Quail eggs are traditionally thought of as an expensive side dish reserved for the wealthy.
However things have changed over the last few years and quail eggs have become easier and cheaper to buy.
Quail too have become increasingly popular with homesteaders as raising these little birds is fairly easy. They provide eggs and sometimes a little extra income for the family.
This bird is also cheap to buy and raise.
In our article below we will explain everything you need to know about quail eggs including their cost, appearance and taste. We will also explain how to raise quail for eggs…
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The Beginner’s Guide To Quail Eggs
Quail are actually members of the pheasant and partridge family.
In total there are over 120 species worldwide and they are divided into Old World (95) and New World (32).
These birds mainly live in bushy environments but there are some species, like the South America, that are forest dwellers.
In the wild quail are lucky to survive over one year of age, and in captivity two years seems to be the norm.
The farming of quail for meat and eggs started way back in the eleventh century in Japan. Some of these little birds were also kept as songbirds.
Their eggs may be small in size but nutritionally quail eggs are about the same as a chickens’ egg. Since quail eggs are rarely pasteurized women who are pregnant and people with a lowered immunity status should be cautious about eating them.
Quail eggs remain an expensive item in most parts of the world.
Here in the US a dozen quail eggs will cost you anywhere from $0.30-$1 per egg depending on availability.
These days the vast majority of quail are kept and raised in China.
However here in the US the number of folks keeping quail is rapidly rising because they are easy to raise and fairly affordable.
Quail eggs are roughly one third the size of a chickens’ egg.
The base color of the egg is an off-white tint with lots of dark brown speckles and splotches. This makes them perfect in the wild because they are camouflaged very well. The interior of the shell is blue.
Quail eggs are usually around 35mm long and will only weigh 0.4-0.5oz (12-16gm).
What Do Quail Eggs Taste Like?
The taste of a quail egg is a bit difficult to pin down.
It is best described as mild, slightly gamey, rich, tangy, earthy and like a duck egg!
Certainly these eggs are rich because they have more yolk and less egg white. This tends to give it a depth of taste that a chickens’ egg might lack.
Also you need to remember that the birds’ diet will add something to the taste too.
5 Best Quail Breed Egg Layers
The Coturnix is hands down the best and most popular quail to raise for eggs and meat. They are fast to mature and can start laying eggs in just seven weeks. You will find six different varieties:
Jumbos are fan favorites because their size makes them suitable for meat. All varieties are dependable layers and will average one egg per day – she will rival your best chicken egg layers!
The button quail is also very popular to raise.
You may know them as King or Chinese Painted quail. They take a little longer to mature and should start laying eggs at around twelve weeks old. You can keep them in a cold climate as long as they have a warm and sheltered area to hide in.
These quail eggs are tiny and about half the size of a Jumbo quail’s egg. They are not as calm and manageable as Coturnix quail and are skittish.
This breed is bred more for game hunting but they are still suitable for meat and eggs.
They weigh between 6-16oz (170-450 grams) and take around six months to fully mature.
You will need to get a license to raise them in the US as they are New World birds. They are a bit more work than the Coturnix and can become aggressive during the mating season, so you will need to divide them into pairs.
These quail are native to the south western US.
They have a funky little head-dress that makes them look quite cute.
You can expect them to take around six months to fully mature.
They are flighty and nervous birds that can be challenging to raise as they need lots of attention and care. Once they settle down they will become relatively tame and eat from your hand after they get used to you.
While they do lay a good amount of eggs they are more frequently raised as pets.
Just remember with this breed you will need a permit to raise them.
The California Quail looks similar to the Gambel’s Quail with a funny little top knot.
As their name suggests they are native to California so you will need a license to raise them.
They are raised for eggs but more frequently as pets or hobby birds.
Raising Quail For Eggs
Quail are small birds which makes them easier to deal with as far as housing and feeding go.
There are a couple of different ways to house them but since we are talking about egg production and quail eggs we will focus on that. Their housing can be either indoor or outside. If it is outside then they will need a closed in area where the birds can hang out during the cold weather.
Modified rabbit hutches are the easiest way to house quail.
Also remember if they are outside then the roof should be covered to protect them from the sun and rain.
Quail do not need a lot of space and unlike chickens they do not tend to bully each other. In fact as long as they have enough personal space (about 1 square foot per bird) they get along very well in groups. Strangely if they have too much room then they will pick on each other.
What To Feed Quail
In the wild quail are omnivores which means they mainly eat seeds, grains and berries but they do like to snack on the occasional worms or grasshopper.
When kept as a pet the majority of their diet should be a good quality game bird feed.
As young chicks they need at least a 24% protein ratio.
However once they reach 6-8 weeks of age you can transition them to a 20% protein ratio – this will be enough to keep them laying quail eggs. You can either buy a line of special game bird feed or you can use a turkey starter feed.
Once they reach adulthood game bird maintenance feed should be used, but if you have difficulty finding it you can use a 20% protein turkey/chicken feed. In addition to the feed the quail will need oyster shell to help maintain the calcium levels needed for quail eggs. This should be offered separately to the birds.
Grit too should also be offered so the birds can grind and digest their feed. As always, clean and fresh water should be available at all times.
Quail are sensible eaters and will stop when they are full so you do not have to worry about them overeating.
In addition to feed you can offer treats such as greens, mealworms and crickets.
Just make sure that these treats are not more than 10% of their daily intake.
When and How Often Do Quail Lay Eggs?
This will depend on the variety of quail you have chosen to raise.
Coturnix quail will mature at around seven weeks old and will then start to lay quail eggs then. Other varieties such as the Gambel’s and Bobwhite will not mature until about six months old.
Again the Coturnix is the most prolific quail egg layer and can lay up to 300 eggs per year.
Other varieties will lay a lot of quail eggs for you but will not surpass the Coturnix.
For them to lay well they will need around 12-14 hours of daylight.
Predators and Safety
Unfortunately, in the wild quail are on everyone’s menu
The good news is quail are difficult to catch and they are very well camouflaged.
However you still must be diligent about safety.
Make sure their cage is well built and that locks and access points are locked every night.
Cages and enclosures should be made from half inch hardware mesh to prevent rats, mice and weasels from entering the cage. Most people elevate the cages from the ground for convenience but this also helps to stop some predators too.
You can read our guide on chicken predators for more tips.
Quail are quite robust and rarely suffer from any serious health problems.
Of course they will need to be treated for parasites such as lice, mites and worms but overall they are healthy birds.
If your quail do get lice then poultry dust will take care of it.
They should be dusted carefully and make sure to avoid their eyes and beak. The treatment will need to be repeated every 7-10 days to kill those that have hatched out. All bedding should be tossed out and the cage should be washed down with a disinfectant.
For more help read our complete guide to chicken mites.
Worms can be treated with a chicken wormer using a modified dosage based on weight.
The biggest health concern with quail is keeping the right ratio of male to females.
As small and sweet looking as they are, quail can be vicious with each other.
You should keep quail at the ratio of one male to four to seven females. Always make sure they have enough personal space and never keep males in a cage together. Although they will happily co-exist in coveys, two or more boys together is asking for trouble.
Tips To Keep Quail Healthy
- Never add adults to started coveys.
- It is very difficult to incubate quail eggs so start out with chicks.
- Keep the height of the coop under two feet so they cannot fly up and injure themselves.
- Keeping a strict male to female ratio (mentioned earlier) is important otherwise they can fight or the females can be bred to death.
- Make sure they have enough space to move around in.
- Give them a high quality feed and make sure they have sufficient calcium to keep their egg shells hard.
FAQs About Quail Eggs
What are the benefits of quail eggs?
Quail eggs have been touted as nutritionally superior to chicken eggs but the truth is there is very little difference between them.
If you raise quail the obvious benefit is that you have a constant supply of quail eggs. They are smaller than chicken eggs and make appealing little snacks.
Their taste is also unique and very rich which makes them great for baking.
How much do quail eggs cost?
This will depend on your local supply and demand.
If you live in an area where there are several outlets then the cost will be less, but in areas with limited supply the cost can be very high. On average the price of a quail egg can vary from 30c to $1.00 each.
They are endearing little birds to watch and unlike chickens they are very quiet.
Once you have set everything up you can sit back and enjoy them.
Few cities or townships have zoning related to quail so you might be able to keep them even if you are not allowed chickens, but always check first.
If you are thinking of selling the eggs or meat then make sure you do your research first.
Selling quail eggs can be quite lucrative if you have the right market.
Let us know in the comments section below all about your quail eggs…