2 Strikes

Ugh… I am pulling my hair out over these quail! I am about two seconds away from just eating them all. No kidding. Although, now I know how the one quail hen was wounded a few days ago… cannibalism. Awesome guys.

I always count the quail in the morning during feeding time. I do the same with the chickens and rabbits; a sort of roll-call if you will. This morning I counted 11 outside and 1 inside (the wounded quail), totaling 12. Correct. Just two hours later, I look inside the pen and spot a little brown wing. Huh?! I count again. Now there is only 10 outside and 1 inside. Wrong.

Upon further inspection, I find a quail head and two little feet inside the coop. **Sigh…** I cleaned up everything I could find, but I am still a little dismayed. I mean, really?! In two hours the covey managed to kill and pick another quail absolutely clean? Ugh!

I am unsure of the cause, but I have read that it can be a mixture of various things: confinement (they have twice as much space as is recommended), extreme heat (we’ve had extreme heat for three weeks now), and/or not enough protein (perhaps, but I don’t think so). I have been supplementing the quail’s 18% barley fodder with mealworms, which are reportedly high in protein.

Whether insufficient protein is the problem or just the heat, I have decided to put the quail on commercial “game bird crumbles” to see if that helps any. Quail are kind of a mysterious and fairly uncommon homestead livestock so it will take some trial and error to figure out what type of food works best. Apparently natural-feed is not fully meeting their needs, so I am just having to ditch my no-commercial feed approach –as far as the quail are concerned– for the time being. Ugh again.

16 thoughts on “2 Strikes

  1. R.I.P…..dear Quail.
    I am so sorry to hear you have had a “death in the family”. Any loss can be tragic; especially by cannibalism. Who knew? I really enjoy your posts, coming directly as you experience them! Thank you for keeping us up on the now eleven Quails and may number twelve……Rest In Peace

  2. I had a feeling something like that might happen on the barley fodder… Sorry to hear it. I wasn’t getting any eggs at all when I had mine on 20% protein, but now that I give them 26% I get about an egg a day from each hen. It’s probably not the confinement, I have 40 four week old quail in a 2 by 3 foot cage and they seem very content. Don’t worry, they’ll be separated soon!

    Will you be hatching eggs out once they start to lay? It’s too bad you don’t have cats or dogs as they are generally quite willing to eat any casualties so they aren’t wasted. Once you get into the hang of things and start introducing new young quail to your herd, you’ll probably notice some very aggressive behaviors which can cause deaths if not caught in time. I’ve heard the only way to avoid this is to give them LOTS of space.

    Are you growing your own mealworms? If not they must be incredibly expensive to be supplementing a dozen quail on 18%!

    • I just bought them turkey crumbles which is something like 22% or 24% protein so hopefully that will solve the problem of cannibalism and lack of egg laying. Live and learn I guess. I just wish I didn’t have to lose a bird in the process.

      I’m sure I have enough room. My pen is 3’x8′ not including the doghouse coop. We’ll just have to wait and see if it’s enough room for a few chicks too. I do hope to hatch some, but any quail that I hatch will be replacing grown quail taken out for meat. So I don’t expect to have any more than a dozen birds in there at any given time.

      Any tips on introducing chicks to the covey?

      • Oh, and yes, I am trying to grow my own mealworms. The jugs of dry ones are almost $20 (!!!) and even growing them myself is slow and started out as a $20 expense for just 400 meal worms. Ugh! Quail induced headache #4.

      • My best advice is to wait until the chicks are as close to full grown size as possible, and to introduce enough of them at a time that it’s less likely that any one bird will become too much of a target. Try to match or exceed the number of adult birds already in the pen. Keep a close eye on any youngsters that are being ‘scalped’ and remove them immediately or they will likely not survive. You can reintroduce them later on once they’ve healed a bit and things may go more smoothly. Keep your number of males down to one or two max for a 12 bird colony.

        Another trick is to stick the youngsters in the enclosure after removing the adults to a separate pen for a week or two, then let them back in the main enclosure with the kids. This should help curb their territorial instincts.

        Lots of hiding places are also beneficial, and keeping birds separated but within view of each other can help acclimate them.

  3. I wonder if free ranging they could find more insects. Or are your hens free ranging? Could the quail go in the fenced in garden to free range? Of course, does the heat affect the bugs.

    • I provide them with a couple cups of mealworms daily so I can’t imagine that it’s an issue of catching bugs. And on the other hand, I can’t let the quail free-range outside of their pen because they are impossible to catch (unlike chickens).

      All is well though, they are headed to the freezer to make up for their murderous ways. I just hate that I spent $50 to purchase them in the first place.

  4. Wow, really? How hot is it? I know we had some very hot weather recently and I spritzed the quail occasionally with a mister bottle of water, which they seemed to enjoy. Other than that though, the hot weather seems to just make my quail want to lie around panting, not conspiring to kill!

    • It has been in the 95-105 degree range for the last three weeks. I have been misting them periodically throughout the day too, but they still pant all day long. I don’t know… It’s just frustrating and I have 4 dead and 1 wounded now. 😡

      • Wow, that is really too bad, I was sitting here this morning thinking I needed to check in and see how they were doing, I love your sight and I check in everyday to read update, I just recently started my own micro farm on 2 acres, and I so far have 2 boer goats, and 15 RIR chicks, The coop and run will be finished today, and I am already planning my garden out, Just wanted to say I love your sight, you have a beautiful family!

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