New to quails (and this forum). Help with chick feather loss.

Discussion in 'Quail' started by chellejay, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. chellejay

    chellejay Just Hatched

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    Hi all,
    I've just joined because I've been using this forum as a resource for all kinds of information since we put our first batch of quail eggs in the incubator last month, but I've not actually joined!
    I'm in Australia, and have had backyard chooks for ages, but this is my first experience with quail.
    We have 11 quail that are 15 days old and are going great, except for an increasing loss of feathers!
    I searched this forum (plus google) but am not quite happy with my knowledge so far, so thought I'd post a pic for some help.
    The quail are in a box about 3 foot square. I still have a heat source in there and they seem happy to either sleep near it or away as the mood takes them. About a week ago I put in a smaller box on it's side which I fill with wood shavings (from the rural supply store) for them to scratch/sleep in for less heat/light.
    They are being fed a chicken crumble starter feed (which I believe is medicated) plus a finch seed mix (which I was mixing slightly in a food processor to make smaller for them but I think they are about big enough now not to need that.). The current batch of chicken crumble was from a different store and it does not look as fresh as the first batch (there were weevil threads around the bag opening).
    The last few days I have noticed an increase in them eating fallen feathers, or plucking loose down feathers out of the other chicks. I don't know if, at this age, the feather loss is normal. There was one thread here that said the golden quail tend to loose more feathers as chicks but there were no photos so I am not sure if my feather loss is the same.
    It seems to be mostly along their neck and spine.
    I read about them needing more stimulation in the brooder box, so tomorrow I will get some branches or something for them. I don't believe it's too hot in there.... They might be sick of the bright light!! Should I give them some time under natural light during the warmth of the day?
    The local rural supplies store knows nothing about quail, but everything I read seemed to suggest standard chick starter was fine.
    Any advice appreciated!
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    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
  2. feedman77

    feedman77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Usually father eating and picking as from a lack of protein.

    I feed my quail a gamebird starter 28 percent protein.

    If you can find it try a gamebird starter. And reduce the finch seed mix. Just give as a treat. The seed mix is lowering the overall protein of the chick starter you are feeding.
     
  3. JaeG

    JaeG Overrun With Chickens

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    Put them on some bedding such as hay, as that seems to provide mine with some entertainment as they find bits to pick at and carry. You could give them kale or silverbeet leaves to pick at. Keep an eye out for mites, just in case it's that. You could give them a tray of dirt or sand to dust bathe in too as they love dustbathing.

    Plus, welcome to BYC and hi from across the ditch!
     
  4. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apart from the comments about increasing protein, which I very much agree with, be aware that feather picking can quickly become a habit that you'll never get rid of - you might want to consider separating all birds you see pecking right away and placing each of them in its own fenced off part of the brooder (or a different brooder, but then you'll have trouble when reintroducing them) for a week or so, to break the habit, allow feathers to regrow and allow them to get their protein needs filled.
     
  5. chellejay

    chellejay Just Hatched

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    Thanks, everyone. I think I'll head in to my regular rural store and get a different starter feed. Could I dig up some fresh garden worms now to tide them over?

    I also have baby spinach and rocket that i could give them. Would that help?

    I don't have anywhere else to keep chicks if I separate some so I hope I can solve this quickly.

    There's nothing dry around here (flooding) but I have bamboo mulch I can put in for picking at and carrying.
     
  6. JaeG

    JaeG Overrun With Chickens

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    I'd be careful of feeding bugs from the garden to babies so young as they often carry intestinal worms which will be passed on to your chicks. Maybe try to get some dried mealworms or crickets (you'll have to blitz them in the blender), or you could even see if they'll try scrambled egg.
     
  7. chellejay

    chellejay Just Hatched

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    Scrambled eggs I can do immediately, so I'll do that now. I'll have to get mealworms in town as well as the starter feed so it looks like I'll have to brave the weather and head in. Many thanks for the help and ideas.
     
  8. chellejay

    chellejay Just Hatched

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    I gave them a tray filled with dirt, and a scattered some straw around their box, and they went crazy in the dirt! I've seen chooks dustbath plenty of times, but I've never seen quail! They were hilarious. I gave them scrambled eggs at the same time and they were far more interested in the dirt.

    The local rural store doesn't have game bird starter in stock at the moment. The best they had was turkey & meat chicken starter with 22% protein, so I brought that. Hopefully it will be okay?? I also got 100g of alive mealworms. If I thought the chicks were crazy for the dirt, giving them the mealworms was a whole other level of excitement! The kids and I watched each chick grab a worm and then run like crazy all around the box, hoping and popping over ever other chick that was doing the exact same crazy dance. The funniest thing ever. I think each chick would have ended up with about 5-6 worms each. How many should I give them each day? I continued to give them small serves of the scrambled egg thoughout the day as well (total of two chicken eggs between the 11 chicks over the day).

    I'm happy to give them more than that, I just have no clue what would be a balance between the 22% protein starter crumble, and the added protein from egg/worms.
    And should I stop giving them the seed mix completely? Or scatter a little in the dirt?

    thanks so much for the help,
    Chelle.
     
  9. JaeG

    JaeG Overrun With Chickens

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    Don't give them too many mealworms as they are high in fat, but they are good for a treat and a protein boost. I'd give them a couple each maybe twice a week. A little bit of scrambled egg every day won't hurt them either. I'm in New Zealand and where I am it's impossible to get any kind of game bird feed, so I use meatbird crumble with 20% protein (that's the highest I can get) and they do fine on it. Sprouting alfalfa seeds is also a good vege based protein source, and an easy way to give them some greens. A little bit of seed mix won't hurt them as a treat too.

    They are hilarious when they dustbathe - so cute!
     
  10. robdog

    robdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Too many kept too close together, I have this happen every hatch beginning around 1 week + old. The quails get bored and usually pick on eachother. I usually have piles of feathers everytime i empty my drop pan.
     

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