This guide will help you in all aspects of Quail Farming.
- Quail Bird Characteristics
- Benefits Of Quail Farming
- How To Start Quail Farming
- Quail Bird Housing
- Quail Feed
- Light & Temperature Management For Quail Birds
- Stress & Vices In Quail Birds
- Quail Egg Incubation
- Quail Diseases, Symptoms & Treatment
- Quail Sexing
- Quail Breeding Setup
- Markets & Marketing Strategies For Quail Products
Quail farming is a business of raising quail birds for either domestic or commercial production of eggs, meat or both.
In recent times poultry industry has witnessed an increase in demand for both eggs and meat. Notably, increased health consciousness amongst meat consumers has bolstered the consumption of white meat with chickens, fish and quail offering the majority share.
Quails are migratory birds which are native to Asia, Africa, and Europe. Their origin date was way back into the eleventh century, where the Egyptians trapped them purposely for their meat. Years later, the Chinese started keeping the bird as pets due to the male birds ability to sing.
Before spreading to the other parts of the world, it’s believed the initial commercial quail farming started in japan, thereby enabling Japanese quail to gain dominance to date as one of the best performing breeds, largely for commercial production of eggs and meat.
Compared with other poultry birds, quail farming continues to gain traction each new day across the world due to low capital and minimal labor demands, ease of care and management of the birds, and high profit returns. Interestingly, anyone can start venture with both limited capital and limited experience.
Quail Bird Characteristics:
- Compared with other poultry birds such as chicken of similar age, quail appear small in both body size and weight. A mature adult bird has an average weight of 200 grams.
- Due to their small-sized bodies, quail eat small amounts of feeds, occupy smaller places and require little care and management (when compared with poultry breeds such as chickens of similar age)
- They are great feeders and know when to stop. Quail will seldom over-eat!
- They grow and mature very fast. They ready to begin laying eggs at just between six to eight weeks from hatching.
- Quail Birds lay small-sized multi colored eggs. The eggs tastes just like chicken’s, although they have slightly higher yolk to white.
- Quail are prolific layers, laying at least an egg a day. In the first year, they are capable of laying an average of 250 to 300 eggs. They lay well for the first one and half years but will register significant slowdown in the after years.
- Quail are poor brooders. You’ll need an incubator to hatch their eggs ( If raising them on a large/ commercial scale). But if you are raising them on a small scale, you can consider using a broody hen to incubate their eggs.
- Unlike a fertile chicken’s egg that takes 21 days to hatch successfully, incubated fertile quail’s egg takes between 15 to 18 days to hatch.
- A quail’s egg is less fatty than chicken’s, making it consumers favorite. Their meat is low in fat, providing an ideal alternative to read meat (a perfect pick for consumers in pursuit of meat with low cholesterol).
- With good husbandry quail have lifespan of 3 to 4 years.
- Quails are resistant to a number of diseases affecting the larger poultry unit. Consequently, they require less number of vaccinations against poultry-related diseases.
- When startled, the birds can respond by jumping up or taking short flights. Therefore they can easily escape if they are grown in open areas.
Benefits of Quail Farming:
Source of Income & Employment:
Just like any other businesses, quail farming provides an excellent source of income. In equal measure, it’s a source of employment to many people around the world.
Quail can easily be raised alongside other poultry birds such as turkey, chicken and duck etc. They equally adapt to most climate and weather conditions enabling them to be found in most parts of world.
Grow & Mature Fast:
Compared with most poultry birds, quail grow and mature fast. At between 6-7 weeks from hatching, the female birds ready to begin laying eggs. And with good care and management, they have the potential of laying at least an egg a day.
Minimal Space Requirement for Accommodation:
Due to their small sized bodies, you’ll need minimal space to raise good number of quails. A space the size of a square meter would be sufficient to raise eight to ten birds. That same space would only house just two to three chickens.
The birds are hardy. They are affected by fewer diseases when compared with other poultry birds such as chickens.
Quail feeds are cheaper than most poultry feeds.
Tasty, Rich, Delicious Eggs & Meat
Quail eggs and meat are tastier and highly nutritious than those of most poultry birds. Consequently, there is high demand for the products at the markets and from most farm gates.
Research has pointed out that quail’s egg has loads of vitamins, nutrients and is low in caloric content. It has Vitamin A (retinal), Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamins C, D & E. It also has essential nutrients such as Omega 3, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Phosphorus, Choline, Tonic Acid, Magnesium, Omega 6, Fatty Acids and Selenium.
Low Capital & Labor Investment Requirement:
You need low capital investment to start quail farming. Equally, the labor requirement is also low.
High Feed Conversion Rate:
Compared to other poultry birds, Quail have high feed conversion rate. Roughly, they are able to produce 1 kg of meat out of 3 kgs of feed.
Quail Products Are Affordable:
Due to their smaller body sizes, quail products, eggs and meat are slightly smaller in size and are more affordable than those of most poultry birds such as turkey, chicken etc.
Starting From Scratch v/s Buying an Established Farm:
Since you’ll seldom find a quail farm to purchase, you should prepare to start your own from scratch. It’s less stressful starting from the scratch unlike buying one that will require you to carry out endless background checks.
To start from scratch, all you need is to get licenses, pull your startup capital, decide on ideal location, establish rapport with existing key stakeholders, utilize marketing tools to create awareness and then market your products.
Most, if not all, successful quail farms started from scratch and have risen to be successful and solid business brands today. It’s dedication, focus, hard work and determination that has allowed the businesses achieve such success. It’s therefore no hidden secret that anyone can build a quail farm to be successful brand anywhere in the world.
How To Start Quail Farming:
Many of us live in tight places such as flats or houses with small gardens, yet long to raise quail birds. Interestingly, you can raise the birds in any small contained area such as a balcony, garage, patio or garden.
Starting out is very simple. You simply purchase a set of quail, their feeds, poultry farming tools, construct a hatchery and then construct a wall.
Did you Know the businesses that have dominated quail farming segment are those with family links and have continued to be passed from one generation to the next over years?
As a result, some of the major hurdles faced by new entrants in the business include:
- Competitiveness in getting new clients
- Medium Level Of Investment
- Hurdles related to compliance with environmental regulations
Raising quail for either domestic or commercial production of eggs and meat is not that involving. With some little capital and relevant infrastructure, you are ready to go.
However to profitably raise the birds, it’s essential to first have in place a proper business plan.
The plan will help you focus on a specific niche area of production such as:
- Egg production
- Meat production
- Chicks production etc.
The plan will also guide you:
- In selecting the right breeds of quail to raise
- The right ages of the birds to acquire
- The kind of infrastructure to have in place
- The sales and marketing strategy to adopt in order to reach your targeted market etc.
However, although having the business plan in place would be beneficial, it’s not a must at start-up level. So it’s up to you to decide whether to have a business plan or not.
Just like any other business venture, although quail farming has its own fair share of challenges, it’s a truly profitable venture. Yes, quail farming has been in existence for far to long, but the business isn’t yet saturated.
There is always ready market for bird products and depending on your financial status, you can decide to go small scale or large scale.
The initial step towards great quail farming is via carrying out through market research and feasibility study.
Although the consumption of quail eggs and meat is not restricted to a specific group of people – with people of different races and cultures consuming the products, it’s essential to establish the actual demographics and psycho-graphics of quail consumers in your area and in your intended market.
Doing this will help you make the right decision on the actual size of your farm (large scale or small scale), the breeds of birds to raise and the purpose of your production.
Decide On Niche Area Of Production:
Throught the world, there are more than 18 different species of domestic quail available for raising. While some are suitable for egg production, others are suitable for meat production and others perform best for both egg and meat production.
Broadly, there are just two types of quail breeds:
Broilers are raised for breeding and for meat production. Largely they are male. But old and non laying females can also be slaughtered for their meat. Most common ones are the Bobwhite(American) and the White Breasted(Indian).
Layers (female quill birds) on other hand are raised for breeding and for egg production. Most common ones are British Range, The English White, Tuxedo, Pharaoh and the Manchurian Golden.
Ask Yourself :
- Do you want to raise birds for fun or profit?
- Which products do you intend to produce?
- Do you want to produce fertilized or unfertilized eggs, meat, day old or week old chicks or point of lay birds?
Before you embark on producing any product, you should carry out adequate market research and settle on those that are high on demand at your intended market.
Since Quails are game birds, most states require that you get certain permits as prerequisites to raising them.
Notably most countries have consented to preservation of various endangered wild life through certain legislation. This they do to contain potential over exploration.
Also, in case of outbreak of birds diseases such as bird flu, knowing those who keep the bird makes it easier for the relevant government departments to access them and offer timely containment.
Before you embark on raising quail, it’s essential to get permit from relevant government authorities. In most cases, you’ll be required to pay small fee to be issued with permit.
Sole Proprietorship v/s Limited Liability Company:
You can start as a sole proprietor, general proprietor or as limited liability company. If your focus is small scale, then sole proprietorship would be ideal for you.
Setting up an LLC on the other hand shields you from incurring personal liability. In the event of something going wrong with your operations, it’s only the money you’ve invested in the company that will be at risk. Equally, you won’t necessarily need board of directors, share holders or other administrative formalities to get going. LLC are simpler and more flexible to operate.
Depending on your financial muscle and the scope of your intended operations you can choose between sole proprietorship and limited liability company.
Possible Challenges In Quail Farming:
Just like other business venture, if you decide to start your own quail farming business today, you’ll definitely be met with some threats or challenges.
While some of the challenges may seem surmountable, others may appear totally insurmountable, leaving you with nothing to do other than remaining optimistic that sooner or later things may turn around.
Some of the possible challenges you might face include:
- Competitions from already established quail farms (to overcome this, you’ll have to create your own market share of house holds, individuals, restaurants and hotels in need of supply of quail products).
- Emergence of a new competitor in same location.
- Natural Disaster such as bad weather
- Unfavorable government policies
You’ll need adequate capital to acquire a piece of land, construct secure housing/cages, get the first set of quail chicks, feeds and other relevant quail farming tools and equipment.
The level of amount of funds you’ll need would depend on the scale of your operation (large scale would be more capital intensive compared to small scale)
The first step towards securing funding from sources such as banks and investors via writing a convincing business plan.
Nonetheless, here below are some of the possible sources of funding to consider:
- From personal savings
- Contributions from family members and friends
- Sale of personal stocks and properties
- Contributions from investors and business partners
- Sale of share to interested investors
- Soft loan from close family and friends
- Pitching the business idea and applying for seed capital and grants from angel investors, donors and from the government.
Quail Bird Housing:
There are two ways of housing quail:
- Through use of cages and through use of deep litter system.
- The type of housing and its location plays a vital role in determining the performance of the birds.
Important Things To Consider When Housing Quail:
Pick A Good Housing System:
when raising the birds in a small scale, you can consider cages or open space (deep litter system). But when raising them on large scale, its advisable using cages. The cages will ensure you use little care and management as compared to use of deep litter.
Safety & Security:
The performance of quail is negatively effected by exposure to predators such as snakes, dogs, cats etc. These predators not only stress and scare the birds, but also prohibit them from feeding and drinking well, thus lowering their productivity.
Adequate Access To Fresh Air & Light:
ensure the bird’s accommodation has proper ventilation and with right amount of exposure to light. Notably, exposure to light excites the birds making them improve their performance.
To avoid stressing the birds, ensure they are raised in a right structure with adequate spaces, (though you want to limit their movements with their accommodation to enable them put some weight – especially the broilers) the birds need adequate space to move to the feeders and waterers. To raise say birds on a small space, you’ll needs a cage measuring 60 cm length by 120 cm width by 25 cm height, arranged in fourtierrs – meaning each tier can comfortably hold 100 birds.
Use Of Wire Net:
there are several benefits of using a wire net to construct quail cages. Other than allowing for easy circulation of fresh air, the spaces between the wire allows easy passage of quail’s droppings to the ground, thus keeping the cage dry, most of the time.
You can either construct the cages on your own or buy commercially available ones. They can be designed in various shapes and sizes. At 3-4 weeks, a cage size of 4ft by 2.5ft by 1.5ft can comfortably accommodate 100-120 quail and at 5 weeks and onwards, the same space can accommodate three fourth of that number.
Each unit of a cage should be 6ft in length and 1ft wide. You can then divide this further into six isolated sub units.
In the event you have limited space, you can arrange the cages in tiers, as high as four to six tiers. Also depending on available space, you can have any number of cages in a row(4,5,6,7,….)
Construct the bottom of the cages with removable wooden plate to allow for cleaning of the bird’s droppings. (You can as well use removable plastic plates – ideal for large scale farming).
Use dry wood shavings as the bedding of the cages.
The cages should have properly ventilated ( should have adequate access of fresh air and light)
Feeding & Drinking:
For Feeding place long narrow feed troughs in front of the cages and have the water troughs places at the back of the cages.
If raising the birds for breeding purposes, you should house 1 male per 3 females (to attain high rate of egg fertilization)
Deep Litter System:
This is a style of raising birds on an open floor space in specially constructed houses, pens or hatches.
One simple way is through converting say a rabbit hutch into quail house. However, when doing so, you must give special consideration to the fact that quaillove exposure to light and some cover in which to hide. You should therefore (if using rabbit hutch), make three windows on the side of the hutch to allow in more light.
You should also use dry wood shavings as the bedding of the accommodation
Quail dont make their nests, but will lay their eggs in discrete places such as their beddings. They also dont need elaborate nesting boxes – but the layers will appreciate somewhere dark to lay eggs.
Protect them from cold during the winter months (when the temps are approaching zero and below). You can move their accommodation into a garage or some unutilized contained structure (safe from the cold).
You can add in few inches of bedding material and also cover their housing with an old sack to offer insulation during cold, wet and windy periods.
The birds can fly short distances. So don’t let them out of their enclosure.
Conduct thorough feasibility and market study to ensure your intended location is ideal – I guess you would not marvel at starting a quail farm in the exact location where another quail farm just closed shop a few days ago due to unsupportive regulations and lack of market.
Things to consider when choosing location for your quail farm should include:
- Demography of the area (the possible number of people living in that area).
- Demand of quail products in the area.
- Security and accessibility of the area.
- Level of competition in that area.
- Local regulations and laws covering the area.
- Purchasing power of the area’s residents.
Since you’ll have shield the birds from any potential danger, you should also consider the below three things when deciding on the fencing need your farm.
- Prevalent predators in the area.
- Geographical composition of the area.
- Climatic condition of the area.
Some Other Important Points To Keep In Mind:
- In hot temperatures shield the birds from exposure to high eat by moving their accommodation to a shed or covering it from direct exposure to the source of heat(sun). Also, ensure there is adequate ventilation and give the birds adequate water for drinking.
- Rats are number one quail’s predators. The birds housing therefore has to provide a secure protection against invasion or attack by rats and other predators like snakes, dogs, cats etc. You can shield the cages with a wire mesh to prevent these predators.
- Within their housing, find strategic points and hang for them some green vegetables to keep them busy. This will stop them from being idle and from possibly developing bad habits such as pecking one another.
- In general quails are ground dwellers. In most cases, they are never interested in climbing things. However, you can build for them some runs to help them exercise and keep fit.
- If housed together with other birds in larger space, always remember that they are game birds and in their natural habitat(wild/forest), their nests are hidden. Therefore you should provide them with a discreet location (somewhere partially dark) away from disturbance of other birds to enable them lay their eggs in peace.
- Avoid startling the birds. They have tendency of jumping up or taking short flights when startled (possibly hitting their head hard against the roof of their housing in the process)
It’s vital to feed quails on nutritious and well balanced feeds to enable them stay healthy, gain proper body weight and be productive for an extended period of time.
The birds eat different feeds depending on their ages:
Feed them with starter crumbs which is rich in protein.
Significantly, feed them on non-medicated turkey chick starter crumb since it’s rich in protein.
Between Four To Six Weeks:
You should upgrade the feed to growers and then to finisher ration.
Notably feed them on turkey feeds since it has the relevant levels of proteins needed by the birds.
From The Fifth Week & Onwards:
Depending on the type of quail birds you are raising i.e., either layers or broilers, you should change the feed.
And then, go with turkey feeds.
Here are some general vital facts on feeding habits of quails:
- The birds require an average of 400-450 grams of feeds to be able to lay 12 eggs.
- Amature quail bird is able to consume an average of 20-25 grams of feed a day.
- Since they have small mouth, make sure their feeds are availed in finely grounded particles/crumbs.
You can purchase quail feeds from the local feed stores. Since they are game birds, they require feeds rich in protein.
Turkey game bird feeds, available in most feed stores will always be ideal to feed quails.
But in the absence of turkey game bird feeds, you can feed them on the below homemade alternative.
Quail Bird Feed Formula:
|Ingredient||1st 3 Weeks(%)||4-6 Weeks(%)||6 Weeks plus(%)|
|Salt & Mineral Mix||0.5||0.5||0.5|
Along with their diet you can feed with kitchen scraps such as sweet corn, grated carrot, broccoli, chunks of apple, lettuce, cut cabbages and even peas.
You can also feed them on millet or meal worms. Notably, mature male quails usually shy from eating meal worms. Instead, they present the meal worms to hens as a sign of appreciation.
The more you feed quails on different feeds, the more you will learn about their favorite foods.
However desist from feeding them on fresh cuttings from the garden as it is easy to mix in a poisonous plant. Equally, never feed them on avocado or chocolate since they are poisonous to a number of birds.
Equally give them grit to help them improve on their digestion of consumed feeds.
Important Points To Remember:
- Don’t feed quails (5 weeks and older) on chick starter crumbs. They will love it, but it’s not ideal for their body need.
- Occasionally, supplement their feed with seeds and pellets (although some of these are found in certain commercial feeds).
- Just like other poultry birds, quails likes greens such as grass and assorted green vegetables.
- Quails are fussy feeders. They eat bits by bits and at intervals. But they can never over eat.
- Any quail bird being raised for meat can remain on the grower/finisher feeds until they are ready for slaughter.
- Quails that are being raised for breeding purpose should be given with breeders ration consisting of atleast 17-21% protein content.
- Never forget that if you feed the birds appropriately and offer them adequate amount of fresh water for drinking.
- Equally give them grit to help them improve on their digestion of consumed feeds.
Light & Temperature Management For Quail Birds:
Source Of Heat:
You can use either standard light bulbs or poultry heat lamps.
Although the standard light bulbs will offer great light, they sometimes do not offer much needed warmth/heat by the chicks at such a tender age.
I would therefore recommend you get a heat lamp since it would not exposure the birds to much bright light which might make them aggressive. And to operate it effectively, always read the manufacturers manual.
When you use the heat lamp, hang the bulb above the chicks roughly around 11.5 feet high.
You can then reduce or increase the amount of heat through lifting the bulb higher(from the chicks) or lowering it down (closer to chicks) respectively.
During the first week, maintain the temperature at 36.5°c, lowering it down by 5°c in the second week and another 5°c in the fourth week. You can then withdraw the heating bulb and let the birds use the room’s temperature thereafter.
When heat lamp is on, you will observe some general pattern of behavior exhibited by the chicks.
- Presence of too much heat will make them move far from the source of heat to the corners/ walls of the brooder.
- On the other hand, if the heat is inadequate, they will be seen gathered around the source of heat. But if the brooder is correctly heated, the chicks will appear evenly spread within it and excitedly feeding, drinking and moving in all directions.
- In the event you misplace your thermometer or it’s cracked then you can comfortably rely on this behavior pattern to ensure the brooder is rightly heated.
With Light Bulb:
When using standard light bulb, ensure it is located close to the birds. You can start with a 250 watts bulb, then after a week change to 150 watts, then to 100 watts, then to 70 watts and then to 40 watts.
The trick is to ensure you reduce the amount of heat emitted by the bulbs each week, until the birds shall have fully feathered and are ready to do without the heat (from the fourth week and onwards).
In terms of exposure to light, during the 1st and 2nd week, grant the chicks with 24 hours access to light.
In the 3rd to 5th week, you can limit that exposure by half (12-13 hours a day)
When they approach egg laying week (6th week and onwards), you can gradually start increasing the exposure from 12-13 hours to 14-15 hours from the 6th week, 15-16 hours from the 7th week, then 17-18 hours from 8th week and onwards.
Quail Egg Incubation:
Domesticated quails do not have the ability to sit on their eggs till hatching and as a result, you’ll need a good incubator to help them in hatching.
You can also use a broody hen such as a broody bantam to hatch quail’s eggs. Well, this may not be practical on a large scale, and also in case the bantam refuses to go broody.
Always feed the birds on well balanced and nutritious feeds, and avail to them adequate water for drinking to ensure they lay healthy eggs with strong shells.
During the egg laying period, collect the eggs regularly (two to three times each day)to avoid their contamination. You must always aim to incubate clean and fresh eggs for greater results.
Once collected, store the eggs in a cool and dry place, with pointed ends facing downwards. This will help keep the egg yolk centered.
Store the eggs at room temperature (mostly temperatures of between 12-16°C, with an average relative humidity of a 75%). Note that high temperatures might provide conducive environment for the embryo to begin developing and this will be detrimental to egg hatching.
Ensure the eggs are presented for incubation at 8 days and below. But seven days and below would offer you greater results.
Don’t store the eggs that you intend to incubate in the refrigerator.
Selecting Quail Eggs For Incubation
Once the eggs are laid by the hens, do not wash them however dirty them might seem. You’ll tamper with their shell’s protective layer and expose them to bacterial infection.
Also, avoid incubating eggs with cracks or damages on their shells.
You should candle the eggs prior to incubation to ensure only fertilized and healthy eggs see the inside of an incubator.
Use a candler with a strong light intensity (quail’s eggs have a strong egg shell and the normal egg candler might not give you reliable results).
The egg candler will help you detect any crack on the egg shell, show you the health of the egg’s yolk and the quantity of airspace within the yolk
The incubator must be clean, functional, disinfected, and set at a room with a steady temperature. To test the functionality of the incubator, you can let it run for about 24 hours (to ensure it maintains the required temperatures and humidity).
You should fumigate the eggs after collection, though it’s more ideal to fumigate them while placed in an incubator.
You can liaise with a local poultry vet to help you exercise this, or if you posses the DIY skills, or would love to try out, then you’ll need two major ingredients: formalin and potassium permanganate.
- Put 35-36 ml of formalin in an open tray/ bowl/ dish (ensure it’s not leaking), then carefully add 25-26 g of potassium permanganate.
- This mixture is ideal for a cubic meter of the incubator’s space, and the fumigation must be carried out within the first 12-14 hours of incubation.
- Then set the temperature at an average of 250°c, with an average humidity of 85%.
Precautions To Be Taken During Quail Egg Incubation:
Take precautionary measures not to inhale the mixture or any of its contents (the potassium permanganate or formalin) by using a good respirator.
Block all the ventilation of the incubator for the first 25 to 30 minutes (if using an automatic incubator with a good fan) and thereafter open the incubator, remove the container and then free up all the blocked ventilation as well.
If using a manual incubator, with no fan, then you should also leave the mixture for the same 25 to 30 minutes (blocking any open ventilation in the process) and thereafter, open it, remove the mixture and free up all the blocked ventilation.
Although you can opt to use any form on incubator (manual or automatic), I would recommend you use an automatic one, with a good fan. This will help you turn the eggs at an appropriate time (three or four times each 24 hours), and in the right angles, thereby ensuring you realize a high hatch rate.
If you’re using a manual incubator, ensure you turn the eggs 3-4 times each day. This is vital to help prevent overheating of one side of the egg (which might tamper with the formation of embryo).
You should maintain the right temperature and humidity inside the incubator (37.7-37.80°c, an average of 100.05°F), and an average humidity of 50%(-5/ + 5)
You should have pave properly functioning temperature and humidity meters placed inside the incubator to help you check and manage the conditions inside.
Check that the temperatures are correct since low temperatures will delay egg hatching, while high temperatures may result into pre-mature hatching, which will both end up expose the chicks to early deaths.
On the seventh day of incubation, candle the eggs to ascertain their fertility.
Fertile eggs will exhibit some quail embryo developing in the eggs, while the infertile ones will still be clear. You can then remove the infertile ones from the incubator
Incubate the remaining fertile eggs up to the 15th day when you should now stop turning them (if using an automatic incubator, you should de-activate the turning mechanism on the 15th day), then reduce the temperature inside the incubator to 37.5°C (99.5°F), while increasing the level of humidity to 80-81%. This is vital to help the ready chicks to get out of the now-should-be-soft shells.
If you have a hatching container, you can transfer the incubated eggs on it on the 15 day.
The Japanese quail chicks start hatching on the 16th day of incubation and mostly on the 17th and 18th day. Those that hatch afterwards may probably not live long enough, they may die immediately or in few days. A hatch rate of more than 70% would be ok, but you should always aim for a hatch rate of 78% and above.
Once the chicks start coming out of the shells, you should let them come out on their own.
Those that take long to come out of the shells or those that might tempt you to help them out of the shells usually end up not living long enough after hatching.
They might die within a few hours or days from hatching. But should they take unnecessary too long to get past the already cracked egg shells, just help them out.
Let the chicks stay in the incubator until they are fully dry, then transfer them to a brooder. Don’t rush them out of the incubator immediately they are hatched since they might end up catching cold and die afterwards.
Quail Diseases, Symptoms & Treatment:
Quails are hardy birds known to be resistant to a great number of diseases affecting poultry birds. Interestingly, lots of research on disease affecting quails is on going and hopefully, future quail bird farmers will have a broader knowledge on dealing with the most common and emerging quail diseases.
Below are the four most common quail diseases, prevention and treatments.
Coccidiosis is a parasitic infection which has a severe effect on the digestive tracts of quail birds.
It normally attacks quails which are less than 7 weeks. (Quail birds beyond 7 weeks of age are usually resistant to Ccccidiosis, but in cases where they are attacked by the disease, the impact is usually not as severe as it is to birds below 7 weeks of age).
Since coccidiosis affects the digestive tract of the birds, the infected birds would generally slow down and eventually stop feeding.
They will subsequently grow weak, pale and weak legged.
If not treated on time, the infected birds may die.
Prevention and Treatment:
Universally, Coccidiosis affects quails and other poultry birds out of poor management of farms i.e. failure to keep the poultry houses clean and dry.
Coccidiosis mainly thrive where there is a buildup of wet quail droppings and in moist areas around water points and feeders. Therefore, you need to ensure the cages are dry and free of wet quail droppings.
Usually, it is advisable to construct areas around feeders and water points using wire mesh. This ensures no quail dropping accumulates within the cages.
Certain quail feeds are laced with coccidiostat (a drug that helps prevents infection by coccidiosis).
To the birds which are not yet infected with coccidiosis, the consumption of coccidiostat in the feeds allows them limited infection with coccidiosis and thereafter, they develop immunity against the disease.
Worms (Capillary Worms/ Thread Worms/ Crop Worms):
The second disease or rather parasite which affects quails is worms.
Specifically, the most dangerous of the worms are those that infect the lining of the bird’s crop(s).
Capillary worms, scientifically known as Capillaria spp. falls in this category.
The infection caused by capillary worms can never be diagnosed by merely looking at the bird physically.
It’s only when the crop of an infected bird is removed, or when the crop of a bird which has died of the infection is removed and opened and then worms which appear thread-like can be seen lining across the tissue fragments of the bird’s crop.
These are the two most common physical symptoms of a bird infected with capillary worms.
- The infected birds often eat a lot but always appear as if they are starving.
- And in the last stages of infection, the infected birds often experience difficulty in breathing.
Prevention and Treatment:
Capillary worms usually thrive in wet droppings and on wet areas around feeders and waterers.
The best way to control infection and spread of capillary worms is by constructing the base of the bird’s cages with wire mesh.
Spaces on the wire mesh would not allow build-up of quails’ wet droppings and thus, will prevent the birds from picking the disease from the cages and lessen its spread if any. (The cages should be raised from the ground).
To treat capillary worms, it is recommended you use a correct wormer (de-wormer).
Consult experienced poultry vets within your area for recommendations on an appropriate wormer (de-wormer), since the names of these drugs differ from one country to another.
This is one of the most lethal diseases affecting quail birds.
Histomoniasis is also known as the blackhead. It is a protozoan infection which attacks a number of poultry breeds.
In fact, it is usually referred to as a disease of the larger fowl unit.
Histomoniasis infects the liver of quail birds and immediately, starts to produce necrotic lesions which eventually results into fatal liver damages of the infected birds.
The infected birds often exhibit restlessness, poor appetite, loss of feathers and sulfur-like-colored droppings.
Prevention and Treatment:
It is believed chickens which have recovered from histomoniasis are its carrier. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, avoid mixing chickens with quail birds under the same housing.
For treatment purposes, you should use relevant wormers (de-wormers), to help eliminate cecal worms which transmit histomoniasis.
However, the most effective treatment for histomoniasis lies in its prevention.
Ulcerative enteritis is another destructive quail bird disease. From its name, the disease occurs like an ulcer on the internal linings of the infected bird’s intestines.
However, the most effective way to diagnose ulcerative enteritis is through laboratory analysis. The disease can easily be transmitted from one infected bird to the other through contact with the droppings of the infected bird.
It has been established that birds which have recovered from ulcerative enteritis are usually its carriers.
Prevention and Treatment:
The most effective ways to prevent spread of this fatal disease lies in exercising clean sanitary measures and in the quick identification identification and quarantine of the infected birds.
It is also recommended that you should clean up the cages off any wet droppings, and it is essential the holding areas of the cages be built with wire mesh to help stop any accumulation of the birds’ wet droppings.
For treatment, you need to liaise with your local experienced poultry vet for recommendations on effective drugs to use.
Sick Quails Symptoms:
Just like other breeds of poultry, sick quails will tend to exhibit some of the below characteristics:
Numb, Un-alert & Unresponsive:
Sick quails usually appear numb and un-alert. They are unresponsive to any touch and will mostly be seen sleeping on the floor of their housing. But if standing, they will tend to exhibit an abnormal posture.
Reduction In Productivity:
If there is a sudden reduction in the number of eggs laid by hens, that could be a sign of disease infection with the flock.
Very High or Very Low Body Temperatures:
You should occasionally check the body temperatures of quails to establish if any could be exhibiting very high or very low temperatures. Such could be a sign of disease infection.
Lack Of Appetite:
Sick quails lack normal appetite and as a result, consume lesser quantities of feeds compared to the quantities of feeds they do normally feed on.
Due to lack of appetite, a sick quail may register weight loss and begin to appear weak, dehydrated and pale-faced.
Sick quails may appear gloomy and are usually disinterested even when you give them feeds or water.
Observable Defects In Defecation:
When the defecation appears bloodstained, that’s a sure sign of internal infection. If it has an accompaniment of worms, that’s a sign of parasitic infection. If it is very hard or very watery, those could be signs of dehydration and diarrhea respectively.
Difficulty In Breathing:
Blocked mucus membranes or any observable or hearable sound indicating some difficulty in breathing by any bird is a sign of a respiratory disease infection (possibly pneumonia).
If the feathers are falling off or appear rough in texture, be sure to closely check the affected bird for possible disease infection.
The least thing you should do when you identify a sick bird is to isolate it with speed from the rest of the flock.
Afterwards, you should seek for the services of a poultry vet to help you effectively diagnose and possibly treat the affected bird.
Always desist from trying to offer treatments on your own to any sick quail if you aren’t sure about the disease it is suffering from.
Factors Making Quails To Be Susceptible To Disease or Pest Infections
Below are some of the leading factors making quails to be susceptible to disease infections.
Older quails are usually prone to disease infections.
This is due to their weakened body defense mechanisms. Equally, younger quails are too prone to infection by certain diseases due to their not-fully developed body immune system.
Any physical injury on any part of a quail’s body may make it susceptible to bacterial infections. Such injuries may be caused by other quails, quail’s owner or even by the affected quail.
Very cold or very chilly weather conditions may make it possible for quails to contract respiratory diseases like pneumonia.
Sex Of Quail Birds:
Due to their frequency in laying eggs, hens are more prone to disease infections as compared to roosters.
Unhygienic housing conditions may spur an outbreak of certain contagious diseases like Coccidiosis.
Mixing Of Other Poultry Breeds With Quails:
If you mix quails and chickens in the same housing, any chicken suffering from a disease like Histomoniasis may easily transmit it to quails.
Effective Ways Of Dealing With Quail Pests & Diseases:
Below are some of the ways to help you deal with a number of quail pests and diseases:
- Raising quails under sanitary conditions is your first step towards raising healthy birds. Ensure the quail house is always clean and properly disinfected.
- Wet and uncollected quail droppings around water points and feeding zones may expose the birds to deadly infections like Coccidiosis.
- Dust the birds with appropriate pesticides in order to keep external parasites away.
- Their house should be well constructed to shield the birds from wind, hot sun, rodents like snakes and other domestic pets like cats and dogs. Construct their house with cold insulators to keep the house warm during winter and provide enough ventilation to cool down their house during hot summer.
- Equally, the house should have adequate exposure to light (natural or artificial).
- Always feed your flock on quality and well-balanced diet. You need to purchase quail feeds and other feed supplements which contain the right amounts of nutrients needed by the birds. If done right, you should expect quality eggs/ meat from your flock, coupled with hardy birds resistant to a number of diseases.
- Give quails clean and fresh water for drinking, placed at strategic positions where they do not need any unnecessary strain to access to it.
- It is usually advisable to give them water at room temperature. Avoid giving them very cold or very hot water as they avoid having such.
- When some quails begin to physically appear weak or gloomy, isolate them from the rest of the flock, as fast as you can and closely observe them for any possible illness.
- De-worm the birds regularly using recommended de-wormers. This will aid in preventing infestations by worms and other protozoan diseases.
- De-beak any noted cannibal with the flock to bar them from inflicting wounds on other birds, which may subsequently make the wounded birds be susceptible to bacterial infections.
Stress & Vices In Quail Birds:
Causes & Preventative Measures
Stress is any condition imposed on the birds making them to be uncomfortable.
Stress causes disturbance to the birds and prevents them from eating well. Equally, it prevents female quails from laying well.
Below are some of the most common causes of stress in quails:
- Sudden extreme temperatures (very hot and very cold temperatures).
- Sudden change in the daily routine i.e., sudden change in types of feed, sudden change in feed locations, sudden change in locations of waterers etc.
- Sudden loud noises like thunderstorms, loud music, noisy automobiles, low flying aeroplanes, etc.
- Insufficient or lack of enough feeds and water.
- Presence of strangers, pests and predators.
- Introduction of new birds in the old flock.
- Improper handling of the birds during culling or during vaccination.
- Overcrowding in the quails house, forcing the birds to compete for space, feeds and water.
Dealing With Stress In Quail Birds:
Below are some practices which you can adopt to help you manage stress in quails:
- If you must change any daily routine, do it gradually.
- Effectively, control any diseases or parasites affecting the birds.
- Insulate their house appropriately to guarantee uniform temperatures throughout the year.
- Shield the quails from loud noise.
- Gradually, introduce new birds to the flock.
- Minimize access to the poultry house by strangers.
- Keep the correct number of birds per housing unit and provide each housing unit with adequate balanced feeds and waterers.
- Handle the birds carefully during culling or vaccination.
Vices In Quail Birds:
Vices are bad habits that quails develop due to their environmental exposure.
The two most common quail vices are egg eating and cannibalism.
Below are some of the factors which may expose quails to develop vices.
An idle quail can easily turn destructive!
Broken or soft-shelled eggs may tempt most quails to peck such eggs. Any delay in collection of laid eggs may tempt the hens to peck the eggs.
Overcrowding in the quails house may force a number of hens to lay eggs on areas where other birds can easily access them and possibly try to peck them. Still, overcrowding may encourage some quails to peck one another, possibly, in hope of removing external pests from one another.
Introduction of new birds with bad habits into an old flock with no bad habits may tempt the old birds to pick up such new bad habits from the new birds.
Lack of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus in the feeds may force the birds to peck elsewhere in their pursuit.
Mixing birds of different age groups may expose birds of younger age to bullying by birds of older age.
Incase they are laying eggs in a nesting box, presence of a bright light in the laying nests, may expose the laid eggs to pecking by female birds.
Female quails with disorders. Immediately a female quail lays an egg and then starts to move around even before its cloaca retracts, this might excite other birds to want to peck it.
Controlling Vices In Quail Birds:
Below are some precautionary measures you can take to control vices in quails:
Keep the birds busy by supplying them with green vegetables, hanged appropriately within their house. The vegetables or greens should be free from sprays of pesticides.
Keep the light around or within the laying boxes at minimum to block the hens from observing the laid eggs.
Collect eggs frequently from the nests i.e., two to three times in a day.
Cull and de-beak any noted cannibal within the flock.
Cull hens which exhibits prolapse.
Those whose cloaca takes time to retract, will stop tempting other birds from pecking affected birds.
Provide the birds with well-balanced and nutritious feeds, containing all the necessary nutrients and minerals they need.
Keep the birds according to their age groups to thwart bullying of younger birds by birds of older ages.
Keep the correct number of birds per housing unit with adequate balanced feeds and waterers provided.
Dust the birds regularly to effectively contain external parasites. It is proverbially connoted that prevention is better than cure.
Once quails are infected by any disease, below are the possible outcomes:
- Losing them to the disease.
- Incurring costly expenses on their treatments.
How to differentiate a female quail from a male quail?
If you intend to raise quails for either egg or meat production, you must be able to differentiate a female quail from a male one.
It would be painful to raise male quails and expect them to lay eggs sooner or later. Or to raise female quails and expect them not to lay eggs.
Below are four most common ways any beginner in quail farming can use to identify whether a quail is male or female.
By Examining The Physical Appearance:
On attaining maturity, female quails appear bigger in size than male quails of the same age and breed.
Examining Quail’s Vent/Cloacae:
This is one of the most effective way of distinguishing a male quail from a female quail.
There are two ways of examining the vent.
First, when you press the area around it with your two fingers, a small ball-like lump may pop forward suggesting the bird is male. If the ball-like lump fails to show up, then that would signify the bird is female.
Also, when you press the vent, you may see presence of some white foam coming out of it, suggesting the bird is male. The absence of that foam may signify the bird is female.
Roosting Of The Birds:
At five weeks, several male quails begin to roost (they begin to make some soft sound/ noise).
You can therefore, rely on the roosting to help you tell a male quail from a female quail. It’s the male birds that roost.
By Checking The Color Pattern On Quail’s Chest:
Female quails have speckled feathers on their chests while male quails have plain feathered chests.
However, this method is only applicable on quails which have already grown enough feathers usually at three weeks old and onwards.
It is also effective to use on quails with speckled feathers like the Cortunix.
Quail Breeding Setup:
There are two approaches you can consider in quail breeding namely Raising males and females together, and raising males and females in isolation.
Raising Male & Female Quail Birds Together:
You can opt to raise the females and males together (under one housing).
The best ratio to use is 4 or 5 cockerels to 12 hens. Or if using cages, then you can raise 3 females to a male per cage.
This Method Has Certain Advantages & Its Shortcomings As Well.
The Two Major Advantages Are:
It’s ideal to rely on if you wish to raise many birds for breeding (i.e., on a large scale).
Equally, it’s a good option in case you don’t have enough time to move cockerels into the hen’s cages/accommodation.
The Major Shortcoming Of This Approach Is:
There could be occasional fights between the males in the accommodation which would end up frightening/stressing the birds, resulting into low egg production, and irregular mating amongst the males and females resulting into irregular fertility of the eggs.
Raising Male & Female Quail Birds In Isolation:
The other approach is to raise the males and females in separate cages, but you must ensure you introduce the males into the female’s accommodation at appropriate times (twice or three times each day) to carry out their function.
While The Two Major Shortcomings Of This Method Are:
It’s time consuming.
Can be largely exercised on a small scale.
But the one major benefit you’ll enjoy exercising this method is the high fertility rate of the eggs from females.
Markets and Marketing Strategies For Quail Products:
It takes time, discipline and patience to extract gainful returns out of an investment in any business venture.
The main challenge faced by a majority of quail farmers is the crazy idea of trying to sell all their products in the same market, using similar sales and marketing strategies.
In the end, pricing eventually becomes a major issue. The lower the price, the higher the chances of making a sale. Shockingly, even making that sale becomes a matter of probability. It’s never guaranteed!
Let’s play a scenario where in a given area, all quail farmers are just focusing on one market, say a specific supermarket, to have their products sold there. What would happen in the long run? Eventually, there would be an oversupply of quail products in that supermarket, at unrealistically low prices (every one of them would be scrambling to make a sale).
This would finally lead to desperate sales acts by a number of the farmers, eventually leading to deaths of their dreams. So, many would be successful quail farmers have given up on quail farming venture simply because of what they perceive as lack of lucrative markets.
Truth is, the greatest secret to lucrative market for quail products is for any serious quail farmer to venture out and possibly create a market of their own.
Below are effective markets and marketing strategies any quail farmer can employ in order to yield profitable returns:
Join Quail Farming or Poultry Farming Groups
There are lots of quail farming groups that are on various social media platforms such as facebook, linked in, twitter, blogs, websites etc.
Start out by joining quail farming groups around your region (country). Thereafter, you can join the International ones.
Through such social forums, a quail farmer has an invaluable opportunity to meet fellow farmers who may either be looking for quail products, or may simply want to share/ exchange/ compare their vital quail farming experiences.
Through joining such groups, a quail farmer has unlimited room to learn more about quail farming from other’s experiences. Such groups provide vital forums for soliciting first hand experiences of other experienced farmers, as they freely share or compare their experiences, and or ask questions.
Joining such groups have provided avenues for most quail farmers to make that very important first sale. And it is in the making of that initial sale that any quail farmer would get the motivation to make relevant adjustments towards more sales in the future.
Finding a viable export market is every quail farmer’s nightmare. Almost every commercial quail farmer I have interacted with has this strong desire to export their products in exchange for the lucrative foreign currencies.
However, most of them dream of exporting larger quantities that they do not even produce in the first place.
Most quail farmers cannot reliably satisfy the demand of quails products within their regions of operations.
The untapped markets and potentials within their countries are still green and until they are able to fully satisfy local demand, they should never shift their focus to want to export the products to other countries.
China for a long time has been a major export destination for quail products. This has been due to the broad and unique Chinese cuisine, the country’s high population and unending innovative ways of utilizing quail products in several industries.
However, the main question is, how can anyone identify specific institutions, individuals or companies in need of importing quail products?
We live in interesting times where any information is now almost freely available over the internet. These are no periods of compiling a specific list of companies dealing in certain specific products and keeping it safe somewhere.
From my personal experience, the best way to identify a viable export market is via use of internet. Why would I advocate for use of internet? It’s because, most institutions today have an online presence. Therefore, it is easy to identify and locate specific companies, institutions and serious business people that may be in need of quail products via the internet.
All you need is some little time to search for information on any quail product you intend to export and in flash, all the relevant answers will pop out for you to decide. I honestly believe that use of internet is an effective and relevant way to locate viable export markets for quail products.
Theoretically, this may sound unfulfilling, but practically, it is worth trying.
However, when using internet, take note not to fall into the wrong hands of online fraudsters. Always find ways of verifying the authenticity of your export target before officially engaging them.
Engage Services of Sales/ Marketing Professional
If you have doubts in your sales and marketing capabilities, or want help in making a good number of sales, you can simply employ services of someone else, a professional in sales and marketing.
However, take note to only engage services of such persons if you have adequate stock or adequate supply of quail products. Equally, you should have adequate finances to compensate the person, based on contract agreement.
Out of personal experience, the best way to engage any sales professional is though working on an agreement on certain targets. In fact, there is a popular sales rule that figures don’t lie. Let the figures delivered by the sales person determine how much he/she should take home.
Target Local Supermarkets
Selling quail products to local supermarkets is every quail farmer’s dream idea. This is because of the many customers who shop in such places. It is therefore, a guarantee that any product stocked in any supermarket has to be seen by clients and may possibly be bought at the end of the day.
Truth is, supermarkets can be lucrative venues for selling quail products, if and only if fewer farmers make available their quail related products there.
However, if many farmers avail their products for sale, then it might not be all that lucrative.
There may be a scenario of much supply resulting into lower prices, to attract more sales and to create more room for addition of new stock.
Quail products intended for sale in supermarkets should be neatly packed and clearly labeled. Doing so will help you acquire more sales and sales leads and may expose a quail farmer to more sales opportunities.
Reach Out to Food Nutritionists
Due to quail’s meat being a favorite alternative source of white meat, the demand for the meat plus quail eggs has continued to register an increase in demand from an increasing number of food nutritionists.
Your task is therefore, to compile an up-to-date list of nutritionists in your region and inquire from them if they could be in need of any quail product.
One beautiful thing about working with nutritionists is that they are usually attached or linked to certain organizations or institutions.
If successful, you may end up getting links to such institutions and subsequently have more kill.
Target Specific Individual Households
Due to the continued recommendation of white meat over red meat by health experts, most nutrition savvy households are best positioned as reliable customers for quail products.
There are many families, world over, where a breakfast without an egg is regarded as no breakfast. If there are such families nearby and even others who may be frequent or even infrequent consumers of quail products, then try reaching out to them.
Stay alert and establish as many contacts as you possibly can.
Target Hospitals, Other Government & Private Institutions
As an alternative source of white meat and protein, most hospitals readily recommend to their ailing patients the consumption of quail meat over the common red meat.
Any serious quail farmer should find avenues of partnering with such nutrition savvy hospitals in order to make available quail products, should they be in need of any.
Equally, a number of government institutions are usually in demand for quail products to be consumed during breakfasts, lunch breaks, or when they congregate for meetings/conferences.
Any deal or contract secured by a farmer to supply quail products to such government or private institutions is usually rewarding.
Target Local Markets
Start selling quail products in local markets, especially in those areas/ local markets around where you stay. It is often said that good things are usually nurtured at home.
Then slowly, expand to other markets within the same region.
And finally you can target other markets in within your country, and then across the globe.
Dream big, start small and work on your progress.
Target Local and International Non-Governmental Organizations
There are several local and international non-governmental organizations working in drought prone areas. Equally, there are other NGO’s whose missions are nutrition based.
These and other similar NGO’s are usually good targets to sell quail products to. Get in touch with such organizations.
Target Agricultural Exhibitions
Try to find a space or stand whenever there are local agricultural exhibitions i.e. during local agricultural shows, agricultural related exhibitions, or any other forum or event that might attract the interest of consumers of quail products.
Being present in such events will help you build more useful contacts and help you generate more sales and sales leads.
Many successful quail farmers have benefitted a lot from being present in such similar exhibitions. Do not be left behind.
Give Free Sample Quail Products:
Whenever your neighbors, friends and relatives pay you a visit, give them a few samples of products from your quail farm.
Next time, some of these people may turn into your lifetime supporters (in form of clients).
There is a golden sales rule that people often would buy first from people they know or trust.
What you are doing by giving out free samples is building on that trust with potential clients.
And the end result will be to gain the trust and favorability of these clients.
Should they be in need of quail related products, you will be the first person they would want to contact.
Target Various Learning Institutions
There is a growing number of persons who have become millionaires in the quail farming venture.
Notably, due to the continued more positive economic impact of quail farming across the globe, several institutions of learning have continued to be in demand for a variety of quail birds, plus quail products for: breeding purposes, learning purposes and for consumption.
Look out for such institutions and tap into their demand stream.
Be An Effective Ambassador of Your Brand
Give out your quail farming testimony to your friends and relatives.
Equally, willingly mentor or guide other upcoming quail farmers, or persons interested in quail farming.
You never know when the gods of good luck might pay you a visit and reward your efforts.
Write emails, text your friends, create a website, develop a catchy and convincing sales pitch to help you eliminate possible sales resistance and to give you an edge over other quail farmers.
Aim to make your brand visible within your region. Look out for occasions like church functions, networking forums, group meetings or any other relevant event which might attract the attendance of consumers of quail products.
Woo Customers From Your Competition
We live in an era where customers are in unending pursuit of quality products and services from reliable and credible persons and institutions.
Use freebies to lure consumers from your competition, and find ways of retaining them for a longer duration, should they cross over.
Know what the competition is offering and try to outsmart their offer.
Equally, generate as many positive feedback from your satisfied clients as you can, and use those positive reviews to attract and retain new consumers from your competition.
Keep And Reward Your Current Customers And Find Avenues of Making Them Remain Loyal For Life
Be creative and think outside the box.
Find attractive ways of recruiting new customers whilst at the same time retaining the existing ones.
A success of any business venture is hinged on loyalty of its clients. If you must reward your clients in order to maintain their loyalty, then never hesitate in doing so.
But reward them calculatively, so that you do not run into any debt or even close shop due to avoidable losses.