Mother Earth News Blogs > Homesteading and Livestock

Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Keeping Quails: Gender Differentiation

By Taylor Miller

Tags: Community Chickens, quail, raising poultry, Taylor Miller, keeping poultry,

A quail from BehindIn my previous post, you were introduced to my new adventures in quail raising. To catch you up, I now have three coturnix (also known as Japanese) quails, one male and two females (Bebee, Doug and Skeeter, respectively).

Unlike chickens, which can take as long as six months to begin laying, quails will lay, at the earliest, at six weeks of age. One of my females, Skeeter, began laying at six weeks one day and has steadily produced an egg a day since. The other female, Doug, has not yet begun, but this isn’t unusual for seven weeks.

This fast-laying nature, and the normally calm disposition of the quail coupled with its relatively small need for space, makes it ideal for raising in an urban environment. Plus, they produce more eggs per/amount of feed than any chicken.



The small eggs, approximately one-fifth the size of a chicken egg, are often considered gourmet, used as a main component in many classy dishes. My quail eggs, however, will probably see more air-time hardboiled in salads or for bite-sized deviled eggs, which will be as good to talk about as they are to eat. These images are of Skeeter's eggs (still quite small) matched against some white, store-bought chicken eggs.

Quails are also a great urban addition, because it's easy to quickly determine their sex, which is helpful if you want fertile eggs to hatch, or if you want as many layers (females) as possible. While chicken roosters would be a nuisance (and maybe a citation) in any urban environment, quail roosters are much calmer and, outside of some coloring variations and a unique “call,” are relatively similar to the females.


Male and Female Quail2
These images show the differences in coloration between the male and the female, the females being the birds on either end in the photo above (Left image, left quail: female), (right image, right quail: female). Females have spotted, light-colored breasts, while the male's breast lacks spots (for the most part) and has a rusty color, similar to a robin. The males also have a darker, rusty coloration to their face, around the eyes.

To read more about my quail-raising adventures, visit part one in my series, "Meet my Pet Quails."

Photos by Taylor Miller