Coturnix husbandry

A Brief History

Female on left, Male on right

Female on left, Male on right

The coturnix quail originates from Europe, Africa and Asia as a migratory game bird. Since the twelfth century it has been raised in Japan as a pet, for meat and eggs and as a singing bird. Coturnix quail were introduced to the United States around 1870.

This quail is known by many names: Japanese quail, Pharaoh quail, Stubble quail, Nile quail, Bible quail and more. The Latin name of the quail we raise is coturnix coturnix and it is the D1 strain.

General Information

Coturnix Quail are a fast growing hardy bird. They are mature at 6 weeks of age and are laying eggs by 7 weeks of age. They are an excellent gamebird for meat and egg production.

Color

Males are characterized by a rusty brown throat and breast feathers while the hens have a lighter cream colored feathering on the neck with black stripes and dotting on the breast.

Breeders

Grouping of one male to three females will generally produce high fertility. The ideal temperature to maintain in your breeder house is 70° to 80° F. Adequate ventilation is needed to replace stale air with fresh air and to remove any odors. Breeders should be given 15-17 hours of light daily for best egg production.

Eggs

Egg production is approximately 300 eggs per year. Eggs should be collected at least once daily and stored at 55° in moist humidity for best results. Eggs should be stored and incubated with the large end up. Eggs lose a little fertility each day they are stored. Daily setting is best but eggs may be held for up to seven days.

Incubation

Incubation procedures will depend on the type of incubator you use. Follow your incubator manufacturer’s directions. Natural incubation is also possible using Bantam hens. Coturnix hens rarely set their own eggs.

Proper temperature, humidity, turning and ventilation are the most important factors in incubation. Failure in any of these areas will result in a poor hatch. The eggs should be turned a minimum of twice a day. If your incubator does not have an automatic turner you can place an X on the side of an egg with a felt tipped pen. Rotate eggs 180° so the X will be on top one time and on the bottom the next time.

The charts show incubation times, temperatures and how to figure relative humidity:

Requirements Coturnix Quail
Incubation Period 17 days
Stop Turning Eggs on 14th day
Circulated Air Operating Temperature (degrees F., dry bulb) 99 3/4°
Humidity (degrees F., wet bulb) 84° – 86°
Operating Temp. During Last 3 Days Of Incubation (degrees F., dry bulb) 99°
Humidity During Last 3 Days of Incubation (degrees F., wet bulb) 90° – 94°

Converting Wet Bulb from Degrees Fahrenheit to Relative Humidity

In the chart below, the box formed by the intersection of the lines from the dry bulb temperature and the line showing the difference in dry and wet bulb temperature, represents the relative humidity in your incubator, assuming a clean, wet wick.

Difference in Degrees between Wet & Dry Bulbs
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Dry Bulb Temperature 60 94 89 84 78 73 68 63 58 53 48 44 39 34 30 26 22 18 14
65 95 90 85 80 75 70 65 61 56 52 48 44 39 35 31 28 24 20
70 95 90 86 81 77 72 68 64 60 55 52 48 44 40 36 33 29 26
75 95 91 87 82 78 74 70 66 62 58 55 51 47 44 40 37 34 31
80 96 92 87 83 79 75 72 68 64 61 57 54 51 47 44 41 38 35
85 96 92 88 84 80 77 73 70 66 63 60 56 51 50 47 44 41 38
90 96 92 88 85 81 78 75 71 68 65 62 59 56 53 50 47 44 41
95 96 93 89 86 82 79 76 72 69 66 63 60 58 55 52 49 47 44
100 96 93 89 86 83 80 77 73 70 68 64 62 59 56 53 50 49 46

Hatching

Once a quail chick pips the egg, it may take up to 10 hours for it to come out of the shell. It will take a few hours for it to dry after it hatches. Normally chicks will all hatch within 24 hours. Chicks can stay in the incubator safely for a day and then they should be transferred to a brooder unit.

Brooding

When chicks are removed from the incubator they must be placed in an area which is heated to 99 ¾° and an unheated area which is much cooler with enough room to move between the two areas as the chicks choose. The brooder temperature is reduced 5° each week until the 4th week. At this age room temperatures can be adjusted for the comfort of the quail.

If chicks are too cold they will huddle together and on top of each other to try to get warm. If chicks are too hot they will spread out to the furthest edges of the brooder. If the temperature is right the chicks will be active and evenly spread out.

Chicks need several food and water locations throughout their brooding area so no matter where they go they can find food and water. Water receptacles must be of an appropriate size to prevent drowning.

At about 4 weeks of age the quail can be placed in breeder cages, grow-out cages or on the floor in grow-out rooms. If you are raising them for dog training or as a hobby they can be placed in an outdoor pen if the weather permits.

Feed and Water

We recommend you use gamebird feeds for best results. They are available for all stages of growth. Cool, clean water must be available at all times.

Cleanliness

Coturnix quail can be brooded then grown out in cages or on bedding. The cage trays that catch fecal material and bedding material should be cleaned regularly to help prevent disease, odor and fly problems.

All feeders, water receptacles and other equipment should be sanitized regularly to help prevent disease.