Raising quail for eggs or meat can be rewarding. It is not however, an easy task. One of the major challenges in raising quail is in that the birds can quickly turn to cannibalism to satisfy their need for essential protein. Which, if you are purchasing cut rate feed, they may not be getting. This cannibalism starts with making meals of the young newly hatched chicks and works its way up to the adult-sized quail. A newly hatched quail chick needs a mother, one that preferably won't think of it as a bite-sized snack. Enter the bantam hen.
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Things you need
- One or more "broody" Bantam hens
- Fertilised quail eggs
Locate a "broody" Bantam hen. The term "broody" refers to the actions of the bird in refusing to leave a nesting area or get off her eggs. She will not leave to eat or forage for a long period of time. As some hens get mean when they are broody, you will have to be quick about slipping quail eggs into her pile.
Wait for a good time to place the eggs in the nest. It is unlikely that the Bantam hen will leave, but eventually she will need water. When she is gone, or otherwise distracted with day-to-day chicken life, it is time to act.
Transfer the quail eggs as close to the pile of your Bantam's eggs as possible. Watch the reaction she has to the eggs. Most bantams will lay on whatever egg is there and will end up being a good mother to the chicks. Some may react negatively and peck at the egg. Odds are, though, the quail is better off with the chicken than with its own mother. When the eggs begin to hatch, the Bantam hen will "adopt" the chicks as her own.
Slip newborn quail chicks into the nest in much the same way you would with eggs. If your quail laid 30 eggs and you have been experiencing a problem with cannibalism, those 30 newborns could be reduced to nothing quite soon. Divide the eggs or chicks up so that each Bantam hen has 10 or fewer chicks to "mother." You may find that Bantams can help you raise pheasant, guinea and other chicks as well.
Feed the quail chicks higher protein feed than you do the chickens. As long as the quail are receiving enough, they won't turn to cannibalism to satisfy that need. Keep to the recommended feed schedule on the quail feed container as the chicks will have different nutritional needs than the adult quail.
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