After your chicks hatch, you need a warm, stable environment for them to grow. Professional brooders are available on the market, but you can also make your own pretty easily with a large cardboard box or plastic container. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you build your own brooder...
- The brooder must be kept warm. Use a heating lamp (red bulb) with an initial temperature of 90F. The quail will tell you if they are too warm or cold. If they are too warm, they will move away from the lamp toward the cooler/darker corners.
- Add a non-stick surface for them to walk on. Quail are very susceptible to leg problems related to slippery surfaces. Paper towels or an old bath towel work well.
- Keep food and water in supply. Quail have a voracious appetite to the point that they will double in size within a couple days.
- Use a shallow water container. Your chicks will drown or chill themselves with a deeper water container. You can add rocks to prevent quail from falling into the water container.
- Add a soft ceiling to the brooder. Plastic hardware cloth works well. Your chicks will start flying around 2 weeks. When startled, they will fly vertically fast enough to hurt themselves on a hard ceiling.
- Clean the brooder regularly. The only thing they will do more often than eat is poop. Your quail are simply not potty-trained and will quickly cover the brooder floor in filth.
Here are the steps to successful brooding...
- Warm the brooder before adding your baby chicks. The initial temperature should be around 90F. Carefully add your chicks after they have fully dried in the incubator.
- Some folks dip the chick's beaks into the water to teach them to drink when they first add them to the brooder. We've found that our chicks always learned to do this on their own with no problems.
- Keep food and water in constant supply.
- Reduce temperature based on how your quail act. If they stay away from the heat source, it is too hot. If they frantically crowd under it, it is too cold. If they are fairly evenly dispersed, the temperature is good.
- Clean poop (good for the compost pile) regularly.
- We find that quail can be moved outdoors after they are fully feathered (if nighttime temperatures don't drop below 45F). Others like to wait until about 5 weeks).