Okay, so you decided to keep poultry mainly for their eggs and you are in the process of deciding which one to pick: should it be quail? If you want to find out whether it is worth keeping them you need to find the answer to the this (among others) question:
How many eggs do quail lay? Quail lay between 2 and 7 eggs per week. The breed, age of the bird, calm environment, diet, light, season of the year play important factors. Coturnix quail produce most egg.
If you want a more detailed answer and some more information regarding quail eggs’ taste, size and which breed to choose and what you can do to get as many tasty eggs as possible!
Quail can lay quite a lot of eggs per year. But not all the breeds do, there are some that are more productive than others. There is a huge variety based on the breeds. Let’s get cracking!
For example Button or California Quail won’t lay nearly as many eggs as Coturnix Quail do.
The former 2 are little and very pretty, kept mostly as pets. Compared to Coturnix Quail they lay way fewer and smaller eggs and give you way less meat.
The most productive egg layer breed among quail is the Coturnix. It lays an average of 200+ eggs per year. A very productive Coturnix quail, if healthy and happy, can lay well over 300 eggs a year. It can lay eggs almost every day throughout the year.
It tarts laying eggs at around 6 to 8 weeks of age and they reach maturity at around 10 weeks of age which is exceptionally early among quail. For example Bobwhite quail start laying eggs at the age of around around 6 months. They lay eggs until they die at 2 or 2,5 years of age.
Coturnix quail is also referred to Pharaoh, Jumbo or Japanese Quail. Bigger size Coturnix Japanese quail are called Jumbo for instance. The naming Jumbo refers only to the size of the bird, it is not a species or subspecies. They will give you larger eggs and more meat.
Coturnix Quail have a larger body than other breeds and they reach maturity quickly at around 10 weeks, this is one of the reasons why many people keep them for their eggs and meat.
Coturnix quail is a hardy and calm breed easy to keep. They are very popular among homesteaders who want to keep quail for their meat and eggs. Keeping quail requires very little initial investment. They need small space and little attention.
Selling quail eggs might be a bit harder compared to chicken eggs as they are less known and less popular. Nonetheless there are high-end restaurants and grocery stores that do sell them. Becoming a supplier can be a lucrative business. Quail eggs cost 30 cent to 1 dollar per egg.
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If you want to sell the eggs and don’t want to hatch them you don’t need to keep male quail with the hens. They can produce eggs even without a rooster.
How to optimize egg production
If you want to maximize the eggs that your birds lay and get as many big and tasty eggs as possible you need to pay attention to the following factors.
Maybe the most important factor that comes into play when it comes to egg laying is the amount of light quail get.
Quail need at least 14 hours of light to lay eggs on a daily basis. Less light also results in less eggs, this is why winter months tend to lay eggs less often in normal conditions.
Whether the light is sunlight or comes from a dimmer external source doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be bright, it is enough that it looks like dusk or dawn; even the color of the light can differ from sunlight.
All the external source needs to do is provide some extra light when days are shorter. Make sure that it gives the extra hours of light to reach 14 hours the quail needs.
The stress factor can heavily affect quail egg productivity.
For instance if you move them from one hutch to another they will get stressed out and will stop laying eggs until they get used to the new environment.
If a predator is threatening them they might also stop laying eggs for a while, it is not definitive. You need to eliminate the stress factor and they will pick up egg laying again.
Quail won’t stop laying eggs immediately, they have some eggs in their cycle that they will lay, but eventually they will shut down for a couple of days or as long as they are stressed out.
Delayed egg laying
Individuals of the same breed reach start laying egg at slightly different ages. For example some Coturnix quail start laying eggs at at 6 weeks of age while other start at 10 weeks of age.
This depends on the bloodline and the above mentioned factors too. If other quails in the same bloodline started laying eggs at an earlier age you have a good chance that it will do so as well.
There are some other factors that might affect quail egg laying such as, weather, aggression of other quails, etc., but they play a lesser role in egg production.
What are quail eggs like?
Quail egg size and color widely varies based on breed. They are average 1 ½ inch by 1 inch size, that is 4-5 times smaller than chicken eggs. They have a cream color base, marked with specks and spots and round patches of red brown or purple color.
Compared to chicken eggs they are much smaller. If you have larger quail then the eggs might be only 3-4 times smaller compared to chicken eggs.
Quail eggs are very colorful and very different in appearance depending on the breed. Different types of breeds lay different types and quantities of eggs.
For instance even though Button quail do lay eggs, people keep them as pets and not for their meat or egg. They don’t lay as many as and as large eggs as Coturnix quail do. Button quail eggs are almost half the size of Coturnix quail eggs.
Compared to chickens, quail start laying eggs earlier in life and more often. On the flipside quail live much shorter than chickens do: 2-2,5 years vs 8 years.
Common misconceptions regarding quail eggs is that they taste better than chicken and duck eggs or they taste gamey. In reality they taste very similar.
One difference between chicken and quail eggs that there is a bigger yolk to egg-white ratio.
The yolk in a quail egg is bigger compared to duck and chicken eggs. You will notice that quail eggs are creamier and thicker when cooking and baking.
Quail eggs are also healthier, compared to chicken eggs they provide more protein and B12 vitamin and less fat. Source
What months (period of the year) do quail lay eggs?
Quail lay eggs daily throughout the year between 6 weeks of age and 1 year, then hens’ productivity slowly starts to decline. there is a a 3 week period around the shortest winter days that egg production becomes very rare.
Using an external light can help boost the productivity of the quail when days are shorter, but in this period even that doesn’t help. You won’t get much out of them at this time of the year.
So don’t panic if you see that your quails don’t lay eggs in that period. This is absolutely okay.
Do quails lay eggs without a male?
Quail will lay eggs without a rooster just like chickens, the presence of a male quail will not affect the egg production.
Obviously if you want eggs to hatch then you need a rooster to fertilize the eggs.
Where do quail lay eggs?
Quail always lay eggs on the ground either in the grass or on straw. They need a calm and safe environment that protects them from predators to ensure egg production possible.
Quail are ground birds, they aren’t picky at all where they lay their eggs. They like nesting on the ground, laying their eggs in grass or straw or even dust.
They don’t need spacious hutches for laying eggs they do need quiet areas where they feel safe. Stressed birds will always provide less eggs.
They need an environment that makes them feel protected from hawks and owls from above and foxes, racoons and dogs from attacks below.
If you are after a good egg producer quail breed your best bet is Coturnix (Japanese, Jumbo) quail. They are indeed very hardy, they don’t need much but there are some conditions you need to provide them. You do need to take some safety measures and provide them with the ideal conditions if you want to have many and tasty eggs.