The Japanese Quail (Coturnix Japonica) originates from Eastern Asia. In a wild quails are migratory birds living in grassland and cultivated fields. The colour of the Japanese quail is typically speckled yellow-brown, with a light creamy strip running from the eyes towards the back of the head, but quail can also come in other colours like white, white-black, speckled red-brown or cream-brown.
An adult quail will reach around 20cm (7 ¾ Inch) in height and around 150g (5 ounces) in weight. Their domestication has began as early as in the fourteen century. At first quails became popular as game birds but at later stage the commercial keeping of quail has kicked off because of their tasty eggs and meat.
The biggest commercial revolution of the quail began after 1910 when they were divided into two groups; for egg production and for the table. Nowadays the quail is not the most popular little bird among bird keepers even though it would deserve a lot more attention.
Quail can be kept in cages or small aviary enclosures covered with tightly woven mesh. On a small scale you can keep 10 to 15 quails in 1 square meter floor area. This amount of quail will provide enough eggs for a family of four. The keeping of quail on a small scale is fairly simple.
Quails like to stay on the floor, hardly ever jump up onto higher places, which means that if you’ve had an aviary already in place with other birds in it, you could just place some quail in there and they would be happy to pick up every edible particle from the floor that the other birds may drop. If kept outside, you would have to provide a draught free zone (shelter) for the quail where they can hide from the bad weather. In outside conditions the quail will stop laying eggs during the colder winter period but if kept inside under good conditions like enough space, food, temperature above 16ºC (61º F) and enough light, the quail would normally lay around 280 – 290 eggs a year.
If you want to keep quails for their eggs, the best practice is to have a 3 to 1 hen to rooster rate, that’s when quail will lay the most eggs and it’s also an optimal rate if you want to breed them. The domesticated quail doesn’t make a nest and will not become a sitting hen so you would have to incubate the eggs for hatching. The Quail will start laying eggs at around 10-12 weeks of its age and will lay eggs actively for about 14-15 months if kept under optimal conditions.
Apart from human consumption game bird keepers often feed their birds with boiled quail eggs and get brilliant results because of the high vitamin and nutrition volume.