Quail Update

So anyone who follows me on Facebook knows that I was pretty fed up with the quail and their cannibalistic tendencies. I wanted to just butcher them all for meat and be done with it. Luckily, every once in awhile Trevor is my calm and reassuring side. He convinced me to give it another few days to see if they kept up with absolutely destroying themselves or if they settled down. I gave it a few more days and after finally loosing five quail, our quail covey has stopped their murderous ways.

I think the three long weeks of temperatures ranging from 95* to 105* degrees stressed the quail out to the point of driving them crazy. Four of our quail hens were eaten down to the bones and one was badly wounded, eventually resulting in its death today. Within this week I have both switched the quail to commercial turkey feed (no more barley, but I am continuing to give them mealworms) and I have de-beaked all of the quail. Hopefully by de-beaking the quail (cutting off the first third of the top beak), I have discouraged them from pecking at each other any more. So now we have seven quail instead of twelve.

Let’s hope that lower temperatures, a change in diet, and a de-beaking works!

In any case, I am somewhat glad that Trevor kept me from instituting the death penalty, because today one of the hens laid an egg. Finally, right?! That is one redeeming act. It doesn’t quite make up for the murder spree.


the average quail egg is 1/3 of the size of the average chicken egg

18 thoughts on “Quail Update

  1. Oh so sad to lose them. I’ve also read that too many males can resort them to cannibalism. At least you’ve got an egg with more on the way (hopefully) keep up the inspiring work!

  2. Sarah, Glad that issue is settled somewhat…Could you put up a picture of the egg with something next to it for a size comparison? Maybe a quarter or a hen’s egg? I know they are smaller, but haven’t seen one next to the other. Thanks!

  3. Wow! I have not had the cannabalism issue. I’d have to think it was a low-protein issue. I have had a female who was very aggressive and I chose to have her as the guest of honor for dinner. I breed all my critters for temperment in addition to conformation. Now that you are getting eggs, wait about 2 weeks then start incubating them! 16 days later you will have the CUTEST chicks and you’ll fall in love!

  4. Thanks for the update.
    Agree with Susan – quail have very high protein requirement, and the mealworms may not have been sufficient.
    Also diet may have been lacking in other essential nutrients, because barley and some mealworms may not be a complete feed.
    The purchased feeds seem to have many different ingredients,
    just as we prefer our own diet to have.
    Just guessing though.

      • I did read that you have to be careful with turkey starter crumbles for quail feed if you eat their eggs, because of the medication (yours may not be starter).
        It may not be very practical, but I always start thinking of homemade feed.
        People do say that you can just add meat meal and bone meal (or even gardeners blood and bone) to standard chicken feeds, and this works well for quail and their high protein need.
        I think your quails have proved that they are not adverse to meat eating when required.
        I guess a lot of insects would fulfil the same need.
        There are several informative discussions on the subject around, eg:

      • I made sure NOT to buy the medicated type… that’s a pretty strict policy around here. Hmm… Blood and bone meal huh? I have never heard that before, but it makes sense. I think quail are so difficult because there doesn’t seem to be much info out there other than basic care and certainly nothing about natural feeding. I was already feeding close to 2 cups of mealworms a day when this all happened, so protein alone couldn’t have been the problem.

        Thank you so much for the links though. I am looking at them now.

  5. I had the issue also. With the first batch of quail I had, after several weeks, I ended up with one left from 15. It was a male. I didn’t realize what was happening. I just thought they were dying. Couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I never saw what was going on, but feathers would be missing. Sometimes nearly bald but nothing actually looking eaten. I got 8 more and they were females. Within 5 or 6 days he had killed all of them and he was the only one left. The 2nd batch were laying when I got them, but I never got an egg from them. I fed gamebird feed, so the protein should have been high enough. When they first started dying, I thought of the protein issue, and I had seen something about adding ground up dry cat food to supplement it. I tried that too, but they kept dying. I still have the murderous little beast, because he isn’t enough meat for a meal with everyone here. One day when they all go for the weekend I will have him for a snack and then start over with some new ones!!!

  6. Sorry to hear about the quail but thank you for posting about your troubles. I bought 6 quail last week and so far, have managed to keep them alive but I had to put the 2 boys in separate pens and each boy gets 2 hens. So far, only 2 eggs and I am trying to increase their protein and give them extra hours of light at night since it is Winter. Some things that I have read make it seem so easy to raise quail but I like to read about the difficulties so that I will be prepared. I have read that a red light will calm them. I have also read that people just eat the aggressive birds. But then, if the aggressive bird kills all the others, there are no quail left. Hopefully mine won’t go all cannibal or get eaten by my dogs. It is too bad the learning curve is so life or death. I’m am glad that you are having better luck with your rabbits.

    • Oh man, the quail I had were awful. I truly hope you have much, much better luck than I did. I tried so many different methods I read about to get them to calm down and none of them worked. Despite what other people may speculate, I believe it was heat stress that induced the cannibalism in my covey. We had three weeks straight of 100*F and higher temperatures and it stressed everyone out… The quail, the chickens, the rabbits, me.. It was just a bad month. But then again, if they couldn’t make it through our harsh summer, they wouldn’t have made it through our winters either.

      Again, the best of luck to you! Let me know how it works out. 🙂

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