to slow down as dramatically as chickens.

They will typically lay almost as well in their second year as their first, so if egg production is what you’re aiming for, it is worthwhile to keep your layers for 2 years.

Because they reproduce and mature so quickly, though, it is not unreasonable to replace layers with younger stock every year.

Best practices for keeping egg layers

If a person wanted to keep a dozen hens with two roosters for egg fertility, your ideal model for a cage would be 14 square feet. It can be any dimension, but they tend to prefer long cages for more running room.

A 2’ x 7’ cage would provide them with plenty of space. If your availability of space is very limited, you can pack them a little tighter, but you may find that your birds will be a little testier with one another, especially the roosters. It is certainly easier to pack birds into a smaller space when they are all hens that have been raised together.

Coturnix quail do not utilize vertical space much and they do not perch. It is usually recommended that the height of their cage not exceed 12 inches because of their tendency to burst upwards when startled or feeling frisky.

By doing this they can break their necks on plywood or stiff wire if given enough space to wind up. I like to use corrugated plastic on the ceilings as it has a little bit of bend to it and is less likely to cut their heads than wire.

HLH: To get the equivalent of a dozen eggs, you need about 60 quail eggs a week. Nine or ten birds would be sufficient to meet that.

Keeping quail. This outdoor cage takes up minimal space.

Related: Bird Mites: Natural Control for your Flock

Keeping backyard quail

AS: What about keeping quail outside on an urban lot or apartment patio? Obviously they’d need protection from predators, but are there different considerations for keeping quail outdoors? Do they need supplemental heat during the cold months?

EQ: You might be able to keep a small handful of quail, say 6 or less, on an apartment patio, but your neighbors would have to be okay with it.

I don’t think they create enough noise and mess to cause a disturbance. But many people have pre-conceived ideas about poultry and will not hesitate to file a complaint just because the mere idea of the neighbor having birds disturbs them.

A budgie or cockatiel hanging it its cage outside on a summer day creates a lot more noise than half a dozen quail, but seems more acceptable in some people’s eyes. The closer your neighbors are, the more crucial it is for you to keep them spotlessly clean and tidy and well taken care of. This means keeping your setup presentable as well.

Appease the neighbors

Quail don’t care if your pen is made from upcycled old pallets and scrap lumber sitting under a tarp, but to your neighbors it might look like an unsightly pile of junk and cause them more reason to make a complaint.

If you have a small lot, it is best to keep your quail setup out of direct sight of your neighbors – you shouldn’t feel the need to hide them and keep them a secret (unless you know you have very testy neighbors!) but sometimes people who do not have poultry may not understand what they are seeing.

Some people might see birds in a wire cage and think it abusive because they don’t know the reason for it. Also, if you have to cull or butcher your birds, it’s best not to have an audience as someone might not want to see that outside their kitchen window. Keeping a barrier between your setup and your neighbors in the form of a hedge or solid fence also acts as a sound buffer.

Temperature requirements for keeping quail

Quail are very hardy in low temperatures. They can handle temperatures down to -20 F in the winter as long as they are well protected from wind, rain, and snow and have plenty of bedding.

Larger numbers fare better in colder temperatures because they pile up together and share body heat to stay warm. A 100w bulb or heat lamp can be used to provide extra heat, but it should be placed in an enclosed area so that the heat does not go to waste.

When I lived in colder temperatures I had a 24×24 inch plywood house attached to my quail run that had two 40 or 60w bulbs in it. Some of the birds would huddle in here on cold nights, but even with this available a lot of the birds chose to sleep in hay filled boxes outside.

Covering your cage with corrugated plastic during the winter will help keep the wind off.

Better yet, move the cage to a garden shed or greenhouse during the winter if it is small enough.

Moisture and wind will do more damage to your birds than the cold itself. I actually found that keeping the water thawed was the biggest challenge of keeping quail in sub-zero temperatures. Little Giant now puts out a heated poultry waterer that I have used with success.

two coturnix quail in a man's hands

Related: Raising Pigeons for Meat

Predation is another consideration when raising outdoors.

All wire must be ½ inch hardware cloth and no larger.

  • Raccoons are notorious for reaching through chicken wire and pulling the heads off of quail at night. Weasels can also fit through 1 inch mesh and will decimate a flock of quail overnight.
  • Foxes and coyotes can rip through chicken wire easily. I even had a fox go beneath the cage and grab the toes of the birds standing on the wire and pull their legs right off.
  • Roaming dogs can do damage to pens and scare birds literally to death.
  • Ravens and crows can also reach into cages with larger wire and harass birds.

I would recommend having a solid wood coop attached to the cage. You can herd your quail into it at night and lock them up for their own safety.

Disease and parasite infections are not usually a problem if the birds are kept on wire. If you choose to keep your quail in ground pens, a movable pen is best. This allows you to move the pen to a clean area every day. Do not encourage wild birds to come near your quail pen.

quail eggs on a piece of weathered wood

Best breeds when raising quail for eggs

AS: Now that we’ve established the kind of environment Coturnix quail require, let’s talk about the quail themselves.

Is there one breed in particular that you’d recommend for egg laying?

EQ: Two species of quail come to mind when speaking of good egg production. One is the Japanese Quail or Coturnix Quail and the other is the Northern Bobwhite. Bobwhites are native to the eastern USA and under the right conditions can be very prolific layers. They lay solid white eggs. The females usually begin to lay the spring following their hatch, often at five months. They do tend to be more of a seasonal layer, though, and need more space and a different environment than that which I have described for Coturnix quail. Many people love bobwhites for their white eggs, funny antics, wide vocabulary, tasty white meat, and their beauty.

Quail eggs may be small, but so are the quail. Small enough that they can be a great alternative to egg laying hens in the suburbs.

For quail egg production, though, there are few birds that can beat Coturnix quail.

Coturnix quail are right up there in the league of the commercial leghorn-type layers in the chicken egg industry. A single hen is easily capable of laying 300-350 eggs in a single 365 day period.

Quail varieties

Their eggs are brown speckled and have a pale butter-yellow yolk. Coturnix quail are a species (Coturnix coturnix japonica), not a breed. The “breeds” within the species are referred to as “varieties.”

Several different varieties of Coturnix exist, most of them corresponding to plumage color. Wild types or browns have the traditional look of the quail as it evolved in the wild – brown with speckles and a buff belly. Other colors include Texas A&M White, range, tuxedo, golden, silver, and fawn.

Some variations on the varieties also occur – Tibetans, Rosettas, cinnamons Italians, Manchurians, etc. Crossbred varieties may be combinations of colors – such as golden pieds, slate tuxedos, etc. Regardless of color, all Coturnix have the ability to lay eggs well.


Jumbo quail


Variety changes things a little when size comes into play. Jumbos are much bigger birds than standards, and are usually of the white or brown color type. How much bigger? I have yet to find an official standard anywhere. Most breeders of what they consider “true” jumbo quail are birds that are at least 300g at maturity. For eggs to be considered Jumbos, they usually have to be 14g or better.

Several people I know are setting standards of their own lines which include the following: All breeders must be 280g or heavier by the age of 42 days, and all eggs that go into the incubator must be 14g or better. By doing this, they keep the jumbo quail truly jumbo. Anyone who is interested in purchasing Jumbo Coturnix from a breeder should ask the breeder what their standards are and what the finished weight on the birds and eggs are.

Jumbo quail lay just as many eggs as standards, but the eggs are bigger and the birds yield more meat.

HLH: We raise Japanese Coturnix – they lay larger eggs than, say, button quail or bobwhite.

tray full of brown-spotted quail eggs

Quail eggs – what to expect

AS: Coturnix quail eggs are small – how many quail eggs would you need for the equivalent of a large chicken egg? How many eggs does a single quail typically lay per year? And at what age do they begin laying?

EQ: I usually say one chicken egg is equal to 5 or 6 quail eggs.

A Coturnix quail hen will usually begin laying somewhere between 5 and 8 weeks of age. She will lay one egg almost every day. She will probably lay at least 300 eggs  per year or more. After a brief molt will continue to lay almost as well for her second year. They require 14-15 hours of daylight every day to be stimulated to lay year-round. For peak production, feed them a turkey or game bird diet that is 24-30% protein.

Extra calcium in the form of crushed eggshells, powdered calcium carbonate, and dark leafy greens like kale and broccoli should be added to the diet as well. Quail are usually too small to eat oyster shell unless it is crushed in a food processor first.

HLH: If you have them on supplemental lighting of 16 hours a day, quail will lay almost every day.

coturnix quail

Jessi Lynn Bell is 27 years old and currently lives in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. She has been raising quail for thirteen years. She is an advocate of humane agriculture, sustainable living, and outdoor stewardship, and a Registered Animal Health Technologist out of Thompson Rivers University. Epic Quailblog was created 2 years ago when she built an incubator and hatched some quail for her university class. 

Marcy from High Lonesome Homestead raises quail for eggs and meat. She writes about her experiences raising quail both on her blog and at Lilly White Farm.

This post was originally published in January 2014; it has been updated.

Click to save or share!

All about our Jumbo Wild coturnix quail

Japanese quail

Species of bird

The Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica, also known as the coturnix quail is a species of Old World quail found in East Asia. First considered a subspecies of the common quail, it is now considered as a separate species. The Japanese quail has played an active role in the lives of humanity since the 12th century, and continues to play major roles in industry and scientific research. Where it is found, the species is abundant across most of its range. Currently, there are a few true breeding mutations of the Japanese quail. The breeds from the United States are: Texas A&M, English white, golden range, red range, Italian, Manchurian, Tibetan, rosetta, scarlett, roux dilute and golden tuxedo.


The Japanese quail was formally described by the Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck and the German ornithologist Hermann Schlegel in 1848 and given the trinomial nameCoturnix vulgaris japonica.[2] This species is now placed in the genusCoturnix that was introduced in 1764 by the French naturalist François Alexandre Pierre de Garsault.[3][4][5]

The Japanese quail was formerly considered to be conspecific with the common quail (Coturnix coturnix).[6] The range of the two taxa meet in Mongolia and near Lake Baikal without apparent interbreeding. In addition the offspring of crosses in captivity show reduced fertility.[7][8] The Japanese quail is therefore now treated as a separate species.[5] It is considered to be monotypic: no subspecies are recognised.[5]


The morphology of the Japanese quail differs depending on its stage in life. As chicks, both male and female individuals exhibit the same kind of plumage and coloring.[9] Their heads are tawny in color, with small black patches littering the area above the beak.[9] The wings and the back of the chick are a pale brown, the back also having four brown stripes running along its length. A pale yellow-brown stripe surrounded by smaller black stripes runs down the top of the head.[9]

The plumage of the Japanese quail is sexually dimorphic, allowing for differing sexes to be distinguished from one another.[9][10] Both male and female adults exhibit predominantly brown plumage. However, markings on the throat and breast, as well as the particular shade of brown of the plumage, can vary quite a bit.[9][10] The breast feathers of females are littered with dark spots among generally pale feathers. Contrastingly, male breast feathers show off a uniform dark reddish-brown color that is devoid of any dark spots.[9] This reddish-brown coloration also appears in the male cheek, while female cheek feathers are more cream colored. Some males also exhibit the formation of a white collar, whereas this does not occur in any female members of the species. It is important to note that while this coloration is very typical of wild populations of Coturnix japonica, domestication and selective breeding of this species has resulted in numerous different strains exhibiting a variety of plumage colors and patterns. Most of the strains are sexually dimorphic, however, there are some that can not be distinguished on the basis of plumage colouration, these include Texas A&M, English white, tuxedo and others .[9]

Males tend to be smaller than females.[10] Wild adults weigh between 90 and 100 grams while their domesticated counterparts typically weigh between 100 and 120 grams.[9] However, weight among domesticated lines varies considerably, as commercial strains bred for meat production can weigh up to 300 grams.[9]

Compared to the common quail the Japanese quail has darker upperparts with more contrast and is deeper rufous below.[8] In the breeding season the male of the Japanese quail has distinctive rufous throat feathers. These are replaced by long pale feathers in the non-breeding season. This plumage feature is not observed in the common quail.[7]


Some 28 different call types have been distinguished based on the circumstances in which they are used and the various behaviors that are exhibited during the call. The call types of the Japanese quail differ between male and female, the same stimulus resulting in differing vocalizations. Most of the calls used by this quail are present after five weeks of development; however, they remain relatively changeable until sexual maturity is reached.[10] The typical crow of the Japanese quail is characterized by two short parts that precede a final, major trill.[11]

Crowing of males has been observed to expedite the development of the female's gonads as those exposed to such crowing reach maturity much earlier that those who are not exposed to male vocalizations.[10] Differences in crow patterns have been observed between males with mates and un-mated males.[12]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Populations of the Japanese quail are known to mainly inhabit East Asia and Russia. This includes India, Korea, Japan, and China.[11][13][14] Though several resident populations of this quail have been shown to winter in Japan, most migrate south to areas such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and southern China.[15] This quail has also been found to reside in many parts of Africa, including Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Namibia, Madagascar, and the area of the Nile River Valley extending from Kenya to Egypt.[14]

Breeding sites of the Japanese quail are largely localized to East and Central Asia,[11][13] in such areas as Manchuria, southeastern Siberia, northern Japan, and the Korean Peninsula. However, it has also been observed to breed in some regions of Europe, as well as Turkey.[14]

The Japanese quail is primarily a ground-living species that tends to stay within areas of dense vegetation in order to take cover and evade predation.[16] Thus, its natural habitats include grassy fields, bushes along the banks of rivers, and agricultural fields that have been planted with crops such as oats, rice, and barley.[14][16] It has also been reported to prefer open habitats such as steppes, meadows, and mountain slopes near a water source.[17]

Drawing of the head of a Japanese quail
Normal color Japanese quail egg and white Japanese quail egg
Newly hatched Japanese quail
Japanese quail after 7 days (left) and king quail after 20 days (right)

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Normally, the Japanese quail has been considered to possess an underdeveloped sense of taste, this being evidenced by their inability to distinguish different kinds of carbohydrates presented to them. However, studies have shown that a limited ability to taste is indeed present. Evidence for this includes quail individuals exhibiting preferential choice of sucrose-containing solutions over simple distilled water and the avoidance of salty solutions.[10] Though the Japanese quail possesses an olfactory epithelium, little is known about its ability to sense smell. Despite this, certain studies have revealed that these birds are able to detect certain substances using only their sense of smell. For example, they have been reported to be able to detect the presence of certain pesticides, as well as avoid food containing a toxic chemical called lectin, using only the sense of smell.[10] Through nasolateral conversion of the eyes, the Japanese quail is able to achieve frontal overlap of the eye fields. Long distance perception occurs with a binocular field accommodation. In order to maintain focus on a certain object while walking, the quail will exhibit corresponding head movements. The Japanese quail has also been shown to possess color vision, its perception of color being greater than that of form or shape.[10] Not much is known about Coturnix japonica hearing; however, it has been shown to be able to distinguish between various human phonetic categories.[10]

This quail species is also an avid dust bather, individuals undergoing numerous bouts of dust bathing each day. When dust bathing, this bird will rake its bill and legs across the ground in order to loosen up the ground, and then use its wings to toss the dust into the air. As the dust falls back down to the ground around the bird, it will shake its body and ruffle its feathers to ensure they receive a thorough coating. This behavior is believed to function in such things as simple feather maintenance and parasite removal.[10]


The type of relationship exhibited between male and female members of the Japanese quail has returned mixed reports, as they have been seen to exhibit both monogamous and polygamous relationships. A study of domesticated specimens reveals that females tend to bond with one or two males, though extra-pair copulations are also frequently observed.[18]

Japanese quails show peak breeding activity during the summer season, when Testes increase in size and testosterone hormone concentrations hit their peak.[19]

The Japanese quail exhibits a quite distinct and specific mating ritual. First, the male grabs the neck of the female and mounts her. After mounting the female, the male extends his cloaca by curving his back in an attempt to initiate cloacal contact between him and the female. If cloacal contact is achieved, insemination of the female will be exhibited by distinguishable foam present in the female's cloaca. After successfully mating with a female, the male characteristically performs a distinctive strut. Females will either facilitate the mating attempts of the male by remaining still and squatting in order to ease the access of the male to her cloaca or impede the attempts of the male by standing tall and running away from him.[20] Females can also induce the initial sexual interactions by walking in front of a male and crouching.[18] Males acting aggressively toward a female during the mating ritual have been shown to reduce successful matings.[20]

Eggs tend to be laid in the few hours preceding dusk.[10] Incubation of the egg starts as soon as the last egg in the clutch is laid and lasts an average of 16.5 days.[10][21] Japanese quail females carry out most of the incubation of the eggs, becoming increasingly intolerant of the male throughout the incubation process. Eventually, the female will drive the male away before the eggs hatch.[10] Thus, the females also provide all of the parental care to the newly hatched young.[20]

Egg weight, color, shape, and size can vary greatly among different females of a Japanese quail population; however, these characteristics are quite specific and consistent for any given female. Eggs are generally mottled with a background color ranging from white to blue to pale brown.[9] Depending on the strain of the Japanese quail, eggs can weigh anywhere from 8 to 13 grams, though the accepted average weight is 10 grams.[9][22] Age seems to play a role in the size of eggs produced as older females tend to lay larger eggs.[22]

Food and feeding[edit]

The diet of the Japanese quail includes many different types of grass seed such as white millet and panicum. They also feed upon a variety of insects, their larvae, and other small invertebrates.[14]

The Japanese quail mainly eats and drinks at the beginning and end of the day: behavior shown to closely follow the photoperiod. However, they will still eat and drink throughout the day as well.[10]

Relationship to humans[edit]


The earliest records of domesticated Japanese quail populations are from 12th century Japan; however, there is evidence that the species was actually domesticated as early as the 11th century.[9][22] These birds were originally bred as songbirds, and it is thought that they were regularly used in song contests.[9][10]

In the early 1900s, Japanese breeders began to selectively breed for increased egg production. By 1940, the industry surrounding quail eggs was flourishing. However, the events of World War II led to the complete loss of quail lines bred for their song type, as well as almost all of those bred for egg production. After the war, the few quails left were used to rebuild the industry, and all current commercial and laboratory lines today are considered to have originated from this population of quails.[9][10]

Restocking wild game[edit]

The Japanese quail is considered to be a closely related allopatric species to the common quail, though both are still recognized as distinct species.[11] Due to their close relationship and phenotypic similarities, as well as the recent decline in wild common quail populations throughout Europe, the Japanese quail is often crossed with the common quail in order to create hybrids that are used to restock the declining wild quail populations.[11][13] Countries such as Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, England, Scotland, Canada, China, Australia, and Italy all release thousands of such hybrids each year in order to supplement their dwindling wild quail populations, often releasing these birds right before the start of the hunting season.[11][13] These hybrids are practically indistinguishable from the native common quail in these areas, though there are worries that such hybridizations could be detrimental to the native quail populations.[13]

Egg and meat production[edit]

Main article: Quail eggs

Main article: Quails in cookery

As the Japanese quail is easily managed, fast growing, small in size, and can produce eggs at a high rate, it has been farmed in large quantities across the globe.[9][10] Countries such as Japan, India, China, Italy, Russia, and the United States all have established commercial Japanese quail farming industries.[9] The Japanese quail provides developing countries with a stable source of meat and developed countries with a suitable alternative to chicken. However, the quail finds its true economic and commercial value in its egg production, as domesticated lines of the Japanese quail can lay up to 300 eggs a year at a very efficient feed to egg conversion ratio.[9] A feed to egg conversion ratio of 2.62 was accomplished by the 1990s.[23]


Interest in the Japanese quail as a research animal greatly increased after 1957 due to groups at the University of California and Auburn University who proposed its value in biomedical research. It is now widely used for research purposes in state, federal, university, and private laboratories. Fields in which Coturnix japonica is widely utilized include: genetics, nutrition, physiology, pathology, embryology, cancer, behavior, and the toxicity of pesticides.[21][22]

Japanese quail eggs have orbited the Earth in several Soviet and Russian spacecraft, including the Bion 5 satellite and the Salyut 6 and Mir space stations.[24] In March 1990, eggs on Mir were successfully incubated and hatched.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^BirdLife International (2012). "Coturnix japonica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^Temminck, Coenraad Jacob; Schlegel, Hermann (1850). Siebold, Philipp Franz von (ed.). Fauna Japonica (in French). Volume 4 Aves. Lugduni Batavorum (Leiden): Apud Auctorem. p. 103, Plate 61. Title page dated 1850. For a discussion of the actual publication date see: Mlíkovský, Jiří (2012). "The dating of Temminck & Schlegels "Fauna Japonica: Aves", with implications for the nomenclature of birds". Zoological Bibliography. 2 (2 & 3): 105–117.
  3. ^Garsault, François Alexandre Pierre de (1764). Les figures des plantes et animaux d'usage en medecine, décrits dans la Matiere Medicale de Geoffroy Medecin (in French). Volume 5. Paris: Desprez. Plate 686.
  4. ^Welter-Schultes, F.W.; Klug, R. (2009). "Nomenclatural consequences resulting from the rediscovery of Les figures des plantes et animaux d'usage en médecine, a rare work published by Garsault in 1764, in the zoological literature". Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. 66 (3): 225–241 [233]. doi:10.21805/bzn.v66i3.a1.
  5. ^ abcGill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "Pheasants, partridges, francolins". IOC World Bird List Version 10.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  6. ^Peters, James Lee, ed. (1934). Check-List of Birds of the World. Volume 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 92.
  7. ^ abMoreau, R.E.; Wayre, P. (1968). "On the Palaearctic quails". Ardea. 56 (3–4): 209–227.
  8. ^ abCramp, Stanley, ed. (1980). "Coturnix coturnix Quail". Handbook of the Birds of Europe the Middle East and North Africa. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Volume II: Hawks to Bustards. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 496–503 [503]. ISBN .
  9. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqHubrecht R, Kirkwood J (2010). The UFAW Handbook on the Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 655–674.
  10. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqMills, AD; Crawford LL; Domjan M; Faure JM (1997). "The Behavior of the Japanese or Domestic Quail Coturnix japonica". Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 21 (3): 261–281. doi:10.1016/S0149-7634(96)00028-0. PMID 9168263. S2CID 24234099.
  11. ^ abcdefBarilani, M; Deregnaucourt S; Gellego S; Galli L; Mucci N; Piomobo R; Puigcerver M; Rimondi S; Rodriguez-Teijeiro JD; Spano S; Randi E (2005). "Detecting hybridization in wild (Coturnix c. coturnix) and domesticated (Coturnix c. japonica) quail populations". Biological Conservation. 126 (4): 445–455. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2005.06.027.
  12. ^Chang, GB; Liu XP; Chang H; Chen GH; Zhao WM; Ji DJ; Chen R; Qin YR; Shi XK; Hu GS (June 2009). "Behavioral differentiation between wild Japanese quail, domestic quail, and their first filial generation". Poultry Science. 88 (6): 1137–1142. doi:10.3382/ps.2008-00320. PMID 19439621.
  13. ^ abcdePuigcerver, Manel; Vinyoles, Dolors; Rodríguez-Teijeiro, José Domingo (2007). "Does restocking with Japanese quail or hybrids affect native populations of common quail Coturnix coturnix?". Biological Conservation. 136 (4): 628–635. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2007.01.007. hdl:2445/108051.
  14. ^ abcdePappas, J. "Coturnix japonica". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  15. ^"Species Factsheet: Coturnix japonica". Birdlife International. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  16. ^ abBuchwalder, T; Wechsler B (1997). "The effect of cover on the behavior of Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica)". Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 54 (4): 335–343. doi:10.1016/s0168-1591(97)00031-2.
  17. ^"Coturnix japonica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Archived from the original on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  18. ^ abGalef, BG; White DJ (March 1998). "Mate-choice copying in Japanese quail Coturnix coturnix japonica". Animal Behaviour. 55 (3): 545–552. doi:10.1006/anbe.1997.0616. PMID 9514666. S2CID 22405084.
  19. ^Akbar, Z; Qureshi, AS; Rahman, SU (2012). "Effects of seasonal variation in different reproductive phases on the cellular response of bursa and testes in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica), Pakistan". Pak Vet J. 32 (4): 525–529.
  20. ^ abcCorrea, SM; Haran CM; Johnson PA; Adkins-Regan E (2011). "Copulatory behaviors and body condition predict post-mating female hormone concentrations, fertilization success, and primary sex rations in Japanese quail". Hormones and Behavior. 59 (4): 556–564. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.02.009. PMID 21376051. S2CID 37684862.
  21. ^ abAinsworth, SJ; Stanley RL; Evan DJR (2010). "Developmental stages of the Japanese quail". Journal of Anatomy. 216 (1): 3–15. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01173.x. PMC 2807971. PMID 19929907.
  22. ^ abcdCoturnix (Coturnix coturnix japonica): standards and guidelines for the breeding, care, and management of laboratory animals. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. 1969. pp. 1–47.
  23. ^Shanaway, M. M. (1994). Quail Production Systems: A Review. p. 126. ISBN .
  24. ^Muneo Takaoki, "Model Animals for Space Experiments — Species Flown in the Past and Candidate Animals for the Future Experiments", Biological Sciences in Space, Vol. 21, pp. 76-83 (2007).
  25. ^T.S. Guryeva et al., "The quail embryonic development under the conditions of weightlessness", Acta Vet. Brno, Suppl. 6, 62, 1993: S 25-S 30.

External links[edit]


Now discussing:

A guide to types of quail

Quail are a cute, quirky alternative poultry to raise on your homestead. If you have decided to raise quail on your homestead, the next step is to choose what type of quail to get.

Generally, quail are divided into two different families: New World (also known as Odontophoridae) and Old World, which are technically part of the pheasant family Phasianidae. The two are distantly related and share many physiological characteristics and uses, which is why they are both called quail.

There are two main species of quail that homesteaders are likely to get: the New World northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) and Old World Coturnix, or Japanese, quail (Coturnix japonica). Within each of these species, there are several varieties that have been bred for specific colors and characteristics. While different varieties within the species of quail can cross breed, different species cannot.

“For example, the northern bobwhite quail is a totally different species than, say, the California quail,” said Jacqueline Jacob, poultry extension project manager at the University of Kentucky. “Different breeds would be able to cross-breed, but [different] species don’t.”

M Segrist, owner at WoodBottom Quail Farms in Bethel, Ohio, said to think of the different varieties of quail within a species like the different breeds of dogs. They look slightly different, but they are all ultimately the same species, whether they are a poodle or a beagle.

“They’re all dogs, but you have the different varieties,” Segrist explained.

Coturnix quail

Coturnix quail are a small birds, between the size of a songbird and a crow, with a stout frame and mottled brown, white and gray feathers. It is a popular species for small farmers and homesteaders who are looking to raise quail for meat and eggs.

“[Coturnix] are a great source of meat and eggs. From the time they hatch, it takes six to eight weeks for them to be completely mature, which is the quickest turn around of any bird,” Segrist explained. “In two and a half months, you can have a whole new generation. It’s the most sustainable quail bird.”

The quail cannot fly more than a few inches off the ground and cannot be released into the wild, as they are not native to the United States. Because they do not fly, coturnix generally are not used to train hunting dogs, though they can be used to help puppies practice.

“Coturnix can’t live in the wild,” Segrist laughed. “They’re prey to everything.”

Varieties of coturnix quail include British Range, Tuxedo, English White, Manchurian Golden, Texas A&M and Pharaoh. The varieties are generally distinguished by feather color, though some of them do have slight physiological differences. The Pharaoh, for example, is an exceptional layer, producing about 300 eggs a year. Segrist said the Texas A&M, which was created by the university of the same name, were bred to be bigger to provide more, lighter meat that is easier to dress.

Jenna Greene, owner of Myshire Farm in Miamisburg, Ohio, recommended the Jumbo Brown breed of coturnix quail for homesteaders looking to raise birds for meat.

“It’s the standard brown quail, but it does get a few ounces larger,” Greene said. “That’s our best seller here as far as what homesteaders generally buy.”

Bobwhite quail

Bobwhite quail are about the same size as coturnix quail, though they tend to have markings on their faces that look like eyeliner. They also have a distinctive call that sweeps upwards in pitch and almost sounds like the bird is saying “bob-white.” Bobwhite quail are generally preferred for sport, like training dogs to hunt.

“Bobwhite can fly like a regular bird can,” Segrist said. “A lot of people will train their dogs with a bobwhite quail.”

Because of this, the space that you have available for your quail might be a consideration when choosing the type you want for your homestead.

“You need netting and a place to fly around for the bobwhite,” Segrist added. “Coturnix can stay in a cage.”

Bobwhite quail can also be used for meat and eggs, but they take longer to mature than the coturnix.

“The bobwhite takes 16 weeks before it’s mature,” Segrist said. “That’s a whole two and a half extra months, and it doesn’t start laying eggs for another month after that.”

Still, there are some advantages to raising bobwhites instead of coturnix for meat and eggs. Bobwhite quail will incubate their own eggs which could be preferable for homesteaders looking to expand their quail population without going through the cost and trouble of learning the skills to properly incubate eggs.

“Coturnix will lay an egg and walk away. Bobwhite will tend to nest,” Segrist said. “A lot of homesteaders are trying to live off-grid as possible. You can make an incubator, but you have to have electric, which takes more money, and you have to have to know-how to incubate, whereas you can put a little nesting box in with bobwhite and they will nest and raise babies there.”

Bobwhite quail can be divided into about 22 varieties that mostly vary by color, but some of them have been selectively bred to be more aggressive than others for hunting purposes.

“There are strains of bobwhite quail raised specifically for release in hunting preserves that have been selected to remain wild,” Jacob explained. The Tennessee Red bobwhite, for example, is extremely aggressive and cannot be kept with other birds.

Other species of quail

There are a few other more expensive and exotic quail species that homesteaders may raise for purposes other than meat, eggs or hunting. These quail are prized for their unique looks and are often kept in aviaries, as pets or for show, such as the elegant quail (Callipepla douglasii) with its rusty headdress, the slightly-periwinkle mountain quail (Oreortyx pictus) and the distinctly spotted Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae).

The California valley quail (Callipepla californica) are best distinguished by the curled plume sprouting from their heads. The gray and speckled birds are more expensive than standard bobwhite or coturnix quail and are thus mostly kept as pets.

“I think it’s more of a novelty,” Greene said. “I have not heard of them being raised for meat and eggs. Usually people that keep [California] valley quail are keeping them as pets.”

“I’m sure that you can eat them because you can eat all quail, but they’re more of a pretty type of bird,” Segrist added. “The eggs are much more expensive and the birds are more expensive.”

The button quail (Coturnix chinensis), which comes in a number of different colors like silver, white and even blue-faced, is another such novelty quail that owners often keep in apiaries.

“These are really little birds. You don’t really raise button quail to eat,” Jacob said. “I don’t even know how you would process them, but they’re cute some people do it just for aviaries.”

“The button quail is more of a pet. It’s hardly bigger than a finch,” Greene chuckled. “Their eggs are jelly bean-sized.”


1707 1708 1709 1710 1711