Small in Size, Big in Profit
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.
Manny’s quail business started small, in 1995. Back then, he was still reporting for an 8-to-5 job, joggling his full-time and part-time responsibilities. He continued, ”I had no background on quail raising whatsoever. I came from different types of jobs-from automotive mechanic, certified electrician, to a livestock facility staff and the Army Corse employee-and it was tricky at first having to go into a business which I had no idea about how it would turn-out.”
He used the age-old trial-and-error method, starting with merely 1000 eggs, which he transported from Bulacan where he lived, to Manila where he was working. It was a surprise to him that people actually bought them and that’s when it hit him: there certainly is a market for these small but adored eggs.
It was 1996 when he finally decided to quit his job and dedicate his time to seriously cultivating the backyard business. He started raising quails himself, alongside mixing his own feeds, selling poultry medicines and putting up a hatchery where he could monitor the eggs.
Going above and beyond
“The business got stronger and the demand for quail eggs bloomed so fast,” he said, “That’s why I started trading. I had breeder quails which I sold to different neighboring farms in Bulacan that had no existing markets. I supplied these farms cages, feeds and medicines, and I harvested all their quail eggs in return.”
The initial capital of P500 for the 1000 eggs he once started with grew four to fivefold that he was forced to apply all his skills as a mechanic and an electrician to drive the eggs to Manila and put up more hatcheries to accommodate more layers and breeders.
“In fact,” he said, “present, I have a stock of one million eggs at home. That’s above and beyond the other one million I’m able to come up every week.”
since people started diverting to more affordable and healthier alternatives to chicken eggs and meat, a niche in the quail market quickly established itself. Though Manny had been taking deliveries of quails to different parts of the country, the quail eggs had a specific destination: Central Luzon, thus his link with the Central Luzon Quail Raisers Association.
“The business is very smooth-flowing and the marketing problems simply revolve around oversupplying and finding the right price. Currently, all my other colleagues have given up on the business. The association now is made up of a few players and me. But that doesn’t mean competition is getting easy. There are other associations and other major competitors that are for more experienced than I am,” Manny continued.
Though MS Castillo Trading has been in the map for over ten years now, every working day for Manny is a learning process. Usually, the quail eggs are sold at 70 centavos a piece, sometimes 75. The orders range from per thousands or hundreds, but with his existing clients, he delivers them ten to fifty thousand twice a week, broken and cracked eggs are included.
The importance of being constant
“Since I started part-time, I started with a pretty small capital. I didn’t have a lot to lose. Going head-to-head with other competitors and full-time into the industry is reasonable if and only if you can remain constant. Start with bulk orders-preferably ten thousand and up-so when pailing season comes, you’ll have enough to start another year.”
Quails eggs aren’t really complex and difficult to manage. For starters, they are actually classified into two: table and breeder eggs. The ones we consume are table eggs, while the breeder eggs are used for hatching birds to become breeders in the future. Identifying the two is relevant for production and separating the two thru different caging methods is suitable.
An egg is composed of 74% water, 13% protein, 11% fat, 1% carbohydrate, 1% ash and contains a 650 kJ per 100-gram liquid consumption. Once broken, it takes two days before it accumulates foul odor, 10 to 15 if cracked and an entire month if it’s whole and healthy, depending on the ventilation of the egg; thus the warning you see in egg carts, “keep in a cool and dry place”.
Quails can generate investment within two months, as it only takes up to 60 days for it to fully grow and produce eggs once again. Sixteen days after hatching, quails can again lay eggs within 40 days. Should one decide to raise 100 quails with a 70% egg-producing capacity, it is guaranteed to supply up to 70 eggs a day.
Even now at the peak of his business, Manny still advices to follow rules of thumb and conventional techniques that taught him the principles of profit and loss. Many continued, “Luck, in my experience, played a big part in the quail egg business, but a good layer and a good season is not dictated by chance alone. Pure perseverance is enough to turn doubts to fruits of success.”
Marid agribusiness digest
Vol. 18 *December 2007