Yet Another 'Quail Chicks Dropping Like Flies' Thread

Discussion in 'Quail' started by KJMClark, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. KJMClark

    KJMClark Hatching

    Sep 28, 2012
    I'm sorry to bother you all, but all the other 'quail chicks dying' threads seem to have answers that aren't working for us.

    We're losing about two or three of our 2 wk old bobwhite quail chicks a day, pretty consistently since we got them (100 from Purely Poultry a week and a half ago). Any suggestions?

    Here's what we're doing:
    - Red heat lamps on so that the chicks are active - not huddled under the light, not hiding away from it.
    - Changing water daily, sometimes with probiotic.
    - Alternating between DuMor chick starter (24% protein) and Manna medicated chick starter (18% protein). We're about done with the Manna but wanted the amprolium to head off coccidiosis.
    - We've just started regrinding the food. The DuMor starter is in pieces a little too big for them (but we lost 7 today!)
    - We have them in four boxes now, 14 square feet, with newsprint on the bottom that we change daily.
    - We're putting in variety in the box, pieces of 2x4, sticks, foxtail, lambsquarter, pigweed.
    - We've been giving them occasional bugs to eat, earwigs and cucumber beetles mostly, which they eat readily.
    - We've started adding some sand for grit to go with the weed seeds.
    - We're down to about 55 birds now, pretty evenly spaced in the boxes. (About 50% mortality at just under 2 weeks old.)

    We had a small problem with pecking at one point, which is why we added the cover, 2x4 pieces, etc. We've only lost one to pecking since then. The birds we're losing now don't have anything we can spot wrong - no blood, no apparent injuries. All the birds are forming real feathers at this point. We aren't seeing any funny colored droppings either. They seem happy healthy and like we would expect at this age, except we keep finding dead ones with no apparent reason.

    Also, some of the quail look like they might be button quail. I'm assuming that's not a problem.

    Since this is our first time doing this, and we're going to release the birds anyway (so we don't want to put too many on our land - they'll be harder to kept fed over the winter), I won't be surprised or too concerned if we're down to around 40-50 by six weeks. But at the rate we're losing them now, we won't have any to release by then. Our kids are getting really depressed.

    Any ideas?

    KJMClark (SE Michigan)
  2. nurse_turtle

    nurse_turtle Songster

    May 28, 2011
    Foothills of NC
    Quail chicks are quite fragile. I would certainly remove the newspaper and replace it with pine shavings. Add Sav-a-Chick to their water. I feed my game type birds a 28% protein turkey starter. It only comes in pellets locally, so I wet it so it breaks up easily. This higher protein stuff saved a few baby turkeys for me as well. If those day old quail went without food or water even for a day, I can understand why so many are checking out.
  3. KJMClark

    KJMClark Hatching

    Sep 28, 2012
    The probiotic is sav-A-chick, and they've been on that pretty much from the beginning. They've never gone without food or water, before we ground up the DuMor stuff they kicked a lot of it out looking for smaller pieces, but they were still eating most of it. I have some 32% "Ultrakibble" I'll grind into their food to increase the protein.

    We'll switch to pine shavings too.

    So you think it's more a "failure to thrive" than some kind of infection? Are quail unusually hard to raise, or is this common with poultry in general? We thought the wilder birds would be more hardy, so we'd 'learn how' with quail and try poultry next year.

  4. steveovergard

    steveovergard In the Brooder

    Sep 29, 2012
    Try Coturnix Quail. We have great luck with that . Be happy to get you some hatching eggs . We are hitting close to 100 % on hatch rate and rarely lose any after they hatch. Just once in a blue...
    1 person likes this.
  5. soap&eggs

    soap&eggs Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Few years ago i had similar problem - learned " mine" did best on medicated chick starter & watermelon . The watermelon is used as extra sugar boost . As long as i had on gamebird i had daily losses & canibalism , I grinded down cracked corn & placed as more of a powder in feed dish as a choice not main feed . Also tsp of sugar in drinking quart waterer . Grassy greens & pine branches in corners of brooder to hide behind & to get out of heat lamp . No guareentees , just what worked best when i had losses .
  6. laseterlass

    laseterlass Songster

    May 13, 2011
    Anchorage Alaska
    WOW. All that to eat at 2 weeks? I keep mine in underbed storage containers on paper towels its not as slick as newsprint. I feed them beaten gamebird starter on the towels, no dish, with electrolytes in the water, Change the paper twice a day. I put them on shredded paper and put the food in a feeder and stop the electrolyte at 2 weeks of age. They are now three weeks old and I gave them the end of a head of romaine to pick at today. I hatched my own and maybe thats part of it. But I have only lost one and I knew he was not going to make it when I had to cover his shell with a moist towel so he could get out. Good Luck.
    1 person likes this.
  7. KJMClark

    KJMClark Hatching

    Sep 28, 2012
    OK, so none dead this morning. We switched to aspen shavings (the company that made the pine shavings said either was OK, and we could buy the aspen in bigger bags.) I bought some 1/4" x 1/4" hardware cloth to use later, but for now we have about a 1/2" thick layer of shavings. Should we change that daily or more often? It's been taking us about an hour to change all of the paper, but we cut little doors in the boxes last night, so we could move them between boxes without picking them up - much faster.

    On the food front we're mixing in the 32% protein stuff with the rest of their feed, and I bought some more of the medicated feed to mix in. We'll put some sugar in their water when we refill tonight. Watermelon!? Lettuce?! Didn't think of those. Why not - we'll have some of that around the house later anyway.

    Steve - we're doing northern bobwhite because we're releasing them. Some people I talked to around here said other quail likely wouldn't make it through the winter. We're going to provide extra food, cover, and predator control as it is.

    Thanks for all the suggestions!
  8. KJMClark

    KJMClark Hatching

    Sep 28, 2012
    OK, a week and a half later, and we haven't lost any more! Thanks mostly to Nurse_turtle! I think our problem was the newspaper, plain and simple.

    So, now we have three boxes on 1/4" hardware cloth, and two more on aspen shavings, all doing fine. The hardware cloth is raised about 1/2" above newspaper below that, with a layer of plastic under that. So when we change things out (about every three days now), we take out the hardware cloth and spray clean it, and pitch the newspaper. The aspen shavings we change about every other day. Those are about 1/2" of shavings over newspaper and plastic (the plastic helps the boxes last longer when they decide to take a bird bath in their waterers!)

    I think the problem we were having was birds eating other birds poo. Putting down the shavings / hardware cloth got rid of that, and things have been going well since. We have had a bit of pecking order issues, including a smaller bird who decided he would beat up even smaller birds, and managed to eat the toe off of one of them before we realized what was up. We moved the perp into a box with bigger birds, where everyone is now doing fine, and moved the injured birds into a separate box to recover.

    BTW, they *loved* the watermelon! They also really like foxtail and smartweed.

    Thanks again everyone!
  9. Tammy N

    Tammy N Songster

    Oct 9, 2011
    Florence Oregon
    Wondering could all the losses be due to the feed ?

    Lots of Gmo out there now . Im going to try organic with mine i hope we can find some . any Idea's ?
  10. KJMClark

    KJMClark Hatching

    Sep 28, 2012
    Final wrap-up. So thanks to the changes that people suggested we make, by six weeks (a month after the initial post), we only lost two more. Thanks to everyone for that.

    Unfortunately, after the six weeks were up, we moved them to our 12 x 32 hoophouse for flight conditioning. We gave them lots of fall leaves all over the floor, things for them to fly up to, a hanging game feeder to provide feed for them, a 5-gallon waterer, and other accommodations. I checked on them every few days for the first week (we live about 20 minutes from our farm). A few died, a few got out and froze overnight, but generally things were going OK. But a little over a week after we put them there, they started dying off. Over the next week all but one died. The last one seems pretty healthy (two weeks later), but I can't imagine one quail surviving the winter. We're going to release it anyway.

    No idea what went wrong. Our best guess is that where ever Purely Poultry sourced the birds, they were having disease problems that we ended up fighting all along the way. They did ship our order about a month late because of hatch problems and "scheduling" problems. We'd really like to establish quail on our land, but if they're *that* hard to raise to release, it's pretty pointless.

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