Do Quail or Chickens have a better feed to meat ratio?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by warmfuzzyfeeling, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. warmfuzzyfeeling

    warmfuzzyfeeling In the Brooder

    May 24, 2010

    I have read that quail have a better feed to meat value than chickens, but I would like to know if the Backyard Chickens community agrees with this before I get too invested in additional birds. I already have Texas A&M White quail and I'm trying to decide whether to increase this flock or whether I would be better off phasing them out and switching over to Orpington chickens. (As far as game birds, I'm only interested in the Texas Whites due to a preference for white meat. The only chicken breed I am interested in is Orpington because they are good for meat and eggs, good mothers, and just because they are my favorite.)

    Here are the main factors I have thought of so far, when comparing Orpingtons to Texas White Quail:

    -Assuming that the birds will be fed a diet made up entirely of commercial feed, I can get 24% protein chicken feed for $12 per 50 lb bag or 28% protein gamebird feed for $17 per 50 lb bag.
    -I would be raising new birds from eggs, only purchasing new chicks or hatching eggs when necessary to avoid inbreeding
    -I would plan to purchase a freezer and process birds at the optimal age
    -For quail, I would need to invest in automatic egg turners
    -For quail, I would be spending time, electricity, and heat bulbs on brooding
    -For Orpingtons, would the hens just hatch and brood chicks on their own? Can they do this year round?
    -With an insulated, well enclosed area to covey in, can quail (or chickens) make it through the Indiana winter, or would either of these guys need heat lamps?

    If there is a clear answer whether chickens or quail are going to be the better value, I can start planning out housing and such.

    Thanks so much for your time!
  2. ayamfeather12

    ayamfeather12 In the Brooder

    Apr 18, 2011
    I'm just a newbie to raising birds but I thought I'd throw out some of my random thoughts on the two options...

    I've seen a couple publications that say it's about 3 lbs feed to 1 lb edible weight (maybe closer to 4 to account for growing chicks) for quail. The one I've posted below also compares quail and chicken egglayers, saying a chicken's egg is 3% of the hen's bodyweight versus quail's 8% of bodyweight (so, relative to the hen, the egg is over twice as big??). I don't know anything about Orpington feed conversion though.

    I'd guess that a lot of investment would go into building materials and quails would also have an advantage there because of their size.

    Having hens raise their young seems a lot less effort than incubating and brooding them, although after my first experience with a broody hen I am thinking it would be more dependable to do it myself. If there are enough hens for some to be on egg-laying shift and some to brood at any given time, then it would probably work out.

    For myself I would pick quail because of good feed conversion, but that's also considering I would only keep a small covey and wouldn't hatch often, so raising new chicks wouldn't take up too much of my time. Orpingtons seem good in that they can maintain their numbers on their own, but would cost more for feed/housing/heating, relative to the meat and eggs they produce. I would guess that the heat for brooding quail chicks indoors would be less than what's required for outdoor heating for chickens, but then again, I hear that lots of people don't bother to heat coops when there are enough birds to keep each other warm.

    Sorry I know that sounded completely ambivalent [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2011
  3. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    Which do you prefer to eat? Quail or chicken?

    Notice in my signature line, I raise ducks. That is because my preference for dinner is duck, not because they are cheaper to raise.

    Is there some reason you can't have both? Have a little variety in your diet?

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