they wont stop killing each other!

Discussion in 'Quail' started by Fraoch21, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Fraoch21

    Fraoch21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 21, 2011
    Highlands, Scotland
    this is my first experience owning quail and i have to say its not the best...
    i tryed to hatch 24 coturnix eggs but onlu y 1 survived so i bought 5 2 week olds to go with the chick. As they grew older, and escapee turkey poult killed one and injured my chick. Then when they were 8 weeks old i moved them all into an outdoor run on the ground with lots of tall grass and weeds, pen is about 7 foot by 5 foot and a hut 2 foot by 2. 3 then escaped since the pen wasnt secure enough so i redid the whole en and there is now pretty much no way they can get out. So i was left with the chick i had hatched, an italian male and a brown female now adults.

    I then bought anther 7 coturnix chicks and put them in a pen inside the adults pen when they were 8 weeks. 2 weeks later i let them into the pen with the adults not realising they would fight for territory. The adults quickly killed all but 2 of the 8 week olds which i manged to save and out them in another pen, then realised that the 2 survivors were both males....

    I now have the 2 males living happily(so far) with each other and the italian male and brown female in the big pen. Just today i found both the italian and female injured, at first i thought of our cat, but she has never hurt them before and where their cuts are, are quite hard to get too. So im suspected they are fighting between each other!!
    Why would they do this? ive left the female in the pen with a smaller hut and put the male into the big hut and locked him in. Which one is it thats the killer or are they all as bad as each other? i now have 4 quail, all seperated its getting a bit much!

    The male had all the feathers and skin torn off his back and more skin missing on the undersides of both wings and a gash in his chest. The female i think has a completely broken wing. Its stuck half open, maybe by dried blood im not sure but her wing is really not good...

    Why are they doing this!!! [​IMG]
     
  2. Mibotsu

    Mibotsu Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2011
    Balbriggan, Ireland
    That desnt ssoud like quail attacks. Something got in there, squirrel maybe. Id lift them off the ground first, and whenever you introduce new members to the coop i find it best to take everyoe out an put them together in say,,, the broder for a day then put them all back in the coop so you can restart the pecking order. Honestly since you dont have alot of birds, i would just restart. Hatch some more and go from there.

    As far as the attacks i am not surprised, young with old, new birds with aready established birds. It can get messy?
     
  3. Fraoch21

    Fraoch21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 21, 2011
    Highlands, Scotland
    yeh i know i didnt realise how dangerous itt was to mix the established with new [​IMG]

    i have no idea if ill be able to lift them off the ground? Its a pretty big pen, any tips...?

    theres no squirrels around here, i cant think of anything that would get in and wouldnt whatever it was kill them..? [​IMG]

    edit; forgot to say, the injuries they get and the ones before that died are really viscous wounds, i dont really want to go into detail for the sake of some sensitive readers but there was only one that had any injury to its head or neck
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  4. bfrancis

    bfrancis Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 30, 2010
    Okmulgee Co, Oklahoma
    Off the ground, off the ground...that's everyone's first statements. "Off the ground." Dude, your quail will do fine on the ground as long as you have it predator proof, dry and clean.

    Mixing established and new quail together is always tricky. With no more than you have, I agree with the previous poster, take them all out for a few days and reintroduce them in your nice ground pen together...that does help with the pecking order. You can also add ground cover for the smaller ones to run/escape internal attacks. small limbs, even flower pots placed on its side will offer hidey holes.

    Coturnix are pretty laid back in the correct environment...

    good luck!

    Look at this thread for more on the ground vs wire debate https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=585988
     
  5. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    So sorry to hear about your troubles! No wonder you're so frustrated. [​IMG]

    Personally, I didn't even know there was an "off the ground" debate. Really?? My quail have never been so happy as they are since I put them down on the ground. I thought the only reason to keep them in a brooder is for the keeper's convenience. Quail love being able to dig in the dirt, take dust bathes, eat grass... they belong on the ground. That's not to say that it's WRONG to have them in wire brooders--depending on your reasons for owning them, your set-up, the number of quail you keep, etc., brooders may be your best bet. But there is certainly not any reason why you need to get them up off the ground, unless you just want more stress and fighting, or you're unable to keep the ground sanitary due to the number of quail being kept.

    What I have noticed since putting my quail in a more-natural setting: They are calmer, tamer, less jumpy, they fight less, show absolutely no injuries (not even bald spots from breeding), and have clean, shiny feathers. Also, they almost NEVER choose to be up high--they always choose ground level unless there is some particular reason to be up high. They won't even go up a level to get to food and water and treats. They prefer the ground. They also don't like being closed in--they want a 360 degree view at all times. They won't use the doghouses--they prefer to shelter under the eaves, or under a hay bale, log, or lean-to. All of which tells me that having them up high in dark little brood cages is stressful and uncomfortable for them. Again, not judging or saying how someone else should do it, just pointing out that on the ground in a (SECURE) open enclosure is much healthier if you can manage it.

    Now, on to your troubles. We had similar problems when we first started because we didn't understand the dynamics of quail territorialism. You did right to introduce them before letting them approach one another, but as has already been said--it works much better if you introduce them in neutral territory, let them get to know one another, then re-introduce them to their pen. For this, a brooder is great for a week or so.

    I also agree that at this point you may be best off to start over. Quail and eggs are cheap, and yummy--maybe it's time for a quail dinner, and some eggs in the incy?

    I also agree with the comment that you probably had an attack of some other creature in your pen. It's unusual for quail to attack their hatch mates unless you have a gender ratio issue or serious stress, especially not to that extent. There are SO MANY things that might attack a quail: A cat, a small dog, a rat, a squirrel, a raccoon (though a raccoon would be unlikely to leave them living)... the list is practically endless. The hardest thing about keeping them "on the ground" in a natural setting is making their enclosure secure.

    I have wire UNDER their pen (under a bed of mulch and composted hay that is planted with honeysuckle and grass), wire over their pen, chain link all around, and the chain link is covered in hardware mesh. Gaps between gates are tightened up with the addition of plastic bars that reduce openings to 1/2 inch or less.

    Good luck. I'm sorry you're having so much trouble. They really are worth it once you get the hang of it. It's just that because they're so small and inexpensive and relatively under-utilized, there is not as much information out there on the basics of husbandry as there is for chickens or ducks, so it's a bit more trial and error. The fine folks here have tons of experience though, and they'll walk you through. Take care!
     
  6. quailmale

    quailmale Chillin' With My Peeps

    Your description of how bad the wounds were kinda leads me to think you might have a rat problem. Put out some traps with peanut butter on them and see what shows up. Look around the bottom of the pen for any small trails matted grass ect. where they may be traveling.[​IMG]
     
  7. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

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    Adair Co., KY
    What injuries did the birds have (babies who were killed and ones currently injured)? Whenever I've added a big group to a same-sized or smaller group I've never had problems.

    Injuries from other birds would all be concentrated on the head or feet.

    ETA: What size wire is on the pen?
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  8. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

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    Adair Co., KY
    Quote:Several people who raise coturnix for meat keep them off the ground in raised cages. Coturnix have such a fast turnover rate that it would be cost-prohibitive to have them in ground pens where they could be exposed to things like parasites. Also, it is much easier to clean their poop up if they aren't walking in it all the time.

    ETA: It's not really a 'debate', it's more like common knowledge.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  9. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Quote:Several people who raise coturnix for meat keep them off the ground in raised cages. Coturnix have such a fast turnover rate that it would be cost-prohibitive to have them in ground pens where they could be exposed to things like parasites. Also, it is much easier to clean their poop up if they aren't walking in it all the time.

    Sure, I totally get that. I just meant I didn't realize that some people believe having them on the ground is bad for them. I completely understand that wire brooders make a lot of sense for larger operations, and that being on the ground would be bad for them if the pens couldn't be kept clean. That just doesn't seem to be at all the issue here, so I was surprised at the suggestion.
     
  10. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

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    Adair Co., KY
    This is the first I've seen someone saying it's "bad" for them to be on the ground, so I understand that. Some people confuse preferences for necessities [​IMG]
     

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