murderous coturnix


In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 29, 2014
My coturnix rooster killed one of my a &m hens. It looked like he was pecking her in the neck and eyes. Does anyone know how this could happen? It is cold at night now but not below 0°c and they have a heat lamp. Could the cold be a factor in the murder?
A friend of mine and myself are new to coturnix this year, but we have both experienced this behavior. We both had to put down a couple hens as a result. We tried separating those males and putting them with just a few hens, but they continued the over-aggressive behavior. After we culled those males out, life in the pens has been peaceful. Now I keep an eye out for aggressive males when I hatch. They are the first to get culled.
It happens. All you can do is keep a close eye on the birds and return the favor to any aggressors. They taste pretty good ;) Sorry about the hen though. I'm told (I have no A&M) that when there is mixed company the white birds get pecked the most. Not sure if it is true, but it is worth noting.
Pick you roo up and turn him over. In front of the vent you should see a small "swollen" area. These are his testes. Often I've noticed enlarged testes in coturnix roosters and every time the rooster in question is overly aggressive. It becomes an easy way to tell if you're going to have a problem with a new male. WHen they are enlarged that small "swollen" area will be obviously too large and usually red as well.

Most likely though your problem is social. Did you mix birds together that didn't grow up together in the brooder? Quail are VERY territorial and will kill any "interloper" you put in their cage.
Are you sure he killed her and not that, after she died of some other reason, began to scavenge and eat her? From what it sounds like, he did kill her, but since you didn't see it, you should consider all possibilities. Of course, you don't want to keep a cannibalistic bird. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying check the health of your birds for any other cause of death. You want to make sure there is nothing contagious.

The point Kherome brought up about the white birds being pecked more is true. It's because blood, dirt, and anything else unusual and attention-grabbing is easy to see, so the quail peck at it to investigate, which prompts more pecking until it escalates to violence. A dark colored quail is naturally speckled, and any dirt or blood won't grab other birds' attentions.

In pheasants, cannibalism happens when the birds are starving for protein. Are you feeding them chicken feed? Switch to turkey or gamebird for a while. That has the protein that will satisfy their appetite- if this was the cause and not simple aggression.

As far as the cold being a factor, I don't think so- unless maybe the hen was cold, so she kept piling up on the roo, which eventually annoyed him so much he attacked her? I'm not familiar with Celsius, so I couldn't say whether that is too cold for quail to take or not.

Hope I gave you something(s) to consider.
I have 1 pure white coturnix, 1 tuxedo and 2 pharaoh. The white and tuxedo are 1 week older than the pharaohs. When I moved them all to the outside hutch, the white quail pecked and chased the pharaohs.... But he/she stopped after about a day. Thank goodness! It's our favourite quail and I wouldn't wanna put it down. So I'm not sure if the white birds get pecked the most. Not in my case anyway.
Dc3085 -
That is interesting tgat you noticed that about the males testes. I thought about saying something in my previous post, but wasn't sure if it was actually correlative. I noticed when I butchered my aggressive male that his testes were HUGE!

Thank you for mentioning something about it.

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