If you have had quail, then you know they will fight. And when they fight, they fight dirty. For some reason they like to go for the eyes and head. It can be quite gruesome. Generally these fights are between males over females, or when a new bird tries to join the current group. The term pecking order is not for nothing! Hens are just as brutal, the top lady doesn’t take to new birds (male or female) entering her domain. This can be quite problematic when your teenage quail are all grown up and ready to join your layers, or when consolidating groups. So how do you do it with minimal bloodshed? These are a few tried and true methods I use.
1. No ones land… territory is a main reason quail fight. If they are moved to a new pen, even the next pen over, and there are new birds that join them in the move, they are unlikely to take offense. If a new pen is not an option, pull all the existing old birds out into a box, and put the new birds in the box with old birds. Then you move everyone back in to pen together. All the confusion usually dulls the territorial issues.
2. Entertainment. Nothing like a distraction to take their mind off the new guy (or gal) Try to use something they don’t already have in their pen. A dust bath, mealworms or crickets or even some grass clipping or hay to play in will serve as a temporary distraction while you stealthily add in the newcomers. After all the excitement of the new entertainment they usually don’t may too much attention to the new guy.
3. Make sure your ratios are right. We put in 1 male for every 4 hens, excess of males will fight and overbreed hens. Overbred hens loose back feathers and neck feathers. Prolapse can also be caused by overbreeding (as well as other issues- age, weight, ect) On the flip side however, if you do want eggs to be fertile you cannot house too few males per hens or your hatch rate will drop significantly. This is a delicate balance that may need constant attention. Keep in mind your hatch rate and hens health when deciding who stays and who goes. Another thing to consider is if birds are overcrowded this can also lead to fighting especially if new birds are introduced. Check and make sure ratios are correct,and everyone has enough room, as this is an easy fix for fighting.
Hope this helps in your addition of new birds to you flock! If you have other ideas please share with us!