HOW DO I LOOK AFTER MY QUAILS

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This is an abstract of an answer I provide regularly to some of my Coturnix coturnix friends requesting general advise on quail keeping
“You seem to have a lovely palace for your quail and by the looks of it about 4 X 2 meters or more. That size would be more than adequate for 20 females and about three males. You need about one male per 6 or 7 females to ensure a high rate of fertility in the eggs. If you do not mind to have lower fertility rates in the eggs, you can cut the number of males. If, as in your case, the quails have enough space to stay out of each other’s way, more than one male per cage should not be a problem. See if the males and females have resolved the pecking order (no fighting) and if so, they should all be happy. If you do see fighting or restless birds, try to identify the culprit, which may be dominant or subordinate, whichever will cause interruptions in the pecking order and stability of the group, and remove the bird. If the fighting stops and the group becomes calm, you have done well, if not, try and replace the bird with another bad apple. Sometimes it is possible to stabalise the group by removing individual birds, sometimes not, but it is worth the try. The other alternative, as you mentioned, is to have individual breeding groups of 6 – 7 girls and a boy – this however would not guarantee stability of the group as they may still have issues with each other and destabilise the group and you would be back to square one to try and resolve the domestic violence!  If everything fails to calm the groups, you need to look at OTHER STRESS FACTORS, such as housing, disease and parasites, feed quality, etc. Also remember that temperament is highly hereditary and I select very heavily against this.
Housing needs for Coturnix coturnix is simple – remember they are ground dwellers and would not roost. Hence they need a lot of space to hide from the weather, other birds, have some private time or whatever. They love low growing vegetation and / or hiding spaces in the form of upturned boxes or plants, etc. The cage must be DRY AT ALL TIMES and the quails should be well ventilated, but OUT OF DIRECT DRAFTS. If the cage is dry and sandy, they will find their own dust bathing areas which you could encourage by turning the dry soil over and maybe ad some wood ash or lime to encourage them to bath. It is also a very easy and convenient spot to ad a bit of diatomaceous earth or flea powder to keep them free from external parasites. Furthermore clean and well balanced food and water needs to be available at all times (Ad lib).
Deworming once every three months is advisable
Live meal worms, table scraps (especially protein in the form of meat off cuts (cut into quail bite sizes), etc are always welcome and enjoyable for the birds. Not only does it provide additional nutrients, but it also keeps them occupied and less time to fight with somebody they do not like. Lettuce is a great delicacy for them and the additional vitamins do them well. The question is however at what level do you like your quails to produce at – if you want maximum production and feed a well balanced diet to achieve this, table scraps and other foods should not make up more than about 20 % of their daily requirements. Remember that young Coturnix need about 28 % protein in their diet and the older birds need 22 % protein. If you can provide them with these levels of protein and balance all the other nutrients to compliment the protein, they will be some of the most effective PRODUCTION MACHINES you have ever encountered. That is why I only feed my birds a WELL BALANCED COMPLETE QUAIL FEED and supplement daily with some greens for their enjoyment.”

Casatiello Napoletana (Stuffed Easter Bread)

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There are many Easter Breads in Italy and each region has its own version, but most include whole, sometimes coloured, eggs. This specific recipe is from Napoli and is made in a pan with a hole in the middle, called a ruoto. The recipe is enough for two breads in 270 mm pans.

  • 800 g Bread Flour (Tipo 0)
  • 300 g  Water – luke warm
  • 5 g Honey or Molasses
  • 23 g Yeast – fresh
  • 500 g 1:1 Biga (Mother plant of yeast)
  • 100 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus extra to smear the pans
  • 20 g Salt
  • 50 g Salami –  about 5 mm cubed
  • 50 g Pancetta – about 5 mm cubed
  • 50 g Cheese  – any melting mild cheese of your choice – about 5 mm cubed
  • 50 g Parmigiano or Grana Padana Cheese – about 5 mm cubed
  • 12 Quail eggs – fresh – Plus two to glaze the bread

Mix the honey, water and yeast and let it stand for 5 minutes. Now mix in the flour, biga, oil and salt and knead well. Let it proof until at least double in size, then knead briefly again. Divide the dough in two, but keep about 50 g to make strips to secure the eggs,  and roll each into a square of about 300 mm. Spread all the cheeses and meat on the squares and roll up. Place each roll in a well smeared pan in such a way that it fills the entire base of the pan. Now place the whole eggs evenly on the breads and secure each with two thin strips of dough. Proof until at least double in size. Glaze the top of the breads with beaten egg and bake at 220 C for 13 minutes. Turn the pans around and bake for another 20 minutes at 190 C.

Enjoy hot or cold, or the next day on the Easter Picnic.

 

 

Quail Breeding in Italia

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There are many quail and pheasant breeding farms in Italia which all breed for release as hunting is still very popular. It is almost impossible to visit these farms for quarantine reasons as well as keeping the secrets and knowledge within the family. I managed to visit a farm through a contact I had who had a friend that knew the second cousin of the neighboring farmer’s daughter to the quail farm I visited. Even with my good contacts, I still was not allowed inside the cages, but gained enough information. This farm breeds Coturnix coturnix as they still appear in Europe and North Africa in the wild. The birds are small and only weigh about 130 g at maturity. There is a general concern among breeders that some breeders may cross the natural occurring birds with domesticated birds which definitely result in a bird much less adapted to local conditions and also have poor survival capabilities when released. The crossbreeds are a bit heavier and a much inferior flier.

All the following figures are rough estimates, but I think very close to reality. This specific farm sells about 250,000 live quails a year at €1.50 each. For this he has 1,300 breeding hens and 450 males producing 1,000 viable good eggs per day.  He has 6 incubators that takes 3,500 eggs each and fills two of these every week. At 14 days the eggs are transferred to a Hatcher where about 5,600 chicks hatch every week, of which 5,000 grow to eight weeks of age when they are sold for release.

The interesting thing is that his Incubators run at 80% humidity and the Hatcher’s at 90%, which I thought are way too high, but apparently it works that way as I witnessed these levels personally.

The other interesting fact is that the growing cages are sheds with only canvas sides with holes in so the quails can come and go and fly in the adjacent aviaries if they wish. The quails are in these semi open cages from day one.  Gas heaters keep the temperature at about 37C at ground level for the first four weeks. There after the temperature is slowly reduced to day temperature over about one to two weeks, depending on outside temperatures, to harden them up. It gets very cold and it was – 12C on the day I was there and the quails seemed to be happy – my quails would have been dead after the first day. The growing houses are all the same size of 10 X 20 meters each, with two aviaries of 20 X 20 meters each attached to the  sides of each house. Each house holds half of the 5,600 day old chicks.

I was glad to have visited this successful third generation family business which is at present operated by the grandson only as the grandfather is retired and the father attends to the rest of the farm.

Quail Eggs with Truffle

It will be hard to find a better light dinner than quail eggs topped with truffles and home cured salmon on the side. All washed down with good hand crafted Home Made Wine (organic and preservative free)

 

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NEW FEEDING REGIMES FOR QUAILS AND DOMESTICATED WILD BIRDS

NEW FEEDING REGIMES

For Coturnix coturnix and all other Wild Birds

Combining my experience in animal nutrition and husbandry with extensive reading regarding the latest nutritional developments I am now manufacturing feeds that are very advanced in approach. These feeds benefit high performing quails as well as all other wild birds. My birds are performing so well on these feeds that I have included these formulas in all the feeds I offer for sale.

My strategy is to maximise digestibility using the simplest and best combination of materials and feed additives. I also utilise proven probiotics / prebiotics to stimulate and enhance the naïve gut, creating a favourable environment for good gut flora to proliferate and keep cell junctions tight. The rations also assist gut enterocytes with function and repair, while there are some elements in the feeds that help the modulation of immune responses.

I have formulated to specifications for Quail Starter, Grower and Layer feeds as top of the range diets by introducing new additives in addition to the present Vitamin and Mineral Pre Mix. These additives contain extra Lysine, Methionine, Threonine , Isoleucine and Valine which is intended to fully balance all the digestible amino acid ratios. These additions also lift the protein and energy digestibility beyond their stated levels on paper by using 4 separate and specific feed enzyme activities. The extra additives contain bioactive Vitamin D (Hy-D), Vitamin C, and Calcium Carbonate for bone modelling and antioxidant properties. Kelp meal, minerals, electrolytes and some sources of protected Butyrate, Carvacrol and Thymol steer good flora and discourage overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and organisms. These new additions also contain a Mannosidase enzyme to aid the digestibility of various materials with proven Phytase, beta Glucanase, Xylanase and Protease enzymes.

My new feed formulations are the ultimate diets for quail and wild birds. All the above inclusions are essential and unique and take care of all amino acid balances using standard materials, supercharging the opportunity across all fronts for the birds to start well, grow well and produce well. There is plenty here to give bumble bee sized chicks, as well as mature birds, every chance to thrive without antibiotics, which is a big plus. These feeds are not only essential for wild birds, but give all poultry that extra boost when under stressful conditions.