AVIAN | PET GAZETTE | 11
berries, veg and livefoods. The addition
of good quality small live insects is of vital
importance for the hen especially. They require
a balanced but high protein diet, this can
be supplemented with a good chick food
or crumb. Full-spectrum natural minerals
should be added to every feed, this will help
greatly within the egg producing months.
The hen, when laying can produce an egg a
day, every day for months on end. This can
equate to a cataclysmic depletion of bone
mineral storage. We must seek to make
natural minerals available to both sexes at
all times. Having access to natural sunlight
or a full-spectrum + UV-B lamp in a safe and
measured way will also aid them by allowing
them to produce their own vitamin D3. Vitamin
D3, among other essential uses in the body
allows the correct assimilation, storage and
ongoing use of essential minerals such as
calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
We must view the active and purposeful
replenishment of minerals within the diet as a
top priority in birds, provided directly in relation
to the developed needs of the species and the
number of eggs that the hen produces.
The CPQ is not a solitary bird, they benefit
greatly from being kept in pairs or small
groups. Indeed, being kept as singles can
actually be quite detrimental to their overall
wellbeing. If a group is thought right for your
flight, then it should only ever contain one
cock bird. Cock birds will readily fight, even
the young male offspring of a father will be
persecuted fairly quickly. Two to four hens can
be run with a single cock and groups of hens
can usually be kept together without a cock
without too much trouble, a watchful eye is
needed as with all species kept in groups to
minimise the risk of bullying. Care should be
taken within good general husbandry to make
sure that a single hen is not being singled out
for attention, copulation can become a rather
strenuous affair in this species.
With regard to breeding. The hens will start
to lay eggs as soon as the illuminated period
reaches 11-12 hours a day. She will produce
a single egg pretty much every day until the
days start to become shorter. Typically, she
will lay an egg in random scrapes all over the
enclosure until she has eight or more. She
will then gather them up and place them in
another larger dried grass lined scrape. The
hen will generally sit well but it is best to place
food and water bowls nearby. She should also
be protected from the unwanted attention
of other birds. Even the humble budgie will
delight in taking the odd egg, let alone the
pekin robin who will quickly deplete an entire
nest. I will also point out the risk to both sitting
hen and the eggs from marauding rodents.
Aviaries and flights must be protected from this
type of active threat, as should all birds.
Most breeders will actually take the eggs
after a number have been laid, replacing them
with dummies for a while and then incubate
them artificially. The eggs hatch around 18-19
days after incubation begins. The chicks
emerge fully covered in down similar to a
chicken and start to peck around for scraps
shortly after. The young are cute, fast and
extremely small - about the size of a large
bumblebee, they can almost breeze through
most standard cage and aviary mesh. They
may be best reared in suitable tubs or tanks.
One of the main functions of keeping small
Quail within the aviary of flight, other than for
their own intrinsic beauty and egg production,
is that they act like floor hoovers. Scuttling
around and cleaning up much of the spilt
food left by the other occupants. In a very real
sense, they are very good custodians of the
natural aviary. Wasted seed will not lay around
for hours, tempting in pests, but be cleaned up
and put to good use. This must however not be
relied upon to be the sole source of food. Fresh
veg and some livefoods are very beneficial
and will be readily taken. These are inquisitive
birds, prone to play, these traits should be
encouraged of course.
Water should always be made available,
small young birds become wet very quickly,
deep pools pose a very real risk of drowning.
As such, a shallow dish, filled with pebbles or
marbles will provide access to water without
the risk of saturation. The birds will also crane
up within a short rain shower, ruffling as they
stretch in a typical quail pose.
Well cared for birds can live for over 10 years,
this is of course largely dependant on the birds
having access to safe quarters, being able
to access a very varied mineral rich diet and
plenty of sunlight. Many hens will expire before
this age simply due to the ongoing effect of
This species can be thought of as being
largely domesticated now. We have no wild
collected birds arriving into the EU now, as
such, all will be from well settled ‘long term
captive bred’ stock. They are available all year
and for a surprisingly low amount of money.
You should be able to retail this species for
around, if not under £20 per rear.
This tiny, comical and quite arrogant bird is
wonderful to work with, helps us to look after
our wider flights and will readily reproduce.
They also have companion pet appeal when
able to be kept within the correct enclosures.
They certainly do deserve a place in everyday
aviculture and full time place within our shops.