Coturnix - What causes feathers to curl?


9 Years
Mar 31, 2010
Urban Jungle
Both my friend and I started raising coturnix this spring. I started out small and we both sourced eggs from different places. He gave me a pen of 7 birds and all of his have curled feathers down their backs. A couple of the hens are over-bred and missing back feathers, but even the male is curly-feathered.

Conversely, I did not experience that in any of my birds....I just wondered what might have caused the feathers to curl. Is it a deficiency or something that I can easily correct? Is it something to be concerned about in regard to breeding them....disease, illness, etc?
Here are a couple of the hens. There is also an A&M variety that is curled. They have been this way since they reached sexual maturity I least that is what I noticed when I observed his birds as compared to mine. But I didn't raise them from chicks either. I know he had a spell just after they started laying where he decided to drop their protein down to "Chicken Layer".....because someone told him it would be fine. They instantly stopped laying. But I am pretty sure the feathers were already like this, before that incident.

I've seen other pictures of birds like this all over. I wonder if there is a type of "frizzle" gene in quail. None of mine look like that. Sure someone knows more.
I am interested to see if they maintain this feather texture after they go through a molt. I suspect there was an environmental factor that caused it, due to the incidence of curly-feathers in different color varieties. I hope someone out there has a suggestion of what may have caused it. If indeed it is an environmental stress, I would like to avoid it in the future. In my mind, stressed birds aren't happy birds.
What does your friend's cage look like? Your cage seems to have plenty of head room but I wonder if your friend's cage might be too tight causing stress for the birds. Hopefully DC will chime in his opinion, but he told me quails in small space would get stressed out easily and step on each other causing curled feathers like that. My cage is plenty wide enough, at least a square foot for each bird, but the ceiling is low (9-10 inches), and my birds all curl up like that also. I thought the ceiling needs to be lower to prevent jumping and head bump. I'm building a new cage and will keep it higher to see if it makes a difference.
Working from memory, his cage was at least 12" tall and 20 square feet roughly. The cages I have mine in are rabbit cages, they are 24" x 30" x 15ish" and I keep 6 hens with one roo in each.

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