C Spots Farm
Coturnix Quail (Coturnix Japonica) also called Pharaoh or Japanese Quail, are an old world quail that can be found wild in many parts of the world. They can be found in Europe, Asia, Russia, Madagascar, Japan and even Egypt. They have been found to be a migratory species and those that summer in Japan will migrate south to Vietnam, Cambodia and southern China. The largest populations can be found in East and Central Asia. They are a near threatened species in the wild.
The Coturnix quail has been domesticated since the 12th century in Japan. They were raised for their “singing” ability as well as for meat.
Coturnix Quail in the wild prefer open meadows, grass fields, crop fields, bushes along rivers, steppes and mountain slopes all near a water source. They eat seeds, invertebrates and insects.
Chicks in the wild are a uniform tawny color with two darker brown stripes on their backs. The adult plumage is dimorphic meaning the males and females differ in color or markings. The male Coturnix tends to have a reddish-brown patch on his chest and the female can be seen with dark brown spots on her chest that the male doesn’t have. Domesticated Coturnix come in many mutations of color: Texas A & M (white), English white, golden range, red range, Italian, Manchurian, Tibetan, rosetta, scarlett, pharaoh and can come in solid or tuxedo pattern.
Males tend to be smaller at an average of 95 grams and domestic quail tend to average 110 grams. Domestically bred quail for meat can weigh upward of 300 grams.
The hen will start to produce eggs at 6-8 weeks of age and will continue to produce them for the rest of her life. In the wild the male and female do pair off but breeding of outside males to paired females and vice versa is common. In the domestic setting breeders often keep one male to every 6-8 females.
In the wild incubation will start after the last egg is laid and the hen will sit on her eggs for an average of 17 days until they hatch. The female will chase the male away before the chicks hatch and rear them herself. Domestic quail have lost much of their urge to brood (sit on eggs) so most captive quail have been hatched in incubators. The hen will lay 4-5 eggs before setting. In captivity eggs tend to be many colors due to the various mutations but commonly they can be seen as being tan with darker brown mottling. In the wild eggs will be lain April to August but in captivity they can lay all year round if given the right amount of light. They can then produce up to 300 eggs a year.
As an interesting side note, in 1990 on the Russian spacecraft “Mir” Coturnix quail eggs were incubated and hatched successfully.
The lifespan of a Coturnix quail is 6 years. The males have a crow that is much quieter than a rooster crow. Both the males and females have been found to emit 28 different calls. A young male Coturnix will start to crow around 5-6 weeks.
Coturnix quails are have many uses including the manure which makes a rich compost for gardens, the shells are used in crafts and the if you have a dish featuring quail or eat quail eggs you most likely are talking about the Coturnix Quail. The egg itself is considered a delicacy. The feathers can be used to stuff pillows or dyed for fly tying and crafts. The meat is tender and delicious to eat and the cured skins can be used for dog training. Mainly in Europe, when crossed with the common Quail, they produce a hybrid that is popular in restocking land for hunting. They can also be delightful pets.
When comparing the chicken egg to the quail egg the benefits are quite revealing. One 10 gram Coturnix egg has 3-4 times the nutrition of a 55 gram chicken egg. The Coturnix egg has 13% protein compared to the chicken’s 11%. It also has five times the iron and potassium, twice the vitamin A and B2 as well as three times the amount of B1. The Coturnix egg is also rich in calcium and phosphorus. It has a good amount of good cholesterol and none of the bad. It also does not have the allergy causing compound and is “richer” with a higher yolk to white ratio.
Quail meat is a good alternative to chicken and many consider it a delicacy. Coturnix is easy to keep and dispatching them on your own for the table is easy and takes three minutes or less after practice. This quail is table size at 6-8 weeks.
Keeping Coturnix Quail is an easy venture. They require a minimum of 1 square foot per bird and can be housed together in groups. They are both cold and heat tolerant as long as they have shelter to get out of the rain and wind.
The feed to egg conversion is excellent. They will eat a 22% game bird or turkey crumble as well as insects, seeds and leafy greens. Mealworms are a favorite treat and can come in live or freeze-dried.
As a pet they can be wonderful for adult and child alike. They can learn to be held and petted and will come to see you once they know you are a friend and may have treats. They need a minimal amount of space and they can live indoors or outdoors and a pair can be housed in a guinea pig or rabbit hutch or indoor cage. They do like to dust bathe and clipping the wings is recommended for pet quail.
No matter if your Coturnix Quail is a house pet, for organically raised meat or for hunting, this quail requires little space and time but can fulfill many uses. You can even start a small business in your backyard if you have the mind to. Consider keeping Coturnix Quail as your next project.