Feather picking in 2 1/2 week old quail = ALWAYS check the label.


10 Years
Jul 26, 2009
The batch I hatched almost 3 weeks ago are doing something I haven't seen in young quail -- picking back feathers. This started about 4-5 days ago.

Well, guess what? -- I was at the feed store (which is also a seasonal garden center) the day before the hatch, and asked them for a bag of Armada brand 26% gamebird starter. It was the only bag I bought that day, since I was actually there for pepper and other veggie plants. One of the young guys that works there pulled it from the shelf and loaded it in my car, while I took my 2 flats of veggie plants.

Took it in the house, and been using it ever since.

I never thought to look at the label. Until this morning, when I had to move the bag - it's 20% non-medicated (thank God!) chick starter. This brand uses a generic bag for all of their feeds, and just has a small nutritional label hanging from the bottom seam of the bag.

I have a couple of bags of the 26%, and have already switched it out. I'll just use up the 20% on my goslings and ducklings and the Cornish X I have coming next week.

The low protein content explains the feather picking.

Other than that, I don't see any problems, even size wise seem normal.

So, ALWAYS check the label, especially if you rely on someone else to pull the product for you.
If I couldnt give them more room, Id cool them off a bit and dim down the light... lookin for just the ones pickin is always a option too. Bill
imho, if you think it is nutrition related, you could have issues related to a deficiency/toxicity of a particular amino acid., it may be related to amino acid profile of the 20% feed, if its a complete amino acid protein crumble at 20% it would prolly be fine, but even if you had 90% protein feed missing one amino acid problems would manifest related to that deficiency.

we fed a couple young quail a "mill grind" once, and they had a similar featherless backs issue, decent size though at 4 weeks. thought they were anomalies, but I noticed they were picking the corn and leaving the soymeal. switched them to "crumbles" and they recovered feathers in ~10 days.

read the amino acid profile of the protein % if available. I mix and match my intake of proteins and I am a label reader, but I was a nutrition minor and majored in sports science and physiology at UF, what do I know.

what else is different on the labels? the lessor, bottom ingredients may be the culprit too.
Mine have 22% because that is all I can get now, but they also get chopped hard boiled duck egg. They are going nuts over the duck egg. And as entertaining as it is to watch them play yolk keep-away from each other, I suspect it is more that they need the extra nutrition than they want to make me giggle.


There's a thought.​
Gamebird starter is meant for the first 6-7 weeks of life, after that you can lower the protein a little. I make a mix with mine and birds do well, many of you seen that
If you have an Atwoods in your area ('nother big box store but not as big as TSC - check the store finder at www.atwoods.com) they sell a brand called Ranch Pro and their Gamebird Starter is 28% protein. My first hatch are only 3 weeks old but that's what they've been on since day 1 and so far no health or behavioral issues. I've got nothing to compare size to since this is my first hatch but they *seem* huge to me after only 3 weeks, and are pretty much fully feathered already - a couple of them still have a couple wisps of baby fuzz around the face but that's it.

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