Why are my button quail's feathers so frayed?

ButtonBag

Songster
Jun 23, 2020
218
441
146
London, UK
I have one male button/king/chinese painted quail who looks very rough at the moment! He's been this way for a couple of months, and it seems to be getting worse:

feathers1.jpg

feathers2.jpg


He lives inside in a large vivarium with his mate. They eat a mix labelled as specially for button quail, which is a gamebird feed mixed with finch seed totalling 19.5% protein. They get fresh water every day and some vegetables and boiled egg every so often. They've also been on a probiotic supplement as they used to eat their own droppings a lot, but that seems to be improving now.

His behaviour seems normal, he dust bathes once every few days and I haven't spotted any bald patches (I haven't picked him up to examine thoroughly though). His mate seems to be in good condition, she does have a bald patch on the back of her head but I believe that's from breeding. I wondered if it was lack of sunlight so we set them up with an avian UV bulb that's on above the tank for 3 hours per day. There are a few feathers scattered around each week when we clean, but it doesn't seem like enough to be a molt.

Any ideas welcome! I don't mind if he's scruffy, I just want to make sure he's healthy.
 

Ravenlover

Songster
Jun 22, 2020
817
1,211
221
I have one male button/king/chinese painted quail who looks very rough at the moment! He's been this way for a couple of months, and it seems to be getting worse:

View attachment 2390180
View attachment 2390181

He lives inside in a large vivarium with his mate. They eat a mix labelled as specially for button quail, which is a gamebird feed mixed with finch seed totalling 19.5% protein. They get fresh water every day and some vegetables and boiled egg every so often. They've also been on a probiotic supplement as they used to eat their own droppings a lot, but that seems to be improving now.

His behaviour seems normal, he dust bathes once every few days and I haven't spotted any bald patches (I haven't picked him up to examine thoroughly though). His mate seems to be in good condition, she does have a bald patch on the back of her head but I believe that's from breeding. I wondered if it was lack of sunlight so we set them up with an avian UV bulb that's on above the tank for 3 hours per day. There are a few feathers scattered around each week when we clean, but it doesn't seem like enough to be a molt.

Any ideas welcome! I don't mind if he's scruffy, I just want to make sure he's healthy.
Whole time snow grew she would drop feathers randomly i think its a button thing as for frayed idk some times it seemed like she did it others they seemed perfectly fine hmmm they are supposed to molt every season buttons maybe he s slowly getting into his winter cycle ? From what i hear they could molt every 3 months which is every season o.o crazy buttons 😜
 

ButtonBag

Songster
Jun 23, 2020
218
441
146
London, UK
I hope you’re both right!

Whole time snow grew she would drop feathers randomly i think its a button thing
They definitely do molt several times as they get their adult feathers, it was like a feather bomb with my 6 for the first couple of months! :)

He seems like he is molting, which is normal!
I had wondered about this but it started when he was only about 10 weeks old which I thought might be a bit early! I haven’t had other birds before so wasn’t sure what a normal molt should look like. Fingers crossed he’s just getting ready for winter then!
 

007Sean

Becoming Ridiculously Awesome
Premium Feather Member
Oct 25, 2015
31,957
190,371
1,642
South Central Texas
There are several factors that could be causing the ruffed appearance of the feathers.

Deficiencies in Selenium and Magnesium are the two main mineral deficiencies that can cause poor feather development.
A deficiency in Lysine and Methionine + cystine can also contribute to poor feathering.
Over crowding will also produce the 'ruffed feather' condition.

Check the feed ration label, or contact the manufacture to obtain a complete list of what is in their feed ration.

HTH
 

ButtonBag

Songster
Jun 23, 2020
218
441
146
London, UK
The bag doesn't actually have a label, I emailed the manufacturer (it's a farm that make their own feed) when I originally bought it, and they said:

Our blend is based on a 19% protein coarse crumb base compound which is then complemented with a mixture of seeds and grits. The finished mix is 19.5% protein. The main seeds included are canary, various millets, linseed. Plus both soluble and insoluble grits for digestion and calcium. This is the blend we use for our Button Quail. Including our breeding stock. This is a totally unmedicated feed suitable for laying birds.
I've been a bit unsure about it, so I've actually already ordered a replacement from wachtel-shop.com (for button and ornamental quail) that sounds more nutritious and has good reviews. This new one lists 0.12mg selenium per kg of feed, with 0.75% lysine and 0.35% methionine. It doesn't list magnesium or cystine as a percentage, but it does contain millet, flaxseed and oregano which apparently contain magnesium, and brewer's yeast which has cysteine. It's bloody expensive so I hope it's the right choice!

I'm sure it's not overcrowding or bullying because they only live in bonded pairs and have about 5sqft of space, although they do like to press themselves together a lot when they sleep or preen :lau
 
Last edited:

007Sean

Becoming Ridiculously Awesome
Premium Feather Member
Oct 25, 2015
31,957
190,371
1,642
South Central Texas
The bag doesn't actually have a label, I emailed the manufacturer (it's a farm that make their own feed) when I originally bought it, and they said:

Our blend is based on a 19% protein coarse crumb base compound which is then complemented with a mixture of seeds and grits. The finished mix is 19.5% protein. The main seeds included are canary, various millets, linseed. Plus both soluble and insoluble grits for digestion and calcium. This is the blend we use for our Button Quail. Including our breeding stock. This is a totally unmedicated feed suitable for laying birds.
I've been a bit unsure about it, so I've actually already ordered a replacement from wachtel-shop.com (for button and ornamental quail) that sounds more nutritious and has good reviews. This new one lists 0.12mg selenium per kg of feed, with 0.75% lysine and 0.35% methionine. It doesn't list magnesium or cystine as a percentage, but it does contain millet, flaxseed and oregano which apparently contain magnesium, and brewer's yeast which has cysteine. It's bloody expensive so I hope it's the right choice!

I'm sure it's not overcrowding or bullying because they only live in bonded pairs and have about 5sqft of space, although they do like to press themselves together a lot when they sleep or preen :lau
That's alot better feed. The Methionine is about right for growing birds, should be a little higher for breeders ~0.90/kg of feed. Still a little low on protein. I feed 24% protien from hatch till death. A well balanced and complete feed is essential to having healthy viable eggs/chicks being produced from breeder birds.

You should see improvement in the birds feather health as well as the overall health within a couple of months.
Looking at the websites pics of their feed, I see mealworms, maybe some krill (a great source of Vit A and Omega 3 acids) and what appears to be lavender flower petals? along with other seeds and kibble.
Alfalfa is also a good source of magnesium. Feed manufacturers use to add it to their feed rations but have in recent years gotten away from it...I don't know the reason why, other than cost reduction.
 
Last edited:

ButtonBag

Songster
Jun 23, 2020
218
441
146
London, UK
That's great, thanks so much for all the info—I didn't know exactly what contributes to feather health before so it sounds like this will be a lot better. It does seem to have some mealworms and krill in it, along with all sorts of seeds, grains, flowers and herbs. Sounds exciting!

I did think it was a little low on protein, (I can't find any complete adult feed here higher than 19.5% and this is only 17.5%, they were raised on 22% turkey starter with extra boiled egg) so I picked up some of their protein mix too. That's mealworms, larvae and krill type crustaceans. I know it will be fatty, so just as a rare treat I think! I don't plan on breeding them, so not too worried about potential chick health, so long as these guys are happy.
 
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom