Quail Farming Beginner Guide
Quails belong to the avian order of Galliformes which are often referred to as game birds. These game birds are grouped into Old World (Phasianidae family) and New World (Odontophorid family). Quails range purposes are diverse as ornamental collections, recreation, sport, and production of meat and eggs.
An average quail lays about 200 every year and the most productive are between 2 – 8 months of age.
Domesticated quail breeds
Domesticated quail breeds
Quails are grouped into 2 families Domesticated quail breedswhich are the Old World and New World species; they consist of;
|Old World Quails||New World Quails|
|Rain quailCommon quailHarlequin quailBrown quailCoturnix quail||California quailMountain quailBobwhite quailGambel quailElephant quail|
The most popular breeds are the Coturnix and Bobwhite quails; however, there are other several species of the fascinating bird. When planning to raise a quail, a person’s preference is dependant on what they are to be reared for; it is essential to consider their size, age of maturity, egg production and ease of caring.
Some Of The Breed Preference To Rear
- Coturnix quail also known as the Japanese quail is the best to rear in the backyard raised for their egg and meat; offering lots of eggs and meat compared to the other quails.
- They have a very clam temperament and great to new homesteaders; maturing at about 7 weeks then they start laying eggs. You will need 1 rooster to about 3 – 7 hens. The Coturnix has different types to choose from: Golden Coturnix, Jumbo Coturnix, English White, Tibetan, Tuxedo and Rosetta quails.
- Bobwhite Quail is good for hunting birds and an excellent meat source; they do not produce enough eggs. There are 7 types of Bobwhite breed which comes in different sizes and the largest type reaching 6 ounces (170 grams).
- They are capable of laying throughout the year once they attain maturity stage at the right conditions. Known to be pretty aggressive when breeding, so it best to pair them during that period. Keep Bobwhite in cages if you raising them for meat to keep them from flying away and they are not easily domesticated.
- California quails are often mistaken for Gambel quail because of their striking similarities. These game birds are ornamental and people merely keep them for entertainment; the birds prefer to forage on the ground and are commonly found in public areas. They are official California state birds.
- The King quail also known as the Button quail are small birds prevalent to homesteaders and poultry owners. These birds have beautiful colourful feathers; with a weight of about 1.5 – 2 ounces (42.5 – 56.7 grams); maturing very fast, reaching full maturity at about 12 weeks. Button quail die quickly due to stress of laying eggs; they are great as pets so they do better when kept in cages indoors.
Habitat Loss And Degradation
Habitat loss is suspected to be causing a decline in the vast majority of the threatened species and is, by far, the most widespread.
Areas of habitat may be destroyed, such as deforestation and habitats may be degraded through intensive livestock grazing, gradually encroached upon through urban or agricultural expansion, or modified through human activities such as selective removal of vegetation for firewood, commercial purposes, or for food.
More than one of these forms of habitat disturbance may affect one area simultaneously, or they may act one after another.
Incubating And Hatching Quail Eggs
When incubating any bird egg, it is important to control the temperature, humidity, ventilation, and egg turning. The incubation period for quail eggs is about 18 days but they can hatch as early as 16 days or late as 20 days. How to raise quails. The eggs should be turned 4 – 6 times a day up to 14 days of incubation; the on day 14, you will need to stop turning the eggs.
Brooding And Rearing
Quails can be reared in cages or floors or a combination of both. Brooding is 0 – 3 weeks; rearing 4 – 8 weeks and laying 8 weeks onwards in deep litter.
The chicks are brooded under 24 hour light for up to 2 – 3 weeks of age which then reduced to 12 hour by the end of 3 weeks. Thereafter, a 12 hour photoperiod is adequate for up to 5 weeks of age. For laying quails, about 14 – 16 hours of photoperiod is recommended.
Brooding systems used can be battery and floor brooding. Battery brooding can be employed for up to 3 weeks and it appears to be better than floor brooding due to small size of chicks.
Quails breeds are fed chick starter diet soon after hatching until they are 6 – 8 weeks old. Then after that feed, they are given finisher diet which aids in meat build up and egg production.
The meat birds are fed the finisher diet until slaughter. Vitamins and minerals are incorporated in the feed diet at a minimal level; also medicated feed is a must to prevent or treat diseases.
Use feed troughs when administering feed; ensure they are cleaned, dried and empty troughs daily if necessary (or at least 2 – 3 times weekly).
Water is the most important nutrient for animals hence it must be provided and it must not get too hot or cold, or the birds may refuse to drink. Have water troughs cleaned and replaced with fresh water at least once a day.
Quail housing requirements are small and reasonably simple. Some breeds are fast growing birds with short generational interval and high rate of lay. Consider the size, roof, wall, floor, doors and lighting. Make sure the roof is high enough and a gable type so that when the quail tries to fly away, it doesn’t hit its head and die.
The house should have proper ventilation; long wall of the house is laid east to west, and constructed with wire mesh stretched on angle iron, bamboo or wooden pillars.