This article is based on widely-ranging research, peer-reviewed articles, trustworthy news sources, and curated for the sole purpose of education. Each section, graph, and list is immediately followed by hyperlinked citations for you to follow for further information. This is based on the commonly farmed Coturnix quail, which we raise here on our farm.
Utilizing quail as a food source provides many advantages over chicken, and other poultry types. Quail are resistant to most common poultry diseases. Their prolific egg production, superior maturity time, rapid reproduction rate, smaller housing requirements, and low feed intake are all key to sustainable farming practices.
Quails are highly adaptive to a range of environments and easily acclimate to various climates without impacting productivity. Some disadvantages are having a smaller body and egg size. They are also easily spooked, and not as friendly as chickens.
Click on the items below to jump to a section
- Quail eggs as part of a healthy diet
- Why are quail eggs good for you?
- Overview of research-backed therapeutic uses for quail eggs:
- A simple nutritional look at one quail egg
- Quail egg nutritional facts
- How are quail and chicken eggs different?
- Cholesterol in quail eggs compared to chicken eggs
- How many quail eggs is it healthy to eat?
- Adults should consider their overall health
- Children can benefit from adding quail eggs to their daily diet.
- Quail as a nutritional and sustainable meat source
Quail eggs as part of a healthy diet
Quail eggs have been farmed for centuries, though it is relatively new to American markets. It’s been used in high-end restaurants as a delicacy, but not commonly eaten or found at your local grocery store. Just because it is relatively new to our cuisine in the US, doesn’t mean it’s a craze.
I’m hesitant to call quail a ‘superfood’
In recent years, Americans have been exploring natural cures for common aliments as an alternative to modern medicine, which are often expensive with negative side effects. Our capitalist society has no qualms over advertising medications with 30-seconds of side effects read off so fast you can’t understand them, even during family programming on TV watched by millions of children. Looking into our nutrition as a way to regulate, prevent and treat illnesses instead of taking multiple medications is a great way to reconnect with nature and expand our personal knowledge and understanding of our food choices.
This healthy exploration is often confused with lesser-known foods suddenly being touted, often by celebrities, to be a fast and easy way to improve one’s health. Always get a second opinion, never believe talk show ‘experts’ over your primary care physician, and make sure your information is fact-based and published by trusted sources. The sources in this article are wide-ranging and all are easily viewed by clicking the linked citations under each section. And keep in mind that research is ever-evolving. That is how science works.
Many trendy foods have come and gone over the years. Let’s look at a couple.
A cabbage and a grapefruit walked into a diet
In the 70’s, everyone with a bikini complex hopped on the grapefruit diet, which promised rapid weight loss. In truth, the reason people lost weight on this diet was because they were mindful of wanting to lose weight and eating less calories by filling up on the sour citrus. The fruit itself had no superpowers, other than heartburn and attacking tooth enamel when eaten in large quantities.
Then there was the cabbage soup diet of the 80’s. This was the first cleanse-type diet. It was touted to drop ten pound in ten days. The incredibly low calorie intake with no protein meant almost all the weight people lost on that diet was water and muscle, not body fat. And good God, I do not want to sleep in the same bed as anyone eating exclusively cabbage soup for a week. Nope.
Citation: Cleveland Clinic: What are fad diets?
Quail are very different. Below, I outline reasons both quail eggs and meat can benefit your diet and overall health as proven by years of research and hard data.
Why are quail eggs good for you?
Quail eggs have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. They have becoming increasingly valuable over the last few decades as a source for many pharmaceuticals being developed for varying conditions. Studies have shown quail eggs are significantly different from other bird eggs, particularly the egg white.
The eggs themselves are used in therapeutic purposes for treating digestive problems, anaemia, tuberculosis, ulcers, high blood pressure, asthma, among other common aliments. Quail eggs eaten as part of a balanced diet has shown improvements in memory in Alzheimer’s patients, and stimulation in child growth and development following serious illness. Quail eggs have also found to be useful for treatment, prevention and management of diabetes. They are richer in proteins that have antiallergic and anti-inflammatory effects then other eggs.
Overview of research-backed therapeutic uses for quail eggs:
- Digestive problems
- High blood pressure
- Child growth
Citations: Aspects regarding some morphological values of the domestic quail eggs (Coturnix coturnix japonica), Effects of quail (Coturnix japonica) egg diet on both the blood sugar and the lipid profile of alloxan induced diabetic albino rats
A simple nutritional look at one quail egg
Quail eggs contain more fat, protein, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 than chicken eggs.
- Protein: 1.7 g
- Total lipid (fat) 1 g
- Carbs 0.37
- Total Cholesterol 76 mg
- Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 0.389 g
- Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 0.119 g
Consider the diet of quail
It’s important to point out what grains, seeds, and leafy green that quails eat influence the nutrition of both their eggs and meat, and in many opinions the flavor of the meat. They an average of 20–30 g per day of feed as compared to 120–130 g per day for chickens. It is recommended to feed quail game bird feed in addition to fresh greens.
Quail egg nutritional facts
Quail eggs are a great source of nutrients for human health. The nutritional value of quail eggs is higher than other eggs consumed by humans. Even though quail eggs are small in size, their nutritional value is three to four times greater than chicken eggs. Regular consumption of quail eggs helps fight against many diseases and strengthen the immune system. They rich sources of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, and give us a lot of nutrition than do other foods.
Citations: Nutrient Composition of Japanese Quail
How are quail and chicken eggs different?
Firstly, quail eggs have a higher yolk to white ratio than chicken eggs and it takes 3-4 quail eggs to equal one chickens egg. Quail eggs weigh an average 11–13 g, which is under half an ounce.
USDA egg comparison chart for equal parts of quail and chicken eggs
|Quail eggs||Chicken eggs|
|Fat||11 grams||10 grams|
|Protein||13 grams||12 grams|
|Choline||48% of the DV||61% of the DV|
|Riboflavin||61% of the DV||32% of the DV|
|Vitamin B12||66% of the DV||43% of the DV|
|Iron||20% of the DV||9% of the DV|
Essential fatty acids in quail eggs
Fatty acids are important for healthy metabolic, structural, and functional roles in human physiology. The content and particularly the ratio of fatty acids of the omega-3 and omega-6 are especially significant for overall human health.
The most essential fatty acids in quail yolk are linoleic, docosahexaenoic, and arachidonic acid. These acids are also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids. They help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system. Those predisposed to osteoporosis or experiencing fertility challenges may benefit from adding quail eggs to their diet.
Cholesterol in quail eggs compared to chicken eggs
When most people hear the word ‘cholesterol’ they immediately think it’s bad, although there are different types of cholesterol. All egg yolks are cholesterol-heavy. If you think about it, the yolk of an egg is a single cell with all the nutrients available to create a life inside that shell. That’s why eggs are such a nutritious food.
The total overall cholesterol concentration, both HDL and LDL, of quail yolk are significantly higher compared to equal samples of chicken egg yolks. Although they have a such a high level of cholesterol, quail eggs have far lower levels of trans-fatty acids. These trans-fatty acids are bad for our health because they increase our low-density lipoproteins—commonly known as LDL’s, which are the ‘bad’ cholesterol. The ‘good kind’ (as discussed above in the fatty acids section), are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are predominant in quail eggs.
Graph of yolk, white and shell weights for quail and chicken:
As you can see by the tallest red bar indicating overall egg weight for a chicken egg, the amount of yolk in a quail egg compared to its overall egg weight is significantly closer to the quail egg’s overall egg weight.
Graph comparing cholesterol in equal samples of quail and chicken eggs
The overall cholesterol content in an equal sample of quail yolk is lower than that of chicken. What is important to note here is the ratio of HLD (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol is much closer in quail eggs, giving them a far superior ‘good’ cholesterol value over chicken eggs. This means quail eggs would be a better choice for a person with a history of cardiovascular diseases in their family.
Graph of vitamin comparison for chicken, goose, quail, duck and turkey eggs:
Citation: A Comparative Study on the Total CholesterolTriacylglycerides and Lipid Concentrations of Quail and Chicken Eggs”, The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health
How many quail eggs is it healthy to eat?
Adults should consider their overall health
For a healthy adult, regular consumption of at least two quail eggs three times weekly would support overall health. Anyone with a history of cardiovascular diseases should eat less than four quail eggs daily.
Children can benefit from adding quail eggs to their daily diet.
Studies have found children need higher amounts of cholesterol for proper cell development. Eating two or more quail eggs daily helps children to grow better and be less likely to contract infectious diseases.
Immunological support, allergy blocking, antioxidant and antibacterial effects
Some people who are allergic to chicken eggs have been found to be tolerant to quail eggs. Quail eggs have also been found to alleviate and block symptoms of a spectrum of allergic reactions. Egg whites contain an antibacterial lysozyme currently used as an anti-infectious agent in pharmaceuticals and as a food preservative.
Many researchers have recently highlighted the importance of protein-derived peptides in the human gut and their substantial role in the body’s first line of immunological defense and immune-regulation. Protein antimicrobials found in eggs have been studied for their antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and even antiparasitic properties. Some proteins found in eggs exhibit antioxidant, and anti-cancerous properties.
Quail as a nutritional and sustainable meat source
Quail meat in comparison to chicken meat
The major differences in quail meat is the higher stored energy content, leaner meat, and superior bone to meat ratio. Quails high metabolic activity increases the amount of glycogen stored in muscles and results in an energy rich, high quality meat. Glycogen stores energy in animals, fungi, and bacteria at the cellular level.
Meat to bone ratio of chicken and quail
Quail has the highest amount of meat and the least bone ratio among the other fowls. A processed quail contains about 76% meat, 10% bone, and 14% skin. In comparison, the average commercial chicken yields about 62% meat, 23% bone and 15% skin. In addition to the higher bone to meat ratio, quail mature at a much faster rate than chickens. Male quails are often harvested as young as five weeks whereas chicken are harvested at eight weeks. Although, keep in mind it takes four quail to equal one commercial breed chicken.
Quail is one of the leanest types of poultry. Unsaturated fatty acids (explained above as it related to eggs) make up about 64% of the total fatty acids of quail meat. There is very little shrinkage during cooking, compared to red meats—I’m sure you’ve noticed a hamburger shrink on a grill. Similar to white meats, quail meat has advantages compared to red meat including low fat and cholesterol.
Citation: Nutritional compositions of Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) breed lines raised on a basal poultry ration under farm conditions in Ruwa, Zimbabwe, Eviscerated Yield, Component Parts, and Meat, Skin and Bone Ratios in the Chicken Broiler
Quail meat has been used to sustain human life for centuries, though it is relatively new to the American markets. One 4 oz portion of cooked quail (about 113g) has 257 calories, 28.5g of protein, 16g of fat, and no carbohydrates, fiber, or sugar. Quail is a good source of iron, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), zinc, and vitamin B3 (niacin).
Citation: Precision Nutrition
Local food choices will be key to sustainability
The the past few years, due to high nutrient value and low feed consumption paired with rapid reproduction rates, Coturnix quail farming is currently being evaluated in South Africa as a potential to alleviate protein-energy malnutrition as well as food insecurity.
Regional food insecurity is impacted by climate change and political upheaval
In 2022, over 23 million people are starving in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. An extreme drought not seen by the region for four decades has been made even worse by war and Covid. Wheat flour alone has doubled in price. The majority of wheat imported to Somalia came from Ukraine and Russia, which was exported through the Black Sea—which is now impassable since the site became a war zone. They recently started importing rice from Asia, completely changing the diet of millions, and only shifting their food dependance. Skyrocketing gas and food prices, electricity tariffs, and a record unemployment rate only add to this already grim situation.
The consequences for a national lack of nutritional value are devastating. In 2021 the Child Gauge Report by the Children’s Institute of the University of Cape Town found that stunting affects 27% of children in the country. The 2022 report is expected to be far more grave.
Citations: A way forward for the South African quail sector as a potential contributor to food and nutrition security following the aftermath of COVID-19: a review, Drought and soaring food prices from Ukraine war leave millions in Africa starving, War in Ukraine adds to food price hikes, hunger in Africa, No ends meat: South Africans go without
We will be offering quail hatching eggs, breeding trios and 3-tier cage set ups over the summer.