Quails are small social birds that prefer to spend most of their time on the ground looking for tasty bugs, insects and seeds. Coturnix quail is one of the favorite dual purpose quail breed that is good for both meat and eggs.
These birds are the best to raise on an urban setting because they demand very little space. They can be kept in quail cages stacked on top of one another and be fine.
Rabbit hutches and garages too can offer good shelter for those who want to keep these little nuggets. A flock of coturnix quails will eat less feeds and drink less amounts water compared to chickens and other types of poultry.
They mature fast and are ready for slaughter and laying at about 6 to 7 weeks old. Expect less noise but just the quail cock screech as compared to the noisy dawn crows by your friendliest rooster.
History of the Coturnix quail
Coturnix quail or Pharaoh Quails trace their ancestry from the Chinese quails that were exported to Japan. Here, continuous breeding was carried out which led to the development of the modern Coturnix quail.
These birds are widely spread in Asia, America and even in the New Zealand. Coturnix quails are closely related to pheasants, grouse, partridges and chickens.
They are very common in grasslands and thickets where they hide from predators like hawks and possums. Coturnix quails that live freely on the wild depend on these kinds of habitats for food and shelter.
These little buddies are also common near grain fields especially during the harvesting season. At this time, their main diet mainly comprises of grains like wheat, sorghum, rice and millet.
Coturnix quail varieties
Just like chickens, a quail breed can be found in different varieties. The difference may be brought about by color, size and the place where they are found. These critters are found in different varieties like:
Jumbo coturnix quails are large in size and mature fast. These birds are mainly preferred for meat because of their body size. On average, a mature jumbo quail can weigh between 10 to 16 ounces.
This quail variety was developed to mature fast than heritage quails just like broiler chickens. However, they are mainly raised in the dark so that they can convert every calorie into flesh and cannot lay eggs due to lack of light.
Texas A & M
This is another large breed of quail. It was developed after years of selective breeding in order to come up with a bird that could offer much meat just like the Jumbo quail.
Texas A & M quail breed is white in color and has a white skin. Their meat dresses clean and free from any pin feathers making the carcass of a high quality.
Mature Texas A & M quails weigh between 10 to 14 ounces.
The golden coturnix is also referred to as the Manchurian golden coturnix quail. They are a special color variation that is golden and appear more solid in males than in quail hens.
Females are slightly darker with stripes of brown and red as well as patterns of colors on the face. They are slightly smaller than other quail breeds and are mainly raised for eggs because they are prolific layers.
Tibetan coturnix quail
Tibetan quails are known for their hardiness and aggressive nature. These birds are very spirited and slightly smaller than other coturnix strains.
These quails are good for both meat and eggs but very few people raise them for this reason. They are hard to tame hence preferred for hunting and at 8-12 weeks they are released on the wild for sporting. They are strong and make super flyers.
This quail breed is also known to some as White coturnix or the white quail. Females and males look identical and it is hard to distinguish between the two. However, females are slightly bigger in size than the males.
They have dark eyes, pink legs and beak. Some English white coturnix quails may have dark spots on the head and back.
Appearance of the Coturnix quail
Quails are small birds that are slightly smaller than most bantam chickens. Coturnix quails are mostly common in brown but they come in other color varieties like golden, cream, white and black.
They are light in weight and mature males weigh between 3.5 to 4.5 ounces while hens weigh between 4.2 to 5.5 ounces.
Most coturnix quails have dark eyes although the eye color may vary between varieties. They have short thin legs and have a height of 12 to 20cm.
They have short and strong wings that help them to flee by flying when frightened. These birds are not very noisy especially the hens but males can sometimes make a loud screech.
Temperament and Hardiness
Coturnix quails are calm, docile and friendly. They pose no threats to kids but are not the best type of poultry to be handled by little kids because they are sensitive and can easily die.
These birds are very skittish and caution is important when approaching them. They are easily frightened and take it to the air as they try to flee for their lives.
When they fly inside a quail coop, these birds can easily injure one another or hit the ceiling and fall or land hard on the floor. When hand raised, they became used to humans trust them and enjoy their company.
Coturnix quails are very hardy. These little nuggets can withstand both cold weather and extreme heat. This makes raising quails easy in every climate because they can do well.
Egg laying and Uses
Coturnix quails are raised for both meat and eggs as dual purpose birds. They are good layers of 200 to 300 tiny eggs that are about 1/5th of a standard chicken egg.
Quails raised in the North Pole may lay more eggs when the period of light is longer than that of darkness. However, the same birds may stop laying during the long period of darkness and in turn convert every calorie into flesh.
On average, these birds require about 10 to 14 hours of light for eggs to fully form in their bodies. During the long periods of darkness, light can be supplemented by use of red bulbs.
Laying quails mature very early and within 7 to 8 weeks of age they are ready to lay. Coturnix quail eggs are cream in color with dark to brown spots and dots all over the shell. The egg shape is similar to that of chicken eggs only that it is small in size.
In addition to that, coturnix quail eggs take 15 to 17 days to hatch. This incubation period is less compared to that of chickens and ducks that takes 21 days and 28 days respectively.
After hatching, coturnix chicks are tiny yellow balls that are not big than the thumb finger. They can have dark or brown spots depending on the color variety at hatching.
Coturnix quail chicks for sale are available in hatcheries like Cackle and from other dedicated enthusiasts who breed these birds. These birds make awful moms and you will be required to power your egg incubator or use a Silkie chicken to hatch and foster the baby quails.
Coturnix Quail meat
Because they mature early, coturnix quails are good for meat. You do not have to wait for months for these little birds to mature.
Their meat is tad and full of deep gamey flavors and contains more nutrients and vitamins than chicken meat. Quail meat is also low in calories and fats making it very healthy and nutritious to eat.
The lifespan of a Coturnix Quail
Quails roaming freely in the wild have a lifespan of 1 to 3 years. On their own, these birds have the responsibility of finding their own food, water and shelter. They are also faced with a challenge of making sure they are secure and safe from predation.
However, the life of a coturnix quail in the wild can be short if it is overwhelmed by poor health, famine and predators.
In captivity, coturnix quails may live from 4.5 to 6 years. Moreover, those quails raised as pets may enjoy living for long until they succumb to old age.
If quails are raised for meat, they will only have a few weeks to live and as soon as they attain the right market weight their fate ends on the grill.
Coturnix quails are hardy, robust and strong birds. They can do well in cold and hot weather without suffering from any serious health issues.
Because their feathers are tightly packed close to the body, these quails are prone to common chicken mites and lice.
Small amounts of diatomaceous earth can be used on the quail dust baths to help control these notorious parasites.
Diatomaceous earth powder works by dehydrating body oils and moisture from mites and lice thus killing them.
If these parasites are left to multiply, they suck blood and damage the growing feathers. Infested quails are malnourished and prone to other health issues which lead to low yields and even death.
Another possible heath issue is egg binding. This comes as a result of quail hens laying many eggs. This damages their reproductive tract and may lead to death.
Internal parasites like the common poultry worms are common. These parasites can attack Mountain quails as well as coturnix quails.
They can be controlled by regular deworming using the recommended drugs as directed by a qualified bird vet near you.
Wrap up Thoughts
Raising coturnix quails can be easy and fun. These birds are hardy and can eat a wide range of foods. They are not prone to diseases and will only require that little space or an old rabbit hutch and make a nice quail house.
These birds are faithful layers of those tiny quail eggs that are a yummy snack for both you and your loved ones. They require no special tools like quail nesting boxes and can lay on the litter or beddings.
Having these birds will make your fridge full of nutritious white quail meat. So do you have these little nuggets? Share your thoughts.
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