Quail egg farming is an excellent side business to create additional income

By James Tababa

Jennie Lizza Pineda, 29, is the owner of Sunshine Ae L’s Quail Farm in Sta. Ana, Pampanga. A mother of two kids, it is important for her to have multiple sources of income to support her family. She is currently the secretary of Sta. Ana Agricultural Multi-Purpose Cooperative and also the manager of her own quail egg production business.

Her interest in quail raising started during the pandemic when she helped his uncle with their quail business. She helped with marketing quail eggs online. This is where she realized that raising quail for their eggs is a profitable business.

Quail layers inside their cages. They start laying eggs at 6-7 weeks old. (Jennie Lizza Pineda)

In search of the starting capital to establish her own business, Pineda joined the Kabataang Agribiz Young Farmers Challenge in 2021. This is a competition under the department of agriculture that provides starting capital for youth who want to engage in agribusiness. She won the provincial and regional levels of the competition and used the money to build his quail farm, where she bought ready-to-lay quail, seven cages for layers, and constructed the production area in an 80 square meters lot.

Sunshine Ae L’s Farm

She named her farm Sunshine Ae L’s Farm because, “The word sunshine symbolizes hope. With the many struggles I experienced in my life, the sunshine reminds me that each morning brings hope. The Ae and L come from the names of my son and daughter. They are my inspirations for doing this business. Being a solo parent is very challenging. I always thought of securing their future through this business,” Pineda said.

Pineda, together with her kids, sorting the collected quail eggs. (Jennie Lizza Pineda)

“I enjoyed working on my quails even though it’s tiring. I wake up early in the morning to clean the cages and feed the quails before going to work,” she said. “I’m the type of person who likes to be hands-on with my business. I don’t like to completely rely on my personnel... so that I know the status of my business.”

There were a lot of opportunities and blessings that came after Pineda established her business. She was invited to talk on local TV shows, radio stations, and in magazines. Later, she found out that there was a lot of demand for quail eggs. Egg dealers, small business owners, street food vendors, and canteen owners took an interest in purchasing her quail eggs. Pineda supplies more than 25,000 quail eggs weekly.

Quail production

To start a quail business, Pineda shares that the first thing to do is secure a location. It should preferably be far from residential areas because there is a tendency for the foul odor from the waste to bother the neighbors. Good sanitary and waste management disposal should always be observed.

Pineda showing the camera a carton box of quail eggs. The box has spacers to hold the eggs in place and prevent them from breaking. (Jennie Lizza Pineda)

One should also look for potential markets instead of waiting for customers to come to them. “Quail eggs are easily marketed. There are only a few quail farms in our area.  Filipinos love kwek-kwek. As long as there are street food markets in the Philippines, there will always be a demand for quail eggs,” Pineda said.

Pineda recommends starting with ready-to-lay quail. These are quail that are 25-30 days old that can lay eggs 10-15 days after acquisition. They cost about 30 pesos each. Day-old chicks or pullets are cheaper, priced at 10 pesos each. However, they are more fragile, need a steady source of heat while growing, and must be monitored carefully until they start laying eggs.

In the first 20 days, the quails are fed with starter feed, followed by booster feed, until the onset of laying. Then lastly, shift to layer feeds when they start laying eggs. They are fed three times daily, their water replenished every noon and afternoon. Vitamins can be added to the water.

Quails feeding in their cages. They are fed three times a day. (Jennie Lizza Pineda)

It is expected that 80-98% of all female quail lay one egg daily. The average productive lifespan of quail is 14-16 months before the decline of egg production. The quails are replaced after. Culled quails are sold for their meat at 10-12 pesos per piece.

Biosecurity is a top priority. Administer vaccines to strengthen their immunity to diseases. Do not let anyone go near the production area as much as possible. Disinfect first before entering the farm. As much as possible, avoid eating chicken or any meat with wings within the vicinity of the production area to lessen accidental disease transmission.

Quail products

“To maximize all potential sources of income in quail farming, egg production should not be the only focus. It can be processed into kwek-kwek, boiled eggs sold in buses, and make pugolot,” Pineda said.

Boiled fertilized quail egg balut, or pugolot. (Jennie Lizza Pineda)

Pugolot is a quail egg balut (boiled fertilized egg). Combining the words, “pugo” and “balot,” hence pugolot. In making pugolot, eggs should be fertilized. This means that one male quail should be added to every five females inside a cage. Making pugulot also requires an egg incubator for the embryo to develop. Pineda doesn’t own an egg incubator. She has to rent from nearby breeding farms when she receives bulk orders of pugolot.

Challenges encountered

Unfortunately, a series of unexpected events hampered the business operations. Even though they secured the whole area where the cages of quails were located, the quails were still attacked by rats. The rodents sneak in at night inside the production area to attack the quails. Pineda and her farm personnel have to guard the farm overnight to catch the rodent before they can kill the quails inside the cages.

Installation of wire fences to ward off rodents and other animals. (Jennie Lizza Pineda)

At the same time, Pineda noticed some of her quails becoming lethargic. She consulted the municipal veterinary office and sadly, her quails tested positive for bird flu. 2200 quails died from bird flu and the remaining 800 had been culled.

Pineda’s farm was quarantined, and the production of quail eggs was halted for six months. The production area has since undergone a three-month disinfection program to eliminate the disease.

Farm workers routinely monitoring quail during the night. (Jennie Lizza Pineda)

Pineda was disheartened because of what happened. “Running a business is very challenging. There will be up moments, and there will be down moments. Even if my business was devastated by bird flu, I still need to move on and start again. What’s important is how you recover from these kinds of adversities. We should never give up on the challenges of life,” she stated. Pineda is currently working on setting her farm up again to restart their quail egg production. 

Working within the agriculture industry

Pineda encourages people who want to engage in agribusiness to try quail farming. “Quail farming is a relatively low-maintenance business. It does not require too much labor. It is doable even if you plan to make it a side business. Just like me, I am employed but can still manage to run this business alongside it,” Pineda explained. “Quail farming is fun. It makes me happy to see the live quails as they lay eggs because the eggs mean money”.

Daily egg collection from the quail cages. (Jennie Lizza Pineda)

Her current occupation as the secretary in the agricultural cooperative makes her more interested in agriculture. She believes that there is much potential profit in the industry. “I heard many success stories from farmers that inspire me,” she said. “At first, I thought we should pity the farmers because their work is so difficult that they have to deal with dirt and mud all the time. But little did we know that some earn a lot. Even only owning a hectare of land can make millions.”

“Now that I am part of the agriculture industry, I realize its importance to the community. Agriculture is important because it provides food for Filipinos. I am happy to contribute to the industry since most youths are not interested in engaging in agriculture,” she added.

Pineda said that those who want to try quail farming should not be afraid to try and explore agriculture. “Information about farming is readily accessible anywhere, do their research. Visit nearby farms or watch videos on the internet. The government also offers free training available. These are opportunities that they should grab,” she said.

“Dedication, passion, and love for business are important. I am always asked why I want to work on a quail farm because they thought this is typically a man’s job. But this is what I really want and love to do,” Pineda said. “Owning a business boosts one’s self-confidence, especially if it makes you happy.”

Photo courtesy of Jennie Lizza Pineda

Read more about farming and gardening at agriculture.com.ph