Raising Coturnix Quail

"Small but beautiful" applies to poultry, too, as folks who raise coturnix quail have found out.

| September/October 1981

  • 071 coturnix quail 6 roast quail
    Roast coturnix quail with vegetables and hard-boiled eggs makes for an elegant meal.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 071 coturnix quail 2 outdoor cages
    Quail cages situated outdoors. 
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 071 coturnix quail 3 indoor cages
    Indoor cages. 
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 071 coturnix quail 1 quail w nose ring
    Coturnix quail may be fitted with nose rings to prevent them from pecking each other. 
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 071 coturnix quail 4 quail eggs
    A handful of small, colorful eggs. 
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • 071 coturnix quail 5 pickled eggs
    A pyramid of pickled perfection!
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • 071 coturnix quail 6 roast quail
  • 071 coturnix quail 2 outdoor cages
  • 071 coturnix quail 3 indoor cages
  • 071 coturnix quail 1 quail w nose ring
  • 071 coturnix quail 4 quail eggs
  • 071 coturnix quail 5 pickled eggs

The Japanese call the birds uzura, and have raised them for centuries. Early American colonists called them "Bible quail" and found them to be economical providers of protein. Modern homesteaders, however, refer to them as Coturnix (from their generic name) and delight in the virtues of these astounding little fowl. Coturnix quail, you see, require no more care than do chickens, but they mature faster, produce more eggs, need less food and space, and have more uses than virtually any other kind of domestic poultry!

I was first introduced to the small birds seven years ago, when I was looking for a type of fowl I could raise on my half-acre garden in New York City. To my delight, I discovered that quail can be propagated right on the balcony of a high-rise urban apartment in sufficient numbers to make a profitable business! Furthermore, even though they're classified as game birds—which makes them a gourmet delicacy—no license is required to raise them.

There are six Coturnix quail varieties, which differ from one another primarily in size and color: British Range, Tuxedo, English White, Manchurian Golden, Pharoah D1, and the comparatively new Australian Speckled Fawn. Of these, the Pharoah D1 is both the largest and the best egg producer. 

Quail Cages

Almost any small cage can be modified to hold Coturnix. Old tiered chicken brooders, with the heaters removed, serve as excellent colony pens. Or, of course, you can quite easily build your own enclosures. Be sure to provide 40 to 50 square inches of floor area per bird. The interior height of the pens should be about 8 to 10 inches to prevent the active quail from flying up and scalping themselves on the ceiling. The floor and sides are best made of half-inch wire mesh, which is small enough to prevent predators from sticking their paws inside but large enough to permit droppings to fall through. Pans can be placed underneath the cages to catch the nitrogen-rich manure for your compost bin or garden. And, for easier egg collection, the floor should be given a slope of one inch per foot: The mesh can then project a few inches beyond the cage and bend upward, allowing the eggs to roll out of the pen and into a wire apron, ready for gathering. 



Feeding Quail

Coturnix require a feed containing 21% to 25% protein (chicks require an even higher percentage). Such levels can be found in commercial turkey starter and game bird starter, but if you can't get these you can use a feed with less protein and supplement it with grain, sprouts, and bugs. (A small light in or near the cage will attract insects to your birds' "dinner table.") 

Breeding Quail

The quail begin to breed and lay eggs at only six to eight weeks of age, as opposed to the 20 to 24 weeks required for a chicken to begin producing. You should, of course, use only the biggest and best looking birds for breeding. 

Bruce
7/9/2016 8:21:36 PM

I have 3 cages with coturnix quail and 1 cage with golden manchurian quail. Up until 3 days ago I was getting anywhere from 15 - 25 eggs each day from the 3 coturnix cages and 4 a day from the 4 goldens. Keep in mind that nothing has changed as far as environmental conditions, feeding, water, etc. The last 2 days I have not received even 1 egg from the 3 coturnix cages but the goldens are laying like normal. I have had days where we only got a few eggs, but never 2 days with NO eggs. I am open to any suggestions, diagnosis, comments and whatever else anyone can maybe shine a light on. Has this ever happened to any of you out there? If so, what was the outcome or how did you resolve the problem? I really appreciate all replies and hope everyone has a Blessed day. BNK


Sherry
6/19/2016 3:37:48 PM

What do you use when worming quail and what is the ratio to weight?


Fj40
3/29/2015 3:59:34 PM

I live in Winthrop harbor Illinois and you can have hens, pigeons, rabbits but no quails I called my village and they told me "no" you can't have quails I asked why not? And they couldn't explained to me why I can't have quails. Strange town in my opinion. Any comments on what can I do are welcome . Thanks











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