By Afolake Olagunju
Currently, there is such a hot demand for Quail eggs in Nigeria. This is because there are only a few farmers engaged in the business in the time being. Being an uncommon line of poultry business that is gradually gaining momentum, the few farmers that have ventured into it are glad and are excitedly smiling to the banks by the day. What is even more interesting is that this emerging line of poultry farming is not necessarily thriving because of the relatively low expense on it, but more because of the nutritional and health advantages it offers over other forms of poultry. Moreover, quail eggs are said to be very tasty.
The trend of quail farming started from the North, majorly in Jos, Kano and Kaduna, where it’s been embraced by a great number of farmers. Initially, the idea proved slightly difficult in South Western Nigeria, due to earlier difficulties associated with securing quail chicks for the start-off of the business. Currently, that is no longer the case. The chicks can now be easily gotten in Ibadan.
Indeed, there are various reasons that attract farmers to quail farming. One of the reasons, which will readily interest the new comer, is its high and quick returns on investment. Quails grow and reach maturity faster than many poultry like chickens, turkeys, ducks or geese. They start laying eggs within two months, compared to the six-month maturity period for chicken. Again, the birds are also very affordable. For instance, a female quail bird sells for N500, while the male ones go for between N250 and N300. These, among a number of other reasons, are encouraging many farmers and business people to resort to quail farming.
It will further interest the new comer into the business to discover that Quail farming is relatively much easier and inexpensive to maintain, when compared with chicken farming. For one, not so much space is required to get started. This money-spinning venture can be started with a simple 8 by 8 foot open space in your house and a financial plan of less than N50, 000. With this amount, one can start with up to 100 birds and take care of their feeding effectively, at least, up to the first six months of the start of the business. Since quails are desert birds, they eat less and drink less water; but they lay eggs in large numbers. In fact, a female quail lays, at least, 300 eggs in a year. Another unique thing about quail farming is that the birds have immunity against many kinds of diseases, and so do not need medications and vaccines, making it a low risk and high returns investment. An added incentive is that quail farming does not bring about much stress; so it can be done even while on a paid job.
Coming to the products, the eggs are very delicious and tasty, and are even more nutritious than chicken eggs. According to medical experts, their nutritional value is four times higher than that of chicken eggs; they also contain 13 per cent protein, as against the 11 per cent contained in chicken eggs. They are also much richer in vitamin B2, Iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorus than chicken eggs. Apart from the eggs, the meat from this bird is also a very good delicacy, as they have extremely low skin fat and low cholesterol value. Quail meat is rich in micronutrients and a wide range of vitamins, including the B complex and vitamin E and K. It is therefore recommended for those who want to maintain a low level of cholesterol and older people.
The demand for Quail eggs and meat keeps growing by the day, as more and more people are coming to terms with its health benefits. The egg is said to cure more than 32 diseases. As a matter of fact, Chinese medical practitioners have been exploiting the health value of quail eggs for hundreds of years with brilliant results. In addition, they are now used as alternative therapy for treating some ailments instead of certain chemical products which come with side effects. Experts in natural medical therapy claim that quail eggs have positive effects on people with stress problems, hypertension, digestive disturbances, gastric ulcer, liver problems, blood pressure and lipid control, migraine, asthma, anaemia, various types of allergies, eczema, heart problems, depression and panic. Quail eggs are also said to stimulate growth, increase sexual appetite and stimulate brain functions. Also, the eggs can be eaten twice in a day and are now recommended in hospitals.
Rearing the birds does not come with much difficulty. All one needs is a well-ventilated space. A room of 10ft by 12ft can conveniently take up to 400 quail birds. Other things needed are feeding troughs, drinking troughs and electricity to keep the birds warm, especially before they are up to three weeks old. Even the waste of the birds is not useless. They do not smell awfully bad and are not messy to deal with. Moreover, they are a very good source of manure for the garden as they are high in nutrients.
The average price of a quail egg is N20 and it sells quickly due to its high demand. 250 female quails can lay 225 or more eggs daily, which give about 6750 eggs monthly, resulting to about N135, 000 returns per month. A crate of the small eggs can be gotten for an average of N800.
Engaged in full time or part time, quail farming promises great returns for the investor. It can even be engaged at a medium or large scale by the very enterprising business man. Either ways, it will return decent earnings if run professionally and could be a major wealth creation engagement for would-be entrepreneurs in the SME sector of the economy.