FAST Blog: Family Homestead

Permaculture, Preparedness, Homesteading & Survival

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Great Chickens Vs Quails Debate



Recently there has been quite heated debates between people on the Regenerative Agriculture scene about whether chickens are more productive than quails, going into detailed feed conversion rates, cost per egg etc etc

Now I don't keep chickens so I can only go off textbook data for that side of the argument, but based on what I have seen keeping quails I will weigh in to the argument with what I know:

  • Quail are quiet, you can keep a few dozen without your neighbours ever hearing a peep out of them, they are the perfect urban livestock. Even if you keep males. If you keep 3 chickens and a rooster the world is gonna know about it.

  • If we are generous and say it is 4 quail eggs is the equivalent of a chicken egg (despite the fact that quail eggs are WAY more nutrient dense gram for gram) Then a dozen quail will lay the equivalent of 3 chicken eggs EVERY day.

  • A quail starts laying at 8 weeks. A chicken starts at 20 weeks (if you're lucky). This means that by the time your 3 chickens lay their first egg, my 12 quail will have already laid 1008 eggs (12 Weeks x 7 Days x 12 Quails = 1008 Eggs) If we divide this figure by 4 to convert it in to equivalent of chicken eggs this is 252. Quite a bit of catching up to do, especially considering the quails will still be putting out the same weight in eggs as what the chickens will every day, and it is rare for a chicken to lay 7 days a week every week. 

  • If one chicken out of the 3 dies you lose 33.33% of your flock, if one of the 12 quails dies you only lose 8.33%

  • All of that is done on a lower feed bill, 12 quail eat less than 3 chickens

  • You can keep a dozen quail in a rabbit hutch.

  • You cannot keep 3 chickens in a rabbit hutch.
  • In terms of space requirements, you can have a tiered system allowing you to keep 4-5 dozen quail in the same footprint that you would need for one chicken. 


I'd love to hear peoples views on this, I'm not saying that everyone should trade in their chickens for quails, I intend to keep chickens and probably ducks myself in the future, I just don't think you can compare the outputs.
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12 comments

  1. I don't think there's much point in comparing the two really - horses for courses. Keep what you can within your means - space, time, cost etc. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I am tempted by quail though!

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  2. The one thing that chickens win on is meat, any cockerals we have are destined for the table, yes you can eat quail but to get a meat ratio its a lot of quail a lot of plucking and gutting, small and fiddly, another point is chickens can be left to forage for most of there feed and will keep garden pests down, I havent come across anyone doing the same for quails, the egg out put is good for quails what is laying lifespan, our 12 birds cockerals and chicks included cost about £7 a month in feed, we get on average we sell 3 dozen eggs a week, we only have 6 laying until the chicks come on, we dont sell the eggs from the OAP's they are laying about 8-10 a week between them, egg sales bring in £16 a month covering feed and leaving extra, our meat birds we are rearing for free and our own eggs are free, quails could be a good subsitute for those in an urban area, we have the space and much prefer chickens. Good post :-)

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    1. Yeah that's the main drawback of quail, they are VERY good flyers so cannot be free ranged without using a tractor, But if you've got the time and inclination to tractor them then there is no reason it can't be done. One of the only real negatives for me is the fact that a rat can easily kill a quail so they have to be totally secured at night

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  3. I like both chicken and quail, eggs and meat. I agree that it is fiddly to prepare quail, but they are a real treat. Given the choice I would have both plus ducks and geese and definitely guinea fowl, even with the noise.

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    1. I like the idea of guinea fowl, apparently they are good watchdogs to keep other poultry safe from predators

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  4. Wow good post, going to nagg hubby for Quails, he says no room for chickens.

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    Replies
    1. if you have room for a rabbit hutch you have room for a dozen quail, you can see our coop set up being built here: http://fast-sos.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/our-quail-tale-building-coop.html

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  5. Great post.
    As I've said top you before I've kept both quail and chickens and I found quails to have a deathwish. That said the housing was just chicken housing and I doubt it was ideal so I don;t think that helped.
    Keeping chickening in a grid down situation would be like advertising what you have, as even hens make a lot of noise. I think quails would be a good option in that case.
    To be honest I'd like to get some again as I think I'd have a market here for the eggs but I'm not sure on housing as I'd want to move them round outside. Maybe a project for next year though as quite a bit going on at the moment.

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    1. They key with quail is to not give them too much headroom, otherwise they just fly straight up into the roof and have been known to break their own necks when they hit the ceiling! if you only give them 12-14" heigh in their coop it isn't a problem, then you only have to deal with the injuries they inflict on each other!

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  6. Interesting! I'm thinking about getting some rabbits (I used to raise them) and some chickens. Now you've given me something to think about.

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    1. I like the idea of meat rabbits, a really quiet livestock option for an urban setting, and rabbit manure is one of the few fertilisers you can use directly on your garden without burning the plants

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