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Quails are popular birds for high quality egg and meat products. On the basis of a wild bird, characterized by a small constitution and a variegated protective color, many decorative and productive quail breeds, larger ones, adapted to existence in captivity, have been bred. The most popular are pharaohs, Manchu, English, tuxedo quails; dozens of hybrids have been bred on their basis.
What do quails look like?
When considering quails, one should describe the appearance of a wild migratory bird, which gave its features to all currently existing breeds. Quail comvennaya - the smallest species of the order of chickens, belonging to the pheasant family.
External characteristics of the bird:
- body weight - 80-130 g;
- body length - 18 cm;
- sharp wings;
- small tail;
- paws with four toes without spurs;
- small beak, without feather cover at the base;
- the color is brown-brown with light and dark specks and strokes.
Quails are born strong and independent, covered with variegated down, light brown with dark spots and stripes. You can understand whether a boy or a girl is a chick by the age of one month, when feathers will grow to replace the down.
Females are brighter than males, they have more dark specks on their chest. In males, the color of the chest is closer to monochromatic, but the plumage on the head is more contrasting, the goiter is light, and the beak is dark. By body weight, the male is superior to the female.
The poultry value of quails is early maturity and excellent egg productivity. The female makes the first clutch at the age of 5-6 weeks, for a year, with good care, she is able to give up to 300 eggs. According to the ratio of body weight and annual number of eggs, quails are 3 times more productive than chickens.
Quails are raised for dietary meat, healthy eggs, as well as for decorative purposes. In egg breeds, the meat is no less tasty than that of meat, but the body size is smaller, and the appearance is less attractive than that of decorative ones.
The characteristics of quail breeds of different directions are given in the table.
|Characteristics of the rocks||Meat||Egg||Meat|
|body mass||250-500 g||120-150 g||180-220 g|
|egg weight||12-18 g||10-13 g||12-16 g|
|number of eggs per year||180-220 pieces||280-320 pieces||220-280 pieces|
Females of egg-laying quails are highly productive, they begin to lay early. Egg quails are small, not capricious in terms of maintenance and nutrition. They are bred to produce young animals and sell eggs. Quail eggs are saturated with vitamins and nutrients, differ from chicken eggs by their hypoallergenicity. Females are kept separately from males, lodged together for a short time to obtain offspring.
Zarechny Maxim Valerievich
Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.
Domestic quails do not have a maternal instinct, so you have to use an incubator for breeding.
Common breeds of egg quails:
- Japanese - quails bred by breeders of Japan, which have retained the variegated colors of wild relatives. They weigh 130-150 g. The most productive breed in terms of egg production: females begin to lay at 6 weeks of age, give more than 300 eggs per year. The eggs are small, weighing about 10 g, but the fertilization rate reaches 95%. The only drawback of the breed is the small weight of the carcass, not exceeding 110 g, but the meat is tasty, like that of wild relatives.
- English whites are quails with a gene mutation that led to the appearance of white plumage. The head of males is often decorated with dark spots. The weight of an individual is 160-180 g. Birds are laid from 7 weeks of age, give about 280 eggs weighing 10 g. The carcass looks attractive due to the light skin.
- English blacks are relatives of Japanese quails with rich brown plumage. Quail is productive, large, weighs 180-200 g, adapts to any conditions of keeping. The annual number of dietary eggs with excellent taste is 260-280.
Since the quail is a small bird, it is bred mainly to obtain eggs. There are only two meat breeds - Pharaoh and Texas. Both quail breeds are the result of breeding work. The main feature of meat quails is a relatively heavy carcass, reaching a weight of 300-400 g.
Breeding meat quails is beneficial with high-quality and balanced feeding aimed at accelerated weight gain. At the same time, the birds are completely unpretentious in terms of keeping, the conditions do not particularly affect the increase in body weight.
In order for the birds to quickly gain weight and remain healthy, it is necessary to include fresh plant foods, vitamins, and sources of minerals in the diet. Quail meat breeds:
- Pharaoh is the result of a long selection. The weight of adult birds is 300-400 g. The color of the plumage is "wild", like that of Japanese relatives. Pharaoh quails are valued for their fast growth, large carcasses. Females begin to rush from 2 months of age. The lack of the breed is 70% egg production.
- Texas quails are bred on the basis of the pharaohs, they are distinguished by a wide body. The plumage is dense, white, a small amount of dark spots is acceptable. Chicks grow quickly, reaching a weight of 400 g, some individuals with good care can weigh up to 600 g. The meat of Texas quails is tasty, dietary. Birds are picky in terms of nutrition and living conditions.
Meat - a universal variety of quail, bred for the sake of obtaining both meat and eggs. The body weight of quails is average, egg products are supplied to the market, used for breeding livestock.
Representatives of universal breeds adapt to any conditions of keeping, are picky about food, their feeding is economical.
When raising meat birds for slaughter, it is important to guess the optimal time. 4-5-month-old individuals weighing about 150 g are slaughtered, their meat is juicy, low-fat. Common universal breeds:
- Estonian quails are popular in the CIS, bred on the basis of pharaohs and English quails. They are distinguished by a rounded, well-fed body, a shortened neck, weigh, on average, 250 g. The color of the plumage is "wild", males are brighter than females. The main advantages of the breed are endurance, quick adaptation to conditions, the beginning of laying from 2 months of age, long egg production, a high percentage of fertilization and offspring survival.
- Tuxedoes are hybrid birds obtained from crossing white and black Englishmen. In males and females, the plumage is the same: the neck, chest and belly are white, the rest of the body is rich brown. An adult bird weighs 150 g, begins to lay from 7 weeks of age, gives 260-280 medium-sized eggs.
- Manchu - beautiful golden quail. Females have more specks on the chest, males have a red neck and a dark head. An adult bird weighs 120-150 g. Annual egg production reaches 280 pieces. The safety of the brood is high. The carcasses look attractive due to their fair skin.
- Phoenixes are a broiler variety of Manchu quails. Bred in France, it has a light golden plumage. An adult bird weighs 400 g, it reaches this weight in 2 months of life, but rapid development has a negative effect on health. Females begin laying as early as 1.5 months of age, egg weight reaches 15-18 g. Carcasses look attractive.
Quails with beautiful plumage are bred mainly to decorate personal plots and parks. But many varieties have good meat and egg productivity, which makes it possible to grow quails for production purposes.
Decorative quail breeds:
- Virginian - medium-sized birds of golden brown color with dark and light specks. The head is decorated with white stripes. The beak is narrow, as if flattened from the sides. Birds are not capricious in keeping, they can live in cages and in the wild, they are distinguished by a calm, meek character. The number of eggs in a clutch reaches 15 pieces.
- Chinese painted - quail with the most interesting color: the belly is red, the upper body and neck shimmer in many shades. The body of quails is small, so meat breeding is unproductive. The behavior of quails is territorial, couples are formed for life. Birds quickly adapt to their environment.
- California - quail domesticated in the United States. The bird is large, with a rounded body and developed muscle mass. The tail is slightly longer than that of other breeds. The plumage is original: the back is greenish-yellow, the chest is speckled, the rest of the body is bluish-gray, the wings are decorated with white and black strokes, between the forehead and neck there is a black spot with a white border. A notable feature of appearance is a long crest directed forward.
- Marble is a type of Japanese quail, obtained as a result of mutation of color genes. The plumage is light ash with blurry smoky spots. The breed belongs to egg, but is rarely used for production purposes, since the survival rate of chicks is low, and adults are susceptible to diseases.
For breeding at home
Each of the above names of quail breeds is suitable for home breeding. Due to its small size, an adult bird lives without problems in a confined space, does not require a lot of food, which makes it beneficial to keep several individuals for their own needs. Quails feel comfortable in a 1 m cage2, where up to 50 individuals fit. Cages can be multi-storey, saving space.
The quail breeding business pays off quickly. The main thing is to determine the direction, to study the differences in content between beef and egg breeds.