Suddenly aggressive male button quail--help!

Discussion in 'Quail' started by AlyssaJane22, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. AlyssaJane22

    AlyssaJane22 In the Brooder

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    Hello, BYC!

    We have three button quail--two hens and a rooster-- who have been living happily together since we got them about a year ago. At first, our rooster Manfred seemed to be mated with Ethel, and didn't have much interest in the other hen, Lucy. In the past two weeks, Manfred has become increasingly sexually aggressive with Lucy. He'll chase her around the cage non stop, and has plucked the back of her neck clean. Today, he was especially brutal, and it looks our failure to separate them sooner may have cost our dear little Lucy an eye. We feel terrible.

    I tried moving Lucy to her own cage so that she could catch a break and recover, but Manfred instantly started going after Ethel with the same aggression. Currently, Manfred is separated in his own cage, but I've read that males don't do well long term on their own.

    As for what has changed (so that maybe we can correct this/prevent it in the future)
    -We restricted their light over the winter months and within the last month stopped covering them up in the early evenings. Could this just be "spring fever" and if so, might it pass on its own?
    -We do have a full spectrum light bulb hanging about 4 feet above the cages as the room they are in doesn't get much natural daylight. I know that white heat lamps can cause aggression in chicks--could this light possibly be the issue?

    We're not sure what to do next. Here are my questions:
    -has anyone ever kept a male on his own without him becoming devastatingly depressed?
    -Is there any chance that we could reintroduce him to the two hens once everyone has healed up?
    -Is it likely this aggression is permanent, and if so, will it ever be possible to keep him with hens again?

    Any advice or theories would be greatly appreciated! We're so sad to see the little family get broken up--the only issue we've had until now is Ethel occasionally plucking Manfred's butt feathers, but never to the point of bloodying him.
     
  2. DK newbie

    DK newbie Songster

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    I've never had a male being this aggressive, but I can attempt a few theories.. First of all, what are you feeding them? Malnutrition could cause aggression.
    As for the cause being spring fever, I find that likely, but I'm not sure that means it'll pass on its own - not for several months, at least.
    I've had success increasing the cage size from 2 by 5 feet to 3 by 10 feet (small aviary) in a case where I had a female being aggressive towards another (in spring), so cage size might be a factor. She was not aggressive to the point of drawing blood though, just chasing and perhaps plucking a feather when she caught up.
    I think I'd get rid of the full spectrum light. If this makes the cage dark to the point of being unable to see properly, I'd add a more dim light source. I have a Christmas light chain above one of my cages, for instance, it's on for about 12 hours a day and usually the cage is covered when the light is off, so they really don't get much light apart from that - and they are hatching and raising their own chicks several times a year, all year round.
    As for keeping them happy while separated, the best option is probably to keep them as near each other as possible. Separating them by a single layer of wire mesh inside the original cage for instance, might work. There will most likely still be some pacing back and fourth at the wire, but probably not the constant calling that is otherwise likely to happen. Keeping the roo alone long term like this might keep him from getting depressed, but I think he'll be very frustrated that he can't get to the girls.
    Only way I know of, that you can keep them alone, is if they are completely tame. Then you'll be his companions and he won't need the hens. But I've read of exactly one case where a button that wasn't tamed from hatch became tame later in life (a hen that had been rejected by her flock and wounded several times) so it's not very likely to happen.
    The chances of a reintroduction being successful on a permanent basis are hard to guess. The more changes you make - bigger cage, less light, better feed (if what you are already feeding isn't too good), more hiding places - the more likely it is to work. But as it doesn't seem to be just one hen he doesn't like, but more of a general hormonal aggression issue I dare not guess how big the chance is. I'd attempt it, in a few weeks time, when he has been living in more dim surroundings for a while and Ethel has fully healed, but I'd be watching VERY carefully and separate them again if there is more aggression after the first 5-10 minutes (there might be a little reintroduction-chasing as he wants to mate, but watch that it doesn't get truly aggressive).

    I really hope you can make it work. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
     
    Sara L likes this.
  3. Beth Miller

    Beth Miller In the Brooder

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    Hi BYC!
    I am considering hatching button quail by incubator next year and I wanted to know if that "the first thing they see they think is there mother" thing is true and if that would help tame the little guys? How old are the little roos when they start being aggressive?
    Also, are there certain varieties of buttons that you can show that are approved by the American Poultry Association?
     
  4. DK newbie

    DK newbie Songster

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    I don't think it matters much to be the first thing they see - in general they are happy to hide in your hand for the first few days, no matter what they saw first (mine are all raised by their parents but if I have to handle them during the first couple of days they don't mind the hand at all).
    However, once they become a few days old, they tend to become wild and that's what you want to avoid to get them tame. So handle them a lot and if/when they start running from your hand, handle them even more. If you just have a few, you stand a better chance as you can spend more time with each chick like that. Even if you handle them all the time, some might still end up wild though.
    With regards to aggression - it shouldn't start before they are 6-8 weeks and as long as you separate the sexes they'll likely behave for a lot longer than that.
    No idea about shows.
     
    vixie-daisy and 007Sean like this.
  5. Beth Miller

    Beth Miller In the Brooder

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    Thanks! That is super helpful. Do the different varieties act different?
     
  6. DK newbie

    DK newbie Songster

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    They are just color mutations, so basically no more different than a human with blue eyes is different from one with green eyes.
    Birds might interact differently with color mutations they are not familiar with though - I once introduced a tuxedo roo to two wild colored hens that had only seen wild colored birds. The hens looked like they'd seen a ghost and it took several days before they'd let him near.
    There could of cause be some rare, recessive mutation where people have had to inbreed a lot to get birds that express the color, where the inbreeding has also caused some specific behavior traits in the birds, but other than that they should behave pretty much the same.
     
  7. Beth Miller

    Beth Miller In the Brooder

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    Thanks! A few more question:
    Is it ok to put button quail in a 10 gallon tank?
    If so how many would you say could live inside of one?
     
  8. DK newbie

    DK newbie Songster

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    You could brood a few chicks in a tank like that, but no, in my opinion it is completely unsuitable for adult birds. I'd provide at least 4 sqft/pair but preferably twice as much or even more.
     
  9. 007Sean

    007Sean Pheasant Whisperer

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    @DK newbie , is absolutely correct. A 10 gallon tank would not be sufficient for even 1 pair of button quail. IMHO, it's to small even for a broader.
     
  10. Beth Miller

    Beth Miller In the Brooder

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    This would only be temporary. I am going to hatch and raise them and then sell them when they are about 6-8 weeks old. Would it work for that kind of thing?
     

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