Keeping Records in Quail Breeding

 

It is in my nature to measure and monitor, which makes life interesting and the only way should you want to select and make progress with any animal breeding. I slaughter about ten old Quail Hens every two weeks and 20+ Young Quails every alternate week and always weigh all animals and carcasses at slaughter. Obviously there are many other measurements and observations I frequently collect and record to assist in selecting that “perfect” bird.

Here are some of the figures I collected over the past week and which are fairly representative for the past six months.

Mature Birds – g % Young Birds – g %
Live Bird 294 211
Carcase 1 265 90.1 193 91.5
Carcase 2 176 60.0 138 65.4

BYF Special 3

Live Bird – Average live bird mass after food and water were withheld for 12 hours

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Carcase 1 – Average carcass mass after heads and lower legs were removed and feathers plucked

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Carcase 2 – Average carcass mass butterflied, which in my case means the removal of the entire backbone, all internal organs removed, wing tips removed and excess skin trimmed.

After all this lovely Quail Meat you have harvested there is still the Coratella that makes a wonderful meal on its own and Quail Stock which I use in almost all of my daily cooking.

How Heavy should my Quails be?

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I post this question, of which I receive similar questions very often, as well as my answer.
“Do you weigh your quail, and if you do, what weights do you expect them to reach on a weekly basis?
The reason I ask, is that my last lot have a really large range.
The smallest is almost 30g below the weight of the biggest. Granted these were eggs hatched from two different places, which could well explain it (bred for size vs improvement of the breed), but I’m curious what those who’ve been doing this a while expect.
They’re 2 weeks old now, and they range from 32-59g.
Funnily enough, the only two white ones are both the heaviest and lightest!”
Thank you very much for the question. Yes, being the Mad Scientist, I am a strong believer in MMM (Man Must Measure) to know where you are and where you are going to. if anywhere. I weigh all my quails at 3, 5 and 8 weeks of age and then also weigh all my mature quails at least every two months. These weights give you a lot of information to work with on individual animals, as well as your project as a whole.
The average figures I achieve at present are about the following:
5 Weeks old (all sexes – all birds) – 200 g
8 Week old Males (all birds) – 210 g
8 Weeks old Females (all birds) – 240 g
All mature Males in my Breeding Groups – 240g
All mature Females in my Breeding Groups – 280 g
There are obviously wide variations between animals as result of the limited genetic pool and small numbers of animals we have, as well as the quality and level of inbreeding in the New Zealand Coturnix coturniox we have to work with. Males are always much lighter than females at all ages.
I have some groups where all the females are all over 300 g – work in progress!!
Obviously the optimum results can only be achieved with good husbandry, feeding and housing.

Salami and Sausage making time

There is no better way to spend a Sunday, with a few good friends, to convert the pig and stag that crossed our way a few days earlier, into some delicious products.

The temperature in my “Meat Curing Room” is ideal at 8 – 10 C at this time of the year, but I would have preferred the humidity to be less than 60% to allow for proper curing and drying – hopefully it will get a bit less humid over the next few days.

 

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.”

DEFYING WINTER / PASTA CON BROCCOLI

F4C3750D-884C-4C80-905D-5620F6F5CF0CIrrespective of the cold winter weather Dunedin is encountering at present, the garden seems to defy the seasons and continues to produce, which keeps me healthy and out of the supermarkets with some spare change in my pocket.

BROCCOLI PASTA

This is a quick, very easy and delicious Garden Meal

  • 1 Head of Broccoli – Washed, dried and broken into pieces of about 25 mm in diameter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove of Garlic – Chopped finely
  • 1 Fresh Chili – Chopped finely
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padana Cheese – Grated

While you boil the water and cook the pasta in salted water, prepare the Broccoli sauce. In a large cast iron pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and fresh chili and cook for a few n minutes until soft, but not coloured (about 1 minute), then add the Broccoli and toss well in the oil and cook until the Broccoli is soft but still crispy and not mushy (about 2 – 3 minutes). Ad salt and black pepper to taste. Add the cooked pasta al dente to the pan with the Broccoli, garlic and chili and toss well.  Serve immediately while still hot and dress with a dash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, grated Parmigiano and crushed Black Pepper

ENJOY !!

Do not forget the homemade red to wash it all down.

 

 

 

PRIMO PIATTO

35492F00-6BDD-45AC-B95D-6BA46514696FWhile I was cooking the Secondo Piatto, which in this case was Lepre alla Cacciatora (Hunter’s style Hare), I became peckish and looked around what I could do for a Primo Piatto. I had a few Radish leaves and some Polenta from the day before.

Polenta

Ad a few spoons of good extra virgin olive oil to a cast iron pan and heat on medium to high. Cut the polenta  in slices of about 20 mm thick and fry until lightly brown, then flip them over and fry the other side.

Radish Leaves

This is the same recipe we use for spinaci, silverbeet, and many other leaves. Wash the leaves and shake dry. Ad a tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil to a heavy cast iron pan, then ad the leaves, some chopped garlic and some chilli, if wanted. Fry until all is nice and soft.

The above was made within a few minutes and some black pepper and parmigiano cheese finished it well. It was beautiful and went down well with some home made red.

 

HARVEST OF THE DAY

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It is officially winter here in Dunedin and from the temperatures, snow, mist and sleet I can vouch for that. Nevertheless the garden keeps on producing and I was more than pleased with the organic harvest of today. The soils are healthy and for the first time in four years I have large numbers of earthworms helping me.