ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — With the price of eggs lately, everyone wants backyard chickens. But did you know there’s another backyard-friendly fowl that just might be easier to raise? 

Natalie Ashton gives us all the dirt on Coturnix Quail! She says Coturnix Quail are a breed of bird native to Japan.

“Most are brown and black, although I have a feather pattern known as Pansy Fee,” says Ashton.

Ashton raises her quail for their nutritious eggs. She says while most chickens do not lay eggs year-round, a quail hen can lay up to 350 eggs a year with supplemental light. 

Quail can also be raised for their meat. They come to maturity and are ready at just eight weeks.

Ashton says quail are significantly easier to raise than chickens, due to their size and their space requirements. However, she notes quail shouldn’t be allowed to “free range” like chickens because they will fly away! They are also generally less noisy than chickens.

As far as raising quail, to get started Ashton says you’ll need a habitat that provides one square foot per bird. This could be something like a rabbit cage or an outdoor run.  She says quail can be raised indoors or outdoors, as long as they have a draft-free environment during the winter.

Once they are mature, she says quail eat the same feed as chickens, but a lot less of it.  

Ashton owns a small business that creates 3D-printed incubator accessories called Electric Iris. She makes turner trays for all kinds of eggs from quail to duck.