Learn how one man turned his way around from smalltime backyard businessman to Central Luzon’s main man in quail egg trading.
For the past decade, the quail industry in the Philippine has become more than just a backyard business because of its economical production cost and easy-to-learn raising techniques. Global standards of the proper management of these birds are exercised both in Europe and Asia, where quails mostly thrive-giving Filipinos the freehand to adapt new methods and techniques imported from European and American countryside.
While the French and Italians take delight on serving quail meat on their dining tables, Asians variedly sell fresh, packed, shelled, canned or boxed quail eggs-considerably a scrumptious entrée and a well-known ingredient for masterpiece like cakes, mayonnaise, breads, leche flan and other pastries. Nowadays, we enjoy it through what we call kwek-kwek.
Though not as massively money-spinning like other major poultry industries, it can be a sound source of income, too. Manny Castillo of MS Castillo Trading is an active testament of its prosperity.
Usually, quails nurture their own eggs but other breeds like the bobwhite do not naturally incubate, hence the need for an incubator. If you decide to use one, study carefully the instructions to avoid problems. NSW identifies two incubators commonly used. The still-air and forced-draught or fan ventilated incubators. Still-air incubating temperature of 38.3 degrees centigrade for the first week, 38.8 degrees centigrade for second week and not exceeding 39.5 degrees centigrade until hatching is completed. Humidity is important in small still-air incubators, thus avoid opening the incubator unless you need to turn the eggs. The eggs must be turned by hand three to five times a day and put a mark on the eggs to connote the number of turns. It is advised to transfer the eggs to different locations in the incubator in case the temperature is not consistent. To prevent newly hatched chicks to slump in hatching trays, crowd the eggs or attach cheesecloths to the bottom of the hatching tray before the hatch.
Forced -draft or fan ventilated incubators should have a maintaining temperature of 37.5 degrees centigrade and a relative humidity of 60% until the 14th day. The NSW suggest turning of eggs every 2 to 4 hrs to prevent embryos from sticking to the shell. On the 14th day, candle and remove any cracked eggs or dead embryos. Transfer the eggs to the hatching trays and stop turning. If there is a separate hatcher, maintain its temperature at 37.2 degree centigrade with relative humidity of 70%. The incubator should not be opened during the hatching process. If all procedures have been followed the chicks may be removed on the 17th or 18th day.
Incubation without using these machines is also possible. Gather quail eggs and put them under a hen. Remove all chicken eggs and wait for 17-18 days for hatching.
It may take ten hours for chicks to fully pop out from their shells. After hatching, the incubator should be cleaned, disinfected and fumigated.
Though quails are hardy and resistant to diseases, they can still be affected with common poultry illnesses. Proper sanitation is the primary solution to avoid all health problems and regularly disinfecting the equipment is highly recommended. Birds that appear sick should be quickly separated and immediately take out dead birds. Consult a veterinarian or an animal expert for a guaranteed health safety.
Quail bronchitis is one of the most common diseases of quails. According to Merck Veterinary manual (MerckVet), quail bronchitis is naturally occurring, highly contagious and a fatal respiratory disease. It affects quails of different ages that are maintained on the same premises.
The disease is caused by adenovirus that instantly affects the respiratory tract of the birds. It also affects the liver and intestine of the birds. Clinical signs include respiratory distress, coughing and sneezing. Loose, watery droppings are common in some acutely affected older birds.
The disease is often self limiting. There is no specific treatment and experimental vaccines have proven ineffective. However, increasing the brooder temperature by 1.5 to 3 degrees centigrade and avoiding contact between older and younger birds and other avian species are of value, as are strict isolation and sanitation can be an effective solution. Immunity is long lasting, possibly for life and recovered birds can be retained for breeders. New birds should not be introduced to premises without a 30-day quarantine.
This infection is also identified by MerckVet as common among quails. This affects the heart, liver, muscle and lungs. Mortality can be as high as 78% particularly in bobwhite quails. This infection is very perilous as it can cause sudden death without clinical signs. However, experts tell that if birds show anemia, lameness, poor growth and weakness, it should be given treatment such as antimalarial drugs or medicines containing chloroquine (5 milligrams per kilogram) and buparvaquone (2.5 milligrams per kilogram).
Ulcerative enteritis is an acute highly contagious disease of quails caused by the bacterium Clostridium colinum and characterized by the ulcers of the intestine. It can cause 100% mortality in quails. According to the Poultry Site, transmission of diseases is from feces of sick and carrier birds through flies. Birds affected by this disease show listlessness, retracted neck, drooping wings, partially closed eyes, ruffled feathers, diarrhea, anemia and watery white feces. The poultry site recommends treatment of Streptomycin (44 gm/100 liters of water0, Bacitracin, tetracyclines, penicillin (50 to 100 ppm in feed), amoxicillin and vitamins. Response to treatment should be seen within 48 to 96 hours.
Quails are also affected by salmonella, lice, cholera and blackheads which can easily be treated.
The MSU states that many strains of the disease causing bacteria have been isolated and some strains have shown high resistance to the more beneficial drugs we use. Good management practices will help reduce the severity of these outbreaks. The institution therefore recommends the following practices:
Keep water trough clean or use nipple waterers.
Do not let visitors into the bird producing areas.
Clean and disinfect all equipment before taking it near the birds.
Do not bring any new birds onto the premises. If you need to increase flock size, hatch chicks from purchased eggs or eggs you produce.
Additionof 6-10 pounds of salt to each 100 square feet of litter or growing area has been reported to reduce ulcerative enteritis outbreaks.
Maintain a good insect pest and rodent control program to reduce disease spread.
Wear clean clothes and disinfect footwear before entering quail rearing facilities.
MSU emphasizes that most disease outbreaks are spread by the bird caretaker, not by the birds. Precautions you take to prevent the disease from entering the premises will be much more rewarding than trying to “treat’ yourself out of a disease problem/
A great source of extra income
Though investments may not be as big compared to chickens, it can nevertheless be a good source of extra money. From egg to becoming an egg producer, quails can generate money within two months as it will only take 57 days to fully grow and produce eggs again. Broiler quails can be sold 35 days after it has been hatched. Sixteen days after it has hatched, quails can again lay eggs within 41 days.
If you decided to raise 100 quails with a 70% egg producing capacity, it is guaranteed to produce 70 eggs in one day. Eggs are now sold at 0.75 pesos each. A rule of thumb that still applies with regard to profitability of a quail venture is that for every thousand of quail population, the net income per day should be 100 pesos. So if you have 10,000 heads you have daily net income of 1,000 pesos. This covers all the costs including depreciation.
Quails can be profitable if well-taken care of. We strongly recommends consulting an expert first before engaging in the business to ensure amore productive and profitable quail raising.
*** sources: New South Wales Food Authority, Michigan State University Cooperative Extension, The Poultry Site, Merck Veterinary Manual, Livestock Development council and Bureau of Animal Industry.
Source: MARID Agribusiness February 2007
For the latest agricultural trends please buy MARID Agribusiness digest available in National Bookstore nationwide.
The New South Wales Food Authority (NSW) is recommending the following for a suitable quail cage:
For cage contrition , a 7 millimeter welded wire mesh is recommended to provide secure footing, prevent leg injuries and prevent chicks from escaping through side walls. A 13 x 20 centimeter pen is large enough to house at least two birds. The cage should have a solid metal or plywood roof to minimize head injuries should the birds fly.
Adult quail will live and produce abundantly if they are allowed to move at 145 square centimeters of floor space per bird (125 centimeter square per bird on wire floors).
Adult quail need 1.25 to 2.5 cm of feeder space per bird. Feed should not exceed from the allotted space to avert wastage. Cut a 1″ inch mesh-welded wire and lay it on the feeder as a cover to prevent spilage.
Clean, fresh water should be provided at all times with a minimu of 0.6 cm of trough space per quail. One nipple or cup should be provided for every 5 birds.
The BAI also recommends building small cages (2 feet x 4 feet x x 1 foot) with four levels with a distance each of 3 to 4 in cages. Hence, quails can be safely kept on the roofs, basement or in the attic.
It is best to provide more space for birds to reduce or eliminate odor problems.
Feed management and nutrition
Through chicken feeds can be fed to quails, it is not always advisable. According to the LDC, protein requirements of chicken and quails are different, thus improper feeding can greatly affect the quails performance and productivity.
The LDC says that pugo cannot survive on chicken feeds for a long time and if ever they will survive, the mortality rate will be very high that can reach up to 70% from day old to 45 days. Moreover, the growth of the birds is very uneven and the survivors will not be efficient layers.
Thus, NSW suggests that quails in their firs six weeks should be fed with crumbles containing 25-28% protein and 1% calcium for the first six weeks. The dietary requirement for maturing quails should contain 24-26% protein and high phosphorous and calcium. Adding limestone in starter rations or mash is advised for resilient egg shells. For more information consult your nearest agricultural office or veterinary area.
Feed supply should be available 24 hours daily.
The freshness of feed is very important and should be stored in well-covered containers with tight lids kept in clean, dry and cool area free from pests and other microbes. Feed stored longer than eight weeks is prone to vitamin deterioration and rancidity. You can concoct your own feed premixes for a cutback on your feed expenses. Consult your feed supplier or an expert for the preparations.
In the absence of feeds, quails can be fed with insects, grains and various other seeds.
Brooding and care of the young quails
The Michigan State University cites the following pointers on caring for the young:
Never allow the young to get cold.
The brooder temperature should be maintained at 34 degrees Celsius
The temperature of 34 degrees Celsius should be maintained continuously in the brooder for the first week; after that the temperature can be decreased by 5 degrees every until the fourth week.
A regular light bulb (50-60 watts0 infrared bulb or any other heating unit canbe used as a heat source. For small-scale operations, a light bulb will provide both heat and light. It is necessary to keep a thermometer to regularly check the temperature. But if you don’t have one, wathc the behavior of the chicks for a while to determine whether they are too cold , too hot or just right. If the the temperature is too cold, they will huddle together under the heat source; if it is too hot , they will walk away fromt heheat source.
Quail geared for early maturity and better egg production should be given a 24-hour period of daylight for the firs four weeks using an incandescent light bulb.
Placing a sheet of paper under the cage floor will make cleaning easier. However, never use a smooth paper since it is slippery that can injure the birds. Use newspaper, towel paper or similar material.
Use ventilation for the young. This also goes for the adults.
A balanced ration high in protein should be given to the chicks. TO prevent feed spillage, float a wire mesh on top of the feeder for the first few days.
Always keep plenty of fresh water in a waterer inside the brooder. Take safety measures to prevent chicks from drowning. Placing a wire mesh (half inch size) cut in donut shape on tip of the waterer prevents chicks from falling and getting drowned. tHe cup of the waterer should be filled with disinfected or sanitized marbles or pebbles to keep the water down.
Clean the waterer, check the feeder and change the litter. Remove the litter daily to avoid odor problems.
At the end of the fourth week, transfer the chicks to the floor or cages.
De-beak the chick to prevent cannibalism. Use a nail clipper to remove the tip of the beak of the pugo chick when about 2 weeks of age.
Pugo requires 14 to18 hours of light per day to assure maximum egg production. Male quails or any quails grown for meat intake can be given 8 hours of low-intensity light per day. This lighting discourages birds to engage in activities such as fighting and mating, thus, making them fatter.
Quails that lay eggs early should be separated and be used as breeder while those which lay eggs the very last (or tabhle egg layers) should be increased for egg production.
According to BAI, if female quails do not respond to the males’ “mating call” which is usually based on its hoarse and shaky voice, this signifies that they are not happy or satisfied with their mates. It is therefore important to take note of the males’ capacity to co-produce to expand the brood. The usual population ratio is 70 female against 30 males. To make sure that you have the sufficient number of quails, check your birds. If female quails have feathers on the back, it is certain that there are enough males; if there are few males, the females will fight. However, there are situations that female quails do not fight evenif there isn’t a single male. This is proven with table egg layers where it is separated and taken care of without a male.
The extra custody in picking quails as they panic easily and struggle when caught. Excessive handling can hurt or even kill them. If laying quails are transferred. Expect a gap in production for about 2 to 3 weeks as they are in the adjustment period. Avoid introducing new breeds (for example, putting a Japanese seattle toa negro group) into an establish group.
Pre-incubation egg care
Success in quails starts with good pre-incubation stage. MSU enumerates the following steps to take care of eggs prior to incubation:
Collect eggs 2 to 3 times a day if birds are raised in colony cages or on the floor to prevent egg shells from cracking.
Handle eggs very carefully, quail eggs are thinner than chicken eggs.
Eggs stored prior to incubation should be kept in cool place at approximately 13 degrees centigrade and about 70% humidity.
Do not hold eggs more than 7 days prior to incubation, as hatchability will be reduced considerably after that.
If eggs have to be stored for a considerable time, cover them with polyethylene plastic bag to help prevent drying of egg content.
Fumigate the eggs after they are collected within 12 hours after they being placed in the fumigator . Do not fumigate eggs that are 2 to 5 days old.
Source: Marid Agribusiness January 2007
For the latest agricultural trends please buy MARID Agribusiness digest available in National Bookstore nationwide.
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
For the latest agricultural trends please buy Marid Agribusiness digest available in National Bookstore nationwide.