Backyard Poultry Forum

URGENT: My quails stopped laying, family wants to cull them!
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Author:  QuincyQuailz [ Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:26 pm ]
Post subject:  URGENT: My quails stopped laying, family wants to cull them!

Hello everyone,

I have an urgent question about my quails. I posted the following topical a little while ago when I first got my quails: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=8039092

When I first got them it was winter and they were kept indoors and I have 4 quails, but only got 2 eggs a day. I have since moved my quails outdoors under a pergola in their cage about a month ago. Unfortunately my quails stopped laying eggs about 2-3 weeks ago. I noticed their behaviour changed; they were eating less, and the Italian one was constantly running and jumping around, acting very frantic and pecking at the cage bars. There was some fighting going on and the Italian one was being picked on by one of the wild-types. I have separated the birds but they still are not laying (the one being picked on is on its own in a separate cage now, right next to the other cage). That bird is still pecking the cage bars, even though it is on its own. The other birds seem calmer now; there's no more fighting but there is no laying and I think their appetite hasn't returned. It is spring now, where I am in Australia, and now that they are outdoors they are not receiving any supplementary light unlike when they were indoors for winter.

The breeder said the birds were a few months old (born in March/April this year), but I can't tell how old they are myself so I don't know if I've been tricked. They are ALL females, and the breeder did recommend for me to purchase a male to keep them laying. Research online showed me I did not need a male for this. What could have caused the sudden change and stop in laying? They are fed 22% protein game bird feed, have calcium supplements and dust bathes in their cage. I cover the cage every night with a towel to prevent frost and wind from getting to them.

My family wants to cull them soon because they think the birds won't ever lay again. Does anyone know what's a likely cause of their change and how I can fix things? Thanks so much for your responses; it's my first time keeping quail and I'd be pretty miserable if I have to cull these after about 2 months of owning them. :(

Author:  swayne [ Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: URGENT: My quails stopped laying, family wants to cull t

How many daylight hours were they getting artificially? compared to now. Photoperiod might be your problem.
Also, do you feed them any greens?

Author:  PossumCorner [ Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: URGENT: My quails stopped laying, family wants to cull t

Why are people so hell-bent on killing poultry if the behaviour of the moment doesn't suit them? Ask the family to give them a chance, the quail might think it is an approaching winter off-season if their lighting has very suddenly changed. And sensibly tapered off laying. Give them until Christmas, this spell from laying might be good for their general health anyway.

If you've only had them two months: and now moved from indoor/lighting to outdoor climate, that's two big moves in two months, give them a break. They could start laying once the weather is properly into spring and these cold fronts have passed through, it's worth a little patience.

Author:  swayne [ Mon Sep 12, 2016 6:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: URGENT: My quails stopped laying, family wants to cull t

Good advice from PossumCorner.
Just had a quick look on and it has day length for today at 11 hours and 46 minutes in Sydney.

Author:  Winglet [ Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: URGENT: My quails stopped laying, family wants to cull t

I have a whole bunch of questions for you to answer.... which MIGHT work out why they're not laying at present:

- How big is their current enclosure? The bigger the better as long as they have hiding places / cosy spots to rest without being exposed on all sides.
- Is it exposed all round (like your photos in the other thread) or covered? Quail need hiding spaces & should not be exposed right round the enclosure. From your post it sounds like you have put the "indoor" cage outside under a pergola... that would be very scary for the quail as predators could see them from all sides. The size of the cage would also mean a predator like a cat could scare them, making them rush to the side of the cage & the cat could kill them through the cage wire.
- Have you checked if they're all female by checking for foam at their vent / squeezing VERY GENTLY? View the thread with photos in BYP for details. Don't rely on dots on their chest to sex them... I had several "experts" tell me they were sure I had females when I first had quail, based on colours / dots on their chest... turns out that I had two males in the end. If you have four females, there will be NO foam even when they're all adults. If there is foam, you have at least one adult male (producing foam) but don't jump to conclusions about which one ... foam will also come out of any female that he's just mated with. Come back to us if there is any foam before you decide which quail it is.
- Are any of them making a constant "singing" noise? Males often "crow" (I find it very annoying, but some people enjoy it) & females occasionally make more of a contented sounding noise (I prefer the female contented sort of sound to the males crowing sound).
- When males crow they will stand up, stretch their heads / necks to the sky to do so.... you won't always see them as it's quick. Females don't make that stance when making their sound.
- Have you changed their feed recently? Are they eating plenty (not just is the food disappearing... as mice might be eating it if they're outside in that cage)?
- If you pick them up, do they feel like they're "full", or thin & boney? Quail should feel chubby compared to chooks even though they don't weigh much. If you can weigh them, do so weekly until they're laying... to find out if they're putting weight on / losing weight / maintaining their current weight.

On the plus side...
- They would (as you can see from your own photo) enjoy the dust bath you gave them
- The feeder & waterer being off the ground is a good idea... don't ever let them run out of water.
- You sound like you care for them a lot.
- Quail are really cute & entertaining !

Unrelated directly to your laying issue at present:-
- Having them walking on wire / the cage floor/side is not ideal for their feet. They're in commercial settings like that, but when you only have four you can set things up to be more comfortable for them & less work for you at the same time.
- As already mentioned, Proteq is great stuff. Alternatively, wood shavings or other absorbent bedding.... most things suitable for rabbits should work for quail... is a good idea. Have that as your "floor" & clean out the lot & replace with fresh from time to time. Or if you set up a deep litter system you rarely have to clean it out... in an aviary I have deep litter for the quail & only clean it out & replace everything once a year or two... doesn't smell & is so much less work than having them on a wire floor. I turn it every now & then (maybe once every three or four months if I can be bothered) or let a chook in to turn it all over.
- Some fresh greens (grass / weeds are great from your own yard & only if you don't use weed sprays) each day will be beneficial to them.

Long post... hope SOME of it is helpful to you.

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