You will find a wealth of information on keeping and breeding coturnix quail and other quail in the upcoming issue of the Game Bird Gazette magazine. There are also listings for eggs, chicks and grown birds, breeding cages, etc. from a great many reputable and reliable game bird farms and quail equipment manufacturers.
The sex ratio for our coturnix quail is 5 males to 25 hens in each cage. We keep track of mortalities of each sex and replace only when needed. Place only quail from the same hatching time as in our experience mixing ages and different hatches will result in fighting, picking and reduction in laying. We select only the heaviest and most vigorous males and the rest of that hatch (feeders) are sold to Audubon Rehab centers and a few west coast falconers that prepay their orders.
Occasionally you will get aggressive females that pick at the eyes of the males and they should be culled immediately. As long as you keep within the same hatch they should be very compatible, since the quail imprint on each other in the incubator and brooder.
Do not feed low quality feed to your coturnix quail and expect heavy, healthy birds. 19-20% protein gamebird layer mix is required along with supplements of grit and oyster shell. The only advice I have is to go direct and buy in bulk if you plan on growing in production. A small flock can be kept by buying 50 lb. bags of quality feed but your profits will suffer. Most state extensions services will provide you with the proper mixture for quail feed. Take this information to your local grain growers coop to find your best prices.
Artificial lighting is mandatory for year round coturnix quail layers. Each battery of cages is lit by three well placed double 40 watt shop lights, all regulated by an automatic timer to run 16 hours a day. The quail need time to rest and running lights 24/7 only leads to lower egg numbers, reduced body weight and higher fatality. A radio playing Blue Grass helps increase egg production and calm the spirit.
Coturnix quail eggs are laid on the cage floor and roll out through the front opening to be collected twice a day. Restaurant quality eggs are washed, dried and refrigerated immediately at 40º F. Fertile eggs are incubated after 5 days, no sooner or later for best results. I have researched that quail eggs benefit from dehydrating slightly before being set. When shipping fertile quail eggs we take care to not over handle our eggs, each is checked for proper shape, size, weight and color and placed in Chukar Paper Trays since our eggs do not fit in GQF Quail egg trays. We wrap each tray in Reynolds food service film and pack in double sided 18" x 18" x 18" shipping boxes each holding 1000 eggs. We have had the greatest success in this method in that the film protects the eggs from physical damage and dehydration. We do not wash or sand hatching eggs in that this additional handling reduces hatchability. We do apply a light misting of diluted Tek-trol.
We use GQF Sportsman’s Incubators with plastic egg holders that allow to set a maximum of 1488 quail eggs at a time, but since our coturnix eggs are so big, I cannot use the outer edges of the trays. They are set on automatic turning every three hours. The thermostat is set at 99.5 degrees and the use of automatic humidifiers from GQF is also highly recommended. I can not say enough about the quality products and service offered by Georgia Quail Farm. I only wish shipping was not so much or I would buy their brooders and cages as well.
We have not shipped live coturnix quail chicks and would prefer to ship only fertile eggs at this time. Our fertile eggs are packaged in chukar egg trays wrapped in food service film and packed in double sided boxes. Our shipping success to Haiti was excellent with never a complaint of damage or low hatch rates. We use FedEx three day super saver shipping in that they go out of their way to provide us with premium service. Our boxes are clearly labeled “Extremely Fragile and Fertile Hatching Eggs” and all shipments are insured.
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