Quail was first introduced in India in 1974 from California. Broiler quail can be sold at 5 weeks. Quail start laying eggs at the age of 6 weeks and continue laying eggs up to 24 weeks of age. It becomes mature at the age of six to seven weeks then start laying eggs with a high rate of clutch up to 280. Due to its small size, it requires minimum space for rearing with low capital.
The Breeding stock
Fertility and hatchability were directly proportional to the egg weight. There are two generalized methods practised for quail breeding. The one is with mix population of male and female quail with 1:2.5 ratios. This method is used for large-scale production but with a disadvantage of irregular laying rate. Aggressive pecking by males in the breeding group has also seen reported. The other method is to keep individual male and females separately and cross them periodically. It is a good method for practising on small-scale breeding for achieving high fertility rate and breeding quality.
The domesticated quail has lost the instinct of nesting, so the only way of breeding quail in an incubator or an alternative is to place the eggs under a broody hen for hatching. To reduce infection rate, eggs have been collected 3 to 5 times in a day, and only healthy looking strong shell without cracks or damage are kept to be incubated. The cool and dry place is used for storage, the egg trays with the storing temperature between 12-17 degree Celsius and the relative humidity around 70-80 per cent.
Above 18 degree Celsius, development of the little embryos begins, and hatching eggs become useless, so it’s essential to maintain the temperature because under- incubating (low temperature) results in late hatching and over-incubating (high temperature) results early hatching both conditions affect the chick health and immunity. After first 7days, eggs need to examine the fertile eggs, and empty quail eggs should be removed to prevent the transfer of infections onto the healthy eggs.
After incubation of complete 15thday, turning mechanism should be stopped, the temperature is maintained on 37.5 degree Celsius and hatching begins with 16th day while most of the egg gets hatched in 17 days. Any quail chick which hatched after 18th day has minimal chances to survive. It is necessary to keep the chick in the incubator until they become dry and fluffy and then, they should be placed into the preheated brooder up to 24 hours for preventing them early infection and death.
Raising Quail Chicks
Quail chicks are susceptible and need artificial heat and light management system for 2 to 3 weeks from birth. Adequate temperature, light exposure with proper airy place having enough hygienic space and feeding plays a vital role in healthy development. The weight of the egg is 6.7-13.8 gm. Quails require about 16-18 hours of light for optimum production of eggs. The proportion of yolk (the yellow inside part) to albumen (the white part) is 39:61 and is higher compared to chicken eggs.
The female lays eggs every 16-24 hours for 8-12 months during the first year. Second-year egg production is 48% of the first year’s production and falls drastically in subsequent years.