Over the past several years there has been a rise in commercial quail farming. While the poultry industry is primarily dominated by broiler production, the domestic quail is finding its popularity in the poultry meat market. While most Americans have been herded by mass marketing to “eat more chicken”, many niche restaurants serve quail. In most american households quail is the oddity of dinner time meat birds. However, European and Asian markets have long valued the nutrient rich eggs and meat.
The first domesticated quail was introduced by the Japanese in 1595. From domestication to the commercial selling of coturnix quail species, quail has proven a great choice for people wanting to raise birds. Quail may not be as common as the broiler chicken but they hold their own when it comes down to a nutrient comparison. One quail egg has more protein, B vitamins and five times more iron and potassium than the infamous chicken egg. Quail farmers not only have a less challenging commodity but a more cost effective nutritious one.
Compared to commercial broiler production, raising quail has a special autonomy that seems to attract farmers. The majority of successful commercial poultry operations in chicken and turkey are involved with integrator contracts. The business plan for domestic quail farming is an alternative to strict protocols and guidelines that can leave broiler farmers feeling confined to larger corporations. Starting a quail farm is an opportunity to be a part of something unique.
Not only does quail farming offer certain freedoms restricted in other poultry production, but quail are unique birds that are simply enjoyable and fairly easy to raise. There are six species of Old World quail. Japanese quail, or Coturnix japonica, being one of the most popular for meat production. As quail farming has grown, new species have been introduced. Part of this New World quail, birds are distantly related but similar through their appearance and habits. The bobwhite quail is a popular New World breed raised in many American quail farms today.
Quail require a good nutrient dense feed. While not complicated, quail do need a good source of vitamins and minerals for healthy development. The right feed is essential for growth in chicks. For female quail to lay eggs they need at least 400 gms of feed per day. Quail farmers can also supplement their birds feed with a probiotic to help support nutrient uptake. Big Ole Bird Poultry Performer is a probiotic that tightens the gut of a bird. Rich in biologically activated organic carbon and beneficial microbes, this probiotic helps birds use up all the nutrients in their feed.
Not only does a tight gut create cleaner eggs but is also aids in calcium uptake. Proper calcium absorption is vital for strong egg shells. A probiotic can increase calcium absorption in the gut to maximize quail feed. A quality vitamin, like Catalyst Poultry Vitamin, can also give birds the extra boost of vitamins and immune support.
A benefit to quail farming is that quail tend to be less prone to disease compared to other poultry birds, like broilers. However, many bacteria borne diseases in quail come from the floor or contaminated waste. The most common disease found in quail is ulcerative enteritis. Ulcerative enteritis is an extremely contagious bacterial disease that causes ulcers in the intestines.
The bacteria that causes this is bacterium Clostridium, which is commonly found in poultry floors and inside the gut of a bird. When this harmful bacteria is not competitively excluded by beneficial bacteria it can be detrimental to a flock. It comes on quickly and can be hard to contain once it has formed in a bird. Infection comes when a bird ingests the bacteria orally, usually from bird droppings. Since it is fast spreading it is easily transmitted to other birds in the flock. Unfortunately, for quail, mortality is typically %100. Diseases like ulcerative enteritis are why it is important to maintain proper floor health by keeping litter dry. Healthy floors are vital to the health of quail.
Southland Organics understands the importance of a healthy floor and works with numerous quail farms across the country. Most of the business was originally focused on chicken and chicken egg operations. As the business grew, so did the awareness of the poultry industry as a whole. The focus began to broaden as qual growers had a rising need for a litter amendment. Floor health became a concern as quail farms were hit hard with high mortality and sick birds.
Since 2009, Southland Organics has seen great success inside commercial poultry houses with their poultry litter amendment, Litter Life. Litter Life will rapidly decompose poultry waste and reduce the presence of harmful bacteria through a process called competitive exclusion. Two species competing for the same resources can not coexist. When one species has even the slightest advantage, the one with the edge will dominate long term. This is how a disease causing bacteria can cause an outbreak.
Numerous resources for feeding bacteria are found in wet litter. The beneficial bacteria feed on the resources in the litter bed, thereby rapidly decaying and composting the poultry litter. Not only can Litter Life keep harmful bacteria from over running a flock but it is proven to dry up poultry floors. Litter Life contains a scientifically adapted blend of microbiology tailor-made for poultry litter. This blend has proven to dominate harmful bacteria,such as Clostridium. With beneficial microbes present birds, like quail, will have less disease pressure.
With numerous success stories on the broiler production side, one quail story sticks out in particular. A quail farmer from Arizona became desperate when an unknown sickness hit his birds causing %100 mortality. After losing too many birds he finally came across Litter Life. Below is his personal story of how Litter Life saved his quail farm.
The story begins with a few quail birds getting sick on the gamefarm in one pen. The sickness continued to progress until it was at 100% mortality. I treated the ground with many products, additives, supplements, antibiotics, and added more birds for a second time with the same result-- 100% mortality rate.
I used another claim to fame product with the same result! Now I was completely at a loss! Total losses were now greater than 3500 birds!
On the 3rd try adding birds, I had contacted 5 different universities across the country with experience in Bobwhite Quail, with Diagnostic labs including the local state lab. We all worked together trying to solve the issue of birds’ mortality rate. We tried changing feed, treating the ground, removing soil and replacing with new soil, antibiotics, electrolytes/vitamins, supplements, burning the ground, but none of the worked! I still continued to lose birds in this pen.
In the 4th batch of birds, the sickness had now spread into the next pen despite the barrier between the pens. It was not until Dr. Chris Seabury (at Texas A&M) did some research and suggested that I call Southland Organics that I discovered a product called Litter Life.
In talking with the folks at Southland Organics (Allen Reynolds), I agreed to order the product and give it a try. What did I have to lose? I did another clean on the pen keeping all the variables the same, with the exception of now I was spraying down the Litter Life.
After the first application, within 5 days the mortality was decreasing and within 2 weeks it was down to 1% loss. I resprayed again 2 weeks and over the course of a month mortality was eradicated. I called to let all the universities, vets at the labs, and doctors know what the results were. They were very impressed that I was able to turn the mortality around. I now continue to use this product. On a routine basis of every 12 weeks, I spray the pens, and I have had no more issues with the problem. I also spot spray in areas that have a high concentration of ammonia and clean the pens.
I was not only impressed with the product but also the ongoing customer support from Allen Reynolds at Southland Organics. He worked with me to not only solve the problem but to save my business as well. I also wish to thank Dr. Chris Seabury at Texas A&M, U of Arizona diagnostic lab, Univ. of Mississippi, Univ. of Georgia, Univ. of Arkansas, and San Diego State.
I will continue to use Litter Life from Southland Organics as long as both of us are in business. The only cons with this product are: 1) it stains clothes, 2) it has a problem not suspending in water so it constantly plugging up the sprayer. (BUT I'M TOLD THAT THAT PROBLEM HAS BEEN CORRECTED)
Again, thank you Allen Reynolds at Southland Organics for your product, time, and patience.
Brown's Gamebird Farm
Though quail farming can be less challenging, nonetheless a quail farm is still susceptible to an outbreak of disease. Using a product like Litter Life is key to preventing a widespread epidemic on a quail farm. Break quail farm disease before it starts. Southland Organics is here to help every step of the way. By giving quail birds proper nutrition, immune support and healthy dry floors, quail farming can remain not only profitable but enjoyable.