Quail is an excellent bird for the purpose of meat production and fulfilling nutritional needs. Four close-bred flocks of Japanese quails are being maintained at ART-Centre with the objective of examining possibility of improving their productive and growth potentials. The present research project was conducted to study the productive performance of these close-bred flocks of Japanese quails with different body weight and its effect on subsequent growth of the progeny. A total of 432 adult (12 weeks old) quails, comprising 108 males and 324 females were used.
The experimental quails were maintained under standard management conditions in individual compartments in multi-deck cages equipped with separate nipple drinkers and were fed ad-libitum a quail breeder ration prepared according to NRC standards. The weekly data on productive performance, egg quality and hatching traits were recorded. At the termination of the experiment, two breeder quails from each experimental unit (one from each sex) were randomly picked up and were slaughtered to record fleshing traits and also for determining proximate composition of breast and thigh meat. Blood samples from each group were analyzed for serum chemistry and macro mineral profile. The eggs from each replicate were separately incubated on fortnightly basis to study progeny growth performance and fleshing traits.
Based on the findings of this study, the following conclusions are made:
1. Parent breeder flock
a. Effect of close-bred flocks
• Imported flock of quails had significantly higher egg production percent, egg weight, feed conversion ratio, shell weight and dressed yield.
• Reproductive tract weight and length and mature ovarian follicle number were higher in imported flock.
• The imported male flock had significantly higher crude protein, dry matter and ash contents in both breast & thigh meat.
• The mean serum glucose, cholesterol and protein concentration in different strains of quails differed significantly.
b. Effect of body size
• Egg production percent, feed conversion ratio, fertility and hatchability percent, reproductive tract weight and length and mature ovarian follicle number were better in the small size parents in comparison to heavy and medium size parents, whereas, better egg weight and egg quality traits were recorded in heavy quail parents. Dressed weight and dressing percentage were higher in heavy female parents than in medium and small size quails.
• Crude protein and ether extract contents in both breast and thigh meat was higher in heavy female parents, whereas, ash content was higher in thigh meat of heavy female quail parents.
• The higher concentrations of serum glucose, total protein, albumin and cholesterol in heavy male quails were detected, whereas, serum urea was higher in medium female parents.
2. Progeny flock
a. Effect of close-bred flocks
• The day-old and subsequent body weight and weight gain and feed intake were higher in imported than local flocks.
• Dressed weight and dressing percentage were higher in male progeny of imported flock.
• The final return per bird of Rs. 5.64 in local-1 flock was observed to be the highest than in other close-bred flocks having final return of Rs. 5.41, 5.15 and 5.14 in imported, local-3 and local-2 flocks, respectively.
b. Effect of parent body size:
• The progeny secured from heavy male parent had higher hatch weight, body weight, weight gain, feed intake, dressed weight and dressing percentage than those hatched from medium and small male parents, showing more pronounced effect of male parent on progeny growth and on almost all the other parameters.
• The final return per bird of Rs. 5.92 in quails from medium weight parent was higher than that from quail progenies of heavy and small parents having final return of Rs. 5.25 and 4.90, respectively.
In the light of the above research, it is suggested that:
• The present study provides useful base line data for the benefit of research workers and the local quail breeders for formulating viable future quail breeding strategies and setting up the quail production standards.
• For the future national quail breeding programs, use of heavy male parents for crossing with small or medium size female parents may be considered for better progeny meat yield and higher egg production in female quail parents.
• Considerable variation in body weight and other carcass characters in our local quail flocks recorded in this study indicate possibility of improving their genetic potential.
• Further research work is needed to improve genetic potential of our local/native quail stocks.