The Small but Mighty Coturnix

Most people have never considered raising their own poultry because the though instantly sparks visions of sprawling farmland, large coops, endless noise, and the back breaking labor of supplying and changing wheelbarrow loads of bedding. But this is an antiquated stereotype, based on assumptions that poultry needs to be farm raised a specific way and using specific birds. However, this could not be further from the truth. 

The wonderful world of poultry is vast and varied, containing everything from pets to production birds. In itself, this latter category contains an overwhelming variety of options, which all seem to require different types of care and suit various needs. No wonder backyard poultry raising is not very common. There are too many options and too many considerations for the novice to sift through without guidance! 

So, let us guide you, right past the traditional lines of inquiry, mistakes, and confusion, to a bird we believe is as good as gold; The Japanese Quail a.k.a. Coturnix.  


Maximum production in minimum space

Of all the production based poultry, Coturnix are by far the most efficient bird when it comes to space. (For simplicity, this article will focus on quail egg production rather than meat. In the future we hope to write a similar article focused on meat nutrition and production, but, at a risk of angering the philosophical gods, we have determined that the egg should, in fact, come before the chicken Quail!)

This Quail species can lay up to 6 eggs per week while needing much less than 1 square foot per bird. In fact, if kept in the most minimum quail keep standards, you could raise 100 adult Coturnix in less than a 6′ x 6′ section of your backyard, balcony, or even indoors. Additionally, those dimension assume the quail will be housed on a single level, which is not necessary. Therefore, if you split your covey (flock) into multiple stacked cages, you could effectively reduce the footprint to an area smaller than the average bedroom dresser. Think about that for a minute. Let us introduce you to quail math (A VERY real, almost technical term in the Quail community). 100 quail total, assuming you chose to also breed your next generations, you would have 80 hens and 20 roosters on average. with the hens producing an average of 5.7 eggs per week each, you would have 456 eggs per week!

Now, now, we know, quail eggs are small. A single chicken egg is equivalent to approximately 3 standard sized quail eggs, or 2 Jumbo quail eggs. Therefore, in relatable terms, a covey of 100 standard sized quail would produce enough eggs to replace 152 chicken eggs, and a covey of 100 Jumbo quail would produce enough to replace 228 chicken eggs. And while this obviously seem like a ridiculous amount of eggs, the point is, that this level of production can be achieved in a 4 tiered cage system that is only 2 feet wide and 6 1/4 feet long, or a total of 12.5 sq. ft. of floor space. In comparison, to produce 228 chicken eggs per week, you would need at least 38 chickens, which would require 152 sq. ft. of coop space and 304 sq. ft. of run space, for a grand total of 456 sq. ft. This would be equivalent to about a two car garage. So in order to acquire enough eggs to equal 228 chicken eggs per week, would you rather maintain a bedroom dresser or a two-car garage? Bottom line: Coturnix Quail are small but mighty.  


For your health and happiness

Now that we know that raising Coturnix is very clearly the more efficient poultry option, you may be questioning the nutritional aspect of this comparison. As I am just a happy homesteader, I will defer to the nutritional masterminds when I produce these facts. 

According to (view the article here), when compared to chicken eggs, quail eggs contain;

  1. Vitamin A: 5.5 percent of the daily value (DV)
    Vitamin B2 (or riboflavin): 23 percent of the DV
    Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 9 percent of the DV
    Vitamin B9 (or folate): 8 percent of the DV
    Vitamin B12: 9 percent of the DV
  2. Iron: 10 percent of the DV
    Phosphorus: 12.5 percent of the DV
    Zinc: 5 percent of the DV
    Selenium: 23 percent of the DV
  3. 13% of your DV for proteins per serving, with only 4% of your DV for calories, on a 2,000 calorie diet.

The article goes on to cite a 2013 health study in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, (click here to read) which analyzed the nutritional composition of quail eggs in detail, and cited dozens of studies and articles. between them all, the conclusions remain positive and promising, stating;

  1. nutritional value of quail eggs are 3-4 times greater than chicken eggs
  2. Quail egg consumption fights digestive disorders, anemia, the formation of stones in the liver, kidneys, and gallbladder
  3. Regular consumption boosts immunity, memory, and nervous system function.
  4. Quail egg consumption may posses anti cancer effects and inhibits cancer growth.
  5. Quail eggs balanced blood sugar levels, decreased menopause symptoms, and showed antidepressant qualities.
  6. Quail eggs are a good source of proteins, fats, vitamin E, and minerals.
  7. The high fat content of quail eggs is mostly composed of unsaturated fats (the good kind) and low trans fatty acids (the bad kind that raises ‘bad’ cholesterol). 
  8. Quail eggs are a potential resolution to the ‘world food problem’.

Need I say more?

Bottom Line: Quail eggs are more nutritious than chicken eggs.

So, rolling tally: Quail are efficient, nutritious, and wellness promoting. 


Taste is everything

Ok, so… We have learned about efficiency and nutrition, but what about taste? Glad you asked, because this may be our favorite part!

Quail farming can be traced all the way back to biblical Egypt, and then in China, followed by Japan and then the rest of the world. Therefore, it is fairly obvious that the art of raising quail had value.

However, when it comes to tastes, history isn’t always the most reliable source, so perhaps we should shift toward culture acceptance as a better flavor evaluation method. To start, let me point out a simple fact, quail eggs and quail meat have consistently been regarded as a delicacy across the globe and throughout history. 

For one, there is a very real mental component to flavor which regards atypical and miniature things as ‘something special’. But beyond this mental component, the flavor of quail eggs have been repeatedly described as very comparable to fresh chicken eggs but will a much creamier consistency. We can certainly attest to this, as we haven’t found a single reason to buy a chicken egg since we began raising our own quail. 

The flavor and richness of a quail egg is related to the fact that quail eggs have a higher yolk content than chicken eggs. This is certainly impressive considering that even with all that yolk, these eggs still remain comparatively lower in ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Just think of all the culinary possibilities that can arise from a more flavorful an creamy egg can bring! Oppulent omelet’s, amazing aioli, creamy quiche, Fantastic Frittatas, quintessential custards, marvelous muffins, and perfect pastry. Crème anglaise? pickled eggs? Eggs en Cocotte? Carbonara? Migas? French toast??? bite sized devilled eggs????

The list really can go on and on. There are SOOO many already incredible foods that can made even better by the flavor and texture enhancement of a quail egg. Now, some people complain about their struggles trying to crack quail eggs without breaking them. We agree, quail eggs are very difficult to crack, which is exactly why you are NOT supposed to crack them! Quail eggs are opened very quickly and easily with a pair of inexpensive quail scissors, which neatly take the top off like a perfectly cut jack-o-lantern. Then the contents of the egg can be poured into your recipe. The process is SOOO much faster and cleaner than cracking chicken eggs. We think this ‘inconvience’ of using scissors is actually a value booster because who ever enjoyed the eggy fingers of a sloppy side-of-the bowl egg crack? Like everything else, choose the right tool for the job, before faulting the process! 

Perhaps the only down-side we can possibly muster would be if you required strictly egg whites for a particular recipe. Due to the low white to yolk ratio of a quail egg, you would have to use quite a few quail eggs to substitute a single chicken egg. However, please don’t forget that you can easily obtain 456 eggs a week in a tiny space by raising them yourself, so we believe this argument is valid but a non-issue. 

Bottom line: Quail eggs taste amazing!

So, rolling tally: Quail are efficient, nutritious, promote wellness, and their eggs taste amazing. 


Dollars and Cents of Quail 

 Ok so we established that quail are pretty much supirior to chick in every single way. So… Why do we eat so many chicken eggs? 

Its all about the money. 

The western agriculture world (big Ag) and general western culture in general, tend to value tradition and adapt slowly to culinary trends. Coturnix have always been viewed as a delicacy, which automatically pushes them outside of the realm of what is usually considered for primary production, or even for dinner. The average American home is certainly not accustomed to planning multiple quail meals per week because ‘Quail is for special occasions’, further solidified by the prices seen in fancy the restaurants. I actually saw a $40 price tag on a single roast quail fairly recently, at a moderately priced venue! Thus, a strange snowball effect has plagued the quail farming world. Quail meat and eggs are subject to some seriously inflated prices, because wester culture, as a whole, has not adapted yet to the reality that quail are plentiful, efficient, nutritious, promote wellness, and their eggs taste amazing!

So, yes, if you are not raising quail, the cost of substituting out your traditional poultry choice can be a costly venture, UNLESS you have a local quail farm, with reasonable prices, specializing in high standard breeding and harvesting, to ensure top notch quality and orders that are harvested ‘To-Order’, not frozen in advance (WINK-WINK That’s Us!!! Order here!!).

However, for all the reasons listed above, I seriously suggest that everyone should take a moment to consider raising a few quail on there own. The math does not lie, it is totally possible to increase your families self sufficiency, and possibly even their health, by joining the quail raising community. 

  • Quail are hardy enough to be kept outdoors in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Quail can be raised in spaces of less than one square foot per bird.
  • Quail are MUCH quieter than chickens. 
  • Quail maintenance can be kept at a fraction of the labor needed to raise the same quality of chickens.
  • Quail are extremely efficient producers.
  • Quail are easy to breed, or easily sourced by purchasing hatching eggs or live birds, year round. (Shop Now!)
  • Quail housing and supplies cost a fraction of what is spent on backyard chicken operations.
  • Quail can be raised indoors! Or on a balcony! Or in a shed, office, dorm, closet, bookcase… seriously… we have had quail everywhere.
  • The cost of raising your own quail, even with your time factored in, is FAR below the retail cost of quail.
  • And most important, Kids LOVE quail. Coturnix are ADORABLE and have a great temperament, which makes them the ultimate addition to your home.
  • Kids can learn everything from biology and genetics to sustainability and responsibility. Nothing will beat that first moment your child holds their first chick. Seriously, DO NOT FORGET YOUR CAMERA. Life is amazing, and watching your babies holding quail babies tugs on every little string that your heart is comprised of. I’m literally tearing up right now because it is so cute. 

Ok, I think that about covers it…. Im hungry, and choked up with sentiment… I hope I have successfully portrayed the passion I feel about these incredible birds and how they can enrich your life (and kids lives!). 

So, If ever, anyone asks “Why Quail”, you can knowledgebly respond…