Quail chicks are MEAN!


10 Years
Sep 27, 2009
Floresville, Texas
I've hatched a bunch of A&M/Pharaoh/Coturnix Quail chicks in the last 3 days, and wow, they are brutal to one another! I had to take out the stronger ones to allow the new hatchlings a chance, they were dragging them around the hatcher by their wings.

Is there anything I can do to stop this??
Mine did that too until I got them in the brooder. I gave them a lot of space and threw treats in there for them. It helped, but there were still a couple of naughty ones.
I know what you mean - they can be mean. I had two hatchings from my incubator only 3 days apart (buttons) and put the newbies in the brooders and all hell broke loose. So I put in two lights at each end of the brooder, with hiding places and heaps of little bowls of food and water. The fighting stopped.
Untill recently - - -
I went out today to feed and water my silvers and I found one male dead - pecked to death over night. They are in a converted large rabit hutch.
I had two females and three males. I guess they evened it out for me, but yuk.
I have about 24 wilds in my aviary, with 10 females and 14 males, no fighting yet. I guess its because there is more room to get away.
All are comming on to breeding age, so don't know what will happen.
If I loose some males oh well - what can I do?
I have another cage set up for the last eggs in the incubator for this season. Praying for females.
Its almost autumn here in Australia.
I just don't want to loose any females.
You think coturnix are bad dont even try bob whites or chukar! Space is the key to brooding gamebirds or housing older gamebirds. Multiple feed and water supplies helps as do hides and other distractions. Are you using a red heat lamp or white? White tends to make meanness worse with gamebirds. Also what's your brooder temp? For meaner speces I lower the brooder temp a lil bit and that helps agression greatly. I guess its hard to beat up on your roomy when your cold....
Quail are vicious violent critters that have no issue with killing each other. Accept it now. It makes it easier later when they start scalping each other and removing eyes. That said you shouldn't leave them in the hatcher very long anyway. They will get hungry and start eating each other. Quail do not hatch with as much food stored up as chickens. They need food and water within the day. Even leaving buttons overnight I've had early hatchers kill later ones. Those same chicks will go ballistic over food and water when you finally move them to the brooder. They are hungry and thirsty and they see something to peck. Slip them out as soon as they are running around pecking at things.
Brooder cannibalism in coturnix should be rare. I'll even go so far as saying infinitesimally rare.
Please remember, I'm talking about chicks less than 4 weeks old. Not what happens when they get their freak on between 4 and 8+ weeks. That is another story.
Also please remember that this only applies to coturnix chicks, not bobs, valley, or any of the other species of game birds.

I don't use IR bulbs of any kind. Not because they are bad, just because I don't have a thermometer (Digital or other) that can accurately measure IR radiant heat. I brood (Coturnix) under a bug lite. Yes, one of those yellow bulbs you saw when you were visiting your very strange Great Uncle Joe. He means so well!

They are available in 2 or 3 different wattage's, they are low spectrum viable light, and they can be adjusted (For heat purposes) with a properly wired dimmer switch, or you can make a tinker toy setup where you move the bulb further away from the "HOT SPOT" to make it cooler.. I'm going for the $4 dimmer switch.

As Akane suggests: Coturnix chicks in the brooder should have access to high quality 25%+protein game bird feed 24/7. They are not chicken chicks!
Bean count your bird feed in about 4 weeks. You should have a 24/7 shrimp and lobster bar in your brooder. All you can eat 24/7! They actually make feeders that will do this.

Don't confuse pecking in coturnix with cannibalization pecking! They will peck at each other in the bator and brooder, but please don't confuse this with cannibalization. It is normal, and they will find a natural pecking order with out anyone's superior human intellect!
Mine did fine when they were younger, but they have sure been vicious this last month. I have lost 2 and have a 3rd in a "recovery" cage until his feathers come back it.

Good Luck!
No problems here with bobwhite.. always provide "enough space" and "enough feeding and watering space".. quail are simple to raise once you can give them what they need.
You should have a game plan before starting in with them.

(Time of year hatching with any species, enough brooders with covers/screens, adult pens built ahead of time and the types of proper food for raising quail.)
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I find I can mix 1-2 day old chicks of different quail and chucker together and they will do find and grow up in that covey but, I can never add more birds without lots of fighting.

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