Fifty years ago, as a kid on the farm, I found out that if you breed a white hog to a black hog, or a fast horse to a faster horse, or cross a big tomato to a small tomato - you could work for certain results.
All my life I've studied the genetics of animals I owned, from emus and llamas to dogs and goats, and since I work at a university and could take classes for free, I took biology and genetics classes while I was getting my accounting degree.
So even though I don't have much experience with quail, I'm not clueless.
The first shipment of quail eggs I got this spring had a lot of variation in size, so being a newbie, I naturally wondered if I would get jumbo birds from the jumbo eggs, so I looked it up.
Found a great study by a Turkish university with lots of information and measurements from setting the eggs, hatch weights, then weekly records of how much growth, and how much feed consumption until they were 6 weeks old. Then they stopped the study at 6 wks, when they had all evened out at about 6 oz.
There was another Turkish study of the results of selection and crossing. They started out with bigger birds, but the last generation in their study had males that were 290 grams, and females that were 311 grams at FIVE weeks.
An ounce is 28.3 grams, so the males were 10.2 oz and the females were 10.99 oz. At FIVE weeks.
I want some of those eggs.
There was an old American study from the 60's, about inbreeding depression, that showed that brother X sister matings for 3 generations was all it took for a "complete loss of reproductive fitness", and that even in their control group of 125 randomly mating individuals, there was still some inbreeding depression.
So maybe it's not that 1 pound quail aren't possible, but just that it hasn't been done yet.
I read a post by someone on BYC that he had seen a study that you could add an ounce a year by selective breeding, and he was going to start working on that.
I wasn't able to find any studies about that, so if someone has a link, it would be greatly appreciated.
But if you start with eggs from 12 oz birds, you'ld gain 3 years from starting with eggs from 9 oz birds. It is sort of a way of buying time.
A lot of inbreeding causes loss of size and vigor, so someone with 12 oz birds and a small flock might not be able to maintain the weight.
Since there are a lot of people who aren't honest or accurate about their birds size, or they claim to have "the biggest birds around" but don't actually weigh them, we could have proof of life pictures for size and trade with people with big birds to try to get more genetic diversity.
Edited by diggypaws - 11/23/10 at 7:33pm