When to feed (possible) female quail chicks oyster shell grit?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by MageofMist, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. MageofMist

    MageofMist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My babies are 3 weeks old now, and I am wondering when you have to start feeding them oyster shell grit, I know if you give it them too soon it leads to bone deformities, so I wanna know when is the best time as I don't want them to start laying eggs and suffer from not having enough calcium for it. I believe I have two hens and a single male, judging from the vent sizes as two have wider vents while one has a smaller one, but they are too young still to properly vent-sex.

    I do provide dust-bathing sand... That is sillies just eat and then decide to dust-bath right outside the bowl of sand. XD But I know it isn't proper grit for them.
     
  2. Bug n Flock

    Bug n Flock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They won't start to lay until at least 8 weeks anyway if you are talking coturnix coturnix. At 3 weeks ypu should be able to tell by breast feathers. Speckled with black are hens, rusty red for boys.
     
  3. MageofMist

    MageofMist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have button quails and they are a confusing colouration too, making it hard to tell as they all have speckles and no gender-related plumage. This is my first time raising them, so I am kinda at a loss on telling the genders apart.

    None have any blue or red on them yet, which would signify that they are males (either blue or red breasted) but I dunno if they'll get their colourful feathers after they mature and molt or something like that. Plus in this specie, both males and females crow, making telling the genders apart even more confusing. XD

    Edit:
    [​IMG]
    Here is a pic of one of the chicks, they all look basically the same other than the runt having a single white feather.

    Edit:
    Also, just realized how grumpy she looks in the pic XD
    Baby Quail: "If you was a worm, you'd severely regret this decision, feed monster..."
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  4. lomine

    lomine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, I think you've got things a little confused and I want to clarify things. Grit and oyster shell are two different things. Grit is used to digest food. All birds need grit unless you only feed store bought feed. Your birds are eating the sand for this purpose. This is totally fine.

    Oyster shell, as you know, is for laying hens. You can put oyster shell in now and let them take it free choice. They will all pick at it and investigate. Hens won't take it till they need it. Don't mix it with the feed and you don't have worry about giving it too early. You will more than likely need to grind up the oyster shell for your buttons.
     
  5. Bug n Flock

    Bug n Flock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah. I keep both species. If I were to guess blindly, your "runt" is a male and the others are females. I was so sure my first "runt" was a runt that I almost gave him away to a nonbreeding home, but he turned out to be my only male and I had a bunch of ladies. The males are noticably smaller than females.

    I dont offer extra calcium to my buttons and they have never had a calcium problem. Chances are your feed has appropriate levels of calcium.. around 1% will do you, much more than that and you will wind up making your birds sick.

    Sex colors come in around 5 weeks of age for buttons if I remember right. Also you can try giving a dish of goodies, females will dig right in and males tend to make little noises with treats in mouth to call ladies and feed them. I don't know if immature birds will behave like this though.

    Cute bird tho! :) welcome to quail, they are seriously addictive little beepers.
     
  6. MageofMist

    MageofMist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I provide sand and oyster grit for my adult quails, there even being a bowl for the oyster grit. ^^ I just wasn't sure if it was ok to provide oyster shell grit for the babies and when I might need to.

    I know them eating the sand is fine or else I would have removed it, I just found it amusing that they decided to dust-bathe NEXT to the sand bowl instead of in it after eating some of it. XD
     
  7. MageofMist

    MageofMist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do have a strong feeling the runt may be a male, but I am not 100% sure. XD The white chest feather though, while just being a single one, does point towards the little peeper being male.
    The youngsters are on crushed growers pellets with crushed up mealworms for the extra protein, and they have been growing super well so I know for sure it is working well, and I will keep an eye on them for any new feathers on the quails the following 3 weeks to see if any brighter ones pop up on any.

    The young, possibly male, doesn't make food-peeps as he eats the tomato I provide for them unlike the mature male does, instead the youngster just digs right in and competes with the females over the tomato. He eats about the same amount though as the females, so I know it isn't him not getting enough food that makes him smaller.

    And thank you! The female(?) was quite grumpy with me taking a picture of her, though she forgave me after some cuddles and extra food. =P And they are addictive little things, very fun to observe and watch even when they are sleeping, as you dunno when a baby may randomly enter reverse-mode to poop and cause chaos among the baby pile collapsing. XD
     
  8. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The earliest way to sex button chicks is picking them up, turning them over and looking at the color of the feathers around their vent. Adult males have rust red vent feathers, but it is very different how early the young males start developing these. I recently had one where the vent feathers were clearly rust colored at just 2 weeks old - and there were so many at that point it was clearly visible without even catching him! I caught his siblings and turned them over at around 4 weeks and found 2 more males, but they only had a couple of rust colored feathers at that point - I could easily have missed it if the light had been a bit worse.
    For the wild colored chicks, I find that unless I stare very intently at them, I can't sex them for sure by looking at the bib before they are around 5 weeks old - and blue face males don't even get bibs. So the white feather you see doesn't tell you anything about the sex of the bird.
    As for runts being males, I had 2 in that clutch (of 6) which were clearly smaller than the others. One was the male I could sex at 2 weeks. The other was female. So I think the runt thing is pretty random.
     

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