BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
Street vendors offer a wide array of snacks that range from sweet to savory. Among the items that they sell are small boiled eggs that Filipinos know as itlog ng pugo (quail eggs).
These bite-sized eggs come from quails which are small or medium-sized domestic game birds. These birds have more to offer than just their eggs. To a farmer with an entrepreneurial mind, quails can be a good source of extra income.
According to Ceasar Ian G. Soliven from the Cagayan Valley Research Center of the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Office 2 (DA RFO 2), not many people are aware of how profitable quail raising could be. Those who engage in it usually do it as a hobby instead of focusing on income generation.
Its success can be determined by the breeds and proper selection of healthy stocks.
Currently, there are five different quail breeds found in the Philippines. These are the native, Japanese Taiwan, Japanese Seattle, Negro, and Silver.
This particular breed of quail is what is commonly known as pugo. It is usually found in fields and forests but it’s not suitable for commercial production which is why many treat it as a pet.
Also known as Chinese quail, this breed is commonly raised in the Philippines and is characterized by dark brown feathers mixed with white and gray. Japanese Taiwan quails are used for egg-laying purposes but compared to the Japanese Seattle, the quails’ body and eggs are smaller.
Hailing from America, this breed bears similarities to the Japanese Taiwan strain but it has rusty to reddish-brown feathers on its breasts. It is highly recommended for commercial production because of its capacity to lay eggs for 12 months, making it suitable for beginner quail farmers.
There are two types of Negro quails in the Philippines. The first is called Negro because of its black to grayish-black feathers, while the other is called Tuxedo because it has black feathers with white spots on its breast. The latter among the two is a highly productive egg-laying quail breed that’s suitable for commercial layer quail farming.
Lastly, there is the silver quail. Originally from the Canaan Valley in Egypt, Silver quails’ feathers vary in shades of gray. Quails from this strain are known to be good breeders and pets.
Choosing quality quails
According to Soliven, it is recommended that quail farmers start their stock with quail pullets that are 30 to 35 days old. He added that farmers should also carefully select the quails that they will use for egg production.
Upon reaching 36 to 60 days old, female pullets start laying eggs and will continuously do so daily. They lay about 300 eggs during the first year before the number of eggs gradually decreases, starting with 150 to 175 eggs in the second year.
There are three ways to determine the quality of a quail. That includes body confirmation, choosing birds with uniform sizes, and recording the parent stock.
Farmers should check if the birds’ feathers are tidy. They should also avoid buying birds with streaks of black or white feathers since these are signs of inbreeding.
When it comes to choosing birds with uniform sizes, farmers should remember that a mature Japanese quail (60 days old) weighs an average of 120 grams, while a pullet that’s only 30 to 35 days old should only weigh around 100 grams.
Additionally, a mature American quail weighs an average of 220 grams while a pullet only weighs 200 grams.
Farmers can also check the parent stock to see if their pullets are of good quality. The birds should come from parents that lay eggs of a good size, have 65 percent average laying efficiency within 300 days laying period, and an ideal growth rate or body weight.
Despite their size, quails can be a good source of income, especially since they have a high demand in the market. Farmers can benefit from these birds as long as they choose right and care for them properly.