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Humboldt

Keeping Quail Courtunix japonica

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Hi, about 6 months ago i decided to ditch the chooks.  Bantams who were too shifty about their eggs, finding a new place to lay every time.  The food bought heaps of sparrows and starlings and i reckon the local insect life took a battering.  Got fuck all out of it.

Enter King quail.  These cute little guys are so chilled and peaceful.  Very curious with more personality than chooks. They are happy in a small range, lay an egg (maybe 2) a day.  2.5 eggs = a chicken egg but the yolk is, for size, larger.  Making them a higher protein source. I've incubated and hatched a few, the little guys feed independently from day one. Easy to brood and incubate.  They eat a high protein pellet, budgie seed and will peck at greens and corn.  They also have a keen eye for bugs, i leave an ice cream container with food scraps in to attract thrips ect.

The best thing is that the kids can look after them, have a cuddle ect.  The chooks would go ape shit everytime youd go near them.  Ive definately noticed a decrease in invasive birds and the other day had a lucky leech on me, hopefully a more diverse insect population will return.

Now ive got some friends who are keen to do the same to keep as pest control for their hot house.

Does anyone else keep quails? 

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Edited by Humbolt
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Tried keeping em a few times up in NNSW. Everything eats them.

 

Wanted em for meat and eggs- the eggs are so lovely and creamy, and they're a fast and easy meal cos you can dry pluck them.

 

But everything eats them. First. Before you get a chance to.

 

Last try I made a ripper Fort Knox pen for em from bird mesh, ends sunk into concrete and corro put up around the sides. Goannas ripped that shit apart, let a fox in and when I went to rescue the rest I found a fat sleepy carpet snake under the floorboards with quail shaped lumps in it's guts.

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Very cute! Good luck raising them! 

 

Some people might not like hearing this but they taste really good too haha

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Good point Darklight, its been a whole new paradigm raising foul in fox free Tas.  Cats, Quoll and Goshawks are the quails biggest threats.  Nothing like trying to fend off foxes.

Not that i condone it but folk down here dump there roosters in parks, roadsides. They live long lives with no foxes about.

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Its mid Tassie winter (min -4c some nights) and these beaut little birds are still laying!  Often Im getting 6 or 7 eggs per day from just 4 ladies.  

Last month i had some young datura plants with aphid problems.  I put a plant in with them and within an hour all the aphids were pecked off.  Sensing success i put the rest of the affected plants in and they ate them wholus-bolus.  I thought fuk ive poisoned them!! But they actually seemed better for it.  I mused that perhaps they like a little something to moderate stomach parasites ect from time to time.  

They are always very curious about anything new in their world.

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OMG. That's fantastic. Mine didn't even last three months and yours are still going

 

I think I have quail envy :D

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The eggs are really nice in a salad with avo, maccas, greens and a bit of chilli in the dressing

 

Yeah was thinking about the bug eating aspect. If I ever get around to building another fort knox for some I'll be putting oyster mushroom buckets on bricks, hopefully the quail will eat any of the tiny flies that the mushroom buckets attract

 

Are they financially efficient? Reckon you get your moneys worth out in eggs? And are you planning on raising more from the eggs?

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12 hours ago, Darklight said:

 

 

Are they financially efficient? Reckon you get your moneys worth out in eggs? And are you planning on raising more from the eggs?

 

For sure Darklight a bag of feed (game bird layer) is about $18 will last 4-6 months. They wont over eat. No other real expenses.  I sometimes give them budgie seed, corn, recently discovered they dont mind a Brussels' sprout.

 

Time wise they dont need much care.  Once or twice a week i put a dust bath in for them from the fine matter on the floor of the wood shed.  I never tire of watching them throwing dust over themselves and each other.  Otherwise i just visit to keep the water shit free. During the last summers bush fires they did about a month with me only visiting them 3 times after id laid out 1/2 a bag of food. 

The kids use the quail shed as a place to go when theyre upset, they have a lovely way about them that the kids pick up on.

 

The youngest is always pestering me to incubate more but i will wait till spring if indeed i do.  Unfortunately if you have more than 1 male, the boys will pick on a girl.  They can be very nasty indeed, going the eyes and face.  I understand that a hatched egg is more likely to be a male too.  So if i do incubate more they will be off to the pet shop prior to sexing.  Some have a consistent patterning for females so id be keen to breed from those so i could sex them asap.  Normally you can tell by squeezing their delicatates at about 6 weeks i think.

 

Gave some to friends for there poly tunnel but they didnt last long before they got a terminal case of cat.  Fort knox for sure DL.

 

 

Edited by Humbolt
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That's so good to hear re the costings, about half of everything I've tried ends up costing me money rather than saving it

 

Coupla decades ago I was raising them for meat from the spares.Like pigeons, you can dry pluck them, so they're pretty much an instant meal

 

Is not for everyone, I understand, but it's so little extra work and quicker than picking up pizza from town

 

I definitely now have quail envy

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I have some chooks but you have helped inspire me to give some quail a try as well, I'm going to set up a snake proof enclosure soon, maybe a month or two. 

Will post some pics when done : )

 

 

 

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Hey @bardo, would be happy to post you up some fertile eggs if you want to incubate some when the time comes.  Eggs stay fertile for 10days without heat so plenty of time to post.

Edited by Humbolt
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Thanks a heap for the offer Humbolt, very appreciated indeed : )

There is a lady near by here who has the same type as you and going to get some from her, thinking about starting with 1 male and 3 females and take it from there : )

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Good to hear you can get some that have been sexed.  Young males can quicky go from 1st crow to becoming aggresive towards the ladies if another male is also about.  I got caught out once, bad news, they can be cruel.  

 

After plenty of discussion at the pet shop im pretty sure the breed is Coturnix japonica not chinesis as earlier stated.  King is smaller than Jap and not as easy to handle.  They shoot up like harrier jump jets!

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Yeah I had King quail, tiny. Prolly why they fared poorly against predators

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Fired up the incubator for spring.  Due to hatch next Sat.  Im not sure if the male is breeding with all 4 girls, i suspect just 2 as they are the only ones with head feathers missing (he grabs onto when doing the deed). 

One way to find out! Candleling doesnt seem to work, shells arent opaque enough.  When they hatch I'll be able to identify the patterning of the fertilised eggs and get better odds next time.  

 

 

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Hey Humbolt, just wondering if you had issues with the females fighting as my wife got some and we had to separate some due to some brawling behaviour reminiscent of bare knuckle boxing without a cut man.  Also had to dispatch the male as he was pretty nasty to most of the females other than his original one. 

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Hey dawg, sorry to hear about the violence.   Nasty.  I haven't had the same problems with girls fighting.

How many girls?  What size enclosure? Im hoping you're not overcrowded.

 

Its nice to have a separate space within your enclosure for injured or pecked birds. 

 

A little while ago the male was picking too much on one of girls he bred with.  Over a few weeks i keep them separate, either locking away the perp or the victim. The behaviour was worse in the morning so some arvos id let them go back to gen pop.  Over a few weeks the males attitude / hormones changed to being less predatory as she healed and gained condition she didnt stand out as much as a weak link.

My advice is to add plenty of stuff for the persecuted birds to hide behind and under, with 2 exits for escape.  There's a fair bit of out of sight, out of mind with quails. Alter the environment to keep things more interesting too. Dynamics do change if you can buy time.  

I found Marigold on 'Poultry keeper' forum helpful even though its UK based she knows her stuff. @Caster any thoughts?

 

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Hey Humbolt, have 5 girls now which were all from the same place.  The enclosure is 1m x 2.5m by around 0.5 m high.  Any injured ones previously were separated until they healed up.  Today is the first time they have been put back together and the layout has been alerted with a few more hides etc.  I think the out of site thing is one of the most important aspects from what I can see.  Will see how they go this time round.   

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Yes cover is your best bet, 2 way escape route so they dont get cornered. 

 

An occasional dust bath is fun for them, keeps them happy and helps with parasites.  I use a portable container and pop it in once every 1-2 weeks.  They funny little things and very adept with bathing.

Anything you can do to invite insects into your enclosure is helpful too.  They love catching insects and are incredibly eagle eyed how they go about it.  I use food scraps in an ice cream container.  With a hole in top.  Keeping them occupied/ entertained can imo help curve violence.

After all Idle beaks are the devils work.

 

Some pics of the team Gdawg?

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They seem to be going pretty well now that they are all back together and their enclosure was rearranged a bit.  

I give them wood roaches as treats as I breed these to feed my lizards and frogs and have plenty to go around.  They get pretty excited to see me come with a cup of woodies :) 

I like the food scraps idea as that would breed vinegar flies etc for them to munch on.  Will give it a go.    

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Ay! Glad there's a threat for this!

Just set up a homemade incubator and hatched 3/12 eggs which is a terrible hatch rate! I have a lot to work on for my next hatch.

Sadly one chick died the other night so im left with two but im picking up 4 chicks on Tuesday. I'll post some pics of the little guys.

Glad there's a quail culture on the site :)

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Hey @TheMooseZeusIf you hadn't already, try it with no water in the incubator reservoir next time.  1:4 boy to girl has been a good ratio for my 2.5 x 2.5m shed.  3-6 eggs a day.  Pics?  Young'ns will lay like the blazes!  

Have fun

 

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