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Guide To Raise Japanese Quails
Raising Japanese Quails
Getting your hands on Japanese Quail chicks depends on its availability in your area. Japanese quail chicks are yellowish in color with brown stripes. The newly hatched chick weighs about 7 to 8 grams. They grow rapidly in the first few days. The Japanese Quail chicks are transferred directly into the brooder from incubator. A brooder is a specially designed housing for the chicks. Newly hatched chicks have to be given special care until they are completely feathered. They need excess heating, rough floors, modified drinking troughs etc to suite their small size. Without a proper brooder, there is a chance of the mortality rate going higher.
Quail chicks can be brooded either in battery brooders or on floors. Battery brooders are cages made up of wood or welded mesh, which are modified to suit the small size of the chicks. During the first week, the floor should be covered with rough paper to avoid damage of the feet and legs. The sides of the brooder should be closed with fine mesh to avoid the escape of the quail chicks and to protect them from other scavengers. When using floor brooding, the quail chick should be protected with a circular enclosure using aluminium sheets or cardboard to avoid the wandering of chicks around the shed. These are called chick guards. The size of the enclosure should be gradually increased as the chicks grow.
Young quail chicks need extra heat to keep them warm until they feather completely. The temperature inside the brooder should be slightly lower than that of the incubator. At first the temperature inside the brooder should be 37.5 ºC. Temperature can be provided using normal electric bulb. The temperature can be decreased by 3 ºC every week until it reaches 28 ºC. Food and water should be made available all times. Placing marbles or small pebbles in the water trough will avoid quail chicks from entering the trough and drowning. The feeder and water troughs should be cleaned daily. Chicks can be fed with quail starter mash for the first 2 weeks and with quail grower mash for 3rd and the 4th week. Food and water are generally kept outside the heated area. This will force the chicks to wander outside the heated are and thus they will get enough exercise.
After 3 weeks the brooding can be stopped. Week 3 to week 6 is considered to be the growing age for quails. During this time partial sexing can be done. The complete sexing can be done when the chicks are 4 weeks old. The adult male Japanese Quails can be identified by the rusty brown feathers on the upper throat and lower breast region. Adult males also have a cloacal gland situated at the upper edge of the vent which secretes a white foamy material. This gland is also used to access the reproductive fitness of the male birds. The female quails look slightly heavier than the males. Their throat and the upper breast feathers are long, pointed and slighter cinnamon colored.
After 5 weeks of age the male and female birds are transferred to separate cages. When more males are housed together with the females, the male birds pluck each other in the eye making them blind. Hence the males are housed separately. Japanese quails reach sexual maturity in 5 to 6 weeks of age. The quails which are reared for meat production can be sold at this age. The female birds start laying eggs at 6 to 8 weeks of age. From the 6th week on wards they can be fed with quail layer mash if these birds are intended for egg production. Giving 16 hours of light to the laying quails will promote egg production. Unnecessary handling of female quails results in delayed sexual maturity.