How to Keep Your New Japanese Quail
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Japanese Quail Factoids

Origin

East Asia

Maximum Size

5 to 6 inches

Longevity

Maybe five years (turns out it's 2.5 years)

Housing

Provide a low ceiling

Security

Protect from predators

Temperature

Room temp fine.  Much warmer when chick size.
Breeding Sexually mature at 6 weeks.  You will need an incubator to hatch eggs.
Egg Production 200 to 300 speckled eggs per year
Incubation 14 to 17 days

Attitude

Kind of goofy.  Likes to "scratch."

Foods

Eats anything.  Quail food best.  Add calcium when laying eggs.

Water

Chicks can drown
Substrate Keep larger ones over wire mesh
Threats Cold, dampness, raccoons, piling, high ceilings

Prologue:  One of our customers brought these little cuties into Aqualand to sell as snake food.  They retail at about the same as a feeder mouse.  We put them on the front counter and found that we sold most of them as pets.  They're as cute as baby chicks and stay relatively small (unlike chickens, ducks, turkeys, etc.).

LA
Large batch of baby Japanese quail.  They cme in a variety of colors.

Original Origin:  Japanese quail (under a variety of sobriquets) can be found in the wild in many Asian countries.  Most are raised in captivity for food and eggs.  We haven't seen any KFQs locally, but we have seen (and tried) the quail on Vietnamese menus.  I don't like the way they chop them up.  Too much work to eat.  I haven't tried the eggs myself, but I am thinking about pickling some.



LA
This little guy is about a week old.  They don't object to being picked up.

Compact Size:  Japanese quail chicks start out about the same size as an Easter PEEP.  They start small and pretty much stay small.  The adults weigh in at a massive five to six ounces.  This takes only about six weeks -- at which point they are old enough to start laying eggs (the females that is).  Males start "crowing" at about the same age.  Quail "farms" set up for egg production expect 200 to 300 eggs per year from each hen.  Unlike chickens and other fowls, the females do not care for the eggs at all.  Quail egg farmers set them up on slanted surfaces where the eggs roll down and are harvested two or three times per day.  They then hatch them in commercial incubators.

LA
One week old Japanese quail chick over newspaper.

How Long do Japanese Quail Live?  U.S. quails live about five years.  I suspect the Japanese quail expire before then.  Whoops.  I found the poultry stats.  Japanese quail live 2.5 years according to thepoultrysite.com in New South Wales.

LA
This two-week old chick hopped on top of his one quart food jar.

They Need Room to Roam:  Commercial Japanese quail farmers cram these cute little dudes into some very tight quarters.  In the wild they need room to forage for food and meet new friends to take advantage of their early reproductive urges.  A 20L would house a couple fairly comfortably.  Keep yours covered because they tend to pop up like popcorn from time to time.  In the wild, they migrate.  In the U.S., introduced flocks moved on and never came back.

Protect Them from Predators:  I don't see how these unsuspecting little bits of feathers survive in the wild.  Wire cages or aquaria fit the bill.  Indoors, rats, mice, cats, and dogs would like a tasty quail treat.  Outdoors, foxes, minks, weasels, predatory birds, and other assorted bird eaters would find Japanese quail quite easy to snare.  Perhaps that's the reason they reproduce so early and so often (much like the now extinct Schmoos and passenger pigeons).

LA
Every lizard keeper will recognize this heat lamp.  In spite of the finger prints, do not touch.

Provide Extra Warmth:  As chicks, Japanese quail need extra heat.  A soon-to-be illegal incandescent bulb will serve the purpose well.  After two or three weeks, room temperature works fine.  Most birds do not like drafts or fans.  Ditto Japanese quail -- especially the chicks.  Warning:  Excess light will cause mature females to continuously lay eggs.

LA

Easy Breeders:  Unless you keep Japanese quail for meat or eggs, you probably won't want to let yours breed.  If you plan to eat your quail, you need to feed a different diet than if you want lots of eggs -- 200 to 300 per year.  Egg production requires plenty of extra calcium.  Egg production is also affected by light -- the more hours of light, the more eggs.  Obviously, egg production puts a real strain on the hen.  In some birds, egg-laying decreases the calcium in their bones -- not a good survival trait.

LA
Japanese quail chicks do relish their starter mash.

LA
When given food in a bowl, they like to jump in and start kicking out their mash.

LA
After a week or two you can provide food in a chick feeder.

Japanese Quail Instinctively Like to "Scratch:"  Most flock birds "scratch" for a living.  They're looking for insects, worms, or anything edible.

LA
Superworms are too strong and keep twisting away.  Regular mealworms will go down the hatch.

They Like Bugs:  One of the reasons Japanese quail and other flock birds scratch is to search for bugs.  Several of them fought over this superworm even though it was too large for any of them.  They pretty much ignored any greens that were offered.  They did enjoy trying to keep the other chicks from having it.

LA
Most birds enjoy "greens."  Not Japanese quail chicks.  Maybe later.

LA
Marbles in the water keep the young chicks from falling in and getting wet or even drowning.

Water Them Carefully:  Baby Japanese quail chicks will wander out into a water bowl way beyond the safety ropes.  Putting several handfuls of marbles in there keeps them from drowning.  Make sure you clean their water bowl and provide clean water daily.  They have absolutely no control over their bowel movements.

LA
Gravity fill waterers work pretty well.

They Keep Growing:  Larger Japanese quail will naturally drink more water.  Also, larger quantities of chicks will consume more water.  Shallow water bowls empty extra fast under heat lamps.  You'll need to check their water source quite often or provide a larger water source.  After about three weeks you'll no longer need those marbles.  (But they do lend a festive touch.)

LA
When small, you can carpet their cage with newspaper.

LA
Newspaper floors make it necessary to move your critters out during cleaning time.

Use a Variety of Substrates over Time:  Wire floors make cage cleaning easier.  However, baby Japanese quail have some problems with wire floors.  They can snag in the wires and injure their fragile legs.  So for the first two or three weeks, newspaper makes a pretty good substrate.  It's cheap.  However you usually have to take the little critters out every day to change it.  Most people want to get them over wire as soon as possible.

LA
Japanese quail come in a variety of colors.

Last Words:  If you intend to feed your new Japanese quail chick to your snake or lizard, you probably wasted your time reading these pearls of wisdom.  And if you intend to raise them for meat or eggs, you can probably find more details elsewhere.  However, if you intend to keep some of the little cheepers as pets, I hope you've found this info useful.  LA

LA
Three weeks of age.

LA
Four weeks of age.  Sold the last 15 today, July 24, 2011, to the same guy.

LA
50 brand new ones today, July 26, 2011.

LA
All 50 born yesterday.  It's July 26, 2011 today.  Kellie likes these little yellow chicks.  I prefer the little brown ones.

More Infos:  I talked to the gentleman who brought these little guys in today.  He says he hatches about 150 every day.  Most of them go to Nebraska to a Raptor Rescue and Recovery Center.  LA

LA
Adults are on the plain side.

LA
Keep ypur adults over wire.

LA
10 new ones came in November 20, 2011.

LA
7 eggs showed up the next morning.  One was broken.

We Now Stock the Adults:  We just started stocking the adults.  They're not as cute as the chicks, but it turns out our customers like them.  LA


© 2011, © 2012  LA Productions
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