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Thread: Thinking on getting some Nipponese q u a i l . . .

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  1. #7
    practical experience, FTW Tazlima's Avatar
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    Jun 2013
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    My birds know my dogs and are fine with them around the cage. Training the dogs to ignore the birds was the more challenging task. If a strange dog, or a strange person for that matter, comes around, they'll flush.

    As far as breeding... they have lots and lots and LOTS of sex, hence the need to have multiple females for each male. A group of males kept together turns into a very noisy orgy, while a 1-1 pairing may well result in the female being harassed to death by the unendingly horny male. However, as far as actually making a nest and raising babies? That's actually relatively uncommon, unless you have an unusually spacious and comfortable enclosure (e.g. I've heard of people keeping quail by letting them inhabit the floor of a greenhouse, which makes me really wish I had a greenhouse) where they can find a really good hidey hole and make a nice little nest for themselves. NOTE: Unlike chickens, you can't "free range" quail. Chickens tend to return to the same roost while quail sleep someplace different every night. If they're let out, they'll be gone.

    For quail to raise babies, you need a female to go "broody." From the spring into the fall* a female will lay an egg a day, and generally speaking has as little interest in those eggs as they would in a turd. It's just something that comes out of them, and they kind of shrug and wander off. I've never had a quail get upset, or seem to care in any way, that I was taking its eggs.

    If a bird goes broody, all that changes. The female will make a nest, and gather up the eggs carefully and defend them against all comers. (She won't generally start sitting on the eggs for a few days, because all the babies start incubation at the same time so that they all hatch at the same time, so a female will lay five or six before beginning incubation. Additionally, if other females are around and see what she's doing, they'll lay their eggs in the broody bird's nest so she can do all the work - that's why you'll sometimes see wild quail with 20+ babies at once).

    While a female is sitting on a nest, she stops laying eggs, so a broody quail isn't desirable if you're trying to maximize egg production, but, as I mentioned already, this behavior is rare in coturnix. They've had a lot of these natural behaviors bred out of them. If I ever have a female go broody, I'll be tickled to leave her be and let her hatch a clutch, but I've haven't seen it happen yet. If I want babies, I just pop some eggs in the incubator (and you'll need babies periodically - quail have a fairly short lifespan).

    Really, the only difference with the males in the cage is that the eggs will be fertilized, and assuming they're gathered daily and refrigerated, the two are virtually indistinguishable. (You CAN see it if you know what to look for - all eggs have a tiny white dot on the yolk. In unfertilized eggs, it's a ring, while in fertilized eggs, the circle is filled in.

    *Laying is regulated by the amount of light the bird is exposed to. 14 hours/day is the magic number to get the egg rolling. Some people use artificial lights on a timer and make them lay year-round. Personally, I figure by fall they've earned a break, so my birds aren't laying at the moment.
    Last edited by Tazlima; 12-01-2018 at 09:47 PM.
    "One of the hardest things to do, I think, is learn to trust your own creativity." - Ambrosia

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