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Quail Feeding Programs

Feed game bird chicks a "starter" diet soon after hatching. Continue feeding the starter until they reach 6 or 8 weeks of age. The starter diet has the highest level of protein that a bird receives during its lifetime. As the chicks age they require lower levels of most nutrients including dietary protein, but need a higher level of energy.

After the chicks reach 6 or 8 weeks of age, feed them either a "finisher" diet (meat-type birds) or a "developer" diet (flight birds or those saved for egg production). Feed meat birds a finisher diet until they reach slaughter size. Feed the flight birds and immature breeders the developer diet until they are sold or about 20 weeks of age. A few weeks prior to expected egg production, the breeders are fed a "layer" diet until they complete their egg production period.

An alternate species of game birds often produced are the coturnix or pharaoh quail. They are grown for both meat and egg production but seldom for flight or hunting. They mature at an earlier age than bobwhite quail and may begin laying eggs as young as 6 to 8 weeks of age. As with bobwhite quail, coturnix grown for meat are provided starter and finisher diets, whereas laying/breeder birds are fed starter and breeder diets.

The minimum dietary requirements for protein, calcium and phosphorus for game bird feeds are shown in the nutrients table of Publication 2383 Feeding Quail. It is important to provide the correct diet to the birds if desired result are to be attained. Remember, breeders saved for egg production are fed developer diets, not finisher diets. Laying/breeder birds are fed only laying diets. Otherwise, you will observe reduced egg production and increased numbers of thin-shelled eggs.

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