I have fourteen Coturnix and Tibetan quail .These quail were domesticated in China, but it wasn’t until they were imported to Japan in the 12th century that large-scale production of quail for meat and eggs began. These quail require very little space, are easily tamed, produce upwards of 300 eggs per year each, and eat very little. The eggs are delicious, and are great for pickling, making Chinese tea eggs, and for making tiny fried eggs.
As far as urban livestock go, quail are the easiest and most productive means of producing protein in a space as small as 2 x 3 feet, which can be a covered aquarium, guinea pig cage, or similar space either indoors or out. We keep ours in a two-story cedar hutch that has a covered run and an enclosed space with a heat lamp for getting out of the weather. Even with only three hens, I usually have a few dozen of these eggs in the fridge. Quail require higher protein than traditional chicken feed offers, but this can be boosted by adding small quantities of bone meal to the feed.
My quail are tame and very curious about what is going on in their environment. They love digging in their bedding, eating greens from the garden, and the male sings each morning and evening. Other than that they are almost silent. We are working on developing a “window unit” quail cage for creating an indoor/outdoor space to raise quail that would look similar to an air conditioner hanging from a windowsill. Stay tuned for that, we eventually want to market them. I can also hatch chicks on demand if anyone wants some. Quail eggs are $2.50/dozen and are always available.