Thursday, September 16, 2010

Time to refresh the coturnix quail!

Well, it's that time of year again. Once a year I like to bring in some quail eggs from a new source to refresh the bloodlines. No one wants a bunch of inbreeding! I'll sell some of the adults I currently have and replace them with birds that hatch out of these:

Out of 120 eggs shipped only 2 got cracked. It always amazes me how well eggs (and even chicks) do in the mail. I probably crack 2 quail eggs a week just bringing them from the quail pens into the house.

I will be keeping a total of only about two dozen birds, the rest will be sold or eaten. I currently have about three dozen, so those plus whatever I get out of this hatch will be the birds to choose from. I decide which birds go where by a few different criteria:

1. Genetics: I want to have as many different bloodlines represented, I especially want the roosters to be from different bloodlines as the hens as much as possible.
2. Defects: Any bird that has any trait that I wouldn't want to breed (for example I have one chick right now with crossbeak) gets eaten. It's unfortunate, but it's important to not have those birds in the breeding pool, mine or anyone elses. They are given a good life until they are table size.
3. Interesting, good looking or other positive qualities: I have a few that I recently hatched out with color patterns I haven't seen before, I'll keep at least one of those. I also have a rooster that I love because he has a bizarre and warbly crow very different from the others. I also have a few birds that are especially friendly and/or lay very large eggs, they stay here as well.

Ideally, all of the other birds get sold or bartered with. I wouldn't want to sell a bird that I wouldn't use for breeding myself, I feel that even as a tiny scale hobby farmer I have a responsibility to not muck up the genetic pool for this amazing breed. (And no one wants bad quail karma!)