What weight to butcher quail at?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by ggschulz, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. ggschulz

    ggschulz Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 23, 2013
    I am at 5 weeks today on my quail and have birds weighing anywhere from 5.2 oz (Tibetans) to 7.5 oz (Pharoah.)

    1) Are these respectable sizes for this age?

    2) I was planning on butchering most of the roosters and a couple of the hens with problems I don't want to perpetuate for for our Super Bowl Party, so I would be processing these in about 10 days or so. At what live weight do you typically butcher your quail, and will these be the right size by that point, just short of 7 weeks?

    I think I will do some regardless, but will keep back a lot of them if the sentiment is that they are too little still. I have a group of 70. I have been separating out the roosters as they start to crow and now have a pen of 34 hens and 36 roosters. I plan to keep most all of the hens to lay/breed and probably 4 of these roosters, leaving me 30+ to process. Thoughts?
     
  2. Poetshens

    Poetshens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 14, 2014
    Your birds are pretty much full grown from what I can tell. Some colors are lighter in weight while others tend to be on the bigger side. They both seem to be around the average for the colors you have so you could easily start putting them in the freezer or wait and try and fatten them up a little closer to game day. I would start with the ones you have the majority of and go from there. (Keep some of the bigger roos to help pass on this trait for breeding if you want to breed for meat)
     
  3. dc3085

    dc3085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    To the previous poster those birds are nowhere near full grown. Coturnix reach sexual maturity around 2 months old and aren't fully grown out for another couple months.

    At 5-6 weeks you are going to feel like you wasted time an money butchering them. There is some meat on them but an average rule of thumb for cots is that carcass weight is about half of live weight.

    With coturnix there is also a big misconception that 8 weeks is fully mature. That came from studies done on the growth curve of quail (all livestock has a growth curve) basically at 8 weeks the growth curve has reached its peak meaning any more weight gained comes at a loss of dollars due to feed cost. If you aren't selling carcasses or tight on money you can disregard that rule. I personally butcher closer to 12 weeks. A 12 week old bird is substantially larger than an 8 week old bird and Im in it for the meat so I always go to at least 10 weeks.
     
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  4. GD91

    GD91 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would agree with above, my first coturnix are growing massive & heavy. I thought they would stop growing, but nope. They are now ten weeks & very heavy.... & big for quail!

    So, that's just my experience [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  5. ggschulz

    ggschulz Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 23, 2013
    This was kind of what I was thinking. Everything I have heard was that they can be butchered at 6-8 weeks, and a 70% dress of a 7 oz bird is less than 5 oz, about the size of a McDonalds Quarter Pounder!

    So, does my growth rate seem about right? They are definitely growing, but not what I would have figured to be a butcherable weight. I would like to butcher a few for the game at least, but wondered if anyone had an ideal weight range, or at least a minimum weight to make it worth the effort. If it is going to be a waste of team or leave a sour taste in my (or my family's) mouth because there is not enough meat, too much bone, too much work, etc... then I will just leave them be for another 3-4 weeks.

    Also, I am going to start moving the hens and my choice roosters into breeding pens, and probably stick my excess hens into my egg production pen (15-20 birds, no roosters.) At this age (5+ weeks,) should I go ahead and put the extended light on them (14 hours/day) to encourage growth and stimulate egg production, or not?
     
  6. dc3085

    dc3085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Find one of the worst specimen in the cage. The smallest, the meanest, whatever trait it may be and butcher him/her as a sample. That should let you know what to expect meat wise.

    As far as weights I can't help much there since I only occasionally weigh my birds. There is a member on here I believe her user name is reedgirl20 or somesuch she has an extensive thread listing weights at specific ages with several others listing their weights as well. If you click advanced search at the top then scroll down to the additional options it will let you select the quail forum only for your searches and that might help to find that thread.
     
  7. ggschulz

    ggschulz Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 23, 2013
    Ok thanks!

    Any insight on putting the lights on these young hens?
     
  8. dc3085

    dc3085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think most recommend using infra red light like they use for fish tanks. Any full spectrum lighting (honestly a 60w incandescent will do it but doesn't provide anywhere near healthy amount of light) should provide enough light to kick them into gear though. Personally I don't usually light hens unless they have laid already. I don't know that it makes any difference but I notice that young hens already take some time to get their equipment functioning correctly and usually lay odd shaped or shell-less eggs for the first bit so I avoid pushing them.
     
  9. ggschulz

    ggschulz Out Of The Brooder

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    I noticed that on the second group (2 hens, 1 roo) that I got. My first batch (8 hens, 1 roo) took what felt like forever (I guess only three weeks) to start laying, not sure of their age, but they laid quality eggs right off the bat. My newbies went through quite a few rubber eggs, and one particularly large long oval double yolker caused a prolapse that eventually fixed itself. Definitely seems to take a bit to get them up to speed.
     
  10. dc3085

    dc3085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Exactly. Seems like it only takes a week or two to work out the kinks but every time I run a new group I see all types of funny eggs come out.
     

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