Quail vs Pigeon

Quail vs Pigeon: Which one Raise for Meat? (Chicken Alternative)

Though chicken dominates the bird meat market, some smaller birds make worthy alternatives. Pigeons and quails are among them since they are easy to care and provide for. However, which of the two should you raise as an alternative to chicken?

So, which one should you raise for meat between quail and pigeon? You can opt to raise quails because they produce numerous offspring and eggs within a year. This means more money. Pigeons, on the other hand, are less costly to care, sell for more,  and less prone to diseases.

Both birds have qualities that make them a better option as alternative bird meat. Read on to learn these qualities and the pros and cons of rearing each so you can decide on one. 

Quails vs Pigeons Overview

When people think of rearing a bird for meat, they think about larger birds like chickens. However, smaller birds, including quails and pigeons also make better substitutes.

There are over 130 different species of quails worldwide, most of which are domesticated. People rear them mostly for meat and eggs and after maturity, they can lay up to 300 eggs annually.

Then again, there are at least 175 breeds of pigeons reared as domestic birds. Unlike quails, they serve various purposes, including meat and egg production, sports, and exhibition. A squab, a young pigeon bred for meat, matures within 30 days.

Quails vs Pigeons Overview

Accordingly, both birds require sustainable shelter where they can comfortably raise their young ones. Pigeons need roosting places and their nest to be a bit taller. 

On the other hand, the quail cage should be of moderate height but not too low because they can hurt themselves. They’re known to pop when scared and might hit the ceiling. 

Quail vs. Pigeon: Which Should You raise for meat?

Quail are often the preferred choice based on the amount of meat they can provide within a year. They produce numerous eggs that you can incubate and increase your flock significantly. However, they require specific quality grower feed to grow faster and weigh more.

Pigeons, on the other hand, are way cheaper to rear, as they often scavenge food for themselves. You can expect a 500g squab from 3 kg feed, which is a Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) of 6:1. They are also less prone to diseases but more likely to bring home infectious diseases that can harm your health.

Quail vs. Pigeon

However, the secret to raising small birds for meat is feeding them quality grower feed. Also, some experts suggest raising quails in darkness to discourage them from moving a lot and losing weight.

Some species of these birds make better meat birds than others. The following are some of the popular and preferred quails and pigeon species.

Which Quail Species Are Good To Raise for Meat?

Which Quail Species Are Good To Raise for Meat

Some of the preferred quail species include;

  1. Bob Whites – Bobwhites are quails native to the United States and widely kept for meat. They mature within 16 weeks and can produce an average of 8 ounces (225 grams) of meat.
  2. Coturnix – They’re popular beginner birds originally from Asia and Europe. They mature fast, within seven weeks, and produce at least 10 ounces (280 grams) of meat.
  3. Tennessee reds –  Tennessee reds are a mutation of the Bobwhite quail and weigh about 280 grams. Like bobwhites, they mature within 16 weeks and are ready to lay in 20 weeks.
  4. Mountain Quail – Mountain quails are native to America and among the common meat quails. They mature within six months and can reach up to 250 grams.

Which Pigeon Species Are Good To Raise for Meat?

Which Pigeon Species Are Good To Raise for Meat

The best pigeon species for meat include;

1. Homing pigeons

The homing pigeons, also called mail pigeons, are bred from the rock dove. They mature by seven months and weigh about 380 grams. They take a bit longer to mature, but if you’re not in a hurry, you can still rear them for meat. 

2. Feral pigeons

Also called street pigeons, are among the common pigeons you see in a city. After four weeks, feral pigeons can weigh between 300 and 400 grams and are ready for meat.

3. White kings

White kings are among the large-sized pigeons best for squabs and meat production. The average weight for a white king pigeon is 570 grams and can go up to 900 grams.

Pros and Cons of Raising Quails for Meat

Raising Quails for Meat

Just like any other birds or animals, rearing quails have pros and cons as listed below.


  • Quails have more overall meat production
  • Some species mature quickly within a few months
  • They’re much quieter than pigeons


  • They are a bit expensive to care for
  • Some are much more aggressive toward each other and require a bigger cage
  • More prone to diseases
  • Some states require you to have a game license

Quail eggs are also hypoallergenic, so people with egg allergies can eat them. This comes as a plus because you can enjoy their meat and eggs with very minimal challenges.      

Pros and Cons of Raising Pigeons for Meat

Raising Pigeons for Meat

Accordingly, raising pigeons also have some pros and cons.


  • They’re cheap to rear
  • They sit on their eggs, therefore saving incubation cost
  • Have a better meat market in high-end restaurants
  • Don’t attract bird diseases


  • Pigeons are loud, especially as a flock
  • They prefer perching on the highest point and might spend more time on other people’s rooftops
  • Pigeon meat can be tough to chew if not prepared properly
  • Can bring home infectious diseases if left to free roam

Pigeon meat is also very healthy, and it’s actually nine times healthier than chicken. If you can manage the above disadvantages, pigeons are an ideal choice for bird meat lovers.  

Quails and pigeons are both popular birds that are kept as pets or used for various purposes. If you’re interested in learning more about birds, be sure to check out our articles on whether cats eat pigeons and why pigeons fly into windows. Our article on whether cats eat pigeons examines the behavior of cats towards pigeons and the potential risks for pigeon owners, while our article on why pigeons fly into windows explores the reasons behind this common phenomenon and what can be done to prevent it. These resources offer valuable information and expert advice to help you understand the behaviors and needs of birds and how to care for them.


The following are related questions most people frequently ask about pigeons and quails as a meat option.

Q: Is Quail Meat Healthier Than Pigeon Meat?

Both quail and pigeon meat have health advantages. Quail meat helps enhance immunity and improve eye health. On the other hand, pigeon meat contains various minerals, including iron, which aid in energy production.

Q: Is Pigeon Meat More Expensive Than Quail Meat?

Pigeon meat, squab, is popular in first-class restaurants where they sell expensive. Quail also cost more though not as pigeons, and their eggs are valuable too.

Q: Does Pigeon or Quail Meat Cause Diseases?

Eating squab or quail meat cannot harm your health if moderately ingested. However, there are various pigeon-related diseases that a person rearing them should be aware of.

Bottom Line

Pigeons are among the most popular meats in Cairo, while quail is popular in French cuisine. While both birds have a great meat market, picking one over the other is challenging. However, you can base your choice on productivity and cost.

Quails lay many eggs which keep the flow adequate, while pigeons are cheap to raise. If you’re budget-oriented, you can raise pigeons since they also sell better. Raise quail for the most number of chicks and eggs in a year.

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