What to do about Bobwhite injured from fighting?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Mar 29, 2010
I have a group of 22 Bobwhites in an outdoor pen together -- 12 males, 10 females -- and about a month ago they've started fighting and chasing each other fairly often but I haven't seen any visible injuries until now. Two nights ago one of the males had a bloody face and looked like he'd been pecked pretty bad between the eyes, then the next day he had a big patch of feathers missing around the back of his neck and was looking kind of rough around the edges and today is missing even more feathers although the wound between his eyes seems to have dried up and healed pretty well.

I think this male might be the dominant male of the group, although I'm not sure since I'm still new to a lot of Bobwhite behaviors. I watched them for a while over the last two nights and the bloodied male would consistently go out of his way to attack the other males; half the time when he did this they'd run off and he'd chase them and the other half of the time the other male would fight back and they'd start standing up tall and pecking each other in the face. This same male is always the first one to come out to greet me whenever I go out to check on them and is also the only bird out of the 22 that will eat from my hand or get anywhere near me when I go into the pen with them so I don't want to cull the only semi-tame Bobwhite I have.

Anyway, would it help if I separated him from the rest of the quail? I was thinking of putting him in a rabbit hutch for a week or so on his own and then reintroducing him but I don't know if this would make things worse or not when he's put back in with the rest of the birds. On the other hand it seems like the others may kill him if I leave him in there much longer, but again I'm not really sure. Thanks in advance for any help!
1st Off Your Sex Ratio Is Way Off For Colony Bobs... Very Least You Want 2 Hens To Each Roo More If Possible... Know That Colony Bobs Can Often Times Have A Great Deal Of Problems With Agression Associated With Breeding Season. In Many Cases The Birds Dictate Pairs Or Trios. No Hard And Fast Rule Here But You'll Figure It Out As They Show You With Agression Issues Such As This.

#1 Seperate Him To Allow Him To Heal If Nothing Else, And Also Cool His Heels With The Bullying Thing. Failure To Intervene In These Situations With Bobs Is Usually Fatal To At Least 1 Of The Parties Involved And It Encourages Continued Agression That Escalates Quickly With Each New Sucess Your Lil Gamebird Rocky Will Grow More And More Self Assured And Look For New Targets To Abuse

#2 Consider Smaller Breeding Groups, Or At The Least Wean Down Quite A Bit On Your Sex Ratio In The Colony

#3 Welcome To Bobs... They Are The Junkyard Dogs Of The Quail World. Mean Lil Boogers. And This Natural Meaness Is The Worst Part Of Keeping Them, They Are Much Different From Many Other Speces Of Quail. Until You Get Used To Their Natural Behaviors And Tendancies There Will Likely Be A Rather Steep Learning Curve
Thanks for the reply
He looks a little better today and seems to be growing the missing feathers back pretty quickly. If I do separate him and put him in a hutch by himself should I have the hutch next to the pen with the rest of the Bobwhites so they can see/hear each other or should I have the hutch in another area where he won't be near them? I know they tend to get pretty upset when they're separated on their own but I'm also a bit worried about keeping him away from the others and then the other quail seeing him as a "new" bird once he's reintroduced later on and attacking him for that reason.

And yeah, i realize my ratio is far from perfect...they were perfectly fine from last summer when they were chicks up until the end of last month and I guess I was hoping they'd work it out amongst themselves and calm down after the first month or so of breeding season but that doesn't look likely at this point. This is slightly unrelated to the topic, but I was thinking of taking out 7 of the males and keeping them in a separate pen or hutch and leaving 15 quail in the pen together; 10 females and 5 males. Then in the fall I'd put them all back together in the pen again and repeat the separation the following spring. If I did this though, would the 7 males being kept together over the spring/summer just attack each other even more since they'd be in closer quarters and around only other males? or would they be okay since there wouldn't be any females around? thanks again for the help!
Every group of Bobwhites is different, so you can try different things to see what will happen. In my Bobwhite heaven,
I have to keep my breeding pairs paired off boy to girl. If I even keep 2 girls to 1 boy, the girls tear each other apart. Bloody. I keep my Bobs in a large open aviary setting and during breeding seaon I have these extra large dog crate cages all over with the pairs in each cage. Come fall Bobs will quiet down and you can mix them all back together. They will enjoying coming back together again. Then in the spring I repeat the above process.

Now I have another area with just males all mixed together. I don't know if this is the norm, but it works for my Bobs. As long as they don't SEE the other females, they don't fight and generally get along.

I also have another grouping of females that I keep in the same manner. Some of them still bicker, but generally nothing serious. I don't mix all these birds because I just don't have the room. (I don't want to keep them in small cages.)

But as said earlier, keep an eye on things as they can kill each other if left to themselves. I am glad your little male is better today. Continue with the hand feeding, even if it is only one bird that eats from it. The others may soon follow. I had some that were pretty skiddish with me for a while, but now they all will eat from my hands after watching the friendlier ones do so. Feed them something they can't resist, mealworms. Dried, live or moistened. If you have some of those Cicadas this year as some of us do in the south, catch some of the ones that have shed their skins and hand feed your quail these bugs. They will go nuts for them!

Good luck with your Bobs!
Bachelor Groups Work Well... Hen Groups Eh Not So Much... Seems They Are The More Evil Ones In The Crowd Once Mating Season Starts And Their Hormones Get To Ping Ponging. Most Adult Agression In Smaller Groups Comes From Hen On Hen Action And Not From Roos Going At It. The Boys Will All "bach" Well With Or Without Hens Nearby. I Routinely Keep A Pen Of Bachelors As Backups And Have No Problems... Seems If There's No Hens In With Them To Impress Then There's Really No Reason To Fight.
Those girls are fiesty little ones aren't they? I hand raised all my boys and they are as sweet as could be.

The hand raised girls? Ferocious!
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Adult Hens Are Evil Incarnate Wrapped In Feathers... Nasty Nasty Nasty Evil Lil Wenches I Tell Ya. But Roos Bite People So They Arent Entirely Innocent
I only have one male that USED to be a biter. I tried everything from ignoring him, to holding him upside down and pinning him to the ground. I mean this guy would fly up in my face and try to attack me. I was so close to making stew out of him, and he must have picked up on my anger as one day he just stopped. I don't know what changed his personality. But now I can reach down right at his feet and he ignores me. Now that is not to say that he still has to scold me quite often, but the aggression has stopped.

I have had to hold several of my males down on the ground and pin them and it seems to stop their aggression toward me. Fortunately, my males are generally very sweet and seem to be calmer than the females. But no matter their personalities, I love all my crazy birds.
I moved my weather camera into their pen and set it to record them from 4AM til 9PM and then watched the recording (sped up x1000) -- they don't seem to be fighting too much and from what I can tell the injured one isn't being picked on or attacked that much either. However, once they flew up onto the branches to roost after sunset I could tell that the injured one was being pecked at by whatever bird he was next to on the branch...it didn't look aggressive or hostile, more like the other bird was trying to eat him, or at least eat the feathers on the back of his neck. This went on for another 10 minutes or so before it got too dark to see.

I called the guy that sold me the Bobwhites last year and asked for his advice and he said to put some bitter-tasting spray or ointment on the bald area that would supposedly taste bad enough to deter the other birds from continuing to peck at him. He didn't remember the name of it, just that he used it for pheasants that pecked at each other a lot. I did some research online and the closest product I could find was this stuff: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000HHS6YS/

It doesn't say anything about using it on birds but after doing some more searching it seems to be used on poultry/game birds fairly often. Would it help in this case? Or would it at least not make things worse? I found a bunch of sites warning not to eat the bird or the bird's eggs after using Blu Kote on it...that won't be a problem with this male obviously, but I do sell Bobwhite eggs for eating that come from the hens in the same pen as him so would it have any negative effect on their eggs if he's in there with them while sprayed/coated with the stuff?

Finally, the Bobwhite breeder that sold me the birds also told me that if I kept him apart from the other birds for a month or so and then reintroduced him that would make him even more likely to be killed than if I left him alone. Then again, this same guy also said he's had hundreds of Bobwhites in the same pen together, often without much extra room, and has never had this problem before -- even when there are more males than females. So my guess is that it's kind of difficult to predict what will happen in any case with them since the experiences vary so much. Right now I'm leaning towards just ordering the Blu Kote (or picking it up locally if any of the stores around here would carry it), putting it on his neck and seeing what happens. I was also thinking of adding a hanging head of lettuce into their pen to give them something else to peck at, although the problem still seemed to be mostly at night when he was directly next to the other birds and they started pecking at him.

Thanks for the advice so far, I'll keep you all posted on how things turn out
Most Tsc And Many Feed Stores Carry 1 Form Or Another Of Bluecote/ Woundcote/ Etc... Look For It In The Horse Med Section--- Comes In Spray Can (easiest) And Liquid With A Dauber... No Luck Look At Cutlers Supply Online Or Search Ebay

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