Whats the reason for feather loss


In the Brooder
Dec 9, 2019
Arendal, Norway
Hi! I'm very new to quail, trying to figure out what is going on with them. They are eating, drinking and running around like the rest. What I have noticed is red skin and feather loss.

In the beginning they were fine, then slowly starting to get worse. I had the following thoughts:
1. First they were in a big cardboard box, I though maybe it was from them rubbing against the walls all the time. Considering cardboard is almost like sanding paper. I changed their container to a big plastic one with soft walls. I can't really tell if it has become much better since.
2. Someone in the flock pecking around on each other. I've been observing them for hours, don't see any pecking going on.
3. Mites or lice, but I have very limited experience in determining if it's the problem or not. I do feel this is more likely but I want to ask advice.

Please see the attached images. Thought I would ask before they become seriously ill, not sure how bad it can become.



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Do you see any mites? What kind of bedding are they on? Are they spilling their water and getting damp?

My first two thoughts are mites or damp. Plastic and frequent cleaning will help in both of those situations.
Sometimes, while changing fluff to feather there are some naked spots, like the last 2 pics.

But the other pics are more extreme than I've seen. I see bedding is straw, this might hurt them.
I sleeped once in straw as young man (and yes, she was so cute 🙈 😇) ... I had so many scratches and stings... crazy.
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I have no clue what mites look like, but haven't been able to spot them with my eyes yet, but looks almost like dry skin flakes between the feathers, maybe that could be due to mites.

Originally I did not have straw bedding, only clean saw dust. Then I thought maybe they were bored and pecking each other, so I added some straw, thinking they would keep busy playing with that. I've taken the straw away again now, seeing it had no effect.

I don't notice excessive spilling of water but they do sometimes run over the water "pit". Not sure about the room humidity but I could check that, would think it's not that high considering there is an electrical heater running 24/7 in that room to keep the temperatures high/stable.

Just came home after a few hours out, now a couple of them seem to have a tiny bit of blood on their nude spots, not good :(
I did find an old magnifying glass, tried to look closer. Seems as if there are specs of small black dots between the feathers, was unable to find one that was moving though!

I feel like it's not conclusive, would have liked to see a moving critter!

Some people talked about spraying Permethrin for mites, I'm normally against chemicals, not sure if it's safe enough to use at small doses(avoid eyes/face).

See attached image, that's their space. Need to change out the saw dust, already quite loaded with crap!


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Black spots, like the first pic? These aren't mites... these are feathers growing.
Mites are red.

Were is your brooder and which material is it made of?

The brooder is as in the picture in previous post, a black plastic tote with soft surfaces(walls). Where they are walking around in saw dust.

The first picture "black spots" ar obviously feather stumps. What I did se was in between the normal areas/feathers, there were some small black spots/dust.
Are they preening those areas excessively? I don't know about parasites, but your description does seem to fit in the category and it doesn't look like pysical wound from pecking. Beddings(sawdust, straws, hays, dirt, etc) are typical sources of contamination. I would clean and sterilize everything inthe cage, spray some anti bugs/medicine just in case, and give chicks a large bowl of sand to dust bath. Welcome to the forum by the way!

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