Causes of Bad Feathering on Quail

The feathering of quail is a very important consideration, especially if the birds are intended for sale to shooting preserves. There are many possible causes for poor feathering, but the problem is most often produced by a nutritional deficiency. The most common reason for poor feathers is a dietary deficiency of a critical protein constituent (amino acid) called methionine. The feathers of birds contain high levels of this protein subunit and it is required for maintaining proper body growth. Methionine is one of only a few amino acids that contain sulfur, and sulfur is a major constituent of feathers. If quail diets are deficient in any single amino acid, it will most likely be methionine.

Quail Eating Their Own Feathers

An adequate level of methionine must be provided or reduced growth and feather development will result. A methionine deficient quail will tend to eat feathers in an attempt to satisfy its craving for this amino acid. A bird may even pull them from its own body. The problem can not be treated by merely increasing the protein level of the diet. Methionine deficiencies can result with high protein diets if a poor quality protein ingredient is used.

Feed Quail Quality Food and Avoid Mistakes

Few ingredients used in making quail diets contain adequate amounts of methionine. Manufactured methionine must be added to a mixture of ingredients to ensure that the birds receive an adequate supply. All quality feeds are designed to contain adequate methionine. However, if additional grains (such as corn) are fed with the complete feed, or mistakes are made in diet preparation, then the amount of methionine provided to the quail can be inadequate for its needs.

Adding Additonal DL-Methionine to Quail Feed

If feathering of your quail becomes a problem, add extra methionine to the feed or water. Addition of 1-2 lbs. of additional dl-methionine into each ton of gamebird feed will often produce a marked improvement in plumage within 2 to 3 weeks. The same additive can be given to the quail in the drinking water.

Consult the Solutions for Poultry as to recommendations for the supplementation of methionine to drinking water when feeding methionine deficient diets.

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Category: Raising Quail