Warning: At the end of this post are some pictures of quail injuries in a gallery. They are graphic; however, both quails are doing very well and I expect a full recovery.
As the expression on Walker’s face shows (Yes, he has a name. Walker (Texas A&M Quail Ranger), quails are very feisty little livestock birds. For this reason, it’s good to not keep more than one male in a cage with 3-5 females. And honestly, I thought I had two males when Walker showed up with the top of his head bloody. I removed him from the pen, put some Vetricyn on it, and set him up in another cage in my office cabin, where he kept me company.
Then yesterday, after I went into the house for the afternoon, I realized the brown quail had pecked the sh*t out of the other female. Since I was getting two eggs a day, and had successfully vent sexed them after Walker’s abuse, I knew I had two females. Now I have a decision. Do I cull the brown, “wild type” quail to keep aggression out of my bloodlines, or do I just see if she can get along with other brown quail? I’m on the fence about that, mostly because one quail does not a meal for two make (and I only have three quail right now).
I took the other quail out to my office, put her in the “kritter karrier” (a plastic box with a vented lid often used for small animals or safe transport – they make great hospital cages). This morning, she was acting normal, so I put her in with Walker. They’re getting along, and I have high hopes.
She’s doing well enough, in spite of how bad those injuries look, that she laid this egg about two hours ago. It’s not fertile, but what it does mean is that if Walker and she get along, and if I get the Frakenbator renovated to work better, then I can hatch out some of their chicks.
Cage aggression is usually caused by a couple of things. The first is overcrowding. Now, since I had three birds in a cage that could comfortably hold six or eight, that wasn’t an issue here. But when you overcrowd quail (any birds, really) you’re inviting aggression caused by stress.
The next is the presence of too many males. Again, since Walker was the only one, this isn’t a problem here either.
And finally would be a lack of resources (food and water). These two quail had huge (for them) 1 quart feed and watering stations, so that wasn’t a problem here.
No, in this case, the “wild type” hen is just mean. Which, like I said, is going to invite some questions about whether she will remain in my breeding program. As she’s alone, so her eggs won’t be fertilized, it’s not a problem. But it will be in the future. (I could also sell her, but that’d be passing off my problem to someone else, unless they wanted to butcher her.)
Keep in mind that just like in people, head wounds bleed a lot. Also, they look worse on a white bird. But if you think these little feathered bundles can’t inflict damage… here is the proof.