Quail Eating Eggs...Advice?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by ggschulz, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. ggschulz

    ggschulz In the Brooder

    Oct 23, 2013
    I searched the site first and didn't see any real consensus, so I thought I would re-raise the question.

    How do you avoid/stop Coturnix Quail from eating their eggs?

    Here is my situation:
    I got the quail as relatively full grown adults on October 6. There is 1 roo and 8 hens in a 24x36' wire rabbit pen, hung on the fence, slanted. I am feeding them a 20% pro flock feed from Tractor Supply. Had been giving them my scratch mix of Oats/Barley/Wheat (more similar to what they had where I got them) and they waste most of it, so now strictly the 20% feed.

    I am in Central California. Currently temps get to about 74 in day, down to 48-50 at night. They are caged in an enclosed area that also has rabbits in pens and a chicken coop/pen area. Both are 15-20 feet away from their pen. Cage has a roof, but sides are currently open. I have Christmas lights strung that run from 6-8am and from 5-8pm. Sunrise is about 6:30 am, Sunset around 5:30 pm.

    They have a dust bath in the corner that they all spend a fair amount of time in. They have laid nearly all of the eggs in the bath, and did not start laying for me until it was placed permanently. Cage is at an angle to allow eggs to roll to front, but obviously that doesn't happen in the bath.

    I typically start noticing eggs at about 3 pm, and will check periodically clear until almost 8 pm (lights out.) I have been averaging 4-6 eggs/day since they really got rolling (about 11/1, 4 weeks after they moved in.) I just got home from a funeral out of town, expecting to find nearly a dozen eggs (two days worth since I left yesterday at noon) and there were only 4. After further inspection, there was a hollowed out egg under the waterer that hangs in the middle of the pen, and I found at least a couple shells I could make out among the poo under the cage. I had an egg in the bath full of sand that I thought was just broken and rolled around about 10 days ago. May have had more eaten than this.

    I do have a job and have to be gone overnight periodically, so I would like to be able to leave them to fend for themselves from time to time. Any thoughts on how to improve this situation?

  2. fried green eggs

    fried green eggs Songster

    Mar 25, 2011
    S.E. Michigan
    I don't have quail but, when chickens start eating eggs it can be due to need for higher protein in diet. Your Quail may need Game bird feed. I know it is a higher protein level. You could blow out a couple of their eggs and fill with it with mustard or hot sauce. Then seal the end with tape or wax and put it out for them to eat. Upping the protein along with teaching them eggs taste bad may halt the behavior. Hope this helps.[​IMG]
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop

    Quail, like chickens, eat their eggs because they need more protein. And once they start eating their eggs, it becomes a habit.

    If these were my birds in this situation, I would stop them from laying eggs for now. No more lights. Allow them to go back to a natural cycle of laying. They are probably laying too much for their bodies health. Let them rest for a few months, feeding them as much protein as they will eat.

    Then when they start back up in laying in the spring, hopefully they have not only eaten enough protein and possibly they have forgotten that they were eating the eggs in the first place.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  4. ggschulz

    ggschulz In the Brooder

    Oct 23, 2013
    I guess I should give a bit of an update....

    I may have overreacted a bit to what seemed like a "stunning development." After a few days of 5-6 eggs/day, I was shocked to see only 4 after two days/laying and seeing one broken egg in the cage, and up to 3 or 4 shells buried in the poo under, I had assumed a bit of a problem, and maybe I still do.

    Yesterday, I had 7 eggs and today 8. I had them collected within an hour or two of them being laid, and there was no real evidence of them trying to eat the eggs, aside from one slightly cracked egg yesterday that may or may not have been from that issue.

    I appreciate the responses hear and will definitely take a few things to heart moving forward:

    1) If I am going out of town overnight again, I will have someone come and collect the eggs between 4:30 and 6 pm; no more assuming they will be fine overnight.

    2) I am going to the feed store (the company I work for owns it after all, so I really have no excuse) and try to pick up a mix that is closer to 25% or higher to at least blend with the Flock mix I am using now. I also started adding some of the chickens' oyster shell, hoping that will help.

    3) If this turns out to be a bigger problem and the "eating" picks up or happens habitually, I will take the advice to "shut them down" for the winter. Our winters are pretty mild, so I planned to keep them laying through the winter, but if shutting them down will fix the problem, I guess that is what I will do.

    Incidentally, I have an incubator coming this week with quail rails, turner, etc... and I think I am going to try to hatch out a fresh group of chicks for meat/replacement layers. So, if this turns out to be a problem group of hens, I will have replacements for them in about two months... (assuming hatching and brooding goes well.)
  5. EggRx

    EggRx In the Brooder

    Nov 17, 2013
    Glendale, Arizona
    Hi ggschulz,

    I had a problem with broken eggs in the sand box too. Lots of activity there that a thin eggshell can't hold up to. A broken egg must be very tempting fare to the quail. My solution was to place a "nest box" filled with wood shavings in one corner of the coop. They lay about 90% of their eggs in the box now. I put a sand box in the coop daily for a few hours at a time, and remove it by mid-afternoon. (I use dry coffee grounds or fine silica sand from a local brickyard)

    You have one roo to eight hens? Well, he must be very happy and very busy, but egg fertility may be an issue with that many hens to one roo. Do you eat the eggs? Maybe check the yolks for the telltale spots. If a good many are fertile then maybe you will have a good hatch rate.

    Best of luck
  6. ggschulz

    ggschulz In the Brooder

    Oct 23, 2013
    Every last one has had "the dot"...that is, of the eggs that we have scrambled, hard to tell with the hard-boiled that we have pickled.[​IMG]

    Yes, he is one very active, and somewhat aggressive, roo, but he seems to be getting the job done. I didn't initially intend on having a rooster in this first group, but my wife was told that the roosters sing, so she HAD to have one....needless to say the "singing" is not as definite and audible as she had anticipated, but the byproduct has been that I do have fertile eggs, so I am going to give it a go. I know this is well below the 1:5, 1:4, or 1:2.5 ratio everyone calls for, but if all the eggs are being fertilized, I guess it should work. Again, it is only a 24" x 36" pen, so he gets around to all 8 of the girls...

    I may try your nesting box idea. Hard to remove the dust bath now that I have it wired into the corner, but if I have any more troubles I will probably give that a try.

    Coincidentally (or not,) I increased the amount of oyster shell in their feed and 1) haven't had the egg-breaking issues and 2) they are not wasting as much feed. Anyone have any thoughts on that? They were dumping A LOT of it on the ground before I increased the oyster.

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