Induced molting without fasting?

Anorakei

Chirping
Dec 10, 2018
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34
64
Does anyone know of a method of inducing molting in coturnix quail that doesn't involve fasting? So far all methods I've found involved not giving them any food for 2-3 days, which seems kinda rough. I'm also not interested in laying efficiency, just letting them properly renew their feathers. AFAIK they're supposed to molt like once a year anyway, but because I have them inside they don't molt seasonally.

I have two hens that lost a lot of feathers from past mating stress, and while they recovered some just being away from any males some feathers - especially on the back - don't seem to regrow outside of a molt. As long as I have to keep those two away from their males that leaves other females alone with their males, meaning they'll eventually end up over-mated too. Plus even the ones that aren't over-mated have worn-down feathers on their backs. I'm already trying to sell one of my males to fix my male/female ratio but no takers so far, and even if I sold a male I'd still need them to molt eventually.

I've heard references to molting methods involving special feed or heavily restricting their day/night cycle, but haven't seen anything concrete. Any help is appreciated!
 

Nabiki

Quail Geek
Premium Feather Member
May 15, 2019
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Sonoma County, CA
I'm not sure if this would work, but I believe that moulting is triggered by day length and temperature, so have you tried doing a serious temperature change for them for a week or so?
 

Fenrisulfr

Crowing
Mar 30, 2020
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Germany
Yes, Nabiki named it.

Coturnix Quails moult 2 times a year, in autumn and in spring. It isn't winter or sommer feathers, they just doing it 2 times.

Trigger is decreasing daylight and temp in autumn and of course increasing daylight and temp in spring.

There are some moult helper (vitamines, minerals and amino acids) you can add to the water, but it isn't triggering it, just helping to gain the new feathers and strength, as it is exhausting for them.

Till now I never had to trigger it artificial, as mine do it naturally on my balkony.

What day/night cycle do they have at the moment?

Edit: maybe try just to give them moult helper without forcing them moulting. It will definately help them to rebuild their plumage.
 

Anorakei

Chirping
Dec 10, 2018
25
34
64
Where do I get these molt helpers?

Where I live it gets too cold in the winter to leave them outside on the balcony. Now in the summer I've put the two most in need of molting on my balcony, maybe it'll get them to molt.

The ones inside don't have a fixed day/night since it kinda follows mine except I usually cover them at 8/9pm. Not all light gets blocked by the cover since it's just old sheets, but if I dim my light I can stay up without disturbing their sleep. In the morning enough light gets through that they'll get up long before me if I sleep in.

Would keeping them awake unusually long trigger a molt? Seems much less cruel than fasting, and matches up with a day length increase.
 

Fenrisulfr

Crowing
Mar 30, 2020
972
2,144
286
Germany
Unfortunately for you I am located in Germany, so I have no advise of any source outside the EU.

But with any vitamine and mineral addition for birds/poultry you make it easier for them, just rebuilding the lost fethers, moulting or not.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
6,275
12,037
596
USA
Maybe come up with a light-proof cover, or put them in a different room that can get really dark. That way, you could decrease their hours of daylight, so it seems to be autumn, and then they would molt. (If you have a room or closet with no windows, try putting them in there, with a light set on a timer so you don't forget when to turn it on/off.)

I don't know how many hours of daylight triggers a molt, but probably something less than 12 hours, just based on a guess of how seasons work. Maybe 10 hours of light each day? Or 8?
 

Anorakei

Chirping
Dec 10, 2018
25
34
64
I put two females outside where it's a bit colder. No molting yet, maybe they need both temperature and day length? They seem to be enjoying the sun during the day at least.

I could turn up the heat in here and not cover them until pretty late, might trigger a summer molt. Missing out on molting really becomes a problem together with feather loss from mating.
 

Anorakei

Chirping
Dec 10, 2018
25
34
64
The outside females have grown back quite a few feathers. At least one of them is still laying eggs, so not a proper molt, but at least they're finally regaining some feathers. Those two lost far too many in the past, their flight feathers are also quite worn down. Really hoping that won't happen to any others. :/

I messaged a few people who sell females in hopes of getting to rehome one of my males in the same trip as picking up new females, but no luck. All my females have bald backs now, one of them is even at a point where I'd consider it over-mating. She's alone with her male cause the other female of that group is one of the two that's outside now. Separating pairs doesn't really work long-term cause quail don't do well alone, so I'll need a solution very soon. Would getting 3 extra females to bump my groups to a 3:1 ratio even be enough? I was hoping to go to 4:1 by selling my male and getting 2 new females.

Anyway I don't have a room I could use to totally control their day/night. With extra coverings I should be able to darken them completely, but I still don't have an exact time to aim for. I tried roughly 8 hours of daylight for a few days, which wasn't enough. I'm going to need an exact daylight time (and maybe temperature?) needed to trigger a molt or me and my girls are going to be in real trouble soon.

Around what dates do they molt outdoors in you guys' regions? Might be able to get a daylight time from there.
 

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