Changing From Quail to Bantams-A Ag Teachers Cry for Help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by EChambers, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. EChambers

    EChambers New Egg

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    First Post! Here we go!

    I am a Agriculture Teacher at a High School, I have been working here for 3 years and have been a developing a quail production facility in our livestock room. In our production we go through everything from hatching the eggs in our incubator, raising them in brooders, and managing them in breeding pens, then start the cycle all over again. One of the super cool things about this program is that we actually link up with our Commercial Foods cooking class, our Animal Science class raises and cares for the birds till maturity, and then they are properly harvested and given to the foods class to cook. I love this because it shows the two classes every step from "farm to plate" and that really is my job in a nut shell. But in the past year I have had some negative kick back from the students about eating quail. The students have a hard time getting around the fact that its not chicken, which is actually baffling to me because quail is amazing. But, needless to say, they are teenagers and it's hard to change their minds. Here in lies the problem; I have all of the facilities to raise quail, but none of the end desire. My first thought to fix this problem is to raise bantam chickens, that way we can advertise them as chicken, because they are, and maybe I wont have as much negativity from the students.

    So here comes the questions:

    1. At what age does a bantam start laying eggs? We only have about 9 months and with quail we usually can do a couple of generations of breeding.
    2. We have the following facilities for our quail from GQF:
    Breeding Pens: http://www.gqfmfg.com/breeding-pens/0315-15-section-quail-battery-breeding-pen/
    Brooder/Growth Pens: http://www.gqfmfg.com/brooders/0703-brooder-poultry-2-expanded-grow-pens/
    Given the sizes of these facilities would they accommodate bantam chickens? I am mostly worried about the breeding pens. With quail we put one bird per pen at night and put breeding pairs together during the day.
    3. Any suggestions on what specific bantam breeds?
    4. If changing from quail to bantams is not possible, any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!!!
     
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchaholic Extrordinaire Premium Member

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    :welcome!

    1. Bantams tend to mature slowly. Expect to wait at least 6 months for eggs, maybe longer - in nine months you will not get to more than two generations. You would be able to raise one generation, hatch eggs from them, and have the second generation raised to juveniles but not producing eggs. Also, most bantam breeds are not very prolific layers - they are mostly kept ornamentally, as pets, or for showing, so you shouldn't expect a ton of eggs from them.

    2. For bantams the usual recommendation as far as space goes is three square feet per bird, especially if you're going to be keeping them totally indoors and they will have no access to a run. You won't probably want to keep them in pairs either, unless you only put them together briefly to mate. A young cockerel with only one outlet for mating could easily end up wearing all the feathers off that hen's back very quickly and causing her lots of stress and potentially even injuring her with too much mating.

    3. I don't really have a specific breed suggestion for you - maybe old english game bantams because they're a smaller bantam.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Interesting...have never kept quail or bantams......
    ....but do know that quail are fast producers of both meat and eggs(6-8 weeks?),
    and take up much less space than bantam chickens would.

    Changing over to chickens would vastly change the sustainability aspect of your 'hatch to harvest' program and might not fit into the school year time limits.
    Comparing the productivity aspects of the 2 birds could be a very good lesson.
    Wonder if you could get a hold of a few bantams and bantam eggs, harvest, butcher and cook them all up side by side with the quail meat and eggs.
    Get a bantam chicken the same age as the age you harvest your quail (and maybe an older bantam) for carcass comparison, comparing taste and size of carcass.

    Not sure anyone actually eat bantams......maybe search in the meat bird forum here
     
  4. apajudgeca1962

    apajudgeca1962 Just Hatched

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    I have been an Ag Teacher for 24 years. I have gone thru similar situations. It is very easy to resolve if you can incorporate egg production birds in your program. We started with large and bantam purebreds, I am an APA judge, it was a flop. We moved to the concept of instant gratification....chicken...egg...selling product....MONEY IN HAND. My first school had the largest egg production facility in the state, over 700 hens. This one now has 350+ with 8 kids. They will clear an $800-$1,000 profit in just 7 months from 40 production hens. And that's there State FFA Degree
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Curious what costs were figured into that 'profit'.......feed, bedding, infrastructure, labor, utilities, etc?
     
  6. apajudgeca1962

    apajudgeca1962 Just Hatched

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    Chicken lease,$4 per bird at 20 weeks. plus feed ,bedding ,bale of hay to pick at. building ,water ,electricity, facility is school provided. Egg cartons given to me End of project chickens sold for $6 ea to broker that cash goes into FFA account brown eggs sold $3-$3.50 doz.
     
  7. EChambers

    EChambers New Egg

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    Thanks for all the replies, I think we have decided to keep a couple bantams for fun breeding and still keeping the quail facilities going. I really like the quail and will just keep adapting the program to the students.
     

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