Bobwhite hatching and care: Cannibalism

Discussion in 'Quail' started by LyrebirdJacki, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. LyrebirdJacki

    LyrebirdJacki Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    7
    91
    Feb 16, 2012
    Darwin Australia
    I have just got my first load of bobwhite eggs (from 2 different suppliers with multiple bloodlines) and have read up that they can be mightily violent. I've had problems with cannibalism/bullying with king/button quail and coturnix (among with chickens and believe it or not, ducklings, just not as regular) but from what I've read, bobwhites seem to take the cake.

    I have 38 eggs, should I, when they hatch, have them all together or in groups separated? Is there an easy way to control the chicks from killing eachother? I've seen the "bullrings" for quail, but have no idea of where to get them or how to put them on, let alone at what age. I have a large shed aviary that I had planned on putting them all in once they were about 2-3 weeks (it's very hot and humid here so all my quails tend to ween themselves from the heat lamp once they get to about 2 1/2 wks old, occasionally going to it at night when it's cooler) hoping that they will have enough room to thrive without pecking each-other.

    Is there something like an adding of a type of food that represses the violence? And is it possible to make a heat lamp that can work outdoors without a power cord so that I can possibly move them straight to the shed after a couple of weeks? Will adding hiding places (hollowed logs, upside-down baskets, etc) be a good idea? The aviary is planted, so it's got a bit of cover already.

    I am also aware of the "notorious" early flying.

    At what age do bobwhites show sexual dimorphism?

    Previous bobwhite experience for hatching them will really help. I don't really want to have 38 birds split between lots of cages (like 1-3 a cage) but if that's required I can do that. Just want to hear of a better option.

    Cheers,

    Jacki

    Oh and to add, they wouldn't go out of their way to kill finches right? I'm aware that they can disrupt nesting but that's it.
     
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

    32,021
    4,702
    581
    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    The key to keeping bobwhite chicks and young birds together is SPACE. Bobs are not necessarily mean or aggressive, but they become that way when they feel cramped in. Chicks in the brooder and grow out pens will get along just fine if you offer them lots of room. Lets say 20 of your eggs hatch....you will probably need about 15 square feet of brooder space to get them to 6 weeks old. When they are moved outdoors into grow out pens, aviaries or what have you, they are going to need at least 4 square feet per bird. These chicks you hatch now, will not be of breeding age till June or so. They may or may not be all that aggressive toward each other this year, not only because they are in their first year, but they grew up together. Bobs do become more aggressive during breeding season as they age. So next year, you may need to separate them into pairs and keep them separate from each other. Bobs mate with one bird for life. They do NOT do well with more than one female with one male. Females can be a lot worse on other females than males are on males.

    You will be able to sex them around 10-12 weeks of age. And again, you may not have to worry about pairing or separating them this year. Keep an eye on things judge for yourself on next years set up. But do not consider keeping more than one female with one male. One on one. Or one giant colony in a VERY large space.

    Breeding season generally runs from spring thru fall. The months from fall thru the following spring, bobs welcome being together for the winter covey and should be allowed to reconverge, if only to stay friendly and on good terms with each other.

    There is really no food that will keep them tamer, however make sure they are on a good gamebird food diet of 24% to 28% protein for good health.

    I would not move your bobs outside before they are 6 weeks old unless you live in a warm climate. Bobs mature slowly and will chill easily and die if caught in drafts or cold weather.

    It is always a good idea for any species of quail to add hidey spaces in the pens or aviaries. A branch cut from the tree out front will work inside a small pen or a brush pile in an aviary is always welcome for quail. Especially for bobs as they tend to be a bit more hyper and need things to occupy themselves. It makes them feel safe and secure and will keep them tamer.

    As for finches, do not keep bobs with any other species of bird.
     
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

    32,021
    4,702
    581
    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    The incubation period for Bobwhite eggs is about 23 days. Day 20 is lock down day. (stop turning the eggs).

    Temp during incubation: 99.7
    Humidity during incubation: 55% to 60%
    Lock down to hatch: Humidity 10% higher or 65% to 70%

    Brooding: Bobs need a bit more heat than other species of quail. Start them out at 97 degrees and lower the temp 5 degrees each week till 6 weeks old. If you are noticing a lot of fighting in the brooder, lower the temp 3 or so degrees to chill them down a bit. Continue to lower the heat weekly from this new temp.

    It is advised to use an infra red bulb in the brooder instead of a white light. Infra red allows for a normal sleep pattern at night, does not excite them as much as a white light and will keep them calmer in the brooder.
     
  4. De Wet

    De Wet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for this thread i get my new pair of mexican specles next week...
     
  5. LyrebirdJacki

    LyrebirdJacki Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    7
    91
    Feb 16, 2012
    Darwin Australia
    Well space is no issue at all, so I've got all that covered. All your information is very helpful so I have it saved onto my computer to keep as notes incase I have any issues. I am really looking forward to my first hatch. So will all of them next year be unable to live together in an aviary? I've seen photos of people with dozens in smaller aviaries than my own and even in little cages. I have "booth" like cages (at 6 feet by 8 feet per cage) I am building (the design has the cages side-by-side so I don't have to go as far to feed and water them) that I plan to have them paired and separated into once I pick out my best stock. They won't peck through the wire at the quails next to them like chickens? Ive also had birds scratch up their faces on wire from stalking up and down at the neighbouring birds....

    Well I just candled all my eggs and they all show signs of life with 2 duds out of the lot. As for my climate, its 35 degrees (95 fahrenheit) in the day with a very high humidity (its the tropics), and at night its around 27 degrees at about 80 fahrenheit. Unless it rains (monsoon), it stays pretty sticky all night, rain putting us at 21 degrees (61 fahrenheit) with a strong wind would be my only concern. My coturnix handle this very well after being under a heat lamp for a week, but I'll trust you with the bobwhite and give them longer since I've never had them.

    Do you mean keeping the red light all day or just swapping it for night? I'll have to go get myself one.

    Once again, your help is much appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Jacki
     
  6. LyrebirdJacki

    LyrebirdJacki Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    7
    91
    Feb 16, 2012
    Darwin Australia
    Unfortuently in Australia we only get the standared bobwhites, you are so lucky to have a variety! Mexican speckles, so envious!

    I personally love the snowflakes and the tennessee reds (I love the bourbon colour!).
     
  7. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

    32,021
    4,702
    581
    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Yes...use the infra red lamp 24/7. It will keep them calmer all day and allow for night time sleeping. :)
     
  8. LyrebirdJacki

    LyrebirdJacki Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    7
    91
    Feb 16, 2012
    Darwin Australia
    Well with three long power outages during the last three days of incubation (terrible storms here) I got an extremely poor hatch, with only 9 healthy chicks (there was 12 but it's now down to 9) out of 38 eggs. All eggs had dead chicks inside but fully grown, so it wasn't the fertility that was the issue.

    But this infra-red light is amazing! They are not aggressive at all, unlike all the coturnix chicks I've gone through; I'll stay with the red light from now on. Going to get another 3 dozen eggs before the breeding season finishes up to hopefully up my numbers to something more reasonable. I'm not giving up on these little guys.

    I suppose with a smaller batch of chicks I can focus on them a little more....more likely to gain the ability to stop the little blighters from flying pass my head when I lift the brooder lid before the next clutch arrives!
     
  9. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

    32,021
    4,702
    581
    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    See, those infra red bulbs do wonders for baby quail! The light spectrum of infra red is healing as well as it penetrates blood vessels and bones and stimulates circulation, appetite and the immune system, where as white light does not. Infra red is especially great for healing sick birds. It is the only light/heat source I use on brooding chicks and adult poultry as well.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by