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Learned some tough lessons?  Well this is a place to provide helpful tips for those who want to breed any type of fowl/game bird.  

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You need multiple pens!

Okay, I have two fowl hens and one cock.  The girls are not related, nor is the boy.  These need to be kept separate as my breeders in a pen of their own. 

A second enclosure has to be provided for any resulting offspring.  Otherwise, I am inbreeding.  Hmm.. this second mob should not be allowed to breed at all.  Eat the eggs, eat the birds or sell the birds but do not breed them. 

This also made me think about adding another two unrelated females as breeding stock in the first pen.  That would provide at least 20 eggs in the first week that could be incubated while the rest laid over that month would be eaten.  

You were wrong Andy.  You can allow the children to breed.  It's a good idea to add a male from outside every year or two.  

Keeping records and working with those records must be quite a challenge.

If incubating, you must gather eggs for a few days prior. 

Eggs will keep for at least 5 days in a cupboard inside (if above 15 degrees).  It is necessary to stock up and then incubate (if there is no broody hen) for a few days.  Once you start the incubator, you a locked into that cycle as a batch.  You can't just add an egg or two a day because you hit the stage where you need to stop turning them and up the humidity.  That's not going to work when only are few are at that stage. 

An acquaintance has set up single bachelors quarters for the young male 'table' quail,

She had problems with their infighting before she put them into separate housing, I've not seen what she did but thought you may be interested in knowing this.

For sure.  Thank you. 

Here is a few things that I have learned the hard way about Japanese quail breeding.  It's not stuff I've found on youtube or the net.  I hope it saves somebody some heart ache. 

  • Eggs can be kept for up to 5 days in a cupboard. 
  • Only breed in season (spring and summer) at home.
  • You must incubate quail eggs at 37.5 degrees with humidity 70% or over. 
  • Take the rocker out at day 15. 
  • Once they stick their little beaks through the shell (around day 18) it is perfectly acceptable to help them out of the egg by picking the shell away with a pointed knife.  You need to cut the inner membrane as well.  I just clear enough so they can push their own way out.  If you don't, most will die in the shells. 
  • Get them out of the incubator around 6 hours after hatching.  Otherwise, they will die. 
  • Make sure you have a place to put the babies with a heat source (I use a desk lamp) up one end.  They should regulate their own temperatures that way.
  • Put rocks or marbles in a lid as a watering trough.  Otherwise they will drown. 
  • Throw food (crumble) on the bottom of their pen so they learn to eat.  After a few days, put it in a lid or low bowl. 
  • Wait until the babies are fully feathered before moving them outside.  
  • Make sure their new pen is vermin proof or the rats will get them. 
  • Finally - expect to lose some.  I find nature sorts out those that are weak in the first few days.  

Quail breeding is harder than it would appear.  These are an over-domesticated animal with few instincts still in place. 

I only wish I had chooks as I found this information practical and very useful to those who do keep chooks. Lucky Things!!!!!

Old age and breeding.

I am going to make a brave call (but somewhat informed with the benefit of hindsight).  Jap quail breed well only in their first spring/summer season.  Things that I suspect impact on this are:

1. males age faster.  I sexed my birds again a few months ago and ended up very confused.  It was quite difficult to tell.  In hindsight, the males are no longer producing foam/sperm and even their "bump" is less obvious.

2.  I'm down to two eggs a day in year two.  I must have some old girls who are in menopause which isn't surprising.  

I have three cages in my pen so I am thinking about a plan of babies on top who will turn into breeders that season, oldies in cage two who produce a few eggs a day, and meat birds in cage three (excess males and old birds).  I just have to work out how to progress that plan without being killed by My Rozie. 

I've progressed to the stage that I now need to engage in flock management. 

The first 8 babies of the season are producing only 3 eggs a day.  That means that I likely have 5 boys.  4 of the 5 boys need to become meat birds while they are young, I only need the prettiest boy and the 3 girls to remain safe to produce next season.  There's a 5 bird hatch to work out after that and an 11 bird one to follow.  Quail breeding is a little more rustic than I had first assumed.   

I guess if you can't kill the boys for meat, give them away as breeders. 

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