Aggressive males, killing females...help please!

Discussion in 'Quail' started by Birdseed, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Birdseed

    Birdseed Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 27, 2014
    The situation is this: About 300 with approx 30 per in 12 x 12 stalls with a 1:5 ration of male to female quail for egg production. Until today, lights have been on 24/7 as they did not have timers. Males are aggressively mating to the point that several females in each stall are bare of feathers on their back and now more than a few have been killed.

    I literally was hired on yesterday to oversee the farm due to my expertise in everything EXCEPT the quail. I've got some calls in to extension offices but there isn't another productive quail farm in our state and I don't know who to ask for a solution.

    So...two questions:
    1) We have 4x4 pens that we could put the males from each "family" of stalls in to separate them from the females but I am unsure if this is wise--will they be aggressive to each other?

    2) Would simply turning of the lights for now til we can find another solution settle them down and buy me some time to figure out what the next steps should be?

    When I was hired (yesterday!!!) I was told that the quail portion was well in hand and I was needed for the cattle, hogs, etc. Not so much methinks. But I'm the one who has to make the call.

    Please help! Or direct me somewhere for more info. I'm googling like mad and making calls.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Welcome to BYC!

    First off, you need to turn off the lights. Now. Lights on 24/7 will not yield more eggs. Only dead birds. Lights can only stay on for 16 hour a day MAX. These birds are completely stressed out, no doubt suffering from mental issues. It is a proven fact that light for 24/7 will drive humans insane.

    So turn off the lights right now. And I would keep them on to only give them 8 or 10 hours of light for a few months to allow these birds to heal. They are no doubt completely depleted on all accounts.

    I would put all the males in one area and the females in the other. Let everybody cool off. This, with the lack of long light will throw them into a molt, which they probably need.

    If you don't do the above, these birds will probably parish soon.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Birdseed

    Birdseed Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 27, 2014
    THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    That was my directive to the staff. Turn off the lights and stand by while i try to figure this out.

    Now, if I take the males who are used to being together in a 12x12 space with females and put those guys together in smaller cages temporarily, will they attack each other? I've got many 4x4 sized pens that I can put them in temporarily.

    Also, can you direct me to any other resources? I am a horse, cow, hog person. I know NOTHING about these birds and literally have not had this job even 24 hours and am now in crisis mode.

    I have a lot of questions, but the emergent issue is keeping the birds safe. My understanding right now is that they've been under 24/7 lights since the first batch hatched out back in Oct/Nov. My dates might be off. I'm trying to wrap my arms around a lot of crazy right now.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. Birdseed

    Birdseed Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 27, 2014
    Should add...I was told that the females cannot even go in to other stalls with other "families" of birds as they will also attack each other. I am a total newb here so I appreciate you taking the time to respond. I need a crash course in quail.
     
  5. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Males generally won't attack each other if they can't SEE the females. It is usually when they can see them, that it makes them aggressive. Same with females. But I think they really need to be separated for a while. Give these birds a break before they die. They probably need at least 4 square feet per bird, but if you only have 2, that will have to do.

    As for other sources, there really isn't anywhere else to learn about quail but here. There are so few books or places that understand quail, at least on line here. Individuals may have answers, but I just can't tell you much other than what I know. So I can't really direct you anywhere else but here. :)

    So what ever you need to know, you will have to ask here.

    What breed of quail are these anyway...Coturnix, Bobwhites, Gambels,...???

    I think your best bet is to just ask questions here. Just as with horses or cows, these birds need clean facilities, clean water, clean feeders, a good diet of gamebird food, enough space, bedding to help absorb the poop, quiet and darkness, warmth in the winter, coolness in the summer, access to daylight, fresh air, etc...

    If you have any specific questions, it would be best just to ask here. I know you are only hours into this, but you will learn along the way, and hopefully you can get these birds back on track before any more of them die.

    Hugs to you...[​IMG]
     
  6. Birdseed

    Birdseed Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 27, 2014
    You may wish you hadn't offered to be so kind in educating me.

    So here's how I plan to advise staff tonight:

    1) Remove the males into marked pens so that "family" males are kept together. If possible give 2-4 sq feet of room per male.
    2) Place barrier (tarp? straw bales?) such that males cannot see females.
    3) turn off lights, keep 'em off for a day? two?
    4) set light timers for 8 hours after the shut down time.
    5) continue to research.
    6) be prepared for a molt and decrease in egg production (our vendors are going to hate it, but good gravy, we need to keep these critters alive)

    Okay. So...if that makes sense to you, I'm going to call in the order.
     
  7. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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  8. Birdseed

    Birdseed Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't know the breed, I've asked, haven't gotten a response yet. I will know by tomorrow at the latest and will come back to let you know.

    With regards to molt and no egg production, what kind of timeline are we talking about? A few weeks? Months? I realize this is a stupid question, but I honestly have NO CLUE about poultry/fowl. We are the only producer that I'm aware of in our state and have tremendous demand and contracts. Apparently, we're looking to quadruple the flock...but I'm of the mind that we need a lot more education before we take on more. *I* need a lot more education.

    How long should the males be kept separate from the females in the current situation? A few days? A few weeks? Longer? Currently, since the farm wants to increase production, they're planning to hatch a few batches of eggs so are not keen to removing the males. I've temporarily overridden the males w/ females thing, but I need some hard facts to point to. I will continue to use my "external brain" (aka GOOGLE and websites such as this one) to increase my knowledge of best practices, but I'm being pressed to make a profit and this is the only profitable project on the farm at this time. I'm an animals first kind of person so I have no issue putting my foot down when it comes to husbandry and care, but I need facts to support my demands.

    Again, cannot thank you enough for your time in answering my immediate questions. I look forward to learning more here. I will peruse the site further after I get this emergent situation dealt with.

    The term "in over your head" is coming to me right now. LOL. That said, they don't hide information in books anymore so if you're willing to learn, it's out there. You just have to make the effort.

    Whew. I've had this job for just over 24 hours and my mind is reeling.

    What I do know is that I've got great (albeit very green/new) staff and an owner who is very happy to turn over the reins. I just need to make sure I know as much as possible. And by say...tomorrow!
     
  9. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    LOL...I do feel sorry for you. REALLY. But just take a deep breath, relax and do the best you can. [​IMG]

    Ok...a molt lasts about 2+ full months, start to finish. Some birds can take longer. And judging from the sounds of these birds and their health, it may take 3 months. So no eggs will be laid. Sorry.

    And since there is not going to be any eggs, there is no sense in keeping the males with the females. They will all be molting and in need of a good rest, mentally and physically.

    A good practice of breeding quail is to allow your birds to breed and produce for 6 to 8 months a year, with the rest of the year off. You can have batches that are always in lay and some out of lay. So that every bird gets a rest, gets to molt and can rebuild themselves. When you breed birds, or any other animal for that matter, genes of health, mental state, genetic traits, personality, feather color, all sorts of things get passed down to the eggs. So when you breed stressed out birds, you get stressed out off spring. Unhealthy parents, hatch unhealthy chicks. Unhealthy breeders pass down all kinds of crazy bad genetics. So your birds need to be taken care of properly if you want good stock. So you want to concentrate less on egg quantity and work more toward quality. And that requires thinking of the birds health first.

    Get these birds healthy again. Use proper lighting, allow them rest and time off, make sure they are on a good diet, not too crowded in, are in the proper ratio for the breed, (when you find out, let me know what breed as not all quail have the same ratio) and keep them comfortable. They are alive, living creatures, with emotions, awareness and understanding. Not egg laying machines, alive only for profit. That is just inhumane.

    Keep us posted!
     
  10. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    I thought of someone that might be of help to you. Pm this person. He is very experienced in being a hatchery. He knows how to take care of large amounts of birds and do it right. He has been hatching quail for a very long time for the public and may be able to advice you as a hatchery.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/u/151969/james-marie
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014

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