Small-Scale Backyard Quail

If you have limited space or noise-sensitive neighbors, consider diminutive, soft-spoken Coturnix quail for your backyard coop.

Photo by Adobe Stock/stefanov764

Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) are increasingly popular meat and egg sources for modern, city-dwelling homesteaders. Quail are especially well-suited for urban settings, as they flourish in small spaces and go largely unnoticed by neighbors. Their call is similar to a red-winged blackbird, and blends in well with the neighborhood soundscape. Quail are colorful birds, efficient eaters, and dependable layers. Your friends and neighbors will soon be asking if you have any quail eggs to spare!

Poultry with Pizzazz

Japanese quail are just one species within the Coturnix genus. From an aesthetic perspective, Coturnix quail come in a wide range of beautiful colors and patterns, from white to speckled brown, golden, silver, and more. These color variations have many names, such as Tibetan, Italian, Roux, Manchurian, Red Golden, Tuxedo, and Platinum.  But keep in mind that, despite the surface variations, Coturnix quail are all of the same genus.

Different species of Coturnix quail can range in weight from a few ounces to nearly a pound. They’re much smaller than chickens and extremely efficient considering the space, food, and water they require. For instance, quail need only 1 square foot per bird, while chickens need 2 to 3 square feet apiece. Quail live happily together in large colonies, but it’s important to keep them at a ratio of four or five females to one male. More males can lead to aggressive behavior and should be avoided for the health and well-being of all the birds.

Quail Accommodations

Coturnix quail can be kept either on wire, on the ground, or in solid-floored coops. While quail aren’t typically broody, they do occasionally hatch their young when provided with a solid-floored coop or a coop on the ground, since it emulates their wild habitat as ground birds.

A single species of quail can display many different colors, making for a flashy flock.
Photo by Kelly Bohling



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