Quail farming can offer numerous benefits in terms of meat production, nutrition, and eggs. Salient features of quail farming with nutritive composition of its meat and eggs can be summed as:
• Lesser market age 4-5 weeks
• Less initial investment
• May be started as cottage industry
• Easily manageable by household ladies
• A better tool to alleviate poverty
• Tastier than chicken
• Promotes body and brain development in children
• Best balanced food for pregnant and nursing mothers
• Less fat and cholesterol content
Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix Japonica) was first described as a research model by and was used as a pilot animal for more expensive experiments in 1960. During 1970, research with Japanese quail expanded from avian-science related topics to biology and medicine, as bird could be kept easily relatively in large number in a small facility and be used as model animal for wide variety of works, from embryology to space related sciences. At the event of World Poultry Congress, 2004, the quail has been declared as the model avian species for future research. Quails are now commonly used as an experimental animal for biological research and vaccine production, especially Newcastle disease vaccine to which disease quails are resistant.
In Pakistan quail farming was started in early 1970, with the introduction of exotic breeding stock of Japanese quails. However, quail production has remained as one of the neglected components of poultry sector in the country. Very little research work has been conducted on its breeding, incubation, housing, nutritional requirements, feeding, management and disease control aspects in Pakistan.
About four decades back a breeding stock of hybrid Japanese quails was imported in Pakistan with good genetic potential having better egg production performance, egg quality parameters and hatching traits compared to local quail called “Betair”.
But unfortunately, due to continuous inbreeding, genetic potential of the imported quail might have deteriorated. Simultaneously no serious attempt has been made to improve genetic potential of our native quail.
Although public and private sectors made efforts for the development of quail farming, but the measures were not adequate and fall short of expectations for producing high yield of quail meat at a reasonable low cost.
The private sector was not given adequate monetary and technical incentives. Even public sector organizations dealing in quail and allied industries faced enormous hurdles due to bureaucracy and lack of application of modern quail production technology.
These together with many other problems including poor quail management, low live body weight and meat yield, late ready to market age and lack of quail processing are some of the important reasons for slow development of quail farming in the country.
The low live body weight and meat yield appears to be a great hurdle for development of commercial quail farming. The situation therefore calls to take immediate concrete steps to improve genetic potential of our local quail.
Avian Research and Training (ART) Centre, of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore has been working on this thing for sometime now. The main aims and objectives of this centre are as under:
• Human resource development in the field of quail/avian production.
• Technical guidance and advice to the stake holders, small farmers and house-hold women in avian production.
• Research for enhancing genetic potential to improve performance and meat yield in local quail strains.