Quail farming has gained popularity in recent years due to the growing demand for quail eggs and meat. Quails are small, fast-growing birds that are relatively easy to raise and require less space than other types of poultry. In this article, we will discuss the basics of raising quail for eggs and meat. With the recent increase in egg prices, many people are becoming interested in producing their own eggs for home consumption. Also, people with egg allergies are generally not sensitive to quail eggs.
The first step in raising quail is to provide them with a suitable housing facility. Quails are social birds and require ample space to move around. The housing facility can be a coop or a cage, but it should be well-ventilated and protected from predators.
The recommended space per bird is about 1 square foot of floor space for three adult birds. For example, if you plan to raise thirty quails, you will need a minimum of 10 square feet of floor space. The housing facility should also be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of ammonia, bacteria, moisture, and disease.
Quails are omnivorous birds, which means they eat both plants and animals. In the wild, they feed on insects, seeds, and small animals. In captivity, they can be fed on commercial feed formulated for quails or a combination of grains and protein sources such as mealworms, maggots, earthworms and even tadpoles.
Water is also essential for quails, and it should be provided in a clean container. Quails are prone to dehydration, and lack of water can lead to health problems and reduced egg production. Wherever possible automatic watering should be used.
Feeding a game bird starter feed of 26-30% protein is recommended until the chicks are 8 weeks old and done growing. Then they can be transitioned over to a regular chicken layer feed. Crumbles work the best as pellets are too large and powder tends to be wasted.
Expect to use 4 pounds of feed to raise each quail to adulthood. Try to ensure feed is fresh and palatable and don’t use any wet or moldy feed. Generally you get about a dozen eggs per pound of feed, assuming you can prevent wasted feed and your ration is of good quality.
Quails are prolific layers, and they can start laying eggs as early as six weeks old. They can lay up to 300 eggs per year, depending on the breed and the conditions they are raised in.
To breed quails, you need to have a ratio of one male for three to five females. The male quail will mate with the females, and the females will lay eggs on the floor of the cage which should have a roll out or another easy way to collect eggs which prevents them from being soiled or broken. The eggs should always be collected daily to prevent breakages and to ensure they are clean.
Quail eggs hatch in about 17-18 days, and the chicks can be raised in a small brooder. Quail chicks are precocial, which means they are born fully feathered and can walk and feed themselves. They are absolutely tiny and notoriously difficult to raise due to being prone to drowning.
Quails can be harvested for meat when they reach about six to eight weeks old. At this age, it should be possible to distinguish males and females. They weigh about 6-8 ounces for standards and 10-12 ounces for jumbos and have a tender, flavorful meat. Quail meat is lean, high in protein, and low in fat, making it a healthy choice for meat lovers.
To harvest quails, they should be euthanized humanely, and the feathers should be plucked. They can also be skinned or only the breast meat harvested if speed of processing is the main consideration or specialized equipment is not available. Quails can be roasted, grilled, or fried, and they can be served as a main course or as an appetizer.
Health and Safety
When raising quails, it’s important to ensure that they are kept in a clean and hygienic environment to prevent the spread of diseases. Regular cleaning of the housing facility and providing clean water and food are essential in keeping the quails healthy.
It’s also important to be aware of any potential predators such as snakes, rats, and other animals that may try to attack the quails. Ensuring that the housing facility is well-secured with wire mesh or fencing can help to keep the quails safe from predators.
If you’re planning to raise quails for eggs and meat, it’s important to identify potential markets for your products. You can sell your quail products to local markets, restaurants, and individuals who are interested in buying fresh and locally sourced eggs and meat.
Marketing your products can be done through social media, local advertisements, or word of mouth. It’s important to ensure that your products meet the required health and safety standards to attract potential customers.
Quail provide many possible marketable products. Sales of breeding stock can be the most profitable and gets your customers off to the fastest start. Many alternate marketing streams are also available with quail, including hatching eggs, eating eggs, feathers, meat, hatchlings, started chicks and ready to lay hens. Pet feeding, dog training, and food for wildlife are also great outlets for your excess quail.
Raising quail for eggs and meat is a viable option for farmers and individuals who are looking for a low-maintenance and profitable venture. With proper housing, feeding, breeding, and harvesting, quails can provide a sustainable source of eggs and meat. Quail can be kept almost everywhere, because even the biggest cities generally do not (yet) have ordinances preventing people from raising quail such as they do for other poultry species.
It’s important to ensure that the quails are kept in a clean and hygienic environment and protected from potential predators. Marketing your products can be done through various channels to reach potential customers. If you’re interested in starting a quail farm, it’s advisable to conduct thorough research and consult with experienced farmers to ensure that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the venture.
In conclusion, raising quail for eggs and meat can be a rewarding and profitable venture. Quails are easy to raise, and they require less space and feed compared to other types of poultry. With proper housing, feeding, breeding, and harvesting, you can enjoy the delicious and nutritious benefits of quail eggs and meat.