Raising Coturnix Quail
Raising Coturnix or Japanese quail can be easy, with the proper knowledge. Their space requirements are minute, compared to other quail species. These birds don’t eat a lot, convert feed into protein efficiently, and are much more friendly creatures than even the sociable chicken. The incubation period is sixteen to seventeen days, forced air incubators temperature 99º to 100ºF with a humidity level of 60%. The Coturnix Quail mature in six weeks with a average weight of 5-6 oz. This quail will began laying eggs at seven weeks old and reach a slaughter weight of 4-5 oz.
Some of the Dangers to be Aware of, When Raising Coturnix Quail.
Dangers to your quail that you can prevent, by having prior knowledge:
- When the Coturnix becomes startled, their tendency is to fly straight up, thus, the possibility of a broken neck, serious injury and fatalities. Precautions should be taken.
- Predator's, such as raccoon, skunks, snakes etc. are very good at invading pens or cages. This could cause major loses to your flock and their eggs. Do the best you can to make the environment as predator proof as possible.
- Special care must be taken to protect the quail from cold drafts, food and water shortage, and dampness.
- These type of conditions plus overcrowding can cause your birds to become stressed and piling could occur. You would find your chicks in a large pile dying, it's a natural reaction and can cost a quail breeder a lot of birds.
Brooding and Egg Care For the Coturnix
During the brooding process of raising these quail, change the paper and clean the wire daily for better success. Keep the quail in the brooder until fully feathered and reduce heat by 5 degrees weekly. Continue to protect quail chicks from draft and food/water shortages, feed the chicks, starter food until week six. After the quail are fully feathered they can be sexed and moved to their final cage. Reducing height will help eliminate broken necks in the quail.
Eggs, when gathered should be kept at a controlled temperature and turned twice daily, if not incubating for several days. When quail eggs are on the menu in a restaurant, this is the bird usually responsible. If you are going to keep your own eggs to hatch for replacement birds, it is a good idea to get a few males from another source so that inbreeding does not occur. Raising your quail on wire, above the ground, will make it less likely that the quail will be standing in manure and this will also help the eggs remain clean.
Like most birds, Coturnix like to take dust baths in hot weather. Their eggs should be gathered daily, in hot weather as much as 2 to 3 times per day, to assure freshness. This quail appears to be susceptible to most of the diseases that affect domestic poultry and, therefore, raise your birds separate from chickens and turkeys. As a matter of fact, having chickens or turkey on the same property, increases the chances of your quail contracting disease.
The Adult Male Coturnix
The male adult weighs about 3 1/2 to 5 ounces (100 to 140 grams ). The male birds can be identified readily by the rusty brown colored feathers on the upper throat and lower breast region. Males also have a cloacal gland, a bulbous structure located at the upper edge of the vent which secretes a white, foamy material. This unique gland can be used to assess the reproductive fitness of the males (Cheng, Hickman and McIntyre (1985). The young birds begin to crow at 5 to 6 weeks old. Sanford (1957) described the voice of the male as a loud, castanet-like crow, producing sound as "pick-per awick" or "ko-turro-neex". During the height of the normal breeding season, coturnix males will crow throughout the night.
The Adult Female Coturnix
The Adult Female are slightly heavier than the male, weighing from 4 to 5 1/2 ounces (120 to 160 grams). The body coloration of the female bird is similar to the male except that the feathers on the throat and upper breast are long, pointed, and much lighter cinnamon. Also, the light tan breast feathers are characteristically black-stippled.
Thoughts on Raising Coturnix Quail
If you are looking to start raising quail for business to sell the meat or eggs and want a quick turn around, the Coturnix Quail would be the right choice. This bird matures in about 6 weeks and should be laying eggs at 8 weeks of age.
When raising the Coturnix Quail in the proper environment and by using artificial lighting and regulated temperatures as discussed in "The Beginner's Guide". It is possible for the female of this specie to lay between 200 and 300 eggs per year.
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