I have wanted to raise quail ever since I tasted one wrapped in bacon. Today I picked up a 6wk old Japanese Texas A&M trio and after doing a bit of research realized there might be more to these birds than just tasty meat.
The Japanese quail (Coturnix Japonica) was first introduced to the United States in 1870. The Texas A&M white is one of (arguably) three standard Japanese Coturnix Quail varieties. It was specifically bred at Diamond H Ranch by extension specialist Dr. Lee Cartwright by crossing Texas A&M Brown Gourmet Quail back to large English White’s with the recessive white pigment gene. This resulted in a white feathered bird, usually with a dark spot on the head and/or tail area, that can reach meat production size (about 7-10oz dressed) in 7-8 weeks with good food conversion. Some believe the absence of dark pigmentation in it’s feather follicles makes for a cleaner looking carcass and remains the most popular variety for gourmet food market..
If you plan to hatch the eggs you will most likely need an incubator as it is not common for quail to go broody while confined. With an average hatch time of
16-18 days, they can provide a good meat source for the self-sufficient homesteader. A mature hen can
have as many as 300 eggs a year beginning at 6 weeks , and while not nearly as big as a chicken egg, they pack a punch in the nutrient department. They can continue to lay for 2 years, and some a little longer at a reduced rate. The eggs, while 1/5 the size of the standard chicken egg, hold a much higher nutritional value. One Coturnix Quail egg (10-17 grams) has 3 to 5 times the nutrition value of a 55 gram chicken egg. There is both scientific and anecdotal evidence that quail eggs have useful medicinal properties. They have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries with proven results treating many different illnesses.
They eat game bird feed and typically higher than 20% protein content is preferred. You could also raise your own worms,crickets, black soldier fly larvae or any protein to substitute purchased feed to add a level of self reliance.
Housing for the birds can be as simple or as elaborate as your imagination allows. A few things to keep in mind would be there is no need to have a tall roof unless you are building an apiary. Anything over 1-2 feet might allow for the birds to get momentum jumping of start flight and cause them to injure themselves. Since you will likely be collection eggs, having easy access to the eggs should be a consideration. I have seen cage designs with slide out trays, and some with the floor slightly tilted to allow the eggs to roll to one side or into a collection area. Ill post some pics of the new quail housing when I get them done.