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Help with giving baby button quail away

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

The title sounds a little strange, but allow me to elaborate. My neighbors are fascinated by my button quail. Since one of my pairs might be hatching some chicks soon, I was thinking I could give the neighbors a few babies. I will supply them with the food, and give them all information. One of my concerns food. I added finch seed to my quails' feed when they were three weeks old. I'm afraid if I change the food mixture to have no seeds, the adults will have a hard time adjusting to the sudden diet change. If I keep the seeds in their diet, will it harm newborn chicks? Or should I gradually decrease the amount of seeds until the chicks hatch, and increase it as they grow? Also, when will I be able to give the chicks away so that they won't need the warmth and care of their parents? Would the quail become depressed if separated from their chicks, or are they not that emotional? I want to make this a great experience for the neighbors and the quail. Thanks in advance for all replies!

post #2 of 16

Hi Shelly


When my buttons don't have chicks, they are nearly allowed to choose for themselves, whether to eat seeds or game bird feed. I think they choose seeds most of the time. When they get chicks, the seeds are removed. I have observed no ill effects from doing this, but I can't completely guarantee that there are none at all.

For newly hatched chicks, I think finch seeds are too large, but as long as the amount is small, I don't think it'll hurt them to eat it (presuming they have grit as well). 

In theory, you can give the chicks away as soon as they are dry - or even before that. But that would require a lot of work from their new owners, making sure the brooder has the right temperature and so on.

I'd wait a few weeks - maybe 4 - till the chicks have their feathers and don't require much heat. By then, you can be rather certain they'll survive, as well. I've had a couple of deaths within the first week of my chick's lives. But of course they are cuter if you give them away by week 2 than if you wait till week 4. But I'd say any time you please between week 1 and week 6 - if they are kept inside, I think they'll be okay without a brooder when they are 4 weeks.

With regards to the parents, I'd let them have the experience of raising their own young, at least till week 4, if they are good at it. If you get 4 chicks and only want to give 2 away, giving them away by week 2 or so and leaving the other chicks by the parents would be fine. I don't think it'll be easy to tell whether they are depressed by their chicks being taken away, though. When I removed the last batch of chicks from my buttons at 6 weeks old, I didn't see much of a reaction from the parents. But perhaps they will react if the chicks are young.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

I feed my quail chick feed, a bit of finch seed, an equal amount of grit to finch seed and a few pieces of dried mealworm and oyster shell. They are all blended into a fine powder so my quail don't choke on big pieces of food. With this diet, you said it would be okay to feed the chicks, correct? I should probably just decrease the amount of seeds I put into their food. And I hope my neighbors can wait until the chicks are four weeks old! I should let them come over to see the chicks change, and maybe even handle them so that they become better pet-pets. Thank you!

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Oh, one more question! When I am able to determine genders, could I just put  male and female together in their own hutch, or do they decide their pairs? I'm just wondering if a male and female are raised together at a young age they could become a pair. Some buttons take longer than others to decide their pair...

post #5 of 16

Well.. Do you know the protein content of the feed? 'Chick feed' sounds like something less than 25%, 'Finch seed' even lower. Dried mealworms probably brings it up, but I'd be careful to make sure it's high enough - I feed mine 25% protein and they seem to do fine on that.

Also, I would probably supply the oyster shell separately, if you don't already, as the chicks allegedly don't need as much as a laying hen and it might strain their systems unnecessarily. Perhaps a little less grit as well, so the chicks don't fill up on that. I'm actually not sure they really need it, when you ground the seed..

For my wild colored buttons, I've been able to determine sex at 5-6 weeks, without handling them - meaning I looked for the bib, I didn't turn them around to look for red vent feathers, which I read in another post on this forum that someone had seen as early as 3 weeks.

I think it'd be fine if you just decide on the pairs. There might be incompatible birds that just won't accept each other as partners, but in general I think most buttons will accept the partner they are given, after a few days. However, I assume those chicks would be siblings, in which case I would try to avoid making pairs from them, to avoid inbreeding.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Its Dumor chick starter, the one with a chick that looks like a pharaoh coturnix. I'll see the protein content when I get home because I forgot. I noticed that the chicks aren't walking too good... They either don't walk, stumble or limp. They seem to run fine when they go after mommy or daddy, leaning forward, sticking out their little wings and waddling like penguins lol. I'm thinking of giving them the leg braces (band-aid) for splayed legs. Is mulch a bad bedding for their footing? I have them in mulch now. I know some people notice respiratory problems in their quail but that only occurs with my coturnix quails. If mulch is a problem for the chicks I can change it to paper bedding or buy some mats, whatever is best for them, and fix the legs. 

post #7 of 16

Oh, you got chicks! How many?

I haven't tried mulch, but I don't think it's bad, and I strongly doubt it would cause splay leg. Mine were on wood chips. I've never had any with splayed legs and if yours can follow mommy and daddy, I doubt they have it. They do stumble a lot the first 3 days or so, though, ending up on their backs and struggling to get back up. If they are less than 4 days old, I wouldn't worry about it, unless you can clearly see something is wrong with their legs.

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

So far I have two sets of twinsies, one set like mommy and one like daddy! Their names are Echo2, BB, Kilo2 and Tango Jr. after my favorite chick Echo that passed away long ago (too small), their dad's twin sister Kilo who flew away, and their dad Tango. There are still seven eggs and my hopes are high for them hatching. When I say mulch that's what I mean, wood shavings. Pine, to be specific. I remember being extremely cautious with the nutrient contents when my quail were young, but my brain has grown into their current diet and I forgot all about their baby diet! The feed has a minimum of 24% protein.

post #9 of 16

Is the mother still incubating the eggs? My hens usually leave the nest an estimated 12-24 hours after the first chicks hatch(basically when the majority of the chicks follow them when they leave the nest to feed). If too many chicks are still in the nest when they are done feeding, they go back there, but they have left the nest several times with a newly hatched, still wet chick and/or pipped eggs remaining there, to care for the rest of the chicks.


Wood shavings are lighter than wood chips, might be harder to walk on but I still don't think it'll cause splay legs.

I'd not mix seeds into their feed if the protein content is only 24%, but I've never tried raising chicks on anything but my 25% gamebird starter, so I can't say it won't work.

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

The mom has left four eggs in the original nest. She prefers to sit on her babies next to the nest, and she either got spooked and kicked two eggs into that spot or she moved them there because they might hatch soon. Will she only raise the four chicks and let the six remaining eggs die? Or sit on the two eggs and let the four eggs in the original nest die off? 

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