Quail woes

Most of you probably know we brought two quail hens home almost two weeks ago.

They have been doing well – really well!

I am smitten with them. In fact I have cried whilst watching them a few times (happy tears!) because they remind me so much of Milly and my other chickens from when I was younger.

The girls are really quiet and calm; they have periods where they scrat, eat and drink, and explore…but mostly they sleep, or stand and watch the world go by.

They love being near the window because the sun falls on them, and they both melt into feather puddles to sunbathe – it’s the cutest thing!

Their taming is coming along amazingly.

These are quail, quail are often said to be impossible to tame unless you hatch them yourself in an incubator, and even then some places say it’s hard. Well, these girls haven’t been flighty at all, and the past few days I’ve been able to stroke them, and today Quorn even ate from my hand 🙂

I love them so much!

Then earlier today I noticed Kale was looking a little off 😦

Now with most pets this might not be a huge issue. Her wings are a little droopy and her feathers are a little fluffed up. The problem is that in poultry especially (and with a lot of pets that are naturally prey) they don’t show signs of illness until they are very poorly. And, even worse, a lot of vets won’t treat poultry or don’t know what they’re doing.

My immediate concern is that Kale is egg bound.

I lost my first hen (chicken) at a year old because she was egg bound. It is common in point of lay hens, when they begin laying after moulting / winter and, unfortunately, it seems especially common in quail 😥

Egg binding is extremely serious, but there is not much you can do. It is a little easier to try help a chicken lay her egg than a quail, but either way it’s risky and often the outlook is bleak.

The reason I think it could be egg binding is that Kale has been sitting in the corners of the cage, looking like a chicken trying to lay. Quails don’t lay in nest boxes, so I can’t be sure, but it seems like that.

I have swapped a ramp in the cage for a full level, which is larger, and have positioned it in a way so that it offers a dark, very private corner. I’ve fastened more plastic on the outside of the cage to act as a barrier, so it really should be a quiet space. It’s the corner that Kale has been favouring.

The corner used to be like this:

And now it’s like this, with a barrier on the outside of the cage so nobody can peek in at her!

And they can still get in the hut, although they prefer to stand on it!

Alongside egg binding it could be a few other things, especially as Kale has recently had a house move (=stress).

It could be cocci, which is another very scary illness that affects poultry. Ugh.

Here’s what we’ve done:

  • They have been having yoghurt every day or two already; yoghurt is very beneficial for a lot of animals and is very high in calcium. It’s a great idea to offer yoghurt to possibly sick poultry
  • Today we bought some apple cider vinegar and added a very small amount to their water container – again, ACV is very beneficial to poultry and a good all-round pick me up
  • Provided extra grit
  • They had some scrambled egg today. Scrambled egg is supposed to be good nutritionally for sick hens, and it’s also meant to be irresistible
  • Turned the heating on and way up in the house (some people say heat / warm baths help relax the hen)
  • Bought some cocci meds as a back-up plan

Meanwhile we phoned our local vets, including a farm vet, and have been told by all there is no point bringing Kale in – they either don’t know enough or there’s no point because “it’s just a quail”.

Please keep your fingers crossed for my little girl 😥

Today was clean out day, and I was able to see how much tamer the girls have gotten since we brought them home almost two weeks back.

Cleaning the girls out was really easy, and didn’t take too long.

There was obviously poop and spilled food, which is why I wanted to clean them, but they didn’t smell at all! I used a cat litter scoop to clean out the cardboard strips, then used some dampened toilet roll to scoop up the stray poops and crumbs. After that I wiped the cage base & sides down with a mixture of water, washing up liquid and vinegar, then padded it dry.

The girls did the very chickeny thing of rushing over to ‘help’ as I cleaned them (I had to cry at this, it’s exactly what my old girls did!) and it was so sweet and made me so happy hehe 🙂

I re-filled the cage with substrate then put a plastic level down where their food will be positioned. I thought this way I can scoop up any spilled pellets from the plastic level rather than having to sift through substrate for them!

And obviously I shuffled their dust bath so they have more running room too. And you can see Kale in the corner too, before I made it more private.

I love my girls so much and I am so hoping Kale pulls through 😥

At the same time I’m trying to steel my heart and prepare for the worst, and I feel heartless for it. If Kale passes, we will need to bring more friends for Quorn home, and I would want to bring two quail hens home to prevent this from happening again, and the cage is plenty big enough.

I don’t know if I am just over-reacting, over-thinking or being stupid either though. She’s still alert, eating and drinking…she can walk fine and stretch. But I think she’s quiet and fluffed up. I don’t know…

Please keep Kaley in your thoughts.

Here’s a video of the little ones from this morning after clean out, and Quorn eating from my hand:
(ignore my stupid voice)

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5 thoughts on “Quail woes

    • Thank you so much. I think she has perked up a little since, we’ve spotted her at the food and water enjoying herself a lot and she has been sleeping next to her sister…we’re keeping a very close eye on her!

      • Sleeping next to my brother Always makes me feel better too… Good that she’s looking fine. Give her a Kiss from me!

    • Thank you 🙂 Still up and about eating and drinking, but fluffed with lowered wings. She is alert and happy…just gonna keep getting yoghurt, grit and food into her!

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