Quails are wonderful birds and their popularity is increasing rapidly. They are generally kept for their delicious eggs, meat and also raised as pets. Breeding quail is generally easy, but it can be difficult sometimes. Because it can be hard to get some quails broody. Although some breeders say it’s easy to breed quails and will often hatch out a log more chicks than you may have expected. Quail tend to behave somewhat differently under the care of human breeders. Breeding quail can be hard sometimes, because you will have to have a lot of space to house the birds and you also have to spend a lot of time and money on feed, water and housing. However, breeding quail will be easy if you have an incubator. Here we are describing more about how to breed quail, and the required facilities for breeding quail.
Essentials for Breeding Quail
Ensure You Have Enough Money and Time
For successful breeding of quail you must have to have enough time and money. Decide whether you are ready for this or not. You have to spend a lot of money on water, feed and housing. You will also need to have a lot of space for housing your birds.
Ensure You Have Enough Space
You will need a large space for breeding quail. Although quails are smaller sized birds and they don’t require much space. But breeding quails require pretty much space. Each breeding quail will require at least 1 square foot of floor space. If they are not given enough space, then your birds will not lay much eggs due to stress from confinement.
Try to place the cage or house for your birds in a calm environment. Because quails generally need to be in a peaceful and undisturbed area. They need calm environment for laying eggs and also for start breeding. It will be better if the environment is free from predators, loud noises, high traffic and other birds or animals.
Quails generally require between 13 and 16 hours of lighting period daily. You can hang a light above their cage. 13-16 hours of lighting period daily will increase the quail’s egg production. Never keep the lights on for all day and night. Because breeding quails require some dark period for sleeping.
Provide Bedding and Nesting Materials
Provide some straw or hay for your birds. Quails actually need to build nests before they lay eggs or hatch out chicks. Sometimes quails lay eggs in peculiar spots or around their cage rather than in their nests. They generally lay about 5-7 eggs and then clutch them together in their nest and sit on them. Both male and female quails generally sit on the eggs. You can also give nesting box for your quail along with providing straw and hay. Plastic pots, container or small cardboard boxes will be good as nesting box for the quails, as long as they have an entrance to them. It will be good if the nesting box is a bit bigger than the quail, and the quail should be able to fit through the entrance/hole.
The optimum temperature for keeping a breeding pen is around 21 °C. The male quails tend to lose interest in breeding once the temperature drops below 16 °C and also during spells of very hot weather. Breeding quail during spring or summer will ensure better result. Quails generally start to mate and nest during spring and summer. Although some quail breed can breed year round.
You can easily hatch quail eggs by using an incubator. Although you can let your birds hatch out the eggs. And it may be more easy to let the birds to hatch the chicks as they will do the work for you and you will not have to have an incubator. Although some quail don’t make good parents and some are hard to get broody. Depending on the species, quail eggs will take between 16 and 23 days to hatch. In case of hatching eggs with an incubator, all species will require a temperature of 37.5 °C at the center of the eggs, decreasing slightly to 37 °C once they start to hatch on the final days. The optimum humidity during the incubation period is 45 percent, increasing to 80 percent during the hatch. Quail eggs are difficult to candle due to the mottled shells. So most of the people will just run the incubator until hatch time is reached without candling.
Keeping Breeding Quail
Choose Healthy Quails
Always try to choose healthy and active quails to breed. You can choose healthy quails either from your existing flock from purchase from a store. You must have to choose the healthiest bird you can find. Healthy quails will be active, lively, play around and they will be quite curious and looking cautious. They will eat properly, drink water occasionally and peck at bits of food or any nearby bugs.
Choose Birds of At Least 6 Weeks of Age
While choosing breeding quail, ensure the birds are at least 6 weeks old. Quails which are less than 6 weeks old will probably not be lying eggs.
Male to Female Ratio
Keeping one male for 2-5 female quails will ensure good result. But never exceed 5 females per male. It will be good if you can keep each male and his females separate from others. Because if you keep too many males in a flock, then they will compete for the females and kill each other. So keeping the males separated from each other will keep safe from fighting.
Feed your breeding quail with high quality feeds. High quality feeds will help your birds to stay healthy and produce healthy chicks. You can purchase ready-made quail feed from any of your nearest pet shop or animal feed supply store.
Ensure Good Environment
Ensure calm and undisturbed environment for your birds. Your birds will soon start mating, nesting and sitting on eggs if they are kept undisturbed. Occasional check up is fine as long as you are calm and quiet.
You can either use an incubator or let your birds to hatch.
Let the Birds to Hatch
You can use your birds to hatch their eggs. In this case, do not touch or mess with the eggs unless emergency (the birds might discard them). If you notice that your birds are laying eggs separately, then leave them. They are making a clutch before they sit on them. Depending on the breed it will take between 16 and 23 days for the eggs to hatch once the hen has started sitting on them. After 17th day of sitting, check on your birds more often. Because after 17th day the chicks will be close to hatching.
Separate the Hen and Her Chicks From the Flock
Keep the hen and her chicks separated from the flock. Other quails, especially can attack or peck at the chicks. And this cause serious injuries. It will be better if you can keep the hen and her chicks in a warm place with bedding, water and food. And placing a heat-lamp in the area will be good. Although the hen will keep her chicks warm naturally.
Feeding the Chicks
Feed the chicks with starter feed. A chicken starter with around 28 percent of protein will be good for the quail chicks. Such starter food will ensure that your chicks will grow into strong and healthy birds.
Ensure availability of fresh and clean water. Use smaller sized water bowl so that the chicks are not at the risk of drowning.
Separate Male and Female Chicks
Separate male and female birds once they have reached 6 weeks of age. You can separate male and females by using vent system, looking at the feathers, observing their behavior and also by listening to their voice. Separating males from the females is necessary for preventing fighting.
Move to Cage
Move the birds to a cage after their 6 weeks of age. You can either put them in a spacious pen or keep them in a simple rodent cage. Follow the steps mentioned above for breeding a new flock of quail.