My Coturnix coturnix breeding program provides me with lots of joy, satisfaction and brain food in my immediate and small environment where myself and Mrs BYF have an almost self sustainable lifestyle.
The scientist in me dictates to measure, interpret and use the facts to improve my own efforts.
I take many measurements from the quails as they proceed through their life cycle and use these to breed a better bird. Some of the measurements I take are :
- 3 Week body mass
- 5 Week body mass
- 7 week body mass (When I select Breeding Stock)
- 100 day body mass (Used as mature body weight in my index calculations)
- Daily egg production
- Daily egg mass
- Body conformation
- Feather quality
- Feet quality
- Beak quality
- Weight all birds at least once a month, irrespective of age
- Any possible hereditary defect is an immediate disqualification
I use all these to calculate a weighted index at seven weeks and again revise the index at 100 days
In the past I did these for 4 different breeds i.e. Golden Italian, Pharaoh, Tibetan and Texan White. This was becoming overly complex and limited numbers caused progress to plateau. With limited or no genetic stock of similar quality available in New Zealand, I decided to amalgamate all breeds into a new breed – The Back Yard Farmer Quail (If Coturnix japonica is accepted as a breed, maybe I can apply for Coturnix backyardia ). I now have four times as many animals to select from with one less selection parameter – colour. The interesting thing is that all Whites have disappeared and very few Tibetans are left as the Italians and Pharaohs take over on merit only. There is a new colour developing, being a dark cross between all the breeds.
I have several spreadsheets that automatically update as I collect data including dates and ages of all birds. The result is that I can provide all parameters and indices for any bird, updated, at any time. I also calculate averages over all parameters.
Some of the results of 5 years of selective breeding are :
- Increased body mass of about 80 g per bird
- Increased egg production of about 30 %
- Calm and contented birds compared to nervous non adaptable birds
- Drop of hereditary defects from about 20 % of the population to less than 1 % of all birds
- Increased fecundity
- Improved feather quality and body confirmation
- A very contented Back Yard Farmer!
Egg production is monitored on a daily basis and fluctuates from day to day as well as being influenced by the average age of the population. Normally egg productions hovered around 90 – 95 % over the past few months. I have increased breeding numbers to compensate for increased demand and when Corona hit, demand dropped off, resulting in me having MORE replacement females and a younger average female stock. The average age for all females dropped from the standard 160 – 190 days to about 140 – 150 days, but the most important is that egg production has increased as well, because of the younger stock and fewer low productive females. For the first time ever I have recorded 100 % PRODUCTION for 3 days in a row!!!!!
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I AM HAPPY !!!!