Category Archives: Quail

Baby quail falling in sewers

It wasn’t a pretty sight, so Bruce Hampson swung into action.

A large brood of quail — two adults and a host of tiny, fluffy babies — were walking near Hampson’s Wheeler Avenue home in Parksville when one of the youngsters suddenly disappeared from the line after falling through a sewer grate.

Hampson lifted the grate and saw there were four of the mini quail in distress. He saved three. One drowned.

“I don’t know how many have fallen through over the years,” said Hampson. “There should be something done — it doesn’t seem right.”

To that end, Hampson said he called the city, the SPCA and the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. He said he believes some inexpensive steel meshes of some sort could stop this from happening again.

“They are beautiful little birds,” he said. “It would be kind of nice to save them — they are so cute.”

The city doesn’t believe there’s much it can do about the situation.

“Good on him (Hampson) for taking the grate out and rescuing the little guys,” said City of Parksville spokesperson Debbie Tardiff.

The city has approximately 1,400 catch basins like the one that felled the tiny quail on Wheeler Avenue.

“Realistically, it is not manageable to run around and put screens on them,” said Tardiff.

Robin Campbell of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre also didn’t believe there’s much his organization could do about the issue.

“I’m sympathetic to the whole situation,” said Campbell. “It’s an ongoing problem, not necessarily quail but baby ducks.”



Different types of quail cover

The northern bobwhite is the native quail species found throughout Arkansas. These predominantly ground-dwelling birds are primarily found in areas that contain large amounts of edge habitat. Edges are boundaries between different habitat types or land use practices.

The home range of a quail covey can cover as little as 20 acres up to 160 acres. In that home range, quail require various types of habitat, including: escape cover, nesting habitat, brood rearing habitat and feeding and loafing areas.

So, what is a “covey headquarters” and how does it fit into the equation for great quail habitat? Covey headquarters are patches of escape cover with dense, shrubby canopy cover and little ground-level vegetation. Headquarters are used by quail on a daily basis to provide protection against severe weather and predators along with resting and loafing areas.

The percentage of the landscape designated as covey headquarters can range up to 20 percent of the total area, with the remainder set aside for the other habitat components needed by quail. Covey headquarters should be provided in clusters of not less than 30 feet by 50 feet blocks of shrubs that are not more than 150 feet apart, which will allow the quail to have quick access to their escape cover if the need arises.

Shrubs that serve well for this habitat component include: wild American and Chickasaw plum, fragrant and smooth sumac, rough-leaved dogwood, deciduous holly, cockspur hawthorn and American beautyberry. Plum thickets are an excellent example of quail convey headquarters and occur naturally on many properties across Arkansas.

Existing Thickets — Protect and manage any existing plum or other shrubby thickets on your property. These shrubby thickets can be improved to better benefit quail. If invasive grass species take over the ground-level cover, those grasses should be treated with a herbicide, timing depending on whether they are warm season or cool season. This will re-open that ground-level cover making it easier for quail to move throughout the headquarters. Also, any over-hanging or adjacent trees to the plum thicket should be removed from the area. This strategy will help reduce predation from overhead predators and also provide a clear flight path for quail to escape from ground predators.

Creating Thickets — If thickets do not occur naturally on your land, they can be established by planting seeds, seedlings or container-grown shrubs. For beautyberry, dogwood and sumac, spacing should be on a 3 foot by 6 foot spacing. Other shrubs can be planted on a 5 foot by 8 foot spacing. Just remember, thickets intended for use as covey headquarters should be established in edge habitat, those areas of transition between habitat types and in open fields lacking shrubby cover. After you have identified the best location for your headquarters, the existing vegetation should be controlled using an herbicide before you plant the shrubs. This will promote the growth of your new plantings as well as open the ground-level cover to facilitate quail movement throughout the new headquarters.

Headquarter Maintenance — Whether you have existing or newly planted covey headquarters, you should avoid damaging these when conducting other habitat management practices on your property, i.e. prescribed burning or disking. Herbicides can be used to control invasive grasses within and around your thickets; however care should be used to avoid spraying shrubs. Also, livestock should be excluded from these areas to maintain the integrity of the thicket as a quail covey headquarters.


Japanese quail farming possesses enormous potential

Japanese quail farming possesses enormous potential

Lahore- Although chicken is the major source of meat and eggs in Pakistan but efforts are being made for exploiting other suitable economical sources for the production of meat and eggs. Towards this end, quail farming seems to be the most promising and one of the best alternate sources for production of meat and eggs.

This was revealed in a research paper, conducted by a scholar, Jibran Hussain for his Ph.D thesis, who hopes the new research would bring a great revolution in avian industry. The research is supervised by Dr Muhammad Akram, Chairman Department of Poultry Production UVAS.

Jibran Hussain, who is also a lecturer at Avian Research and Training (ART) Centre, told The Nation that he conducted a research on improvement in three-week body weight in Japanese quail through different techniques of selective breeding and has got very promising results in this regard.

His research paper reveals that Japanese quail (Coturnix Coturnix Japonica) is a type of popular commercial line which is known as “betair” inPakistanand has certain specific advantages. The quail can be used for meat production within a very short period of time (4-5 weeks) and mature at an early age of 6 weeks.

While informing about the situation of quail farming inPakistan, the researcher maintained that quail farming possess enormous potential but remained as one of the neglected components of poultry sector in the country. About 4 decades back, breeding stock of hybrid Japanese quail with good genetic potential for excellent growth performance, better egg production, egg quality and hatching traits as compared to local quail called “Betair” was imported in the country. But unfortunately, genetic potential of this imported quail has been deteriorated due to continuous inbreeding/uncontrolled breeding. At the same time no serious attempt was made to improve the genetic potential of the native quails.

This very poor situation of quail farming in the country brought about a challenge to the researchers from theUniversityofVeterinaryand Animal Sciences,Lahore, to adopt all the strategies to make this meat production system economical and commercially viable.

While unveiling the details of his study, the researcher informed The Nation that day old body weight in generations 1 was about 6.68g which raised up to 7.80 gm in generation three. The same was the trend in 1st and 2nd week body weight that showed an increasing pattern. The most promising results were observed in three week body weight that increased from 104 gram to 116 gram after two generations of selection. Caloric and protein intake per gram body weight gain also decreased with the advancement in generations. As the generations progressed, selective breeding showed positive impact regarding mortality rate as it reduced significantly from 1st to 3rd generation.

While concluding the results of his research, Jibran said that selective breeding in quail is quite successful and can also be multiplied in other avian species in order to improve their production performance in our local environmental conditions.


How the chicken lost it’s manhood

Developmental biologists have identified a protein which is released in the early stages of avian embryonic development to kill off an already partially-formed penis.

Just three percent of birds have a penis, despite the species reproducing through internal fertilisation. It’s a mystery that has kept avian experts up at night for many years. It seems even more peculiar considering that those birds with a penis have some of the most extraordinary members on the planet. Ducks, for instance (as you will see from this article’s accompanying video below) have bizarre corkscrew-shaped members that protrude on cue, and retract neatly when not needed. These penises can grow to about half the length of the birds body. Compare that with the chicken. Both the male and female of the species have a cloaca, an orifice from which they urinate, defecate and procreate. The pair engage in a cloacal kiss when they touch, the moment when sperm is transferred to the female.

With these oddities galore, it’s no wonder the avian penis has stirred up a bit of debate. Most recently, Patricia Brennan of the University of Massachusetts was forced to write an editorial in Slate in defence of research into the humble bird penis.

“Genitalia, dear readers, are where the rubber meets the road, evolutionarily,” she wrote. “To fully understand why some individuals are more successful than others during reproduction, there may be no better place to look.”

And look they did. Writing in an issue of Current Biology a team from the University of Florida explains how it approached the conundrum by engineering tiny windows into the eggs of chickens and quails (non-penis owning birds), and ducks, geese and emus (birds with a penis). Using an electron microscope to spy on the embryos, they discovered that each bird began life by growing a penis. However, by around day nine, the genital tubercle (a kind of precursor penis) stopped growing in chickens and quails and ended up as a retracted nub. It continued growing as normal in the others. Closer observations revealed that the penis cells were actually dying off in the chickens and quails, from their tips back.

Taking a look at the genetics behind this turnaround, they found that the same genes were switched on in the early days of development in all the birds. However, the quails and chickens began producing a protein known as Bmp4 (bone morphogenetic protein 4) at their tubercle’s tips, when the Bmp4 gene switches on.

To test the theory that this gene was responsible for the penis destruction, the team implanted Bmp4 proteins into duck tubercles. The result: a shrivelled member that began to resemble something more akin to a chicken’s cloacal.

On the flipside, they used the protein Noggin to stall Bmp production in chickens on one side of their tubercle. That side grew to 6.5 times its normal size and, in returning the penis to the chicken, the Florida team destroyed thousands of years of evolution in one fowl swoop.

Now we know how this penis stunting is occurring; but the mystery of why remains.

The authors behind the study have hypothesised that due to “discoveries implicating Bmps in evolution of beak shape, feathers, and toothlessness”, it might be that while the protein was busily being regulated in other parts of the bird’s body to produce these features, it was neglected at the penis locale.

Evolutionary speaking, there could be many other factors coming into play here. For one, duck sex is notoriously aggressive, with it suggested they were forced to develop an elaborate corkscrew penis to reach their intended. On the other hand, hens might have more control over who they produce with because it is dependant on them allowing the roosters to get close enough for the “kiss”.

This research is not simply a look at the bizarre world of avian genitalia; it is actually an important step in understanding defects in human development.

“Genitalia are affected by birth defects more than almost any other organ,” the BBC reports study coauthor Dr Martin Cohn as saying. “Dissecting the molecular basis of the naturally occurring variation generated by evolution can lead to discoveries of new mechanisms of embryonic development, some of which are totally unexpected. This allows us to not only understand how evolution works but also gain new insights into possible causes of malformations.”

If that weren’t enough to convince you of the importance of the avian penis, we’ll leave you with these wise words from Patricia Brennan:

“Generating new knowledge of what factors affect genital morphology in ducks, one of the few vertebrate species other than humans that form pair bonds and exhibit violent sexual coercion, may have significant applied uses in the future, but we must conduct the basic research first. In the meantime, while we engage in productive and respectful discussion of how we envision the future of our nation, why not marvel at how evolution has resulted in such counterintuitive morphology and bizarre animal behaviour.”


How to protect chickens from foxes

This is a great article by Andy Blackmore and I thougbht would prove useful for all us poultry keepers!  You can read more of Andy’s great blogs HERE

Know your enemy: Mr Fox makes a wily opponent for those new to poultry keeping (Picture: Getty)
Know your enemy: Mr Fox makes a wily opponent for those new to poultry keeping

Even if you’ve decided that keeping urban chickens is not for you it’s a fair bet you will encounter their nemesis – the fox. The first thing that says you are the subject of unwanted fox attention is the disagreeable smell – a sharp choking musty aroma – an unpleasant amalgam of musk, blocked drains and stale urine.

Foxes are wily adversaries of those inexperienced in keeping poultry. And any small mistake will be punished unmercifully – so let’s take it as red that your coop or hutch is sturdy, strong and perhaps has even been sold to you as fox proof.

Even so you might want to consider a little help in skewing things further in your favour  – so here are a few suggestions.

Electric fencing: Foxes check everything with their noses first so it shouldn’t take too many shocking encounters for them to get the message. While being the most obvious solution it can seem quite expensive – but worth it to protect both your investment and your feathered friends.

Light and sound: Leaving a radio on in the coop overnight can be very effective simply because a fox would generally prefer not to be in the presence of humans and simple lighting arrays that mimic the eyes of another predator like the Nite Guard Solar can also work wonders.

Sonic repellents: They do work but you get what you pay for and as they start at around £20. But remember these will be audible to dogs; so opt for models that only sound when they detect a threat and not one on all day – or you could send your pets barking mad.

Chemical repellents: There are a couple on the market but Scoop is widely acclaimed as the most effective product of its type on the market. It’s totally safe for use in gardens, near chickens, on plants and edible crops and is humane, bio-degradable and very effective.

Scent marking: Most of us won’t have access to Lion dung (as used by one well known comedian to protect his brood) but we have the next best thing – for free. This involves directly mimicking the territorial behaviour of a fox by the application of male urine to your boundaries – I’ll leave issues of supply and demand to your imagination. However, if that’s too much for you, consider using human hair (male works best), either your own after a cut or try asking at your local barbers. Stuff some into a pair of old tights and hang around the margins of your garden – good luck.


A Chicken Poll

Poultry Diseases Up Close – Newcastle Disease

Newcastle Disease Virus is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting most species of birds. Clinical signs are extremely variable depending on the strain of virus, species and age of bird, concurrent disease, and preexisting immunity. Four broad clinical syndromes are recognized by scientists. They are Viscerotropic velogenic, Neurotropic velogenic, Mesogenic, and Lentogenic. NDV is so virulent that many birds die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. NDV can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry. Fortunately NDV has not infected domestic chicken flocks in the United States since the last outbreak was eradicated in 1974.

NDV is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. The disease is transmitted through infected birds’ droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. NDV spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens.

High concentrations of the NDV are found in birds’ bodily discharges; therefore, the disease can be spread easily by mechanical means. Virus-bearing material can be picked up on shoes and clothing and carried from an infected flock to a healthy one.

NDV can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds’ feathers, manure, and other materials. It can survive indefinitely in frozen material. However, the virus is destroyed rapidly by dehydration and by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

NDV affects the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. Symptoms are very variable depending on the strain of virus, species of bird, concurrent disease and preexisting immunity. The incubation period for the disease ranges from 2 to 15 days. An infected bird may exhibit the following signs:

  • Respiratory: sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing 
  • Digestive: greenish, watery diarrhea 
  • Nervousness, depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis 
  • Partial to complete drop in egg production and thin-shelled eggs 
  • Swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck
  • Sudden death

Any animals showing symptoms of Newcastle disease should be quarantined immediately. New birds should also be vaccinated before being introduced to a flock. An inactivated viral vaccine is available, as well as various combination vaccines.