Lack of information, particular on feeding, inhibits investors from raising quail commercially. Here are some tips on doing it.
Start with 30-35 day old quail pullets. They must have tidy and neat feather with no streaks of white or black. This could be a sign of in-breeding.
Choosing birds with uniform size. A mature (60-day old) “Japanese” quail (Coturnix japonica) weighs 120 g liveweight, while a 30-35 day old bird weighs 100 g. The “American” quail (Coturnix coturnix) weighs heavier -220 g for a manure bird and 200 g for a 30-35 days old bird.
Consider also the record of the birds parent if available. This record shows growth rate per body weight, laying efficiency- a 65 per cent average laying efficiency with 30 days or 195 laying days out of 100 is good and egg size. This tells you that your quails come from good stocks.
Size of flock.
Initial stock size should be small, 10-15 pullets. A beginner should first get the first get needed experience before going into large scale growing. Quails multiply rapidly and before, expansion is not a problem.
One advantage in raising quails is the lower housing cost since the birds need small- space. Materials commonly used for making quail cages are: plywood, 1/4″ mesh wire and 1″ x 1″ lumber for framework.
Quails’ need for space varies for every stage in its life. Chicks need a 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ space; growers, 3″ x 3″ to 3-1/2″ x 3- 1/2″; and layers, 3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ to 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″.
Layer cages must not be too high: a 5″ and 6″ height can be accommodate the Japanese and American breeds, respectively. The brooder box must be cat- and ratproof.
Cage size must also allow just enough space for quails to move without risking injuries to them.
During the first five days, quail chicks or brooders (1 to 15 days old) need a temperature of 95oF, down to 85oF on the 10th day after which quail birds have developed feathers to keep them warm under ordinary room temperature.
A gas or electric bulb may be used to control the temperature inside the brooder.
To help conserve heat, spread used clothes or soak over the cage screen during the first 10 days. Cover the mesh wire flooring with five to six layers of old newspaper. This practice makes removing quail manure (done every other day) easy by just rolling the top layer of paper.
For air to circulation better in the brooding box, provide air vents.
Change water in the drinking water trough daily but avoid spilling water over the paper to prevent dampness.
After 10th day, remove all papers and cover feeding trough with 1/4″ mesh wire to avoid too much spillage.
With correct temperature, proper feeds and adequate water, mortality of quails will be at 5 to 8 per cent.
After the 15th day, transfer birds to the growing cage. For smaller operation, a brooder/grower box can be built but consider the space needs of the birds.
Transfer only healthy, uniformly-sized birds. Separate the small ones. During growing stage, do not expose birds to more than 12 hours of light.
On the 35th day, when male bird develop dark brown feather on the breast, transfer female birds to laying cage. About 40 per cent of all birds can lay eggs assuming a 50/50 male/female ratio.
Remaining birds are fattened up to 60 days to be dressed and sold as broilers. During the 25 day fattening period, light should be 6-8 hours a day. This improves the quality of meat.
Average morality rate of growers is 1 to 4 per cent.
Quails start laying eggs after an average of 45 days from hatching. The production cycle lasts for 300-320 days and within this period, laying efficiency should be 65 per cent or for 190-208 days.
In managing layers consider the following tips: Quails need a lot of fresh and clean water. Whenever possible, maintain flowing water. If not, replace water daily and clean watering trough everyday.
For large scale operation, massive culling should be done regularly, preferably every quarter. Remove birds with physical defects including those that have grown fat, sickly, or are not laying eggs, The latter condition is shown by the size of the bird’s vent and abdomen.
Due to the high protein content of quail feeds, quail manure has high ammonia content that can discomfort to birds if not removed daily. For easy removal of manure, place a receptacle under the cage.
Laying quails may be given extra light up to midnight to allow birds to eat all feeds in the trough. This also enables weaker birds in the group to eat after dominant ones have eaten.
Do not put male birds in the laying cage except when fertile eggs are needed. When fertile eggs are to be produced, mix the male, males with the layers at a ratio of 1:6 ( one male for six layers) for one “Japanese” and 1:3 for the “American” breed.
Quail are very sensitive to salt in the feeds. Keep salt level at .7 per cent .
Giving chicken feed to quails is not advisable since it has much lower protein content. Below is a comparison of chicken and quail protein needs.
If quail raisers continue giving chicken feeds to quails, mortality rate will be very high, sometimes reaching 70 per cent in day-old to 45 day old birds. Besides, bird growth is very uneven and the survivors are not efficient layers. Their productive laying period does not go beyond six months.
Molting also occurs early thus severely affecting egg producing.
Feeding quails with the proper ration of protein has its advantages. Mortality rate is low – 5.8 per cent for chicks, 1-4 per cent for growers, and 8-12 per cent for layers/breeders.
A laying efficiency of 63 to 68 per cent is also easy to maintain for a period of 300-320 days. It is not rare to get an 80 per cent laying efficiency.
Besides, eggs are bigger and more nutritious. Breeders are also highly fertile and hatchable.
Quails have different feeds needs for every stage of life.
|Chick stage (per bird)||7 g/day||10 g/day|
|Growing stage (per bird)||17 g/day||32 g/day|
|Laying stage (per bird)||32 g/day||45 g/day|
During the first 15 days, grind feeds fine enough to pass ordinary window screen wire.
Lastly, do not change feed abruptly since quails are affected by abrupt changes in feeding.
Maintaining health of quails.
While quails suffer from some respiratory disorders, these do not spread fast and the mortality rate is very low. It is not difficult to maintain the health of these birds.
However, regularly clean and disinfect cages, broiler boxes, incubator and hatchery trays with strong water and dry under the sun. Spray with disinfectant. Add vitamins to feed or drinking water to promote growth and improve laying capacity.
Products from quails.
Eggs are the main products of quails. For small-scale backyard quail raising, place eggs in a basket and market them fresh. For a bigger operation, pack eggs in cartoon boxes with individual dividers to protect them. Storing eggs in cool, dry place where air circulation is good can keep eggs fresh for seven days.
Dressed broilers and stewers (culled layers) are a secondary product. Bleed birds band scald in hot water (132oF-135oF), then remove feathers and entrails. Dressed birds are chilled and packed by the dozen or in kilograms.
Broilers are more tender than stewers and are more expensive. Their selling price should be based on the cost of production from day-old to 60 days old plus the dressing , storage and relative selling cost.