People often ask me if I think it’s better to keep chickens or quail. As I keep both species and have done so for many years, I have gained a lot of experience and appreciation for their different traits and characteristics.
Quail are smaller, quieter, and take up less space than chickens. However, their small size makes them less efficient for meat and egg production. Chickens are great if you want to be self-sufficient in terms of eggs and meat. But chickens are also noisier, and roosters can sometimes be aggressive to people.
In this blog post, I am going to address the difference between keeping chickens and quail. We will go over some of the main differences as well as some other things that you need to know about each species. And, at the end of this blog post, you’ll find a helpful comparison.
Table of Contents
Quail and Chickens Both Produce Eggs
Chickens and quail are both birds. Both lay eggs, but they have different characteristics. Chickens eggs are much larger than quail eggs and require more food to produce. Quail eggs contain more fat and protein by weight as well as double the iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 than chicken eggs.
People who want to raise their own flock of hens for fresh organic protein may be tempted by the idea of starting with small birds like quails instead of full-grown chickens because it seems easier to care for them. But is it really?
Quail lay about 200 to 300 eggs a year, which is comparable to a medium-high layer chicken breed. But as quail eggs are much smaller than chicken eggs, it takes about six Coturnix quail to produce the equivalent of one regular chicken egg. That means you have to collect and crack many more eggs when preparing a recipe, and you need to keep six times as many quail as you would chickens.
Differences Between Chickens and Quail Meat
The difference between chicken and quail meat is the flavor, texture, and preparation. While it’s true that both taste great in soup or fried rice, they are quite different from one another.
Chickens and quail are somewhat similar in taste but have a few differences. Quail meat tastes a bit gamier than chicken, which some people prefer. Quail meat is also slightly denser and chewier than broiler chickens, which requires a bit more work to prepare. It is also darker in color and has smaller bones.
As quail are much smaller than chickens, you will need to harvest several birds to get the equivalent amount of meat as one chicken. It is easier and less time-consuming to kill and clean a quail than a chicken, but since chickens are larger, they make up for this difference in weight.
Quail Need Less Space
Quail can be a better choice for smaller homes because they require less space. If you’re looking to produce protein and eggs in a small backyard, quail might be a perfect choice.
Expand on this: The biggest downside to raising chickens is their need for space. They require more room in the run and a much larger coop than quail do.
If you have limited space but prefer to keep chickens due to their many other advantages, or just because you prefer chickens, consider getting a smaller breed. Bantam chickens require less space than regular breeds and are a great choice for people living in semidetached and terraced homes with small yards.
Chickens Are Louder than Quail
Chickens make much more noise than Quail. If you’re planning to get chickens, be prepared for lots of clucking and crowing.
Quail, on the other hand, don’t make much noise even when they are alarmed or frightened. They do make a few sounds that are audible but rarely heard in the backyard, such as an occasional “peep.” As long as they are well-fed and contented, quail will remain quiet most of the time.
Male quail do crow, but their crow is much softer and less audible than chickens. While your entire neighborhood can hear a rooster crow, you might not be able to hear a quail even when you are in the same yard. The sound of a quail crow is also less “poultry-like” and sounds more like the sound of a small songbird.
To learn more about how loud quail are, visit this link.
As chickens are much noisier than quail, they might disturb your neighbors and even bother you if you live in close quarters with them. Even if you don’t keep a rooster, you will still have to deal with the hens’ noises such as clucking, cackling, and warning noises from time to time during the day. While I happen to enjoy the sound of chickens, I can see how they could be too noisy for people who live in a suburban neighborhood or urban area.
Chickens Are Great Foragers
Chickens are effective foragers because they are love eating bugs and are happy to rummage around your yard in search of food. Quail, on the other hand, can not forage as they should not be let out of their run.
Having a flock of foraging chickens in your yard has several benefits. They eat bugs, leaving your yard less prone to infestation. They will fertilize the ground and provide manure for your garden. The chickens will also scratch in the dirt, which is a great way to improve your soil quality.
Another big advantage of letting your chickens forage is that you will save money on feed. The chickens will find food in your yard, and you won’t need to spend much money buying expensive commercial feed for them. You should still keep the feeder full, but it won’t need to be topped off as often.
Of course, the downside of chickens foraging is that they can be difficult to manage, and you will have to keep them out of your vegetable garden to keep them eating your strawberries or pulling up young seedlings. Here are five ways to keep your chickens out of the garden without fencing.
Chickens will also happily eat your food scraps, which is a great way to save money on feed and reduce your household waste. Quail, on the other hand, mostly eat seeds and crumble feed.
In Summary: Pros and Cons of Chickens and Quail
Quail and chickens do have a lot in common: they are both excellent sources of eggs and meat, and they both can be great pets. But there are some very important differences related to size, temperament, and noise.
Below is a summary of the difference between these two poultry species.
Pros of keeping quail:
- Quail are easy to butcher
- Quail are smaller than chickens and require less space
- Their tiny eggs are a bit more nutritious and more interesting for kids and adults alike
- Their meat is more exotic. It may not suit everyone’s tastes, but quail meat is a nice contrast to the familiar chicken meat to most people.
- They are very quiet birds. They rarely make sounds and when they do, it’s is not very noticeable.
Pros of keeping chickens:
- Chickens produce much larger eggs
- You only need to butcher one chicken for a family meal
- You will only need 4 or 5 chickens to be self-sufficient in eggs
- They are excellent foragers, and they love kitchen scraps
“Which Would Be Better for My Needs?”
It is difficult to say if it is better to have one or the other. Quail and chickens are both good for two different reasons, and they also have different advantages when it comes to what you need them for.
If you live in a small space or an urban area and want to have a pet that is less noisy, then quail might be a good option. Quail are also great for people who prefer the taste of slightly gamey meat and if you like the idea of serving those cute little brown and blue speckled eggs.
If you want to be self-sufficient in eggs and are looking for an easy source of meat, then chickens may be the better option. While they require more space and may not be a good idea if you live in an urban environment, chickens can produce lots of meat and eggs. Chickens also forage and eat household scraps, which means you won’t have to buy as much feed compared to other poultry.
Of course, if you have sufficient space and time, you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can keep chickens and quail for the best of both worlds. Just don’t keep them in the same run because chickens tend to bully quail.