Wild quail in danger from domestic chickens?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by SavageDestiny, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. SavageDestiny

    SavageDestiny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in an area where wild quail are rampant. I live in Central Oregon, and the species common here is the California Quail (at least I think so, haha).

    My husband and I may be moving onto some property here in CO next year. I would really like to raise chickens for meat and eggs. Reading here about the diseases chickens can spread to quail makes me nervous, though, because the property we want to move onto has quail everywhere! There is no way to keep the quail entirely out of contact with the chickens. I want the chickens to have at least 1/2 acre, and while that would be fenced so wild animals like quail couldn't actually get IN, they could get in close proximity.

    Would I infect our local quail population with disease? I mean, I know other people keep chickens here in CO, but maybe not with so many quail around.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Some of the worst chicken diseases you can't really protect the quail against, as they are spread by stuff like feathers, dander etc and wild birds can spread them a very long way.

    The best bet would be to keep your chooks as healthy as possible and probably look into making a buffer zone around their yards and pens so the quail never come into contact with their feces or drink/feed from the same bowls. I'd also treat the soil with liming and ash etc to prevent diseases and oocysts from persisting in it. Some plants are very hostile to disease organisms also, so planting a belt of those would help. Lots to look into in terms of natural treatments if you're inclined that way, but if you're more inclined to use chemicals and less natural methods, someone more experienced in that can assist you.

    You could also look into getting the absolutely cleanest, most disease free stock you possibly can, and maintaining a closed flock with adequate biosecurity controls.

    I think it's a bit of a hopeless cause though, they're pretty likely to share some diseases sooner or later, but on the bright side, wild birds would be posing a threat to the quail too if they visit poultry farms elsewhere, so it wouldn't all be your fault even if you chose not to get poultry. Helpful, I know, lol! ;)

    Best wishes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  3. Ntsees

    Ntsees Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In addition to everything that has been said, also keep in mind that birds transfer diseases more readily when large numbers flock up together. With that said, make sure you locate your chicken feeding and drinking stations where wild quail are not able to get to.

    The "least" contaminant method I can think of is start your chickens from clean hatching eggs (i.e. buying eggs from chickens raised on wire, etc.). That way, your chickens won't be bringing in any new diseases other than what's already present. You should also be aware of any potential diseases that may be transferable by egg.
     
  4. SavageDestiny

    SavageDestiny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the advice! I want to have the setup so that the quail can't actually come into contact with the chickens or their feed/water. But I know disease can spread even without direct contact. I hadn't thought about lining a belt around the pen with lime/ash. Good idea! I do plan on putting some hot wire around the outside of the pen and coop near the bottom to help with predator issues, so hopefully that will help keep the quail away too.

    I want my chickens to be as healthy as possible. I've been reading up a lot on helpful herbs and supplements to add to their feed and water to help with that. A lot of it, like diatomaceous earth and ACV, is much the same as I give my dogs and cats. :)
     
  5. dc3085

    dc3085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    My sister lives on 600 acres and has hundreds of valley quail on the portion of her property nearest her coop. They quail come through that area but avoid the chickens and most of the places that the chickens forage. They should be sufficiently wild that they don't want you or your poultry any where near them. Were it me I would just get a barn cat. It will keep the quail away from your immediate area and keep rodents down.
     
  6. SavageDestiny

    SavageDestiny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good to know the quail will probably stay away. They are pretty timid! I won't do an outdoor cat, though. Outdoor cats here do not last long between the owls, coyotes, cougars, and hawks. Obviously I will really have to predator proof my coop and run!
     
  7. dc3085

    dc3085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    You would be surprised about cats. My sister has three or four that get by just fine and never come inside. I grew up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere where we had to have them to keep the rodents down and out the of 10+ we used to keep around I can't remember ever losing any of them to a predator.
     
  8. SavageDestiny

    SavageDestiny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Cats here really do not last. We had an indoor/outdoor cat for 15 years who moved all over the country with us. He did not last 6 months once we moved out to the property my mom lives on now, which is where I plan to move and build a house as well. The neighbors across the street who insisted on having outdoor cats went through dozens while I was growing up. Just not a safe place for them to be out.
     
  9. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: You can lime in the pen too. I never moved my birds while liming, never had issues. I would recommend you do any ground they're on specifically, and some ground outside of that too. Since it's also used as a feed additive, it's pretty safe for that.

    About the hotwire, lol, yeah, I expect it might keep the quail away, but they might be staying away because they're crisped or had heart attacks and died. ;) I don't know how hot your hotwire would be though. If it's hot enough to deter a dog, I doubt a tiny bird would survive it.

    About the cats, I have a theory. They probably lacked adequate instinct. Your old tom was, by the sounds of it, used to a safer environment, plus he was certainly no longer in his prime when you moved to a more dangerous area, and the ones your neighbor got may have been cattery-bred, i.e. battery cats, or at the very least descended from some quite domesticated parents. If they were purebreds or crossbreds, best to assume they were worse than useless regarding having common sense/instinct. If they didn't have recent feral in their ancestry, also best to assume they wouldn't know what to fear and how to handle it.

    It's also quite possible that the resident feral cats killed them. Cats kill a large percentage of their own population off if left to their own devices and domestics, kittens, and desexed animals are at the top of the kill list. Some family lines are terribly susceptible to disease, and certain diets can guarantee that all the cats will suffer the same issues.

    Cats can be as dumb as any other animal when we breed certain instincts into silence or alter them, they can try to sniff venomous snakes nose-to-nose in a friendly greeting manner, refuse to move out of the path of cars (or charging dogs or stooping hawks etc)... I've seen all that personally, too, lol!

    I've owned both cattery bred and feral bred cats and there is no comparison in terms of survivability. Cattery bred cats never lasted more than 2 years, and it was their own ignorance of common dangers that killed them. Feral bred cats, well, my last one just died aged 16, and she survived through many circumstances that would have killed the cattery cats every time. Immune system wise, as well as instinctively, cattery cats are born to live in a house and safe environment, or die.

    For a really mettlesome cat, get a ginger feral if you can. Mum always said ginger animals and even people are generally hotter-blooded so to speak (having many redheaded relatives I think there's some truth in that) but interestingly, I found that this is backed up by peer-reviewed scientifically validated research that showed differences in the brains of red-coated animals as compared to pale or dark ones. They were indeed feistier in general. Sorry, I don't have a link, but it was published in books etc so if you search I'm sure you'll find something. If I recall correctly the research focused on dogs but involved horses and cats as well.

    Personally, I have never met fiercer cats than gingers. They were always noticeably more savage. Gingery colored horses are also more spirited/feisty in general, in my experience and that of some people whose opinions I have come to trust in certain matters.

    If you can get hold of a more wild cat, a feral rather than a 'dumpee' or pet-stock animal, I'd bet it would fare better. They're no less equipped to cope with predators than the predators are to cope with their own enemies. A cat with all its smarts about it, and its health, can be a match for a dog or other animal many times its size.

    Just like any other breed of any species we've domesticated, some are too tame to be able to cope outside of a house/cage/human environment. No sense left. Some are so wild they will dominate even the wild dogs etc and will kill venomous snakes as well. Some are inbetween and can handle some situations but not others. There's some funny YouTube videos of domestic cats driving bears away from houses. I recall one Siamese cat that used to ride a German Shepherd around the place; the dog would attack the cat and the cat would always wind up on the dog's back, biting its scalp, with all four sets of claws dug in as the dog ran around screaming at top speed. (Not my cat or dog in case anyone's wondering... Not that any of my cats have ever had a problem dominating my dogs, even the wild born feral dogs, despite them being ginger). I've also seen cats take on eagles etc and win.

    You don't sound keen to get a cat just to lose it, and I don't blame you, but there are significant differences between truly tame cats and feral ones. In five or so generations they revert. It's a common fallacy that they are all in possession of all wild instincts from day one and can revert as required if dumped. Most actually can't.
    Anyway, best wishes.
     
  10. Ntsees

    Ntsees Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very informative chooks4life. I never knew that about cats. Having never raised cats, my original perception of them was that they retain all there instincts. But, what you said does make sense. It's good to hear that a cats survivability in a "wild-like" environment is similar to what happens when you throw domestic animals (which I'm more familiar with) into the wild. I guess you learn new things every day :) .
     

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