Are you planning to raise quails for profit, personal meals, or a feast? Do you want to keep them as pets, or alongside your other livestock in the backyard? Determining how many quails should you start with will depend on a host of factors.
If you want to start breeding quail for meat and eggs, you should start with a minimum of 5 mature birds per person. If you want to hatch your own quail, start with around 10 quail eggs per person in the incubator. To cover the needs of a family of 5 with the daily consumption of 2 or 3 quail eggs 20 to 25 Coturnix quail will provide enough eggs, and another 20 quail can provide 15 pounds of meat.
But what are the best breeds to raise for meat and eggs, how many of those will provide you with enough meat and egg, and what expenses can you expect? We will discuss all that and more in this article. Let’s dive right in!
Quails are popular among breeders and homesteaders because of their meat and eggs, which also make great alternatives to chickens, ducks, and turkeys. They are also relatively easy and inexpensive to raise, with them reaching maturity in as fast as six weeks – ready to slaughter.Learn how to raise your own quail and have an unlimited supply of eggs and meat.
A female quail can produce about 5 to 7 eggs per week, which are about a third of the size of a chicken egg. Since quail are excellent egg layers and can lay eggs year-round, you can get more out of quail than chickens.
With these advantages, many breeders are attracted to getting quails. You can raise them for a multitude of purposes like for-profit (eggs, meat, and breeds), for personal consumption, as hunting birds, or even as pets.
The question now here is, how many quails should you start with? Let me answer that according to different potential purposes for raising them.
How Many Quails Should You Start With?
To start with, the ratio of one male to four females is a good base point. That is, you can start with having a total of five quails: four hens and a rooster.
From there, you can increase the quantity depending on how much space you have for quails and as you gain experience. For example, you can have 25 males with 100 females, giving you a total of 125 quail.
Since quail don’t require a whole lot of space and can be kept in pens stacked on top of each other, you can keep a lot of them in a small garden too.
If you intend to sell eggs or meat for profit, then you have to have adequate space to raise enough males and females in the correct ratio. This is so you can get the yield you need and the profit you aim for.
The good news is that quails are small birds, which means you do not need as much space to fit the same quantity as chickens, ducks, or other poultry livestock. This is also why quails are popular with backyard raisers.
Quail need approximately 1 square foot of living space per bird, but I have Considering ideal standards, it is encouraged to keep about 5 (4.5 square feet) quails per square meter of space. Yet some will double that number, or even go way higher. Some breeders just adjust by providing a more efficient watering and food provisioning system and a stimulating environment that is abundant in natural elements that are good for the quails’ diet.
Raising For Profit
Although quails are smaller birds and consequently lay smaller eggs, the price tag for both eggs and their meat is pretty similar to that of chicken, quail meat being a bit cheaper.
Quails are less expensive to raise, given their naturally abundant diet and inexpensive upkeep.
There is a special market for quail meat and eggs, which include high-end restaurants that serve them uniquely.
Aside from their meat and eggs, quail feathers can be used for fly fishing. They are preferred because of their size, making them good to use in lures. Meanwhile, a wide variety of quail breeds also come in different colors, making their feathers also coveted as materials for craft projects.
If you are tight on pace, you can make modular cages that can be piled on top of the other, and you can raise hundreds of birds in a small area.
This modular system is usually adopted by breeders looking to raise quails for profit. This maximizes the space and also helps them manage the environment and implement an efficient overall system (in terms of cleaning, feeding, hatching, etc.).
If you already own a cage, a brooder, an incubator, your main expense is going to be the food. I wrote a detailed article on the breakdown of how much quail eat and how much it costs to raise them, and you can find it here on my site.
In summary, if you choose a fast-maturing breed like Coturnix Quail, you can calculate that they reach maturity, and are ready either to slaughter or to lay eggs around weeks 7 and 8. To reach that stage, you can calculate with 5.6lb (2.6kg) of feed per bird, which is approximately $2.
If you just begin to raise quail, then you need to calculate with the purchase of the coops, watering system, brooder, and incubator… basically whatever you might need to invest in to start. You can make the brooder and the cage yourself if you’re a DIY person, and save some money there, but you can expect to spend about $200-300 on an incubator, brooder, cage, food and water containers.
By the seventh week, your Coturnix Quail will lay an egg on a daily basis in the first year, except for the winter when egg production may decrease and even stop if not provided with sufficient light (14 hours a day). The fertility will decrease as they grow old too. In the second year, this will become quite noticeable. You can counterbalance this by rotating your breeding stock.
Coturnix Quail lay eggs daily, and they can cost anywhere between $0.25 and 0.83; and the price of quail meat is between $5 and $20 per pound. If you live in an area where the supply is low and the demand is high, then you will be closer to the higher end of that spectrum.
A larger breed quail like the Jumbo Coturnix can reach around 400 grams (12-14 oz). There are breeds that are significantly smaller, like the Bobwhite, whose average weight is only around 150 grams (5 oz).
You can also sell quail for hunting purposes. The most popular breed for hunting is Bobwhite. They reach maturity at around 15 weeks, much slower than the Coturnix, but they are also much smaller, meaning that their daily intake is much less too. A Bobwhite costs between $5 -7.
You can read this article I wrote on how to make money by raising quail.
Raising For Personal Consumption
Quail eggs are only about a fifth to a third of a regular-sized chicken egg. Therefore, if you consume an average of a chicken egg a day, you’ll need about 3-5 pieces of quail eggs to cover your needs.
Female quails can lay about 5 to 7 eggs per week, and can do so year-round if kept in the proper conditions. Therefore, given your one egg per day daily consumption, you’ll need about 3 to 5 female quails to lay eggs for you.
Calculating from the ratio I mentioned, you’ll need to pair them with about 1 to 2 males, giving you a total of about eight quails to cover your needs. A family of 5 needs approximately 25 quail.
As for the meat, mature quails (different breeds have significant differences in weight) weigh between 15 -5 ounces (150 gram-400 grams). You should calculate with 2 birds per adult or 1 bird per child per meal.
To prepare 15lbs of quail meat a month (it is a quarter of the average consumption of a family of five) you should butcher 20 -25 Coturnix quail per month.
Quails mature easily so you already slaughter them as fast as 6 to 7 weeks. If you are planning to consume quails for both meat and eggs, then you have to raise more.
Meanwhile, quail eggs are ready to be consumed sooner than chicken eggs. This means a faster turnaround both for meat and eggs, giving you more time to raise another batch again. Also, quails mature faster, allowing them to give you eggs sooner as well.
Quails are also raised for pets since they are pretty sociable and amicable pets. They are quieter and make less distracting noises than chickens and ducks.
Quail manure can also further enrich your garden since it makes a good fertilizer. And if you rais many of them, you can even sell some of the quail poop for profit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are more of the most frequently asked questions, and their answers, regarding raising quails:
What is the best quail breed to raise for meat and eggs?
The most popular breed to raise for meat and even eggs are Coturnix quail or the Japanese quail. Jumbo varieties of these birds are larger, but produce fewer eggs.
The Bobwhite quail is another known breed, being the best choice for people looking for excellent hunting birds.
It is not as productive as the Coturnix breed in terms of egg production but makes a good source of meat as it can reach about 6 ounces. When breeding them for meat, just make sure to keep them in cages as they might fly away.
Can I raise quails together with chickens?
You can rais quails and chickens, but they need to be kept separately. Chickens are larger than quail, and they can be kept free-range. Quail need to be kept in a caged, protected environment, otherwise they will escape. Chickens and quails aren’t as friendly with each other so if you plan to keep them in the same area, you need to separate them at least.
Chickens tend to be aggressive towards quails, which not only affects their health, but also their egg production.
Another reason why you shouldn’t keep them together is that while chickens like to roost, quails are ground dwellers with sudden bursts of enthusiasm, when they fly straight up in the air. You must keep them either in such low cages that are too small for chickens, or in really tall ones, which isn’t necessary for chickens.
There is also a high risk of chickens passing diseases to quails, like the deadly Coryza.
And lastly, chickens and quails have different dietary needs, which makes keeping them together completely void of any benefit.
Can I pair more females to a male quail?
The ideal ratio is one male to four females. You may pair more females but you should be prepared to encounter a slight decline in the hatchability rate. Keeping more females may stress the male.
Aside from maintaining a good ratio of male and female quails, you should also avoid including too many males. Male quails tend to compete with each other, and in some cases they can kill each other.
If you tend to keep more quails, then getting them inside compartmentalized cages or modules is more advisable.
Raising quails is beginner-friendly and worth the time and investment. However, if you want to increase your success, you should know how many quails you should start with and establish a good flock in an ideal male-to-female ratio. You also should stick with the best practices and continue learning from experience.