GUWAHATI, June 7 - Soon, Japanese quail eggs and meat may give a tough competition to the broiler as a healthy alternative in the city markets.
The Assam Livestock and Poultry Corporation Limited is coming up with a Japanese quail breeding farm at Birubari in the city. Construction of the farm in a four-and-a-half-bigha plot in the area is nearing completion and breeding of the hardy birds is likely to start in the next two/three months.
The corporation�s administrative officer Purna Nanda Konwar told The Assam Tribune that the farm would initially be started with a parent stock of around 20,000 birds. The farm, the first to be set up by the government, will have a capacity of 40,000 birds.
Japanese quails are hardy birds that thrive in small cages and are inexpensive to keep. They are fairly disease resistant, unlike the broiler chicken. Japanese quails mature in about 6 weeks and are usually in full egg production by 50 days of age. With proper care, quails lay 300 eggs in their first year of lay and around 150-175 in the second year. But life expectancy is only 2 to 2.5 years. The average egg weighs about 10 gram, about 8 per cent of the body weight of the quail hen.
Japanese quail eggs are a mottled brown colour and have speckled shells. Each hen appears to lay eggs with a characteristic shell pattern or colour. Some strains lay only white eggs.
Konwar said the quail eggs are high in nutrition and are said to have medicinal value. They are also high in vitamins and minerals.
The corporation�s chairman Manoj Saikia said the farm would aim at a production of 36 lakh eggs a year.
�The broiler market is very vulnerable and often fluctuates. Moreover, there are advantages in breeding quails as they are much more disease resistant and require less capital investment,� Saikia said.
The livestock corporation plans to distribute the quails to be produced at the farm among farmers who can then rear them. The corporation may also market some eggs.
A little over a dozen farmers are into breeding of quails at present, and the farming has not been on a large scale in the State. Some four truckloads of broiler eggs enter the city daily from outside the State.