In India quails rearing is gaining a importance and there is a good prospects for near future.Quails in India were first introduced at Central Avian Research Institute by Dr.B.Panda, Founder Director (CARI) in 1974. Thereafter various research centers of the country including some Agricultural Universities namely, Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University, Hyderabad; Bidhan Ch. Krishi Viswavidyalaya, West Bengal, etc.are now actively engaged in finding economic aspects of rearing the species. Private organizations like AVM hatcheries and Poultry Breeding Research Centre at Tamil Nadu can now be rated as one of the biggest commercial quailary in the country.
The few facts, which make quail raising an economical proposition, are as follows:
Domesticated quails reproduce in all seasons of the year when they attain their age between 10-20 weeks. The females proceed, like machines, to lay an egg every 16 to 24 hours for 8 to 12 months. Eggs should be collected for hatching 4 days after the introduction of males (one male: three females) and till the 3rd day after the sexes are separated.
Quails come to production of about 6 weeks of age. 50% production level is achieved at the age of 7-8weeks while 80% is attend after 10 weeks of age. Under ideal condition they produce 250 to 300 eggs per year. Second year production is 48% of the 1st year production.
Incubation and Hatching
Before storage hatching eggs must be exposed to formaldehyde gas for about 20 minutes and then preservation is made at a temperature of 15.50C having 80% humidity for 7-10 days. Domesticated Japanese quail has lost the broodiness trait; hence, eggs must be incubated under a hen or artificially.
Set only clean eggs, which had an exposure of fumigators. Alternatively they can be fumigated within 12 hours after being placed inside the incubator.
A separate hatcher should be operated at 37.20C (990F) with a relative humidity of 70%. The hatcher should remain strictly closed for the entire hatching process till the quail chicks are removed on the 17th or 18th day of incubation.
Brooding and Rearing:
Although both battery and floor system of brooding and rearing can be employed with satisfactory results, but battery brooding upto 3 weeks of age gives better results due to small size of the chicks.
Like chickens the floor should preferably be covered with wood shavings and sand upto a height of 5-10 cm (2 to 4 inches). Of course, for the first week corrugated paper should be placed on top of the floor to provide better foothold. If chicks are raised in wire cages, or batteries, the wire floor also must be covered with hard paper for the first week or so.
Newly hatched chicks require desirable temperature of about 350C(950F) during the first week of brooding which is gradually reduced at the rate of 3.50 C per week until the chicks are fully feathered at about 4 weeks. The best guide for adjusting the temperature is chick behaviour. When the temperature is further required to be high, chicks will crowd near the source of heat and vice versa. The feeder and water space requirement during this period are 2-3 cm and 1-1.5 cm respectively. Floor, feeder and water spaces should be increased with advance in age.
Housing:When the birds are raised for commercial egg or meat production, small pair cages are suitable over litter system. A cage of 12.7 x 20.3 cm.(5 x 8 inches) is sufficient for a pair of layers. Regarding feeder space, an adult quail will need 1.25 to 2.5 cm of feeder space.
Males and females should be separated as soon as possible and grown separately.
Feeds are classified as starter (0-3 weeks), grower (4-5 weeks) and layer or breeder (6 weeks onward) depending upon their growth rate and reproduction performance. For the first three to four weeks quails should be fed a diet containing approximately 27% protein and about 2,800 kcal/kg ME; growers are fed diets having 23% protein containing about 2700kcal/kg ME;while the protein content is further reduced to 22% for layers and breeders having M.E. value of 2,500 kcal/kg.of the feed.
Although quail is a hardy bird compare to other poultry species but are very sensitive to sudden environmental changes particularly during the first 2 weeks of their life. In general they do not require to be vaccinated or deworming. Sanitation is the best preventive measure, including the control of rats, mice and fleas