COTURNIX QUAIL | SEXING MALES AND FEMALES

WHEN I FIRST STARTED KEEPING COTURNIX QUAIL, I FOUND TRYING TO SEX THEM REALLY HARD. 

BUT...

THERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO HELP!

FEATHERS

Visual sexing is one way to tell your quails apart. But beware - it doesn't work for all colours. If you're keeping some of the coloured varieties - Pharoah, Golden and Italian, for example - then males have some colour differences. Firstly, their breasts tend to a single plate of colour whereas hens are dappled and striped with vertical lines. 

Cock birds also have quite noticeable cheek patches. When you're first starting out, this really isn't that clear but as you gain experience, it'll become much easier. 

This male quail has an obvious cheek of colour and his breast is also a single hue. Likewise, the cock on the far right has an obvious cheek and chin-strap of colour.

This male quail has an obvious cheek of colour and his breast is also a single hue. Likewise, the cock on the far right has an obvious cheek and chin-strap of colour.

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Texas A&M Quail are all white with a little black dot and cannot be feathered sexed.

Texas A&M Quail are all white with a little black dot and cannot be feathered sexed.

If you're keeping Texas A&M quail, however, it's much more difficult. In these white varieties, there are no differences in feather colour.

CALLS

If you're able to get up close and personal, and actually watch your quail for a period of time, males can also sometimes be distinguished by their call. Standing alert and upright, they'll make a vocal cry that vibrates their entire head. Combining this with feather colour can help determine the sex of your birds. 

However, it's worth knowing that hens can call as well so this isn't a guaranteed method and should be used alongside other options. 

VENT SEXING

I find that by far, the easiest way to sex birds is by vent sexing when the birds become sexually mature. As soon as the males are ready to procreate, a gland above their vent gets filled with a fluffy, egg-white like substance. It's thought this is used to help protect the sperm once they're transferred into the hen. A small squeeze on this gland and you'll see the substance excreted. Conversely, hens not only DO NOT have this, but once they've started laying, their vent will be far looser than their male counterparts. 

Male Coturnix quail have a white foam excreted by the gland above their vent when in breeding condition.

Male Coturnix quail have a white foam excreted by the gland above their vent when in breeding condition.

A hen's vent is clear of foam and can be looser due to egg laying.

A hen's vent is clear of foam and can be looser due to egg laying.

It's worthwhile mentioning that outside of breeding season, the glands on male quails dry up. However, I've found that regardless of what time of year you hatch your quail, as they become sexually mature, the foam is produced whether that's for the entire coming spring and summer season, or just a few weeks before they realise it's winter. This still means there's time to work out which are boys and girls. 

I hope these three little things help with your quail. If you've got any questions or tips of your own, let me know below!