Are you planning to raise quails? Do you already own a few of these delightful birds? Either way, we are here to help teach you about the cold hardiness of quails.
Most people would prefer raising quails to chickens due to their minimum requirements. They would do well nesting on the ground, and they don’t take up as much space as chickens do.
If you experience cold weather or winter more often, you need to check which quail breeds are cold hardy. We will discuss those in a bit. But before getting to that, we need to answer the famous question first: are quails cold hardy?
In this article, you will learn the cold hardiness of quails and how you can raise quails in winter. The chilly climate is treacherous for most livestock, but you would be surprised that it’s not always the case for quails.
Quails are very versatile when it comes to the climate of their living environment.
Even though quails do well in the winter, you will still need to prepare a habitat for them during those extreme conditions.
Cold Hardiness of Quails: Why It Matters
Winter is said to be a tough season for most quails and chickens. However, this harsh climate shouldn’t be a “death sentence” to your quails.
You can help your quails survive the freezing weather with the appropriate shelter, water, and diet plan. Also, checking the cold hardiness of quails upon purchase is an excellent first step when you’re still starting.
It pays to choose cold-hardy quails if your location is prone to experiencing icy climates or long winters. Otherwise, you might lose more birds by the end of the season.
Fortunately, most quail breeds can tolerate the cold and even lay eggs as long as the conditions are suitable. You would need to determine the quail brooder temperature, proper shelter, diet, and other requirements.
If you want to know the best quail for cold weather, you can ask for advice from experts or go to the local supplier for recommendations.
At What Temperature Can Cold Hardy Quails Survive?
Quails can tolerate temperatures down to -20°F. A typical night could drop to 2°F, which shouldn’t bother these birds much.
It could be seen as an advantage if you have a lot of quail since these birds usually pile up together and share body heat to keep warm. If this is you, keep your quail in small groups to avoid overcrowding.
To ensure your cold-hardy quails stay warm, use a heat lamp or 100w bulb in an enclosed shelter.
Cold Hardiness in Quails: How Do They Survive The Winter?
Cold hardy quails adapt to cold weather and winter very well, but without help, they use a lot of energy to stay warm. Their feathers allow them to trap air, insulating them against the cold.
Quails in winter often form groups called coveys, and they cuddle together to conserve body heat. Add a thick, deep layer of straw to preserve the warmth.
As mentioned, most quail owners provide a bulb where all birds can gather around. Others would put two 40 or 60w bulbs in line for better warmth for significantly larger flocks.
Some arrangements would include putting the entire cage inside the garage or indoors. You can put corrugated plastic along the coop walls to avoid too much wind from coming in.
There is also a slight debate on whether you should cover every pen wall to ensure that ideal quail brooder temperature. Other owners attest that quails only need good ventilation and not a complete cage wrap-up.
Either way, raising quails in winter is not an easy task. You need to be extra careful and sensitive with the cold hardiness of your quails and provide the most suitable living conditions.
If you raise quails for a living, the best quail for cold weather would be Coturnix. They are easy to keep and the hardiest among other breeds.
The Best Cold Hardy Quail Breed: Coturnix
When you type in “best quail for cold weather” in search engines, you won’t miss seeing the Coturnix Quail. As mentioned, they are the best cold hardy quail among all breeds.
The Coturnix can tolerate freezing weather and does well in captivity. So, you don’t need to worry about putting them in a shelter for a long time.
This cold-hardy quail breed matures faster and lays eggs pretty well, with 200 eggs in the first season. Their meat is also tender, mainly if you harvest them within 9 to 11 weeks of age.
Still, there are more cold-hardy quail breeds on the list. You can ask the experts or research which breed is available in your area.
How To Raise Quails During Winter
Because of the cold hardiness of quails, it becomes easy to take care of this bird in winter. They can tolerate winter and cold climates as long as food and water are accessible.
If you plan to raise quails and live in a country with a cold climate, you ought to choose quails known for their cold hardiness. There are also a few things to keep in mind:
Cross ventilation can be a little too much for cold-hardy quails. The most ironic situation that you don’t want to happen is seeing your quail overheat during winter.
Most owners cover only three sides of the pen and leave one side open so that there’s enough passage for light and fresh air.
Add a Nice Layer of Straw
Straws are an excellent insulator for quails in winter. It’s hollow, easy to clean, and cheaper compared to hay.
Just put enough inside the pen since they want to make tiny holes and burrow themselves under it. You might also need to replace them regularly to clean up the poop.
Make Mini Houses Inside the Coop
Add a tiny makeshift house inside the coop. This is where they would hide and warm up themselves, especially when the weather gets worse.
You can add in more straw inside or on top of these tiny houses to keep them cozy and warm up cold-hardy quails in the winter.
Building a Shelter for Quail in Winter
The cold hardiness in quails makes it easier to prepare their living conditions for winter. Using your existing pen is enough to keep your quails warm.
With just a minor modification, you can ensure that your quails won’t be shivering during a harsh, cold climate. Add more light bulbs and put up additional covers while still leaving enough space for air to flow in and out.
In winter, a different set-up for quails is that they have tiny houses inside their coop where they love to snuggle. It’s nothing fancy to make, but having them could help those cold-hardy quails keep warm.
You can use a cheap 6″ tall cat litter box and cut a little door on one side. Turn in upside down then you have a mini room for your quails.
Add some fresh straw inside, making a good “fort” for your quails to snuggle together inside. You’d be surprised that they’d be comfortable enough to lay their eggs there.
Another way of creating these tiny homes is to purchase guinea pigs or hamster hides. It might be a bit extra for your budget, but these little hideouts can become great winter rooms for your quails.
How To Keep the Water from Freezing
Keeping the cold-hardy quails cozy in winter is something you can prepare for. However, keeping the water from freezing paves a more significant problem during the season.
One of the most challenging tasks when raising the best quail for cold weather is making sure their water doesn’t freeze. After all, the cold hardiness of quail helps them get through the freezing climate, but they would become weaker in the absence of clean food and water.
So, order a heated poultry waterer or something similar to a heated rabbit water bottle. They can either be plugged in or charged regularly.
Whichever you choose, they keep the water warm enough, so it doesn’t freeze over the sub-zero temperature. You can have one in every pen to make sure every quail gets clean, unfrozen water all the time.
What Does a Quail Eat in Winter?
Food sources may differ during the winter months. Since trying to keep warm takes up much of their energy, they need all the nutrients they can get.
In states like Texas, broomweed seeds are considered an ideal winter food with the highest energy content per gram. You can substitute the less available vegetables with this one.
However, if you don’t have the access to these seeds, you can always increase their intake of low-energy green vegetation to meet their nutritional needs.
According to a study, most of the quails in winter have diets consisting of green vegetation, seeds or fruits, and animal matter. Other cold-weather staples include beetles, grasshoppers, ants, termites, stink bugs, moth larvae, and butterflies.
Quail in Winter: Do They Still Lay Eggs?
Winters may have the harshest weather and the coldest temperature. Will your quail be able to lay eggs?
A crucial factor for quails to lay eggs is the daylight hours and not the temperature. Quails need at least 14 hours of light per day to trigger egg-laying hormones.
It’s a good thing that the cold hardiness of quails allows you to use artificial light as a substitute for natural daylight.
To make sure they get adequate light, prepare a light bulb that can sustain long hours for your quails to keep laying eggs through the winter months.
Put the light on late in the afternoon or early evening to artificially extend the daylight hours. Give your quails at least two weeks to adjust then you will see them laying eggs again.
How Do Quails in Winter Behave?
The best cold hardy quail breeds are those that do well in captivity. During winter, these quails will stay inside their pens for a long time.
The cold hardiness of quails makes them calmly tolerate winter. They seem to get used to the situation easily as long as their need for water and food is met.
One peculiar behavior that most owners see during winter occurs among male quails. Whenever the female quails snuggle inside their mini houses and cover themselves with straw, the male quail tends to panic.
Not seeing any of the females, he gets alarmed and would call out to them. Once they reply to his call, the male quail comes down is the only time.
Cold Hardiness in Quails: Final Thoughts
If you often experience cold weather or have long winter months, the cold hardiness in quails should be one of the first factors to consider. Fortunately, you shouldn’t worry about this since most quails can generally tolerate the cold.
To ensure that your cold-hardy quails survive the winter season, they need to have easy access to clean food and water.
Most owners attest that it’s not exactly the cold that affects the quails so much, but it’s the moisture and wind. So, keep the quail’s pen covered while maintaining good ventilation.
Some quails love to forage, but they would need to be kept inside their coop when it comes to winter. Hence, the best quail for cold weather does well in long hours of captivity.
If you are looking for the ideal cold-hardy quail breeds for winter or checking the cold hardiness of quails, you can always consult with experts or ask for recommendations.