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Old 04/21/11, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 57
Question Quail Aren't Laying

Hi everybody.
I need a little help with my quail. I bought a few quail I guess nearly a month ago, already adults and already laying. I started off with 10, and for the first couple of days they laid eggs just fine, then things dropped off very drastically. I gave it a couple of weeks and went back to the farm I got them from and the man told me to feed them layer crumbles. I had been feeding scratch grain. And I got a few more so now we have 13. Same thing---For the first few days they laid eggs, and now have nearly stopped. In the past 2 1/2 days there have been 2 eggs total. I know SOME of the quail are males, they're doing their job. But I know I have at least 9 females and since I got the new ones I am feeding the layer crumbles, so now I'm wondering what I'm doing wrong.
The quail are laying at this man's farm, and for the first couple of days when they are at my house, and I can't figure out what I'm doing or not doing that's causing them to stop.
Any advice is greatly appreciated!
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Old 04/21/11, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: TN
Posts: 422
Where are keeping them? The reason I ask is because I use light manipulation to adjust the laying cycle I want. Everybody chooses their own feed choices, but I only feed game bird starter and game bird breeder conditioner. Are these japanese, bob white, button or some other type of quail?

"Seek first to undersand, not to be understood"
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Old 04/21/11, 01:01 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 57
Well I made a portable enclosure for them so they are on the grass and I move it every few days so it's on fresh grass. There's a tarp attached to part of the top and sides and I keep it turned so that they always have the choice between sunshine and shade. At the farm I got them from they were kept in hutches, many of the hutches inside the barn, and they laid eggs like crazy!
Some are coturnix and some are Tennessee red. I am TOTALLY new to this. I admittedly should have read up on them first, but I was counting on my husband's experience raising chickens getting me through this.
The only bags of gamebird feed at Tractor Supply were tiny but I know of several family owned feed stores and I'll start calling around to find a more appropriate diet for them.
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Old 04/21/11, 02:22 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: NC
Posts: 3,064
I keep 30 to 50 each spring to train dogs with each summer and feed grower/starter. They were laying 12 to 15 eggs a day last year. The birds I have now have not started laying but have begun whistling in the evening. Good luck.
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Old 04/21/11, 03:14 PM
Cyngbaeld's Avatar
In Remembrance
Join Date: May 2004
Location: SE Missouri
Posts: 28,248
Sounds like your protein levels are too low. They need at least 22% protein to lay well. Also toss a few clean chicken egg shells into the cage for the girls.
I believe in God's willingness to heal.

Cyngbaeld's Keep Heritage Farm, breeding a variety of historical birds and LaMancha goats. (It is pronounced King Bold.)
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Old 04/21/11, 03:42 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 57
Thanks! Will try that and let you know how it goes....
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Old 04/21/11, 04:14 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 6,322
It's not unusual for birds to stop laying for awhile when they have a change in their living conditions. Your guys have moved to a new place, been put into a new type of housing, have a new caretaker, and had their food changed.

Make sure they have enough protein, calcium, clean drinking water, and grit and then be patient and give them time to settle in.
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Old 04/22/11, 01:10 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 57
I'll be sure to keep you all updated.
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Old 04/23/11, 12:09 AM
KSALguy's Avatar
Lost in the Wiregrass
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: S.E.Alabama
Posts: 8,818
we would grind up dry cat food and mix it with the layer mash for them, also if you have alot of activity going on especially sence you move them every day that might be part of it,
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Old 04/23/11, 12:47 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 139
I would suggest even higher than 22% feed. I feed all of my quail 30% feed, though it doesn't have to be quite that high. The higher, the better, though.

A few thoughts here -- and I can help with coturnix, but not the others, as I don't have them.

1) Coturnix male to female ratio should be a MINIMUM of 3 females to each male. It's best not to go over 6 females per male or your fertility ratio may decline. This only matters if you are going to incubate eggs.

2) It is best to keep only one kind of quail in a pen. It is poor game bird management to mix types.

3) Feed a NONmedicated game bird starter. You can leave them on game bird starter from hatch to the end of their lives. There is no need to switch, and most folks I know do BETTER with them staying on the starter.

4) They need 14 hours of light to lay or breed. You can get LED Christmas lights and string them up on their cages. This provides enough light for the extra hours if they are inside.

5) How much space per bird do they have? They should have AT LEAST one square foot per bird in their coveys. So, if you have 6 birds in a pen, they should have at least six square feet. I personally think that's on the low side, but that's the standard used among quail enthusiasts. If you have only 1-2 quail, though, you'll want more than the minimum, obviously.

6) Do not feed treats, scratch, extras, etc. They don't need them. Doing so just reduces the protein in their diet.

7) If game bird starter is NOT available in your area, the next substitute (though not perfect) is unmedicated turkey starter. You can mix in some soybean meal if the protein isn't high enough.
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Old 04/23/11, 12:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 139
Cat food is BAD for quail. Quail are very sensitive to salt levels in their diets.

Cat food is higher in salt content than should be fed to quail.

You might get by with it for a time, but you may have birds with a shorter life span than they should have, reduced laying, poor general health, etc. You may also see "mystery" deaths that could be a cause of this.

ANother tip:

Quail should NEVER be kept with chickens. Chickens can carry diseases without appearing ill that can kill quail.

Again, some people will keep the two together and go years with no problems. However, this problem is VERY real and people do lose entire flocks of quail due to it. Proper biosecurity procedures are to care for your quail first, before going around your chickens. Then care for your chickens. They should be housed far enough apart that the diseases cannot spread from chickens to quail. The micro-organisms are carried on the air, your hands, clothes, etc. I wouldn't keep them closer than 25 feet, but would prefer 50 or 100...
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Old 04/24/11, 08:19 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 57
Space isn't an issue, they do have more than 1 sqft each. I will move their pen further from the chickens though just to make sure, and then I will only move it as needed so there isn't a bunch of poops in there that they have to avoid. With this weeks' pay check I'll go get some game bird starter/grower.
I'm not interested in the quail *enough* to have a bunch of different pens for them so I'll just think for a while which breed I want most and then eat all the others. lol I hadn't put much thought into separating the breeds because I'm only planning to eat the eggs and the meat but never plan to sell. What-evs. It won't kill me to not have a variety out there.

So, lemme get them on that game starter feed and give them some more time to settle in and I'll let you all know how they are doing.
Thanks a bunch!
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Old 04/24/11, 08:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 57
ETA---It's going to KILL my husband for me to go add Christmas lights to the monstrosity of a pen that I built. He's so embarrassed about it and is almost always teasing me about it, and here I am about to decorate it and draw attention to it even after dark! lol
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Old 04/24/11, 08:42 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 139
ROFL! I have Christmas tree lights on mine. Never fear!

Remember, different colors of coturnix quail can be kept together. That isn't a problem. I am not familiar with Tennessee Reds enough to help with those, though.

You definitely don't want to mix Bobwhites in. Bobwhites can be mean, nasty tempered little things. They could kill your coturnix.

If you want them for eggs, Coturnix are the premiere type of quail for this.
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Old 05/12/11, 02:21 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 57
Just wanted to let everybody know that since I've left their pen in the same place instead of moving it every day and switched to their food to game bird starter, I'm getting 5-6 eggs each day. I have 13 quail and I'm mostly sure at least 4 of them are male. So, 9 hens giving me 5-6 daily eggs is good in my book!
Thanks for the advice everybody. It was spot on and totally fixed my problem.
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