The quail, locally known as pugo, is a small game bird found in temperate and tropical regions throughout the world. Quails by some distinction are classified as “game-hunting” birds and as such, quails should not be compared with chicken, whose requirements are different.
The true or Old World quail is a migratory bird that can be found in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The American quail (sometimes called “patridge”) and is non-migratory. In the Bible, quail was served by the Lord to the fleeing Israelites. During the present critical period of population explosion, with rampant malnutrition and unrelenting price rises for both cereal and meat, the quail is an answer to the consumer’s need for cheap eggs and meat, just as it was during that critical Biblical time.
Many people are unfamiliar with the breeds of quail being raised in the Philippines Today. Some are surprised to learn that there is a white quail. All the popular breeds used for eggs and meat commercial production are sub-varieties of the Corturnix species, which is able to produce eggs throughout the year.
The different breeds found in the Philippines are:
- Native – Found in the fields and forests; the common “pugo”. This
quail is not suitable for commercial production.
- Japanese Taiwan – Popularly known as “Chinese Quail”. It has dark brown feathers
mixed with white and gray. The female has a gray underside flecked with
darker feathers, while the male has many reddish feathers on the underside.
- Japanese Seattle – This is as an American breed similar to the Japanese Taiwan; it
has jersey (rust-maroon) feathers at the base of the heads.
- Negro – Black or grayish black.
- Tuxedo – Black with a white spot on the breast.
- Silver – White with black eyes; from the Canaan Valley, Egypt.
- Brown Cross No. 1
- Brown Cross No. 2
The Japanese Taiwan breed is commonly raised in the Philippines. However, its eggs are small compared to those of improved breeds, and egg production is lower. It has also been found to be susceptible to respiratory diseases. The six other breeds listed are all good. They are heavy egg producers and are resistant to diseases.
For beginners, the Japanese Seattle is recommended as it is a heavy egg producer and the male can be easily recognized by the color of its feathers as early as 30 days of age. This means a saving on feeds, as the male can be culled and sold as broilers.
To insure success, select a good breed and buy stock from a reliable breeder. Good chicks will cost about P 8.50 day old. Some selected breeders may cost as much as P 35.00 each.
Quail are easy to raise and the housing required is not as complicated as for chickens. A 4 feet x 8 feet x 1foot high cage can house 250-300 layers. The flooring and all sides are made of 1/2-inch mesh welded wire while the top or cover should be of lawanit to prevent the birds from flying. The quail has a tendency to fly upwards if the top of the cage is made of mesh wire, and this may cause head injuries.
Cages can also be made smaller (2 feet x 4 feet x 1 foot) and stacked in four decks, with 3 to 4 inches between the decks. A large number of birds can thus be raised in a very small space. The cage can be placed under any roof, under an elevated house, or in a garage.
The cages should be rat-proof; rats are the greatest enemy of the birds.
Feeds and Feeding
Quail can be fed with any available chicken feed at the rate of one kilo for every 50 quail layers per day. Add finely ground shell (limestone) to produce stronger and thicker egg shells. Best results were found when chicken broiler starter mash (22% protein) was fed to both layers and broilers.
A 1/2-inch mash welded wire should be cut to fit the feed trough and laid directly on the feed to prevent the birds from scratching out the feeds. Another one inch mesh welded wire should be used to cover the trough to prevent the birds from dusting themselves with the feeds.
Keep feed in the troughs all the time, as feeding should be continuous 24 hours every day to get higher egg production. Light should be provided so the birds will continue to eat at night. If this is done, some birds may lay two eggs in 24 hours.
Care and Management
Quail, unlike some other fowl, are not delicate birds. They can be raised in any suitable and comfortable place in the house. The birds do not easily contract fowl diseases common to poultry, especially chickens.
Vaccination is not needed and the drugs usually given to chickens do not have to be added to quail feed or drinking water. However, should any disease outbreak occur, the drugs used for chicken can be used. Deworming of the breeders is done at least every four months or three times a year. Use the same dewormers as for chickens, but follow the direction on the package for smaller birds.
Normally, “pugo” will hatch their own eggs, but the imported breeds mentioned will not brood to incubate their eggs; an incubator must therefore be used. For a table-type electric-operated incubator, a temperature of 1010 – 1030 F should be maintained during the incubation period. For the forced-draft incubators, the temperature should be kept at 98-1000 F. Further instructions on operating an electric incubator will be found at the end of this pamphlet.
Candling is done on the 11th day of incubation. From setting, quail eggs will hatch on the 18th day.
The brooder should be a closed compartment, 2 ft. x 4 ft. x 6 inches. The flooring, top and three of the sides should be made of lawanit or boards while the front side should be made of 1/4-inch mesh welded wire for ventilation. This is adequate for 500 chicks. A bigger brooder may be made to fit the raiser’s requirements.
A 50-watt bulb should be placed a little away from the middle of the brooder to allow room for the chicks to stay away from the heat source in case there is over-heating in the brooder.