Help. My quail are killing each other.

  • Thread starter Deleted member 94844
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Deleted member 94844

I started with three. Two brown females and a white male. I thought this would be fine. They were together in a cage at the store and seemed to get along.

Got them home and the girls started ganging up on the boy. One day I found him with a bloody head and feathers missing and separated him. They could still see each other, but no contact. Then a raccoon got one of the females. Long story. Sad. The remaining female stopped laying after her friend died so I haven't been getting eggs.

So I bought two more females, one white and one brown (also were together in the store), and put them in with the lonely girl. All hell broke loose. Actually, I first tried putting the white female in with the white male and she started beating HIM up. So I put her in with the girls. Later that day the white female was beaten to a pulp... bloody head, feathers ripped bald. I separated her inside to recover.

The other two brown ones were still going at it so I moved the two new girls inside together. AND NOW THEY ARE FIGHTING. I've got the original mean girl who ripped the feathers out in solitary, the boy is still by himself, and the two new girls are in separate cages inside. It's just stupid. WHAT CAN I DO???
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There are many, many post on here about introducing quail to each other - you don't simply throw them into the same cage as you have done.
With regards to the original group that were together at the shop, there can be several explanations as to why they started fighting. For instance, were they with other quail at the shop or was it just the 3 of them? If they were with a large group, there could have been a better male to female ratio, or maybe there were so many birds they didn't actually all know each other. Or so many birds it was hard for them to gang up on one - it could hide in the group. Or maybe the birds hadn't actually been together for very long at the shop, they could have come from different places. Or maybe the white male boinked in your cage after you got him and the girls started pecking at the blood - blood is absolutely irresistible to them, they can't leave it alone even if they have been together for years without a problem.
Anyway, I'll try to sum up the do's and don'ts.
Don't put an injured quail with other quail and don't reintroduce an injured quail before it looks nearly normal again - including feathers.
When wanting to introduce quail to each other, start by housing them next to each other where they can see each other, for a couple of weeks.
When doing the actual introduction, do it in a spacious cage with places to hide, that none of the birds have been in for the last couple of weeks - and add some entertainment to the cage to keep them occupied while they forget they are no longer in separate enclosures. A sand bath, treats, a pile of hay or grass and so on.
3 females to a male is the lowest acceptable ratio for coturnix quail - which I assume yours are - usually people say 4-7 females for a male.
Despite all efforts, sometimes introductions just don't work and so people advice that you get a group of hatch mates.

I think a part of your issue might also be the white birds. They tend to have a dark spot at the neck and the other quail might be curious about this spot and try to peck a little at it. This might be the start of it all - the pecking causes boinking, the boinking causes blood and once blood is present separation can't be avoided. You didn't mention anything about your enclosures, but you might want to do something to boink proof the one you use for your next introduction attempt - either by keeping it less than 12 inches high (this does not completely boink proof it though - I've read posts on here about quail managing to get boink injuries in 12 inch cages) or by adding something soft to the top of the cage. If you want light to enter through the top, this could be plastic netting, otherwise foam sheets work well. If the cage is above 5-6 feet high, it shouldn't be necessary to boink proof it.
Thanks so much for the insight... the original three were together in a small cage at the shop and the new two were also alone in a cage together. They were moved to a larger enclosure. I assumed that since they were already together that they would be okay. Not so much. And I did do a meet-n-greet in the pool house before moving them into the cage. Not enough, clearly. I'll try reintroducing everyone when they are healed. Right now the most aggressive female is the issue. If reintroduction fails I may need to remove her to restore peace.

These are Japanese coturnix quail, brown and white.

Also, these are definitely not boink injuries. I saw them biting at each other's heads and ripping feathers out. The damage was inflicted by the other birds.
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My cages are 10' long and 3' deep, with dividers every 2' giving me 2x3 sections. When regrouping due to loss and cull I pull a divider to give the new group twice as much room. It takes them a week or 2 to calm down and act normal then I squeeze them together and put the divider back in so they have the normal 2x3 space.
It really helps a lot if you put stuff in their cage to break their line of sight of each other and give them a place to retreat behind or jump up on etc. That way they don't just stand around in the cage eyeballing each other all day and starting trouble. You can use pieces of wood, small cardboard boxes, any kind of junk to break their line of sight and provide hiding places. For my quail a sand pan is the community peacekeeper. When I fill the pan up they pretty much forget about aggrevating each other and they all immediately jump right in and start scritching & throwing sand up in the air.
I think the main issue is that the original female viewed that cage as her territory... I'm looking into getting a new larger enclosure to move everyone into when they are all healed. Maybe that will shake up the social dynamic enough that they can coexist in peace. Adding a dust bath is a great idea. May still need to keep the male alone, but in sight. Right now I have four quail in four different cages and it is just crazy. Thought these birds would be a cakewalk compared to the chickens and ducks!
Try putting the rooster in the cage first for a couple of days so he knows he's the boss add a hen a day just before dark. I don't put up with aggressive birds You may just have to send your bad hen to freezer camp. you need at least 3 hens 5 or 6 would be better.

Making some progress with the white pair... you can see the male chilling in the foreground, the female is hiding behind the dog food then peeking out to look at him. Funny. Some minor altercations, but nothing serious. They seem to be getting used to each other. The other two are still in separate cages. The white male is a sweetheart and I don't want him to be lonely. The female is healing nicely and her feathers are growing back in already. Thankful for Vetericyn ;)
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I have the same problem I have 2 Texas a & m and 4 regular. I have to keep them separate. One has eye that is swollen shut and another that gets beat up all the time put him in with the others . I think its just best to keep one color of quail.

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