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 Post subject: Japanese Quail - laying
PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:46 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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With a few questions popping up over the time I've had them, I've found that many people ask me about various matters to do with laying.

Here's what I've found, in my own experience, in Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) over the past couple of years of having Japanese quail.

Note that any I hatch with my King Suro are then brooded in a fairly enclosed wooden 'box' with a clear perspex front, heated by a lightbulb only.
Once more or less feathered they're put outside, in a run that is mesh on three sides & has an open doorway to an enclosed area that is just as large, where they go to lay or to get out of extreme wind or rain. The run is partially covered to keep rain off them & their feed, but I do like them to experience some 'real life' weather, so never cover the lot.
I also do not put them under lights... although some kept just outside the back door do get light from inside the house, but ONLY when we're heading to the loo (toilet for those of you outside Australia), so periodic lighting for short periods, at random times.

I generally feed my chicks on Country Heritage Chick Starter/Grower which has no coccidiostat in it, and I have Baycox on hand in case of action required for cocciodiosis (which I haven't used on the quail... yet... knock wood). If the budget allows, I continue to feed them that until they're adults, and laying. Then once I've shifted them into a group of hens & one cock, I change their feed to a complete chook layer feed... not particularly high percentage protein... sometimes only 14%. They get fresh green grass and/or broadleaf weeds from time to time, but rarely anything else. Fresh, clean water (and plenty of it) is provided at all times. I find quail drink, proportionately, a great deal more than chooks do.

So... the important stuff....

I hatched some chicks last spring/summer & they were laying in 5.5 weeks (from hatch date to first egg laid). Daylight length was increasing throughout those 5.5 weeks.
I hatched some chicks this autumn/winter & they were laying in 7 weeks (from hatch to first egg laid). Daylight length was decreasing throughout those 7 weeks.

My adullt hens generally lay daily from the time of their first egg, and lay throughout winter.
My quail tend to have favourite spots to lay, and will lay in a 'nest' of a terracotta pot laid on its side & partially buried so that there is soil/litter/hay in the base of the pot.
My younger quail, in the first week or so of laying, will often lay all over the place until they locate a small group of eggs. I use this to my advantage, and put the first few eggs laid into one of the pots. They soon start laying in the 'nest', making it easier to collect the eggs.
I do still have a look around the aviary for any stray eggs... but I don't find I get many when I'm sticking to my usual routine of 'training' them to lay in the pot.

My average egg weight is around 12 grams, and I've only just started to consider breeding for size of egg... watch this space.
I do have a couple of hens (that I would have to isolate to identify) that lay 13 & 14 grams eggs regularly.
**Edited 10/6/13 to update that I've just collected about 40 eggs & only a quarter were 12 grams or under. The remainder probably averaged out at 13.5 grams, with most 13 or 14 grams & a few 15 grams. Those eggs were predominantly from hens that are 2.5 years old. They may have young embryos in them rather than being heavier from date of lay.

**Edited 13/6/13 to update that today's egg collection from the last batch of hens hatched (now 8 weeks old) all weighed 13 grams the day that I collected them. I'm rather pleased about that !

My largest (weighed) egg recently was 16 grams from a 7 week old... :shoc Most likely the first egg & an anomaly. I did clench my bottom when I saw the weight of it, I must say !


Last edited by Winglet on Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:03 pm 
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Sultry Swan
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Winglet wrote:
My average egg weight is around 12 grams, and I've only just started to consider breeding for size of egg... watch this space.
I do have a couple of hens (that I would have to isolate to identify) that lay 13 & 14 grams eggs regularly.

My largest (weighed) egg recently was 16 grams from a 7 week old... :shoc Most likely the first egg & an anomaly. I did clench my bottom when I saw the weight of it, I must say !

mine did just reading about it! :shock:

i saw some lovely quail eggs at the melbourne royal poultry show today, the teeny little yolk was gorgeous. then just over was a goose egg. whoa, big egg.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:47 am 
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Wise One
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Hi Winglet

Some very helpful information on Japanese Quail laying habits including commencement of lay, seasonal influences, egg quantities, how to encourage/train them to lay in nests, & egg weights/size.

Your considering breeding & selecting birds for increased egg size sounds like an interesting goal; will be watching this space.

I have added this information to the Quail Index under "L" :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:04 am 
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Showy Hen
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Great info Winglet. I will try your egg training trick as sometimes I am sure the quail purposefully hid their eggs and then chuckle to them selves watching me searchingfor them.

I got a 20g quail egg a couple of days ago. This particular hen often produces 15g eggs but the largest prior to this was 17g. I am going to pop it into the incubator and see what happens. Her eggs are not that fertile and I find that only about 30% of hers hatch but they start off as big chicks.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:07 am 
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Are quail inclined to suffer prolapses from laying extra large eggs?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:28 am 
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Showy Hen
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Hi Cackles

I do not know if prolapse is a serious problem with quail. I have never had a issue with any of my quail. My quail has only been laying XX large eggs for about 8 weeks. I will keep an eye on them and let you know. The clocka on all my female quail seems much larger in proportion to a chooks.

I have only had one issue with quail reproductive organs. The cock birds sometimes get enlarged and inflamed around their sex organs from non stop working. I have to isolate one of them for a few days occasionally for his own good.

When you let him back in with the girls it is a bit of a frenzy for a while.

I will post if the quail do develop and prolapse issues.

Eire


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:33 am 
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Thank you Eire. :)

I sometimes see advice with chooks, not to rejoice over double-yolkers so much because of the greater risk of prolapse in the hens producing them.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:34 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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grabby,
We may have crossed paths ! I, too, saw the quail eggs & the MASSIVE yolk of that goose egg. Enough for several omelettes.

rollyard,
Thanks. My efforts at increasing egg size may be fairly 'loose' & I won't be keeping records of who's bred with whom.... but may hatch fewer & only from larger eggs to see how that goes for a while.

Eire,
20 grams !! YIKES !! **WINCE**

cackles,
I haven't seen a prolapse yet (or anyone eggbound) &, like Eire, notice that their cloacas are proportionately larger than they are in a chook. It's definitely a good point you make... I'm always fascinated to see double yolk eggs & extra large eggs (from others... I rarely get those myself)... but never 'rejoice' in them due to the fear of danger for the layer of said egg/s.




Going along with larger egg size, I'm also going for larger adult bird size... for the purpose of eating the boys as well as limiting the chance of issues such as prolapse. I would prefer to slowly increase egg size & keep the birds gradually increasing in size rather than a sudden jump in egg size & trouble for the birds.

I don't want to increase the egg size by high protein feed to the adults (which I know will give me an instant increase in egg weight from my existing birds). As with my chooks, I'd rather consistency in the size of their eggs from a 'normal' diet. I don't want to 'force' any of my birds to lay large eggs through a high protein diet due to the risks of prolapse as well as of long term changes to their organs & other body systems.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:51 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Cackles - I was wrong

Quail can get prolapse - the hen that layed the huge egg was hiding and when I picked he up the prolapse was evident. Was processing some boys yesterday, so I am glad you prompted me t have a better look.

Cracked the huge egg today and it was a double yoker. I do not think any of the 15-17g eggs previous were double yokers as I cracked any that did not develop/incubate.

Image

Image


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:57 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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That's a shame, Eire. It is good to know that they can prolapse... which sounds perfectly logical, of course. Perhaps with less people keeping quail for egg laying, there is less of a population (compared to chooks) to notice such things. Or perhaps with more people talking about them we'll find out whether prolapse is more common in quail than you & I currently think.

I've just collected about 40 eggs from the main aviary & I've updated my first post to show that my average appears to be over 12 grams now. Probably around 13.5 grams. I've shoved any 14 grams & over into the incubator, and a few 13 gram eggs as well. I haven't candled them, but it could well be that some of them have embryos in them which has upped the weight. I'm happy that the youngsters (just over 7 weeks old now) have laid a few lighter eggs... as the two heavier ones from the other day were double yolkers.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:41 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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The following photos were taken with the birds upside down, and I plucked feathers in the area between cloaca & tail to make viewing easier.

Cloaca - hen - approx 2.5 years old.
Image

Cloaca - cock - less than 1 year old.
Image

Cloaca - cock with foam emitted. Note that volume of foam can be FAR more than shown in this photo.
Image


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:04 pm 
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Golden Swan
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Great photos, winglet. Thankyou for posting them :thumbs:

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:16 am 
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Wise One
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Nice photos Eire & Winglet.

One of my past Quail hens laid a huge egg once. Weighed in @ 18g from memory. Can't remember if a double yolker or not though.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:23 am 
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Thanks for showing us those photos Winglet. They make it very clear.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:37 pm 
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Must be my sense of humor but the top photo looked like a abonable snow man smiling with his arms up :rofl:


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