My Button Quail Breeding Philosophy
I have kept birds as pets for the last 25 years of my life. I have seen people try to breed the fanciest color mutations just so that they can sell the birds for a higher profit. Crossing mutation to mutation (especially the same mutation) continually over time without out crossing to another color and/or bloodline often results in weak, sickly birds with smaller size and poor fertility. I have been given some of the fanciest cockatiel color mutations by people and seen the health problems that resulted as the birds aged. The wild type cockatiels rarely had health problems and often lived longer.
How does this apply to button quail? Because the same problems can and do occur in quail! Breeding closely related birds regularly can result in genetic abnormalities and deformities. Crossing the same color mutation generation after generation can also create health problems in the birds if they are not out-crossed with other bloodlines and colors. Because wild colored birds often have the strongest genes, I always keep some of these in my population even though they are less colorful than mutation birds.
I believe that keeping a strong gene pool is much more important than having all of my button quail show the fanciest color mutations. With rare exception I keep my button quail in male/female pairs so that I can keep genetic records and keep the most genetically diverse population possible. I will only use trios if the females refuse to accept another male and if all 3 birds seem truly happy together. I believe the great majority of button quail are happiest in pairs. Keeping button quail in colonies or even incompatible trios can lead to aggression and death–and of course this creates a limited gene pool since generally as many females as possible are kept with a only a few males. Bye, bye half of the genetic diversity.
Due to my philosophy, I do not produce mass numbers of eggs as some breeders do. However, I can tell you exactly which pair of birds each egg comes from, what color the parents were and where those particular parents came from. Most breeders will be unable or unwilling to provide that information.
I value the health of my birds over egg demand as I want them to live the longest healthiest life possible. For this reason my button quail are not forced to continue breeding when the days shorten in winter. They can stop and resume when they chose to naturally. Quality over quantity is the most important thing of all. Towards this goal, I am always on the look out for good ethical breeders so that I can continue to expand my gene pool. Currently, I have button quail from Pennsylvania, California, Colorado and Louisiana. This gives me a diverse gene pool to work with along with different bloodlines and color mutations.