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Quails could reduce protein deficiency in poor countries


Japanese quail, Coturnix Japanica, have been introduced in India as an alternative to chickensIn developing countries it is not uncommon that many go to bed hungry. To develop an effective strategy for eradication of malnutrition and protein deficiency, it is important to understand the root of the problem. Poultry products have proven to be relatively cheap providers of proteins, but what about quail?

In the last three and a half decades there has been phenomenal growth in the production capacity of the Indian poultry industry. It attained an annual growth rate of 7 to 10% in layer production and 15 to 20 % in broiler production. There are now 35 billion eggs and 4 million broilers at marketable age available annually. The alleviation of protein deficiency among the population to a large extent is due to the per annum availability of 33 eggs and 770 grams of poultry meat per person.


From exclusive to common food

In the last two decades, the little known Japanese quail [Coturnix Coturnix Japanica] has been introduced to the Indian sub-continent as an alternative avian species in the progressing poultry industry to mitigate chronic protein deficiency among the Indian population. The Japanese quails are now contributing to broiler and layer type commercial quails.

An exclusive quail market segment has lately been growing within the poultry meat sector to cater to the quality conscious meat consumers. Now, quail meat is not only regarded as a restaurant delicacy but is also consumed in quantity by the public due to its affordable prices. Approxima tely, one out of every ten broiler consumers opt for quail.

Domesticated quails differ from wild Coturnix Coturnix Japanica, which are protected under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 in India. The introduction of the Japanese quail has opened a new path and an alternative for poultry farmers. Quail has also been identified worldwide as a laboratory animal because of its salient characteristics that include rapid growth, early sex maturity, short generation interval and prolificacy in egg production.


Features of quail meat and eggs

Quail meat is an ideal food as authenticated in the Holy Bible and the Holy Koran and has no religious taboos. Japanese quails provide highly versatile muscle food. They are quickly replacing the chicken broiler due to high nutritive value and medicinal properties. Quail meat has less fat and fewer calories, forming and ideal food for health conscious consumers. Quail eggs and meat are renowned for being rich in vitamins, essential amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids and phospholipids, which are vital for human physical and mental develop-
ment. Quail meat and eggs can be included in the diets of children, pregnant mothers and geriatric and convalescent patients. They are an essential part of the diet of socially and economically weaker sections of the society.


Preservation methods

The shelf life of quail eggs and meat can be enhanced by preserving the products as egg and meat khuruma and packed in plastic pouches. Quail meat and eggs are easily perishable due to their high water content and bacteria, moulds or yeasts cause spoilage, supported by enzymes. The underlying principle of all food preservation methods is the creation of conditions unfavourable to the growth or survival of spoilage organisms. The methods employed include deprivation of water and sometimes oxygen, excess of salt, increased acidity or extreme cold or heat.


The modern quail

Quail meat will be welcomed as a meat variety of superior quality, tenderness and flavour. Diverse types of avian meat will be meeting the ever-changing awareness and taste of consumers. Considering the changing demands of avian meat consumers, the industry is striving to produce quails weighing 200 grams at marketing age. This modern variety of quail can be used for the production of cutlets, fingers, noodles, soup powder and egg puff. It is not an exaggeration to state that quails will occupy a considerable portion of the poultry market in the new millennium.

By Sri.Haji.A.M.A.Wahab,
M/S. Avm Hatcheries & Poultry Breeding Research Centre, Tamil Nadu, India


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