Keeping Quails: Gender Differentiation

| 7/27/2009 4:03:30 PM

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.

joannette sieve_5
4/7/2011 12:18:11 AM

During the 1970's I raised Coturnix quail and now again in 2011, I have 5 hens. Aside from the fact that they amaze me with their ability to lay endlessly, day in and day out,I am surprised that I can put them in a kennel and haul them all over the countryside (I have no one to feed and water them at home) in my truck and they lay just as well as they do at home. I can't imagine how many hundreds of miles they have traveled with me! Normally, I keep them in a nice cage in my shed, but when our weather here in Colorado's high country got down to 28 below, I put them back in the dog kennel and kept them in the kitchen. I always use cedar wood chips on the bottom and that keeps the odor down. They seem to be happy with almost any arrangement. Four of my hens are white, one is the brown like the above quail. I could write more about my adventures with Coturnix, but don't have room. And, yes, of course, I eat the eggs!

5/24/2010 12:21:57 AM

I raise ducks so I can compare those to chicken eggs. To be honest there is not much of a taste difference but the yolks are a much more intense color and the eggs are HUGE compared to x large chicken eggs. I notice the biggest difference in baking as the batter tends to be 'plushy' and pumpkin rolls and cakes come out VERY moist. A friend of mine may be supplying me with pheasants and quail this Spring as her hubby is a local science teacher and he is always looking for someone to take the class projects at the end of the year.

5/18/2010 7:12:39 PM

Has anyone reading this actually eaten quail eggs? Scrambled, or hard boiled? I would like to know how, other than the smaller size, they compare to chicken eggs for taste. While I'm asking, how about Duck and turkey eggs?

taylor miller
7/28/2009 4:55:05 PM

Hey Brenda - totally, GO FOR IT. Cats might like them more than you. :-D

7/28/2009 4:54:57 PM

Great pictures, Taylor! You've sparked my interest in getting some quail myself one of these days. Not sure how my cats would feel about it. :)

taylor miller
7/28/2009 2:00:54 PM

Kirsten - I actually spoke with a poultry expert here at Ogden, and he said if I were to leave the eggs until a dozen or so are in the cage, she may begin to take try to make them hatch. It's a tough choice, do I want to have eggs to eat, or do I want to risk that BeBee is good at doing his job? :-)

taylor miller
7/28/2009 1:58:36 PM

Laura - I'll let you know how it goes, going to try them tonight!!

taylor miller
7/28/2009 1:58:04 PM

Olivia - I will totally do some research on quail egg dishes and post some recipes here as I try them, great suggestion. I'm going to attempt deviled quail eggs tonight, I'll let you know how that works out!

taylor miller
7/28/2009 1:57:19 PM

Hey Kate - Quails are super easy to keep - I know a few people who have kept them as pets. And another MOTHER staffer I know of, kept them in his apartment! They're very small and sometimes very crazy, but not a big deal at all! (They also make very little noise, which can be important, haha.)

kirsten martinez
7/28/2009 1:37:25 PM

Have you considered hatching some of the eggs?

7/28/2009 9:25:42 AM

Deviled quail eggs would be a fun petite appetizer.

7/28/2009 8:43:43 AM

I'd like to see some of your recipes for quail eggs. Please post some!

7/27/2009 8:28:21 PM

You know, I'd never even considered keeping quail before. We have hens, and have ruled out geese, guineas, and regretfully, ducks. Your article is good food for thought. Thanks!

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!