Quail EggThe quail eggs are laid by female quails, also called "pigeon" or "coney" hens. A standard hen can produce about 12 eggs per day. However, given that just one little quail egg is only 1/3 the size of a regular chicken's egg, you can expect to find no more than 4 quail eggs in one standard laying.
Quails are separate-sexed birds, so breeders raise young quails as either male or female—similar to chickens. But while you can determine the sex of a separate-sexed chicken when it's between 8 and 16 weeks old by examining its vent, quails cannot be identified this way. A blood test is required to determine the sex of a quail.
In nature, quails are monogamous creatures. Quails form life-long pair bonds with their mates and produce only one brood of 4-8 eggs per year. In commercial production, though, most breeders start selling quail as early as six weeks old so they can be raised in groups and sexual activity— necessary for egg production in quail hens, which is triggered by mating with a male—can occur.
In commercial farms, breeding birds are kept separate from the laying flock. Females are caught, when ripe to encourage ovulation, placed with males for mating, and then returned to the laying house. Eggs are collected daily and transshipped to a hatchery, where the eggs are incubated for about 18 days.
Quails reach market weight at 5-7 weeks of age. Breeder flocks can be marketed as future laying hens or as broilers depending on their sex and market conditions such as supply and demand.
Chefs and consumers are increasingly using quail eggs as an alternative to chicken eggs. They're less expensive to produce, have a longer shelf life and their small size makes them easier to handle in the kitchen.
Since quail eggs come directly from the farm, they don't require any special storage conditions. Store them in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as a basement or refrigerator.
Quail eggs are rapidly gaining traction in cooking as a tiny and cute alternative to chicken eggs. They taste remarkably like chicken eggs but are small — typically just one-third the size of a standard chicken egg. They have cream-colored shells with brown splotches and deep-yellow yolks.