Why Aren’t My Quails Laying Eggs? (Surprising answer?)

If you are relying on your quail to lay eggs either for food or to increase the size of your flock, it can be concerning when eggs are few and far between.  You may find yourself wondering ‘Why are my quail not laying eggs?’

There are a number of reasons quail may not be laying eggs.  These can include because the days are getting shorter, the birds are stressed, or because the quails’ diet is poor.  Other reasons may be that the eggs are being eaten before you get to the next box, or because a predator has scared the birds which can cause them to stop laying for several weeks.

OUR LATEST VIDEOS

Buff Orpington Cockerel
Buff Orpington Cockerel

Keeping quail has become extremely popular amongst the homesteading community in recent years.  These birds produce fantastic tasting meat, lots of small, tasty eggs, and can also provide a modest income through breeding and selling the birds or their eggs to others.

Below I’ll talk through my experiences of why quail may stop laying and how you get them back on track.

Birds Are Too Young

Quail start laying eggs at a very young age.  Most birds will be only 7 or 8 weeks old when they start laying.  Sometimes an individual bird may not start to lay eggs until she is closer to 10 weeks old.  

If your hens are not laying yet, but you know they are young, don’t worry too much.  Just continue to feed them well, make sure they have access to a safe place to lay their eggs, and keep a close eye on them.  

Most birds will start laying when they are ready and it is extremely rare to get a quail that doesn’t start laying ever.

Days Are Getting Shorter

Much like chickens, quails use the amount of sunlight each day as a guide to what time of year it is.  In the wild, quails prefer to have their babies in the spring and summer as there is a far higher survival rate than if they have them in the winter.

Bearing this in mind, as the seasons change and the number of daylight hours go down, it is perfectly normal for quails to stop laying altogether.  I firmly believe this is a good thing for the quails.  Having a resting period where the hens don’t expel huge amounts of energy on egg production allows the birds to fatten up in preparation for laying next season.

It is possible to keep your quails undercover and light them with artificial light, giving them the impression it is summer all year round, but in the long run your quails will quickly become exhausted and will have a shorter lifespan.

Lice Or Mites

Quail can be affected by both lice and mites. 

(Essentially, for the point of this article, lice and mites are the same thing and require the same treatment so I will just refer to them both as mites)

Mites live in the quail’s coop.  During the day the mites stay hidden away in the cracks and crevices around the coop, especially between boards or in the joints of the wood.  At night the mites come out and crawl over the quail, feeding on the quails’ blood by sucking it out each night.

Mites can put a lot of stress on quails and stress can lead to the hens stopping laying.  

The way to tell if you have a mite issue is to look at the birds.  If they look dirty, especially around the vent area it may be a sign of mites.  Mite dropping may be visible on the skin and sometimes the mites themselves or their eggs may be present.  Scaley skin and missing feathers may also be indicators your quail are suffering from mites.

I have been fortunate that my quails haven’t suffered from mites very often, but when I have had them I treated my quail with Mite Killer Spray by Premo Guard.  I picked it up off Amazon and it does the job.



Predators

Quails know their place in the food chain, and a predator overhead or passing by the coop or run can cause them to stop laying.  Even if the predator hasn’t actually taken any of your birds, it can affect them.

Predators can include birds of prey, dogs, skunks, and snakes.  

If you believe your quail may have stopped laying due to fright from a potential predator, try to reassure them by adding more cover to their run.  

In the wild, quail will take advantage of any cover they can including fallen branches or logs, long grass, or small bushes and shrubs.  The more secure you can make your quail feel the better they will lay for you.

Something Is Eating The Eggs

If you have had your birds for a few months and they have previously been laying well, you should consider the possibility something is eating the eggs after they have been laid.  

There are a number of animals that will happily take quail eggs, depending on where in the country you live.  Rats and snakes will happily eat quail eggs, as will raccoons, skunks, and opossums.

Check your coop and run to make sure they are as predator-proof as possible, bearing in mind both rats and snakes can fit through very small holes.

If something is eating the eggs, you will have to make a change to prevent them from getting to the eggs.  Once they know there is a constant source of food they will visit the coop over and over, eating the eggs every time.

Poor Quality Diet

Quail do need a good quality, well-balanced diet.  If they are only fed poor quality, cheap foods, they may be lacking sufficient vitamins and minerals to produce eggs.  If quails are lacking the required minerals, their bodies will hold back egg production until they managed to find a reliable source of nutrients.

As well as feeding my quails a good quality food from the feed store, I supplement their diet with cooked plain pasta and rice as well as lettuce, small pieces of fruit like strawberry and melon, plus the occasional piece of leftover cucumber.

When it comes to feeding quail, variety is key.  Just be careful only to put down as much extra food as they will eat, otherwise, you will attack vermin.



Stress

Stress is a bit of a catch-all for anything that is wrong with your quail.  A predator passing by can cause stress, as can moving the coop and run to a different location.  Almost anything can lead to your quail becoming stressed.

The best we can do is try to keep their environment clean, with plenty of food and fresh water, and provide them with lots of cover so they feel safe.

Usually, if we can work out why our quail are stressed, we can solve the problem and within a couple of weeks, they will be back to laying as usual.

My Final Thoughts On ‘Why Aren’t My Quail Laying Eggs?’

Quails are usually consistent layers and from the age of about 8 to 10 weeks old each female will lay about 5 eggs a week.

Occasionally, something will cause them to stop laying.  If we can work out why they have stopped laying and fix the problem, they will usually start laying again fairly quickly.


Aaron Homewood

Aaron Homewood is HomesteadSavvy.com‘s poultry editor. Arron has spent over 20 years keeping, breeding, and showing different poultry breeds, including chickens, ducks, geese, and quail.​
Poultry Editor