Why You Should Choose Coturnix Quail for Your Homestead

Coturnix quail are nearly perfect for homesteads. They are relatively inexpensive, require little space, are delicious, and fun to raise.

A light brown coturnix quail.

Many non-traditional homesteaders raise quail when they discover they can’t keep other forms of poultry. Some homesteaders choose to add quail even if they already have other poultry on their homesteads. Why? Because quail offer many benefits to the small-scale farmer and the exchange of time and money for these benefits is great. If you haven’t read Why You Should Consider Keeping Quail, I highly suggest you do.

Before we start, I am often asked how you pronounce “coturnix.” It’s co-turn-ex.

There are several varieties of quail available, but Coturnix Quail (Coturnix Japonica), an old-world quail found in East Asia, is a common quail and one of the most popular choices. 

Coturnix is the variety we have chosen for our homestead. Last night we set 40 quail eggs in the incubator. What is absolutely incredible is that in merely ten weeks, our eggs will be producing eggs. 

Yup! From the first day to setting eggs in the incubator to the first day they begin laying is only about two and a half months. That is a much faster turnaround than chickens and ducks, which take almost seven months to reach maturity.

Additionally, their antics are an absolute hoot. If you see this strange behavior, don’t panic. It’s normal!

A rosetta coturnix in an outdoor aviary with natural flooring.

Types of Coturnix Quail

Through selective breeding, there are several varieties of these quail available, each with its own unique pros and cons.

  • Golden Manchurian Coturnix: Solid dual-purpose production birds. They can lay over 100 eggs per year beginning at about 6-7 weeks of age. They are also efficient as meat birds, reaching adult size in 6-8 weeks and weighing 3-6 ounces.
  • Jumbo Brown Coturnix: Considered one of the fastest-growing and largest of all quails, bred specifically for attaining a large size.
  • English White: A smaller, but also very personable variety that does well in captivity.
  • Tibetan: Considered one of the most spirited of the varieties of Coturnix Quail. This makes them especially sought after for hunting, sporting, and dog training. 
  • Tuxedo: Bred for great egg production, and beautiful coloring. These birds are a great cost-effective way to start a covey (the name for a small flock of quail).
  • Rosetta: Very popular due to their dark and beautiful colors with attractive wing patterns.

Because meat was a priority for us, we went with the Jumbo variety. We ordered our Coturnix quail chicks on Etsy.

Jumbo coturnix in their indoor coop.

Coturnix Quail: Eggs & Meat

The most common reason for keeping Coturnix Quail is for eggs and meat. The eggs are absolutely delicious and considered quite a delicacy. Once a hen begins laying, her egg production will amaze. She will produce approximately 300 eggs over the course of a year (about 210 if you chose not to use supplemental lighting). The meat is also considered a delicacy since quail are game birds. Quail mature so quickly that they reach their top weight at 8 weeks of age.

A nest of beautiful mottled coturnix eggs.

Coturnix Quail Don’t Take Up Much Space

The best part is that they are so small! To reliably collect a dozen eggs a day, you would need about 15 females. If you were keeping chickens, you would need to provide a coop of 30 square feet and outdoor space of 150 square feet, minimum. 

With ducks, you would need a total of 225 square feet. To keep the same number of quail, you would only need 15 square feet of total indoor/outdoor space. In fact, many people offer only sheltered outdoor space. Remember, the more space available, the happier and healthier the bird, but you get the idea.

Quail can be raised on the ground instead of in wire cages, which I really like. It seems more natural to me. They can graze on vegetation and build little ground nests (which they prefer).

A quail nested in the grass.

Making a Profit Off Quail

Speaking of turnaround, let’s talk monetary turnaround. I have a dozen chickens that empty a 50 lb bag of feed in two weeks. They would go through it even faster if their diet was supplemented with foraging and yard scraps, but it’s too early in the season to move them to the aviary. 

I get about 9 eggs a day and I make $3 per dozen for eggs in this area. I will have twenty Coturnix Quail. It will take them a month to go through a 25 lb bag of feed. Four of the quail are male, so I can expect to get about 12 eggs a day and quail eggs go for about $6 for 18 in my area. Not too shabby.

A jumbo quail chick being held.

Breeding Coturnix Quail

Breeding of Coturnix Quail is another reason why a lot of homesteaders chose to keep them. 

Whether you breed to replenish your stock, sell chicks, raise meat birds, or just have fun as a hobbyist, an 18-day incubation period is fantastic. 

I will be breeding for all four purposes. I’m most excited to breed to develop my starting stock by choosing only the best birds from each breeding. I want to grow the largest birds I can with the best color variations. The idea just gets the zoologist in me giddy.

Genetics made my eyes glaze over in college, but once I was working in the field, it all clicked. If you are interested in breeding for color, this article on Backyard Chickens is the best (non-sciencey) one I’ve found. It also offers great information on sexing your quail by color. We are starting with the Pharaoh/Wild Type Coturnix Quail because the variety is easy to sex thanks to their chest feathers.

A tuxedo variety coturnix in the grass.

Other Quail Breeds to Consider

If you don’t feel like Coturnix is right for you, you may be interested in one of these other common breeds:

  • King Quail: A pet or hobbyist variety from Asia.
  • Bobwhite Quail: A pet or hobbyist variety native to the United States.
  • Gambel Quail: A pet or hunting variety native to the United States.
  • California Quail: A pet or hobbyist variety native to the Pacific coast of the United States and the state bird of California.
  • Mountain Quail: A meat and egg variety native to the mountain ranges in western North America.
  • Blue-Scale Quail: An egg variety from the southwestern part of the United States.

So as you can see, there’s a quail for every homestead.

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A pinterest-friendly graphic about raising coturnix quail.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Would it be okay to have just one female Coturnix quail like a pet?

  2. Hi, I like your term “non traditional homesteader”. I’m not traditional either, so it’s always nice to see another. I came from a city family, with a city life, but wanted to raise my kids away from all that. Started with chickens many years ago, which was quite addictive. I’ve just gotten into quail this year, darn cute and friendly little things! I can’t believe how much cheaper they are than chickens, though it does take a lot of eggs to make an omelet. Haven’t butchered any yet, and honestly I’m not looking forward to it, I’m a softy, but I will do so when needed. If you have any pointers regarding butchering to share, I’d love to hear them. Have a great day!

  3. Allen Fowler says:

    For those asking where to find fertile quail eggs, I actually got started by purchasing eggs through EBay.

  4. troy a rys says:

    just wondering if you know any one here in central florida weggshere i can get coturnix eggs thank you

    1. Anonymous says:

      Check Florida backyard chickens group on Facebook, there’s always pics there

  5. Hi, My husband is interested in getting the Pharaoh quail. Do you know where to get them. We are next to Knoxville, Tn.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I’m sorry. I don’t know of any breeders in your area. I’d check out Craigslist. That’s where I found my breeder.

    2. Anonymous says:

      We are offering 150 contournix quail from cackle hatchery they are pretty reasonably priced and guaranteed alive or will be reolaced if any die…

  6. Do you sell quail eggs if so I’m looking about three dozen quail eggs

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      We aren’t selling right now. Sorry.

  7. I have found with my quail in a colony, that the dominant male paired up with the dominant female, and then they attempted to drive away/kill all the other quail. I now keep a pen of all females for eggs, and a few smaller pens with my mated breeding pairs. Ah, the peace….

  8. Can’t wait to follow along. We have close friends who raise quail and I’ve been very tempted to jump in.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      If you decide it’s something you’re interested in, I’d be happy to send some eggs your way.

      1. Victoria leibold says:

        Hey Jessica my name is Victoria and I’m in Missouri how can I get the eggs? Help. I have 4 acres of land and I’m raising laying chickens, but I would love to branch out also

  9. Hi! i just set 20 coturnix quail eggs in the incubator last tuesday. this is a great article and starting point as i know nothing about quail! i’m very excited to get started with them. we already have chickens so they will be a nice addition!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I set our 40 eggs on Tuesday as well. We can pioneer this adventure together and compare notes.

  10. Hey, thanks for sharing! Couple questions.

    1). You mention feed, but I was wondering if you use the same feed for chickens and quail?

    2). Is it possible to start a wild population using a domestic flock to fuel it? Or are they strictly domestic birds?

    Thanks & Cheers!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Great questions and I will be sure to address them in depth over the next month or two. When I’m done, everyone will want quail in their backyards 🙂

  11. TheFrugalChicken.com says:

    Interesting. I originally dismissed quail because it’s only about 2 lbs of meat but maybe my thinking was short sighted. I hadn’t thought of eggs or selling their eggs. I’ll be interested in hearing more about it!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Oh they are a great multi-purpose bird for such a tiny package. Granted, it takes two quail to make an adult serving, but at the rate you can breed and clean them, it’s not much cost or work for an excellent return.