Quail farming- a new employment avenue for the farmer

~Dr. Ilakshy Deka
~Dr. Rupam Borgohain
~Mr. Sameeron Bhattacharjya

Quail (Coturnix japonica) is a species of old world quail found in East Asia. In 1983 Japanese quail was first considered as a subspecies of the common quail. The term Japanese quail was coined as the Japanese scientists first tamed the wild quails and revealed the ways to raise them as domestic birds. Now, people throughout the world are going for quail farming business commercially for the purpose of meat and egg production. ‘Quail farming’ means, raising quails commercially for the purpose of profitable eggs and meat production. Almost all types of weather conditions are suitable for starting quail farming business. Meat and eggs of quail are very tasty and nutritious. Quail meat is a white meat with extremely low skin fat and low cholesterol value. Quail meat is rich in micronutrients and wide range of vitamins including vitamin B complex, folate and vitamin E and K. It is therefore recommended for people with high cholesterol levels. Quail eggs are very nutritious than other poultry eggs. Their nutritional value is 3-4 times higher than that of chicken eggs. Quail egg contain comparatively more protein(13%), more phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, B1 and B2 so quail eggs are also said as “Vitamin Bomb”. Quail eggs are rich in HDSL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and rich in choline, a chemical essential for brain function.

Table 1. Nutritive content of chicken meat and quail meat
Nutritive Content Chicken meat Quail meat
Water (%) 74.00 74.00
Protein (%) 20.60 20.50
Ether Extract (%) 3.00 3.50
Ash(%) 11.00 1.20
Carbohydrate (%) 0.80 0.60
Cholesterol(mg/100g) 183.00 87.00

Life Cycle of Quails:
Quail generally survive for 3 to 4 years. An adult quail weights between 150 to 200 grams. Female quails start laying eggs from their 6 to 7 weeks of age. Each egg weights between 7 to 15 grams. They lay more than 300 eggs per year. Presence of light increase the egg productive efficiency of quails. They usually lay eggs at afternoon. It takes about 17 days to hatch their eggs. A newly born quail chick weights around 6 to 7 grams. Quail never incubate their eggs. For successful breeding purpose keep one male quail with every five female quails.
Quail chicks become very sensitive and take about two weeks to be strong enough. Eggs of 9 to 11 grams weight with smooth and hard eggshell are perfect for hatching and producing chicks.

Commercial Quail Farming:
As quails are smaller sized poultry birds, so it’s very easy to establish a quail farm with small capital, and very low labor cost. Proper quail farming business plan is mandatory before starting. A proper business plan should include breeds, housing, feeding, care and marketing strategies.

i. Selection of Quail Breeds for farming
At present there are 18 species of quails are available, which are very suitable for profitable quail farming business.. According to their production, quail breeds are of two types such as broilers and layers. Some popular layer quail breeds are Tuxedo, Pharaoh, British Range, English White, Manchurian Golden and some known Broiler Quail Breeds are Bobwhite (American) and White Breasted (Indian).

ii. Housing
Quails can be raised both in litter as well as cage system. But, cage system prove advantageous than deep litter system. Make a proper ventilation system and ensure proper flow of air and light inside their house. Fifty quails can be raised in a cage measuring 120 cm length, 60 cm wide and 25 cm height. Wire net of 5mm X 5mm can be use for making their cage. In deep litter system 6 to 7 quails can be raised in the same place that is required for one chicken. The house must have to be out of the reach of wild animals and also prevent all types of predators.

iii. Feeding
For keeping your quails healthy, proper growing and highly productive, provide them balanced feed regularly. An adult quail consumes about 20 to 25 grams of food daily. Chick feed should contain 27% and adult feed 22-24% of protein. Their food to meat or eggs converting efficiency is satisfactory. They can produce one kg meat or eggs by consuming three kg food.

iv. Egg Production
For getting better egg production, select highly productive breeds and always keep their house dry and clean. Keep one male with every five female quails to get fertile eggs. Female quails start laying eggs within their 6 to 7 weeks of age and continuously lay one egg daily.They lay about 300 eggs in their first year of life. After that they produce about 150 to 175 eggs in second year. Eggs production gradually decrease after their first year of laying period. Egg production also depends on temperature, feeding , water, care and management. To get desired egg production from your quails, light play a vital role. Lightening period of laying quails is shown below through a chat. For this purpose use 40 to 100 watt bulb according to season.

Age Temperature (o Celsius) Light (Hour)
1 Week 35 24
2 Week 30 24
3 Week 25 12
4 Week 21-22 12
5 Week 21 12
6 Week 21 13
7 Week 21 14
8 Week 21 15
9 Week onward 21 16

v. Raising Quail Chicks
Quails can be raised both in litter as well as cage system. As they don’t go for incubation of eggs them self chicks production can be done by hatching their eggs through chickens or artificially through using incubators. Incubation period for quail egg is about 16 to 18 days. For maximum egg production, 16 hours of lighting period is required daily inside the quail house. Keep newly born quail chicks in a brooder house. Chicks need artificial heat and temperature management system for 14 to 21 days from their birth.

vi. Diseases
Diseases are less in quails, compared to other poultry birds. Good care and manage is essential to keep them free from all types of diseases or illness. Generally they are not provided any disease preventive vaccines. Sometime coccidiosis, white diarrhea and ulcerative enteritis is encounter in this case take the advice of a veterinary doctor immediately. To keep the quails healthy and productive, following points should always keep in mind
• Always try to keep their house dry and clean.
• Ensure proper movement of light and air inside their house.
• Keep different aged quails separated from each other.
• Separate the disease affected quails from the healthy one.
• Burn the dead bird or burry under soil.
• Don’t allow other birds, animals or unknown persons enter inside your farm quail house.
• Ensure hygienic and balanced feed supply.
• Provide adequate fresh and clean water according to their demand.

Marketing:
Quail meat and eggs are very tasty and highly enriched with nutrient elements. Thought quail farming is in growing stage in Assam yet it could capture the market at a faster rate for both eggs and meat perpose.

Conclusion
Quail farming has the tremendous potential to play an important role for both as nutritional security as well as livelihood security for fulfilling the daily family nutrition demands and earning livings. Commercial quail farming can be a great source of employment, and earning some extra income along with your current job or profession.

Table 2.Some parameters of chicken egg and quail egg.
Parameters Chicken egg Quail egg.
Egg weight(g) 57.63 12.18
Water (%) 74.00 73.80
Protein (%) 12.80 13.23
Fat (%) 11.80 10.83
Ash(%) 1.00 1.03
Cholesterol(mg) 20.00 7.31
Vitamin-A(mg) 100.00 300.00
Thiamin(mg) 0.06 0.10
Riboflavin(mg) 0.10 0.80

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Writers Dr Ilakshy Deka, Dr Rupam Borgohain, Mr Sameeron Bhattacharjya are form KVK Jorhat, Assam.

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