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Shinto Dragon Jumbo Coturnix Project

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone, I am new to the forum and to breeding quail. I am a molecular biologist/researcher with a background in genetics and nutrition and I used to breed Flowerhorn, saltwater clownfish, Discus, Show Guppies, frogs, and lots of other animals. I was one of the largest breeders of domestically bred Flowerhorn and I created the Shinto Dragon line of Flowerhorn which took me about 10 years.

Aside from breeding animals, I also grow tropical fruit trees and use my knowledge to try and push the envelope of what is possible. I live in San Diego California and Mango is very marginal tree here. I try to keep updated on cutting edge technology and always try to think outside the box to overcome obstacles. For example, because Mango is very marginal here, I found a technique that is used in India called Double Stone Grafting which basically creates a tree with two intact root systems. With this technique, I was able to creat a Mango tree that grows at roughly double the rate of a normal tree. My Double rootstock Mango tree is also supposed to increase precocity, withstand drought and high wind conditions better and have roughly double the yield of a normal tree. See this thread:

Well anyways, I have been reading a lot on this forum and the Tatanka thread really grabbed my attention. I love the standards they set and the rigorous documentation they utilized. I like to do a lot of research before starting a project, been researching Coturnix for about a year, and recently ordered my first set of eggs. I know that the Tatanka line is not for sale, it is only gifted to select stewards. So, I decided to purchase my first set of eggs from Robbie at James Marie Farm. Robbie suggested I get his Meat Maker line as i want birds that grow large and mature fast.

I received my eggs on 07/27/15, I ordered 30 eggs and Robbie sent me 66 eggs, it was extremely hot. The postal service roughed up my box and 24 eggs were severely cracked with several eggs leaking. I ended up setting 42 eggs and 25 of those hatched. Two were culled due to leg issues so I have 23 birds remaining. The eggs weighed between 12-17 grams, I didn't weigh them all. I will try to update with weights soon.

I hope to use my previous experiences along with extreme control of diet, especially with organic fruit, veggies, insects and a high protein staple such as Purina Game Bird Startina, 30% Protein. I hope to have a super small flock of stable birds which meets or exceeds Tatanka standards hopefully in 3-5 years.

My current chicks are being fed, Startena as a staple with insects from my garden along with fruit and veggie scraps. I feed them fresh pressed Organic wheatgrass once about every three days, sometimes I use frozen. I also put fresh squeezed sugarcane juice into their watered whenever I juice sugarcane for my family. They also get vitamins and probiotics in their water. The largest birds, only two, about 72 and 76grams and they will be two weeks old on Sunday(09/27/15), in three days which makes them 11 days old today. Most the chicks hatched around 4:30pm.

I hope that size will be increased with each generation, it is JMF stock, and I hope I can improve overall health of the birds by selecting only the most worthy birds to make up a line.

I would love any advice for this fun project, I wonder what the absolute minimum number of birds/pairs is in order to keep a single line going is? Thanks,
post #2 of 53

You realize that if you increase of the size of the birds you get from Robby you won't be able to keep them on their feet for more than a few months right? 


We have reached pretty much the practical size that a coturnix can be bred to for meat purposes. Once you start running birds over 14 ounces regularly you'll find that they have knee and hip issues at times, scrape their chests raw from not lifting them as they walk around the cage, and they get bumblefoot faster than you can cure it once they fill out and get a little fat on their frame.


Expect 3-6 months to be the service life of your hens, it's hard to keep them walking longer than that with 16-17 ounce birds. Most of the hens from Robby's meat line will hit 16 ounces at some point in their life so keep a good close eye on their feet. 

post #3 of 53
Thread Starter 
DC3085, thanks for the information! I am still planning this project out and realistically, there isn't much I can do on such a small scale that Robbie at JMF can't do at a faster rate and on a much larger scale. I thought hard to try to and think up what I could do that is more difficult to do in a large operation and my answer is individualized attention to each select bird.

I want to thank Robbie so much for helping all the backyard breeders out there. He runs a commercial operation and still finds time to ship tiny orders of eggs to help further the quail raising hobby. He is a wealth of knowledge and extremely nice.

By individualized attention, I did things such as put a drop of fresh squeezed wheatgrass juice into each birds mouth at about day 2. I also handled my birds frequently so that they get accustomed to being handled in order to make for a calmer bird, especially during weigh ins. I also included many supplements in their diet and give my birds some real sunlight every couple days. I will take a picture of some of the products I use.

When breeding my Shinto Dragon Flowerhorns, it was a trade secret at the time, I used extreme selection of diet to maximize my lines genetic potential. For instance, I fed my Fish fresh shrimp eggs and other foods rich in astaxanthin in order to bring out the redness in the fish. I also fed my fish live foods enriched with liquid Selcon, a HUFA/PUFA ( highly/poly unsaturated fatty acid) supplement. I believe that maximizing the genetic potential of a bird requires an over abundance of clean healthy food and water and to avoid any situation that causes even a little bit of stress for the birds. I am going to try and raise the happiest birds possible while selecting for the traits I want. After the information you presented, I will make a Healthy bird one of my priorities. I do believe in a genetic ceiling but I also believe that perfection has not been reached yet, not that I believe perfection can ever be attained.

Just wondering if anyone has any ideas that are outside the box that may help to maximize a birds genetic potential for size and health. I'm always willing to try something new and hope to find something, some technique, that will be transformative or disruptive( in a positive way) for the Jumbo quail hobby.

Has anyone considered giving their birds more natural sunlight at an early stage for possibly better bone development and possibly better vitamin absorption? I'm thinking in the lines of how humans make a large portion of our vitamin D when our skin is exposed to UVB rays via sunlight.

I am hypothesizing there is a critical window period, I'm guessing especially in the first 0-8 weeks of life, that maximizing the health and nutritional needs of our birds may trigger expression of certain genetic Start Codons on the molecular level that may or may not be expressed in the phenotype of the current bird but may possibly be expressed after multiple generations of breeding these birds with the, let's call it the MAX gene turned on.

This is all just a guess but I'm basing it on the not so similar situation of when spore forming microorganisms really start to produce spores, a self preservation mechanism, when they face adverse conditions. I believe the opposite may be true as I have experienced when working on my line of Flowerhorn fish.

Any ideas, however outside the box, is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
post #4 of 53

It sounds like a really interesting project. I like your scientific approach to it. I'm not convinced it'll work, but I'd love to follow your progress and see whether the way you feed makes more healthy birds. At least, it sounds like your birds won't suffer in any way ^^

With regards to sunlight for vitamin D, I think the Startena you feed them has vitamin D? I'm not familar with Startena, but at least my feed has vitamin D. I don't think additional vitamin D would be an advantage, but I don't think it would hurt either (though, it IS possible to absorb too much calcium if the feed contains too much and unlimited vitamin D is supplied) - and I do think that the sunlight can provide other advantages. For instance, UV-rays kill bacteria. But the birds might also just love the heat.

I only have button quail, but your project still sounds interesting. Do post a few pics of those happy quail :)

post #5 of 53
Thread Starter 

Here is a picture of what I think is my largest bird at 13 days old. It was moving around a bit so the weight was fluctuating and I think the weight is really closer to 84.5 grams. These chicks will be two weeks old tomorrow at around 4:30pm if I counted my days right. I'll post a picture of some of the supplements I've been giving my birds soon.

my goal for this project will be dynamic for the first few years until I get a handle on these birds but I'm leaning towards large and healthy as my long term goal for now.

I believe I will focus on height of bird as an added selection criteria for culling, this on top of the Tatanka requirements. I am adding this selection criteria because I believe that this will benefit the birds overall health as I hypothesize that taller birds will have more even weight distribution of body meat.

I'm not really concerned much about having the largest birds, I'm not going to force feed, although having very large birds is one of the goals. There are just too many ways to deceive on weights. I want to make my Shinto Dragon Jumbo Coturnix one of the happiest and healthiest large lines out there. My major obstacle is the limited amount of space I have. I still need to find out if I can even keep my , not yet a line, going with just 15 breeding compartments. I'm looking for the minimum number of birds and lines possible, absolute minimum. I appreciate the feedback and the interest. Thanks,
Edited by SimonGrow - 9/26/15 at 10:23am
post #6 of 53
Thread Starter 
Here are a few pictures of some products I feed my birds. I also included a picture of one of my largest birds at 13 days and 5 hours old. It weighs approx 90 grams so it meets Tatanka standards, so far. I weighed another large bird and it was also in the 90 gram range. These birds love insects!

post #7 of 53
Thread Starter 
Sorry, still getting used to the forum. Here's more pictures.
post #8 of 53

Since you're feeding non water soluble items make sure you also provide digestive grit. Game bird food being water soluble requires no digestive aid, most everything else does though. 

post #9 of 53
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tip, I do give chic grit and oyster shell but was too lazy to post a picture, lol. I'm trying to give them lots of insects, especially freeze dried mealworms and figure they will need the grit to get the most nutrition from their food.

I'll take a weight of my birds later, they will be two weeks old at around 4-5 pm tonight.
post #10 of 53
Thread Starter 
Here is a quick 14 day weigh in of my quails. I have 23 birds and the largest weighs 100.4 grams and the smallest is 76.0 grams. The average weight is 85.4 grams. Here is a picture of my largest bird.
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