I need Help With New Button Quail.

Discussion in 'Quail' started by CascadiaRiver, May 1, 2016.

  1. CascadiaRiver

    CascadiaRiver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2014
    Pacific Northwest
    I have a bunch of questions I need answered, if you can at least read through a few of them that'd be GREAT! :D

    1. What male to female ratio should I have? I have heard 1m/1f, I've also heard 2-5f/1m, so what is preffered for no fighting and a good little community pen? In what ratio can I stop overbreeding to the point of featherloss.
    2. Can I call the males a Rooster or Cock and the ladies Hens? I don't wanna miscall them something and get in "trouble" by an expert Lol (and I heard people calling the males "Calls", crowing. Is that okay to say?)
    3. Are they like chickens and lay whenever/or depending on bird or are the morning/afternoon layers?
    4. How do you sex a tuxedo? Wait until they lay an egg or not?
    5. Do Button Quail Males"Call" like a Cotournix Male would? Just quieter like a bantam vs a standard? Or do they make a different "Male Sound" ?
    6. Is having a "Bachelor pad" a bad idea? Just like 5 males together? Would they fight?
    7. The buttons I have had too many males (I think) over the girls and they seem to have gotten torn up from over-breeding. But some of the Males have this feather loss too (and they dont have bugs) Is it domiance/signs of fighting in the boys? Or do I have some girls with white chin stripes? XD Lol
    8. What temperature do (I dont wanna call them adults) breeding age buttons need to be at? Would they need heat tonight in my garage?
    9. I have heard to feed them non-medicated game bird feed, is that correct? And they will need grit too I assume?
    10. My mother wants me to keep only like 2-3 females. Will they cause trouble without having a mate? Or do they just need company? Should I just keep a pair or two instead of a few ladies?
    11. Do they need to sand bath/dust bath like chickens do? Our friend who keeps cotournix says no but I am hearding contradiction to that...
    12. Can I use a 2 story rabbit hutch to house them? Would they use the two stories or should I just make it into 2 seperate houses for them? (I could have one bachelor pad or something and one with pairs, or have one pair per layer or something?)
    13. If I am to have them graze for a few hours a day like my larger chickens should my father make us a little tractor/trailer thing for me to have them out and still protected from our chickens, dogs/cat and hawks?
    14. Do they smell less than chickens/ducks? I know I'll be cleaning the hosing and them regularly but you know, like after 3 days chicken poop piles can start to smell. Do quail poops do the same?
    15. Stress reduces egg production but in a few days will they calm down and lay eggs regularly? I am trying to use this to sex my tuxedo's XD Lol
    16. Do they need straw tonight to make nests and lay eggs? My friends cotounix's just lay anywhere (and its admitidly pretty messy XD You have to really watch your step)
    17. What is average fertility this time of year? I am going to probably pick out a pair or two and hatch some eggs. What should I expect, half to be fertile? Should I expect 1/2 hatchaility too?
    18. Would a broody chicken raise/hatch button eggs? It seems silly but our incubator is a pain in the butt.
    19. They have a stress mechanism that when you pick them up or hold them they start loosing feathers, could that be why our babs are missing head feathers?
    20. LASTLY what do you reccomend I put in their cage to make it more "wild", like what kind of branches, stones, elevation changes ect?
  2. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2015
    1) On here, the usual advice is pairs. In the petshop where I got my first birds, the owner said the male would breed the female to death if he only had one, so I got 3 females and 1 male. That group is doing very well together in a roughly 4x7 ft aviary with spruce branches to hide behind in the corners. I've had them for about 14 months now. They incubate their own eggs and raise their own chicks. Occasionally I've caged 1-2 of the hens in a separate cage inside the aviary, to prevent them from laying in each others nests when one was incubating or to prevent aggression against the chicks, but in general they are very little trouble and even tend to end up helping with rearing each others chicks.
    I kept 3 of their female chicks from last year. 2 of them in a 2x5 ft cage with one male. They did well through the winter, but one of the females started occasionally chasing the other in spring, despite the fact that they've been raised together. I've moved them to a 3x10 ft aviary, hoping that more space would get rid of the aggression, and I haven't witnessed any aggression since, but I haven't had many chances to observe them properly.
    The last female is living in a 2½x3 ft cage with one male and there is no sign of over breeding.
    Some people keep them in large aviaries with many birds of both sexes and that also seems to work. I've never tried that. If I ever get a large aviary, I might, but I think I prefer one male per enclosure.
    As to the number of females, feel free to form your own opinion from my experiences.

    2) I would, yes, but I'm not a native English speaker, nor am I an expert..

    3) I'd say 'whenever', but most of the time I don't know when they lay. I have seen the number of eggs in a nest change during the afternoon though.

    4) I have a tuxedo male that can easily be feather sexed because the area around his vent is not included in the white area, so he has obvious rust colored feathers. I've never had a button I couldn't feather sex, but people say you can also tell from the calls they make. Personally I haven't been able to hear much difference between the male and female calls though, but as I haven't had to use this method to sex them, I might not have been paying attention.
    You can also try giving them some treats - mature males tend to pick them up and call a female rather than eating the treat themselves.

    5) Sorry, never had coturnix.

    6) Yes, I've kept two groups of 4 males together and I haven't witnessed any fighting. I did see courting though, which the male being courted didn't seem to appreciate much. But it only went on for 1-2 weeks during spring, I didn't see it after that. Those males were raised together. The pet shop I got my birds from, keeps males in one group (maybe 20 birds) and females in another. I didn't see any birds that looked like they had been in a fight.

    7) I think you have males mating males, yes. Dominance or misplaced sexual behavior, I don't know.

    8) My buttons have been in an unheated building all winter and are still alive and well. I don't think the temp has gotten much below -10 Celsius though.

    9) Yes, for the gamebird feed. Something with at least 20% protein for adults - I feed mine 24% and the chicks do well on this too. To get this much protein, you usually have to use the starter feeds. Remember to grind it to button-beak size, if you can't get it that small from the store. For the grit, this is only required if you feed them seeds. The game bird pellets are water soluble, so grit isn't necessary. However, laying females will need extra calcium as the starter feed doesn't have enough calcium for the egg shells. I supply this in the form of nearly powdered oyster shell in a separate bowl, allowing them to dose it themselves.

    10) I kept two females together without any males for half a year or so. They did fine. I think 3 females will do fine as well, but having pairs is just more exciting - then you have the chance of tiny little fluffy baby buttons ^^

    11) They love sand baths. And you can tell your friend that the same goes for coturnix (according to shitloads of posts on this forum). They won't die without it, but it will enrich their environment.

    12) Yes for the rabbit hutch, I'm not sure they would use the two stories though. I'm hearing different things about quail and ramps and most of it is about coturnix.. The ramp shouldn't be too steep, at least.

    13) Yes, and also to prevent them from escaping. I had one flying above the roof of our house once (it escaped while I was cleaning the cage). They are pretty decent flyers. I don't think they would appreciate the move from their usual home to the tractor and back though. In general they don't like being handled.

    14) I kept 3 in my room for at least a month before cleaning the cage. They were on sand in the aforementioned 2x5 ft cage. I didn't notice any smell, but it might just be my nose that's very used to animal stench ^^

    15) More like 2-3 weeks, I think.

    16) They'll probably like straw, but they'll lay in what they have - sand, shavings, whatever. In general, mine will lay in a corner of the cage and if I leave the eggs they will continue to lay in the same corner. Sometimes they just lay all over the place though.

    17) I had a hen hatch 2/8 eggs about a week ago, but I think the eggs might have been exposed to freezing temps before she started incubating, and that's the cause of the low hatch rate. Or maybe fertility is reduced because the birds are getting old (though I don't think they are more than 2 years). Last year though, their hatches were more like 8/10 with the last two eggs possibly being pipped, just not hatched. I don't think the time of the year has much to say, as long as the temps aren't too high or too low and the pair has been together for a while and the egg production is stable.

    18) Some can, others break the eggs, trample the chicks, transfer diseases to them or doesn't respond to the peeps from quail chicks. In general, it's not recommended.

    19) When it's head feathers, it's probably either caused by mating, fighting or boinking. The two females I kept together were in a birdcage with a wire top, about 50 cm high and they both lacked feathers on top of their heads. I'm very sure this was caused by flying into the cage top.

    20) Mine love to hide behind spruce branches and usually make their nests behind those. Occasionally they'll sit on a rock that's not too high. I have a broken clay pot (about 20-30 cm high when lying on is side) they'll fly on to, to get away from a bully, but in general they don't fly/jump obstacles that are more than 3 inches or so. I also give them artificial plants to hide behind.

    That was a lot of questions ^^ Will you post a few pics of your birds? I'm curious :)
  3. CascadiaRiver

    CascadiaRiver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2014
    Pacific Northwest
    Thank you SO much DK! :D This was super helpful! I have posted some pictures of them already here- https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1102116/what-colour-gender-are-these
    But I haven't been able to take good ones since Its barely day one of quail XD But I am already in love with them! I hope to pair them off in 2 pairs and hatch their eggs so I can hand raise some tamer babies :3

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