Man, this is a tough one to post. But the whole point of this blog is to help folks out who want to raise coturnix quail, and mistakes help us learn. This was a big one and it’s embarrassing. But I can assure you it won’t happen again.
So, about a week ago we were preparing to leave our place for 5 days to visit Jenny’s family to celebrate her birthday and the birth of her new niece. Time was short and I had a lot to do before leaving, including culling a bunch of quail and getting my neighbor squared away so he can watch over the flock when I was gone.
With maybe 4 hours of sleep the night before, I decided it was time to cull some of the older birds, plus most of the young males from the latest hatch, and get the younger birds into their laying cages. This is the standard rotation. I make enough room in the laying cages by culling the older quail and replace them with the younger birds. Routine stuff.
All went well and I got about 20 quail into the freezer. We went on our merry way to Iowa and had a great time. My neighbor took care of the quail just fine – all survived and looked healthy when I got home. It’s always a relief to get home to be sure the flock is ok.
After a few days I noticed that the young quail weren’t laying as well as they should be. In fact they were hardly laying at all. The older birds were laying great as usual. I checked the supplemental lighting timers and they were set correctly. I started thinking that maybe the younger quail were just stressed from being in new cages and having a stranger feed them for a few days…….then it hit me.
I was filling one of the feeders and noticed more than one male in the cage. I normally put 1 rooster and 5-6 hens in each cage. Did I miss-sex one and accidentally put 2 males in this cage?
Unfortunately, no. I accidentally culled the hens and kept all of the roosters from the last hatch. The first words that came out of my mouth cannot be repeated here. What a rookie mistake! I’m still kicking myself. Lack of sleep, in a rush, etc. Still no excuse for this.
At least they are all packaged nicely in the freezer, ready to be grilled, so they weren’t wasted or anything. But man, I cannot believe I did this!
Here is what males and females look like. The rooster is on the left and the hen is on the right.
Photo credit: backyardchickens.com
Male quail (roosters) have the rust colored chest and little or no speckling. The females (hens) are speckled on their chest and have no rust coloring, or VERY little. With most of the quail I’ve raised this coloring and speckling is pretty darn obvious by the time they start laying (about 6 weeks).
I know what a my next post will be about: Sexing coturnix quail.