Raising Quails Part 1
By: Gemma C. Delmo
A native of Europe and Asia, the Pugo (Coturnix coturnix) has been one of the early cultivated birds during the ancient times particularly in the Far East. Remarkable for its breeding capacity and egg production, quails are also disease-resistant and easy to grow since they do not require a large area. A simple cage and a little equipment are enough to raise a significant number of quails that can be an ideal source of livelihood and food for small families.
Quail meat is popular in Europe while its eggs are a favorite fare among Asians. In Japan and most parts of Asia, quail eggs are variedly sold-fresh, packed, shelled, canned or boxed. On the other hand, charcoaled-cooked quail meat is much-love cuisine among the Spanish, French, Italians and Americans.
In global standards, the smaller quails are used for egg production while the bigger ones are culled for meat. Ideal weight to cull quail should reach 100 grams. On the other hand, mottled brown eggs are considered to be of the best quality since it is easier to candle (The process of checking eggs under the candle or nay flickering light to confirm its interior quality before they hatch), a delectable entrée and a quality ingredient in making cakes, mayonnaise and many others. A fine quail egg weight 10 grams.
In the Philippines, quails are becoming increasingly popular due to its inexpensive production cost and easy raising methods. Since there is not much difference in growing quails abroad, Filipinos have already adapted the new techniques from the West. Quail meat is now being consumed by more Filipinos as it is perceived to be more nutritious than chicken because of its low cholesterol and fat content. Quail eggs are prepared in different delicacies and are now a major ingredient in making breads, leche flan and other pastries.
The strains of local quails came from the original breed called “Old world quail” which originated from Europe and transferred from one place to another which spawned diverse quail species world wide. But the most commercially raised specie is the coturnix or literally known as “quail of commerce” due to its tastier meat and quality eggs as compared to other varieties.
Pugo are proven to be more productive when cultured in areas with temperature ranging from 31 to 35 degrees centigrade. This makes the Philippines an ideal growing site. The Bureau of Animal industry has identified the following pugo commonly raised in our country:
Native – this can be found in forests or in the woods . This is the common quail and not suitable for commercial raising.
Japanese Taiwan – also known as the Chinese quail. Its feathers are brown with specks of white and gray. Female quails have tan-colored throats and breast while the mature males have reddish brown breasts and throats.
Japanese Seatlle – This strain came from America and is similar to the Japanese Taiwan which alsohas rusty to reddish brown breasts.
Negro- ash black to black in color
Tuxedo- black and white spot on the breast
Silver- a combination of black and white in the eye area andbelieved to have come from the Canaan valley of Egypt.
The BAI recommends all quails except the native and Japanese Taiwan. The Japanese Taiwan is popularly bred in the Philippines but the eggs are small compared to other quails. This breed is also not a good egg producer and is disease-prone. Beginners are advised to start with the Japanese Seattle because it is a prolific egg layer and its male breeds can be easily identified 30 days after it has hatched. In this way. A raiser can save on his deeds because male quails can be separated and can be sold as a “small broiler” for meat consumption.
Expert advice to buy quality breeds from a trusted quail raiser (consult the bureau of Animal industry, livestock development council and from MARID agribusiness digest). As of September 2006, chicks can be bought for as low as 6.00pesos each to as high as 25 for a 30-day old pullets.
Properly reared female quails can produce 200 to 300 eggs in a year beginning from their sixth week and good nourishment can develop the females fertility for another year. Quails eggs are priced at 0.75 pesos. On the other hand, quail meat can be sold to as much as 100 pesos per kilo.
Size of flock
Since quails expand rapidly, a beginner can start with 1,000 30 day old pullets for an ample egg and meat production. Initial investment can start from 30,000 up to 100,000 for a large scale production.
Raising quails is similar to chicken rearing but will only occupy a small area. Quail cages- though small and usually located in garages- should be well ventilated and be protected from temperature disturbances such as extreme heat or chilly season. It should also be protected from predatory animals such as birds, rodents and cats. Quails should not be let loose as they don’t have a homing instinct and will get lost if they are released. It is therefore important to build cages or houses for the quails.
If the birds are raised for hobby, they can be raised on the floors but if they are for eggs or meat, the should be in cages. According to the Michigan State university cooperative extension, there are three cages built for quails:Pedigree cages measuring 5″x 8″ x10″ can hold a pair of quail while the colony cages of 2 ft x 2 ft x 10 inches will hold to 25 adult quails while a 2 ft x 4 ft x10 inches can house 50 adult.
Source: Marid Agribusiness December 2006
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