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Strategy check on breeding, fertilizing, culling, etc. (Coturnix)

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I'm new to this and have a few questions as far as my plans go.  I have 17 hens and 3 roos, all Coturnix.  All are in the same cage right now.  Eggs started to appear about 10 days ago.  At this point I'm getting 5-7 eggs a day (they are delicious).  Males are obviously trying to mate with females.  There seems to be no carnage or injuries inflicted on anyone so far. 

 

Here's my plan.  Please tell me if I am on the right track.

 

I want to have about 20 more hens for eggs, plus a few roos to continue breeding in the future.  I have a separate cage that I plan to transfer some hens and roos to so I have better odds of collecting fertilized eggs for incubation. 

 

I plan on taking the 2 biggest roos and 8 of the biggest hens from the existing flock and putting them in this separate cage to do their thing.  I'll probably send the 3rd roo to the freezer.  I'll collect about 50 eggs from them and incubate for the new flock.

 

Once eggs hatch I will brood and grow them out to maturity.  Males will be whacked and frozen, except for a select few.

 

I plan on doing this a few times so that I have 4 or 5 cages with about 20 birds in each.  Once I get all of the cages full of birds, I will dispatch the oldest birds to the freezer and fill their cage with new birds.  Then the process will start over.

 

The idea is to eventually have a good supply of eggs and meat for the family and maybe sell some of the extra. 

 

Questions:

 

How long should I wait to start breeding?  They only started laying about 10 days ago.

 

Am I wasting my time with a "breeding cage"?  Are 3 roos and 17 hens in one cage good enough to get a good amount of fertilized eggs?

 

In the breeding cage, is it OK to have the 2 roos and 8 hens together or should I just go with 1 roo and 4 or 5 hens?

 

Should I keep a few roos from each hatch to breed with hens they hatched with or does it matter what hatch they breed with?

 

How many generations can I go before seeing some problems and need to get some variety of lineage?

 

What am I missing?

 

Wow, that's a big post!  Thanks for any advice - this forum is awesome!  I've learned A LOT here.

post #2 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by gilpinguy View Post
 

I'm new to this and have a few questions as far as my plans go.  I have 17 hens and 3 roos, all Coturnix.  All are in the same cage right now.  Eggs started to appear about 10 days ago.  At this point I'm getting 5-7 eggs a day (they are delicious).  Males are obviously trying to mate with females.  There seems to be no carnage or injuries inflicted on anyone so far. 

 

Here's my plan.  Please tell me if I am on the right track.

 

I want to have about 20 more hens for eggs, plus a few roos to continue breeding in the future.  I have a separate cage that I plan to transfer some hens and roos to so I have better odds of collecting fertilized eggs for incubation. 

 

Putting multiple roosters in the same cage is going to cause problems. They'll eventually start fighting (they're still too young right now) but fighting aside they overbreed the hens (often the same hen) and it just raises the stress level of the pen. 99% of the time when quail aren't laying eggs it's because they are stressed. So while it may slightly increase your fertility rate, you'll end up with less eggs. 

 

I plan on taking the 2 biggest roos and 8 of the biggest hens from the existing flock and putting them in this separate cage to do their thing.  I'll probably send the 3rd roo to the freezer.  I'll collect about 50 eggs from them and incubate for the new flock.

 

Once eggs hatch I will brood and grow them out to maturity.  Males will be whacked and frozen, except for a select few.

 

I plan on doing this a few times so that I have 4 or 5 cages with about 20 birds in each.  Once I get all of the cages full of birds, I will dispatch the oldest birds to the freezer and fill their cage with new birds.  Then the process will start over.

 

The idea is to eventually have a good supply of eggs and meat for the family and maybe sell some of the extra. 

 

Questions:

 

How long should I wait to start breeding?  They only started laying about 10 days ago.

 

Within a week

 

Am I wasting my time with a "breeding cage"?  Are 3 roos and 17 hens in one cage good enough to get a good amount of fertilized eggs?

 

to make your life easier on breeding groups i'd start thinking one roo and six to seven hens. One roo can keep 7 hens fertile full time. 

 

In the breeding cage, is it OK to have the 2 roos and 8 hens together or should I just go with 1 roo and 4 or 5 hens?

 

You can do one roo and 3-7 hens. 

 

Should I keep a few roos from each hatch to breed with hens they hatched with or does it matter what hatch they breed with?

 

Pull the roosters out of the same hatch as the hens. I don't think you realize how aggressive these things get, it's difficult to change their social structure and kind of time consuming. They're too territorial to add new birds to an existing cage, they'll just kill the new birds. You have to keep them side by side for a couple weeks in separate cages and then  you can add all of the birds together in a new cage, that none of them have ever been in. 

 

How many generations can I go before seeing some problems and need to get some variety of lineage?

 

You honestly won't. Scientifically you will start seeing reductions in fertility and hatchability after 17 generations or so but I've line bred birds for long periods of time and see no ill effects beyond a reduction in fertility. 

 

What am I missing?

 

Wow, that's a big post!  Thanks for any advice - this forum is awesome!  I've learned A LOT here.

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

DC3085 - thanks for the insight!  Building a brooder and the second cage this coming week.

 

I'm also getting 9 eggs a day now.  So cool!

 

I got one yesterday that was all membrane - no shell at all.  That was a little strange.  It felt like a soft, underinflated rubber ball.  All other eggs normal, so I'm chalking this up as an anomaly and not something to be worried about.


Edited by gilpinguy - 10/9/15 at 2:55pm
post #4 of 4

X2 on what Don said.  I have one of my cages with 9 hens and their great grandfather who is 2 years old.  I incubated just that cage's eggs after collecting for a week and only one egg failed to develop.  He is plenty potent enough to keep 9 younger hens fertile, even at his age, which is considered quite old for a coturnix.  It was a fun project and just shows that you don't need as many roos as most people think you have to keep to have good fertility. Of course they are getting a good diet too and that helps. No low protein, meant for chickens feed.

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