The New South Wales Food Authority (NSW) is recommending the following for a suitable quail cage:
- For cage construction, a 7 millimeter welded wire mesh is recommended to provide secure footing, prevent leg injuries and prevent chicks from escaping through side walls. A 13 x 20 centimeter pen is large enough to house at least two birds. The cage should have a solid metal or plywood roof to minimize head injuries should the birds fly.
- Adult quail will live and produce abundantly if they are allowed to move at 145 square centimeters (cm2) of floor space per bird (125 cm2 per bird on wire floors).
- Adult quail need 1.25 to 2.5 cm of feeder space per bird. Feed should not exceed from the allotted space to avert wastage. Cut a 1″ inch mesh-welded wire and lay it on the feeder as a cover to prevent spillage.
- Clean, fresh water should be provided at all times with a minimum of 0.6 cm of trough space per quail. One nipple or cup should be provided for every 5 birds.
The following are the space required for quails at different stages: (Stage = Size)
- Chick stage (1-15 days old) = 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
- Growing stage (16-35 days old) = 3″ x 3″
- Laying stage (36 says old and up) = 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
The BAI also recommends building small cages (2 feet x 4 feet xi foot) with four levels with a distance each of 3 to 4 inches. Hence, quails can be safely kept on the roofs, basement or in the attic.
It is best to provide more space for birds to reduce or eliminate odor problems.
Feed Management and Nutrition
Though chicken feeds can be fed to quails, it is not always advisable. According to the LDC, protein requirements of chicken and quails are different, thus improper feeding can greatly affect the quails’ performance and productivity. Below is the comparison of the crude protein requirement of the two birds:
The LDC says that quails cannot survive on chicken feeds for a long time and if ever they will survive, the mortality rate will be very high that can reach up to 70% from day old to 45 days. Moreover, the growth of the birds is very uneven and the survivors will not be efficient layers.
Thus, NSW suggests that quails in their first six weeks should be fed with crumbles containing 25-28% protein and 1.0% calcium for the first six weeks. The dietary requirement for maturing quails should contain 24-26% protein and high in phosphorous and calcium. Adding limestone in starter rations or mash is advised for resilient egg shells. For more information, consult your nearest agricultural office or veterinary area.
Feed supply should be available 24 hours daily.
The freshness of feed is very important and should be stored in well-covered containers with tight lids kept in clean, dry and cool area free from pests and other microbes. Feed stored longer than eight weeks is prone to vitamin deterioration and rancidity. You can concoct your own feed premixes for a cutback on your feed expenses. Consult your feed supplier or an expert for the preparations.
In the absence of feeds, quails can be fed with insects, grains and various other seeds.
Brooding and Care of the Young Quails
The Michigan State University cites the following pointers on caring for the young:
- Never allow the young to get cold.
- The brooder temperature should be maintained at 34° C.
- The temperature of 34° C should be maintained continuously in the brooder for the first week; after that the temperature can be decreased by 5° C every until the fourth week.
- A regular light bulb (50-60 watts) infrared bulb or any other heating unit can be used as a heat source. For small-scale operations, a light bulb will provide both heat and light. It is necessary to keep a thermometer to regularly check the temperature. But if you don’t have one, watch the behavior of the chicks for a while to determine whether they are too cold, too hot or just right. If the temperature is too cold, they will huddle together under the heat source; if it is too hot, they will walk away from the heat source.
- Quail geared for early maturity and better egg production should be given a 24-hour period of daylight for the first four weeks using an incandescent light bulb.
- Placing a sheet of paper under the cage floors will make cleaning easier. However, never use a smooth paper since it is slippery that can injure the birds. Use newspaper, towel paper or similar material.
- Use ventilation for the young. This also goes for the adults.
- A balanced ration high in protein should be given to the chicks. To prevent feed spillage, float a wire mesh on top of the feeder for the first few days.
- Always keep plenty of fresh water in a waterer inside the brooder. Take safety measures to prevent chicks from drowning. Placing a wire mesh (half inch size) cut in donut shape on top of the waterer prevents chicks from falling and getting drowned. The cup of the waterer should be filled with disinfected or sanitized marbles or pebbles to keep the water down.
- Clean the waterer, check the feeder and change the litter. Remove the litter daily to avoid odor problems.
- At the end of the fourth week, transfer the chicks to the floor or cages.
- De-beak the chick to prevent cannibalism. Use a nail clipper to remove the tip of the beak of the quail chick when about 2 weeks of age.