Sunday, 9 May 2010

For Stiggy - The Quail

Stiggy asked me about the quail, so I thought I'd post a bit of info for those that don't know much about them.

My quail are Japanese or Coturnix Quail, they are one of the plainer types of the species but are a good 'starter' bird. I got my birds from my cousin at six weeks old, they were literally just off the heat lamp so spent the first two weeks coming into the house at night as it has been so cold. At first they were kept in an old rabbit run on the open ground, with a cat box shelter. Unfortunately one became ill, very dehydrated, and died. I then decided to take them off the ground and found a great big hutch for them.

Quails are very flighty birds so must have plenty of head room. They have an amazing springy quality to them which I can only describe as boingy! The best time to see this is first thing in the morning. When it is cold at night I cover them, when I pull back the cover they let their little over-night wound springs go, and boing from one end of the hutch to the other. When they first arrived I was amazed at how calm they were as I had heard about them being flighty. It didn't last and they were soon difficult to catch to move in and out of their night quarters! I loved having them in the house in the evenings though, they make the most comforting noises. A bit like when you walk in a pet shop full of finches.

Apart from their skittishness they are easy to keep. Mine are just fed on chick crumb, but you can buy them fancy quail mix which is, of course expensive. They also love meal worms for a treat. They are messy and seem to thrive in spilling their water all over a clean bed. They also get through chick crumb faster than I ever imagined for their tiny size.

Quails come into lay very early, anywhere between 7 and 10 weeks I have heard. Mine are now around ten weeks, but I still haven't had an egg! The one thing I am really looking forward to is my first hatch. For any of you that have seen quails eggs you will know how tiny they are. My cousin describes them on hatching, as resembling big bumble bees!

Anyway, as I currently have two males and only three females I am popping back over to my cousin's tonight to pick up some more hens. They will then have to be separated into two clans as, believe it or not, it is the hens that will fight not the cocks. They can live quite happily with a couple of cocks and several hens, as long as the ratio is about 6 hens to each cock, and as long as they were introduced very young. I have been told that quail can be very aggressive and can head peck so badly they will go through the skull! I am not risking that!

So hopefully soon I will have plenty of eggs to sell for both eating and hatching. Quail eggs are fantastic for baking! Obviously if anyone is interested - let me know!


Stiggy said...

Thanks for that, loads of people mention they have Quails, like my friend Don on the green barn blog (link on my blog), but I never bothered to ask what they were like!

That's really kind of you to do a post all for me - makes me feel special!


Why do you keep Quails - I'm curious, do they produce tasty eggs? What's your opinion of them?

Berthddu Suit said...

I have visited Don a few times, he's on my reading list!!
You are special Stig!! I'm not sure what prompted me to go into quails, I just enjoy having a variety of critters!! They do produce lovely eggs, they are somewhat of a delicacy, quite expensive to buy. I find them a bit fiddly though because of their size (teeny!). I will probably sell most but I hear they are excellent for baking, so Jedi will no doubt be making quail cakes!! You need about four to a decent chicken's egg! I will probably incubate some and sell as chicks too if I get the interest. If you decide to dabble, just be warned - Quail are bonkers!