Bob White

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       QUAIL

Breeds Needs

The Chinese and Japanese Quail, in the Main pictures below, are cheap to buy and are ideal to have on the floor of an Aviary to clean up spilled seed. 
They like logs and hidey holes to rest in.  (see pics)
The hens will lay eggs which can be
used in salads etc. or sold as a delicacy. 
The Cock birds do tend to "harass" the Hens, so it is always better to keep your Quails in Trios
i.e. 2 Hens with one cockbird.
Click on the pics to enlarge


          Californian Pair

Bobwhite Quail

Californian Pair of Quail

Jap Quail

Log to add interest and a place to hide/rest

Italian Quail Cock

Jap.Quail Hen

Jap.Quail Hen

Italian Quail cock

Jap Quail hens

2 Jap Hens 1 Italian Cock

Quail showing logs they use to shelter and rest under

Newly Hatched Baby Chinese Painted Quail

Newly Hatched Baby Chinese Painted Quail

C P Quail - marbles in water to help prevent them drowning

Newly hatched C.P.Quail - dishes with chick crumbs

Newly Hatched Baby C. P. Quail + Eggs

Newly hatched C.P.Quail

A few basic observations from a first-time Quail breeder (John W.)

Collection & Storage of Quail Eggs prior to Incubation

  • If you have a lot of eggs - keep them in a cool, dry place.
  • They can be stored at approx 15C prior to putting into incubator.
    • Max period of storage is 1 week.
    • Usually store on their sides
    • Gently rotate the eggs each day to help prevent the yolk from rising to the top and sticking
  • DO NOT PUT in FRIDGE
  • Put all eggs in the incubator together, so they hatch as close together as possible.
  • Any significant difference in hatching times can mean a big difference in size and development of resulting chicks and can lead to bullying of smaller chicks by bigger chicks (from the age of 2weeks and sometimes younger)!

INCUBATION (Incubator)

  • The larger Japanese (darker coloured) and Italian (fawn-coloured) Quail = 17-18 days
  • The smaller Chinese painted Quail incubation takes approx 16 days
     
  • Temp. 37.5 C approx 55 - 60% humidity
     
  • Eggs must be turned (on automatic rollers in the incubator or by hand) at least 4 times per day pref. more often.
  • If you use tilting trays in your incubator - the Quail eggs should be blunt end UP.
  • This is the end that develops the Air Space and ultimately the chick chips thru this membrane (internal Chip)
    and takes it's first "breath" before setting about chipping thru the shell (external chip).
     
  • Internal Chipping usually starts 2 - 3 days prior to hatching.
  • Approx. 2 days before Hatching due turn the "Turn" facility OFF or if doing it by hand - stop.
  • At this time "up" the humidity to maximum (70-85%)- using wet sponges in the incubator is an ideal way.
    • This extra humidity helps prevent the quail chicks from sticking in the shell and helps them rotate
      their way out.
    • Also, lower the temp by 1C to 36.5C
    • The chick generates it's own body heat when it is chipping it's way out of the shell
       
  • Out of 60 Japanese Quail eggs put in incubator together  - 50 hatched and all within 2 hours of each other!
  • Use kitchen paper on the bottom of the Brooder to help prevent the chicks slipping and ending up with splayed legs.
  • You can sprinkle some starter feed inc. Niger seeds on the kitchen paper to encourage them to start pecking
    for food fairly soon after they hatch.

HATCHING (Brooder/Hatcher)

  • Newly-hatched chicks are very small and will need extra heat for the first 3 - 4 weeks until fully feathered.
  • Keep the heat to approx 35C (95F) during the first week.
  • Reduce the heat by approx 3.5C per week -
    • Also, observe the chicks - if they are holding their wings away from themselves - they could be too hot.
    • If they are all huddled together - then they could be too cool.
    • They won't develop properly if too cool
    • Neither will they be able to digest their food properly and you could get crop stasis,
    • which could lead to sour crop
       
  • If you have a single Heat/infra-red lamp over them, as a heat source, rather than in a Brooder, where
    the heat is fairly constant throughout - Observe the chicks.
    • If they all cluster under the heat-source, then they are feeling cold
    • If the are mostly finding spots away from the heat-source, then they are poss. too warm.
    • adjust the height of the Heat Lamp accordingly.
       

WATER : Put in a shallow dish filled with clean pebbles or marbles to stop the chicks getting into the water
and drowning.

  • Drowning is one of the main reasons for chicks dying in the early days after hatching.
  • Don't have the water or food dishes right underneath the heat-lamp
  • Also, don't have the feed and water dishes too close together to help prevent water getting into
    the feed and feed getting into the water!
  • After the 1-2 weeks it may be safe to remove most, if not all of the pebbles from the water
  • Always, make sure water is fresh and still be observant for chicks in difficulties.
     

FEED : (in Auto chick-feeders) Chick crumbs + egg food + Niger seed (the skinny, thin, black seeds that are in commercial egg food - high in oil and enjoyed by most birds -

  • it's the little black specks that the chicks peck at.
  • This encourages them to start eating.

FEEDING (5weeks +)

  • After approx 5 weeks start introducing grit or ground limestone to the Quails diet.
  • Commercial turkey or game birds diets can be fed as crumbles
    • with approx 25-28% protein +12.5% Carbohydrates inc. 1% calcium
  • As the birds reach maturity the  Calcium/phosphorous levels must be increased (2.5%-3% calcium)
  • The Calcium levels should always be higher than the phosphorous levels (approx 2/3rds calcium to 1/3 phos.)
    • If you have it the wrong way round or level values - this can lead to bony-malformation.
  • Adult Jap. Quail eat between 14g - 18g of food per day.

One observation (BULLYING)

  • I have made is that the bigger chicks can often bully smaller weaker ones and sometimes even kill them
    • - so be very aware - I wish someone had warned me - I found out the hard way!
       
  • I decided to fix a DVD or a CD to the side of the brooder - shiny side out - this acts like a mirror then the "Bully" chicks peck at their own reflections rather than bullying their smaller siblings.
  • Also, I got a shallow dish and put kitchen towel in the bottom + small dish with pebbles and water + food dish - this kept the smaller, weaker chicks protected until they grew big enough to fend for themselves
    and they still were either under or in the heated environment.
     
  • Japanese quail are very territorial and will defend their "home" against any new Quail you may introduce.
  • With this in mind - if you wish to put 2 or more groups together then you must put them in a neutral Aviary/cage that none of them class as their own.
  • This applies to just about all species of birds and is a rule that must be adhered to when introducing new birds into established Aviaries - if you wish to avoid confrontation and/or injury/fatalities.

FLOOR COVERING

  • After first week, add a layer of shavings or Easibed  to the brooder/cage floor
  • - this will absorb droppings
  • Easibed is: 25kg bales of reconstituted wood chip bought in Pet shops/Saddlers/Agricultural warehouses - it's a horse bedding but used extensively for bird's in Nest boxes and on Aviary floors.

JAPANESE QUAIL                                                                                                                                              Japanese Quail Hen

  • The feather quills start coming thru at about 1 week old
  • they are sexually mature at around 6 - 8 weeks old - which beggars belief really, as then they can start producing eggs and chicks of their own from approx 50 days old!!
  • The hens can lay approx 200 eggs in their first year.
  • Average life-span of a Quail is 2 - 2 years - altho I have one that is 6 years old and still going strong!
  • Male Quail are slightly smaller and lighter-weight than the hens - weighing approx 100-140g
  • Hen Quail are slightly bigger and heavier than the cock-birds . . . 120-16

SEXING JAPANESE (dark brown)/ITALIAN QUAIL (fawn coloured)                                                        Italian Quail cock                                   

  • Japanese Quail are the Dark brown ones with pale fawn and black streaks thru their feathers.
  • Jap. Hens can be sexed by their light tan feathers on their breast area with black speckling up to the throat area.
  • Jap. Cocks can be sexed by the fact they have solid coloured rusty-brown throats/breast area - no speckling.
  • Jap. Cocks also have a cloacal gland, which is a bulbous structure on the upper edge of their vents.
    • this secretes a white foamy substance when they are breeding-fit - looks like frothy droppings!
  • The Italian Quail can be sexed in exactly the same way as the Japanese Quail.
  • The Japanese and Italian Quail are often interbred.

TRIOs of QUAIL

  • When Quail are sold - they are often sold in Trios (one cock bird to 2 hens)
  • this is because the Cock Quails tend to sexually harass the females mercilessly.
    • if it was just one cock to one hen there is a high possibility the cock could end up killing the female or she would  just die from exhaustion.
    • You can nearly always tell the females, as they have bald patches on the tops of their heads and backs from the cock birds "grabbing" hold of them to have their "wicked way".
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