Friday, January 27, 2017

Why Quail work for us.

Coturnix Quail are really amazing little birds. For me They are the easiest livestock to care for on a daily basis taking up very little of my time. They have been extremely productive. Require very little space. They are so quite. 
Their eggs are good for people who have chicken egg allergies. They even contain anti inflammatory properties.
I think they are delicious! A more delicate taste than chicken , goose, Guinea or duck egg. They make some really yummy ice cream and the best ever gourmet pickled eggs! 

I have 28 laying females. I get well over 100 eggs a week. 
Yes, quail eggs are tiny. It's takes 3 quail eggs to equal a small chicken egg.
But as long as you keep a light on them in the winter the coturnix quail lay more eggs than most all chickens! They need approximately 15 hours of light to be productive. 
Cracking quail eggs can be annoying.
But There are special scissors to open quail eggs And they make all the difference. They make cracking the eggs simple and fast! 
Most of my quail are color variations of the regular size coturnix. I have one jumbo female and she is larger in the breast and lays a larger egg. She doesn't lay as often though. For a flock where meat is more the goal I'd raise jumbo. She grew just as fast as the others and started laying just as early. 
Look at her egg compared to a regular coturnix ... It's almost as big as my bantam chicken eggs! Only she starting laying at 8 weeks, my bantams didn't start until 5 months!
The meat is amazing! They are the easiest things we've ever processed. 
I have heard some complaints from people that they have to eat 2 or 4 quail at a time because they are small. Honestly we've not had this problem. I eat one and it's plenty! My husband only eats one at a time also and he's a big guy. We tend to make more side items than most people possibly. 
If you don't eat many side items you may find them to be to small of a portion. I'm happy to pile on the veggies to make up for the small size! 
The regular coturnix yields around 4 oz of meat. Which is considered the standard amount of a protein serving for a woman per meal.
To me they are perfect! So no con there for us anyways! 

They do not incubate their own eggs. Which I think is a good thing.
When a bird incubates and raises its own babies that's 2 months or more you're not getting eggs from her. This is a problem if your goal is lots of eggs. 
Even if your goal is meat at best she might be able to hatch 3 or 4. That's a lot of time getting no eggs from her for only a couple of meals.
Having a good incubator will be necessary if you want to raise meat or your own replacement quail.
I personally enjoy incubating and hatching out eggs.  Brooding can be more labor so I try not to hatch during peak seasonal work here on the farm.
Quail eggs hatch around 16 days,, then they are ready to eat ( and laying) around 8 weeks! In less than 3 months they are productive members of the farm. 
Their hatch rate isn't very good for most people. I say most people because I have seen a few people claim 80% success. Unfortunately I have not mastered this learning curve!
My incubator holds 64 quail eggs even at a 50% hatch 32 quail to eat in less than 3 months is a lot of food. Or perhaps replacement egg layers and some extra males for meat. Males will fight to the death when they become sexually mature so it's necessary to keep numbers to a minimum on the males. 1 male per 4 females seems to work well.  
What a quick food chain! We have not grown any other livestock that becomes that productive that quickly. 
       The chicks are so tiny and fragile extra care has to be taken so they don't drown in their waterer. There are special waterers made just for quail chicks. 

They are also huge feed wasters so feeders with small holes are necessary. 
Most chick feeders work well. My husband came up with a homemade feeder that we like using because it holds more feed meaning I don't have to pour out feed every day! 
It's in a previous post. 
Their colors are beautiful! 
I find them very pleasant to deal with, very easy to care for, extremely productive.
They have been so productive and easy I really don't need the chickens!
Oh, but I love the chickens.

Poultry can be super addictive, fun and add a lot of variety to your meals with different meats and eggs. 
At the end of the day it's about time management here. I only have so many hours in the day. Quail take up, at most, maybe an hour and half a week.
Comparable to daily care for meat rabbits. But rabbits don't give food daily , much harder to process , more expensive to feed, take longer to be productive. And to us, quail have a much better flavor.
These and a few other reasons is why quail occupy my rabbit hutches and not meat rabbits. 

I avoided quail for years because I didn't think they would fit it here. 
I'm so glad I finally gave them a try!

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