Have you recently purchased your first quail chicks? Or are you still planning to do so?
If you’re a newbie in the quail-keeping world, you may wonder how to raise quail chicks, especially if you’ve bought them without a hen.
It’s possible to raise quail chicks yourself, but what will you need to keep them alive and thriving?
In this comprehensive guide on how to raise quail chicks, we’ll discuss:
- the basic needs you need to provide to your newly hatched quail chicks
- tips on how to set up their enclosure and feed
- and the additional requirements you need to consider when raising these birds
So, if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on how to raise quail chicks, this is for you!
How to Raise Quail Chicks?
Raising quail chicks is quite challenging.
But with your help and lots of TLC, they can survive even without their mother’s around.
So how should you raise them? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do that.
Set Up a Brooder
What is a brooder?
It is where chicks can stay while growing and preparing to go out in the world and meet their adult counterparts.
After hatching, you need to keep the baby quails in the brooder, so it should be heated to keep the quails warm.
So how should you do it? And what are the things you need to put into the brooder?
Choose or Create a Brooder
Quail chicks are smaller than the chicken chicks. So they can fit any small-size brooder.
If you want an easier way to prepare their brooder, you can choose from any plastic box, card box, or cartoon or tuna box.
A rodent’s cage, rabbit hutch, or 10 US gal aquarium will also do.
On the other hand, if you want to be more artistic and like to create one, you can do it using wood and boards.
However, it should be clean and insulated to keep it warm because this type of brooder will easily get cold, harming your quail chicks.
Ideally, it should have a solid floor and 4 walls.
But how big should the brooder be?
It depends on how many quail chicks you must keep in it, but the minimum size is 1⁄2 sq ft (460 cm2) per chick.
Install Heat Lamps
Our next tip on how to raise a quail is to add heat lamps to the brooder.
Chicks can’t survive if they’re too cold, even at night.
So, they need a brooder with heat lamps to stay warm daily, especially if they don’t have mothers in cold seasons.
If possible, use an infrared heat lamp to avoid sleep disruption.
But where should you place the heat lamp? Well, you can simply clip it at the side of the brooder.
The preferred temperature for the first week of your quail chicks is 95°F or 35ºC.
After that, you can reduce the temperature by 5ºF every week by adjusting the heat lamp’s brightness if possible or moving it farther or closer to the birds.
That’s why you need to check the temperature of their brooder with a thermometer to know if the heat is enough to keep them warm.
Just place the thermometer under the heat lamp to know the exact temperature and adjust the heat if necessary.
But you may wonder, how do I know if my quail chicks are cold?
Here are signs to look out for if your quail chicks feel too hot or cold.
- It is too warm if the quail chicks are distancing themselves from the heat lamp or panting. Therefore, you should keep the heat lamp farther or higher from them.
- However, if they are near or under the lamp or pile on top of each other, they are cold, so the lamp should be moved closer to them.
- But if they are evenly distributed in their brooder, it only means that the temperature is right.
Add Floor Beddings
Fully grown quails don’t need bedding on their brooder. But the quail chicks are different.
Aside from the heat lamp, the beddings also help the chicks to keep their feet warm and avoid developing splayed legs.
What is this condition, and what causes it?
Splayed legs are conditions where their feet harden and develop in a similar position to their splits.
It usually happens when the baby quails have nothing to grip on, and it decreases your little bird’s mobility.
As time passes, your chicks will struggle to feed and drink, which can be fatal without immediate action.
So, to ensure your chicks can sleep comfortably in the evening and avoid developing splayed legs, you need to place bedding on the brooder’s floor.
Another purpose of bedding is to absorb the brooder’s moisture from the poop of quail chicks.
Here are the things you can use as bedding for your quail chicks.
- Wood shavings – If you want to keep your chicks warm and dry, try wood shavings like pine because they are absorbent. But avoid cedar wood at all costs because the dust can cause respiratory problems in your baby quails.
- Paper towel – You may also use shredded paper towels or newspapers but use at least three layers. The towel provides good traction for chicks, but newspapers are slippery and are not as absorbent as wood shavings. However, other owners use paper towels in the first week to prevent the chicks from eating the bedding and avoid making them sick then they switch to another bedding a week after.
- Hay or straw – These materials are also comfortable for quail to sleep in and are not slippery.
Add a Feeder and Water Bowl
After setting up the bedding, don’t forget to place a feeder and water bowl inside the brooder.
The water bowl should be shallow so your baby quals won’t drown if they accidentally fall into it.
You can also find special quail feeders online or at your local pet or bird store. But a simple water bowl will do if you want to save a few bucks.
And here’s a trick to make it more shallow and safer for quail: Put some stones and marbles at the bottom, and it’s good to go!
Then, place the feed and water bowl on the opposite side of the heat lamp.
Insulate and Cover the Brooder
Quail chicks can start flying as early as one week old, and they usually fly upwards when they’re scared or startled.
So you need to cover the top of your chick’s brooder.
Warning! Avoid using wires that might cut them. A window screen or net is a much better and safer option.
Since you may need to use a heat lamp, make sure to insulate the brooder after covering it with a soft, breathable material.
Furthermore, you also need to insulate the brooder and prevent drafts.
Otherwise, it can become very cold quickly, and you’ll have to spend more energy just to warm your birds.
But how can you insulate your brooders?
You can wrap it with a towel or use spray foam if it’s available.
Secure the Brooder
To ensure your quail is safe, put the brooder in a safe and warm place away from predators.
The best place to put the breeder is your home, but you also place them in a warm shed or garage as long as they’re kept warm and safe from predators and drafts.
Remember that your pets can be predators, too, especially dogs and cats.
So, if you do have one, keep them away from your quail brooder.
Decide Whether to Keep Them With Their Mother
Like when raising other birds, you need to decide whether to keep the chicks with the hens.
But regardless of your choice in that matter, you need to keep the young quails inside the brooder, with or without the hens, for the first 4 to 6 weeks of their life.
This way, you can keep them safe and protect them from other adult birds trying to peck or attack the chicks.
But what are the advantages and downsides of both options?
By their mother
Letting the mother raise their chicks can save you time and money because the mother can forage for their kids, protect them and keep them warm.
Even if they can’t forage, they’ll make sure their chicks eat the food you provide and keep their offspring feeling safe.
Some people even say that the chicks raised by or with their mother are typically more skillful in foraging and better at defending and protecting themselves.
However, even though the quail’s mother can provide their basic needs, you still need to supplement them with nutritious feed and provide a heat lamp or warm place to rest comfortably during the cold season, away from predators.
But it’s still best to keep the quail chicks with their mothers.
If you’re a beginner in rearing quail chicks and do not have a mother quail, you must raise them yourself.
If that’s the case, you must provide everything they need, including the feed, water, shelter, and warmth they need to grow and survive.
Free Feed Your Chicks
Of course, providing their food should be one of your top priorities when raising quail from chicks since it’s one of the basic needs of your birds.
It may not be easy to find a starter feed for quails, but you may have to go to a feed mill to get the right blend of food best for quails.
But choosing high-quality feed can benefit your flock.
So, when do quail chicks start to eat?
Baby quails can survive without food and water in their incubator for about 48 hours after hatching.
But you can prepare and provide them with food as early as 12 hours after hatching.
What do you feed baby quail chicks?
Newly hatched chicks should have a high protein diet, so give your quails a non-medicated starter feed with 24% protein or higher.
For best results, choose a feed that contains 30% protein.
If you can’t find a chick starter in your local pet stores or online, it’s better to grind down a normal quail feed than substitute it with a chicken starter because it lacks the nutrients our bird needs.
Can baby quails eat fruit?
They can eat fruit for sure but watch out for signs of choking.
It can be terrifying if you’re a first-timer in rearing quail chicks but don’t panic and ask for your vet’s help if possible.
Can baby quail eat vegetables?
Yes, they may eat a little vegetable except for the nightshade family of plants such as eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes.
They contain toxins that aren’t safe for birds and chickens.
Can baby quail eat eggs?
Some believe the quails absorb their yolk into their body, so you don’t necessarily have to feed them in the first 48 hours of their life.
How much to feed quail chicks?
Each quail chick can eat about 0.8 oz or 23g of feed daily in their first month.
Yes, day-old chicks can consume a few grams daily, but we recommend free-feeding them so they can have it whenever necessary.
How should you feed the quails?
Some quail chicks may struggle to look for the bowl, so try placing a paper towel on top of the bedding and sprinkle the quail starter feed or a crushed one to help the little ones find and eat the food.
Keep feeding them with a chick starter until they’re 6 to 8 weeks old.
You can start incorporating normal quail food when they’re 3 to 4 weeks old and adjust the amount as they grow older.
After that critical phase, you can already start experimenting with different food mixtures.
You can occasionally give them seeds and grains like sunflower, barley, and wheat as treats.
Another tip on how to raise quail chicks is to provide them with plenty of fresh, warm water.
It should be warm because serving cold water to these newly-hatched creatures can cause them to get chilled and eventually die.
Do quail chicks need water?
Like other birds, quails need access to clean and fresh water to keep them hydrated.
How do you give a baby quail water?
We recommend dipping your quail chick’s beaks in water to teach them how to drink when you move them into their new brooder.
You should also guide these little creatures towards the water bowl if they don’t find it alone.
Clean Their Brooder and Feeders
Another important tip when raising quail chicks is to keep the brooder clean by removing the dirt and droppings because these can cause serious diseases to your tiny flock.
You must clean your quail chick’s feeder and bowls at least once weekly.
However, if your bedding is messy, like wood shavings or sand, you must clean it more often.
Then, replace the wet bedding and wipe down the brooder’s walls with a dampened paper towel soaked in soap and water.
Clean the brooder daily if you can see lots of dirt or at least every few days.
Change the Bedding Regularly
You must change your chick’s bedding regularly because bacteria and molds may grow on it, especially when it gets wet.
But how often should you change the bedding?
It depends on the rate at which the bedding absorbs moisture, but it should be somewhere between 3 to 5 days.
This way, you can keep your quail chick’s environment clean and safe.
Hand-Tame the Quails
Quails are shy animals, but hand-raising them young can help tame them and make them less skittish when they’re adults.
If you spend lots of time with them when they’re young and often interact with them, they might tolerate you handling them because hand-taming helps establish trust between you.
So, bond with each quail chick every day by holding them gently. Then, let them explore your hands and thumb.
Reassure them that they’re safe by gently stroking them with one finger and letting them burrow under your thumb if they want to feel the warmth.
Add Toys to Entertain Quails
Another essential tip on how to raise quail chicks and keep them happy is to add entertaining toys in their brooder.
Quail chicks are inquisitive and have a lot of energy, so they’d be bored living in a brooder, eating the same food daily.
So try adding small branches where the chicks can climb on and other quail toys or mirrors into the brooder.
Just ensure it has no debris or small parts that might choke your birds.
Let Your Chicks Explore
After a couple of weeks, let your grown-up chicks experience the world outside their brooder by placing them in an outdoor cage.
They will surely have a good time experiencing how to dig for bugs and bathe in the sand for the first time while exploring a new and refreshing environment.
These birds will not waste a single opportunity to escape, which is dangerous, especially if bigger birds or potential predators are around.
So make sure they can’t get out, and they’re adapting well to the new environment.
If you must leave them for a while, secure the enclosure and put a tarpaulin or blanket on top of the cage so no birds can attack or scare them from above.
And to ensure the wind can’t blow it, secure the blanket or tarpaulin with a heavy object like bricks.
Give a Tub of Sand
Like adult chicks, baby quails are fond of bathing in the sand.
It’s not just a boredom buster for quails; it also helps prevent mites, lice, and other parasite infestation.
So get a shallow tub with sand, place it into the enclosure, and watch them bathe in the sand.
When quail chicks are 3 weeks old, they will need twice more space which is 1 sq ft (930 cm2) per chick.
So you may need to move them to a bigger brooder.
This way, they won’t be crowded and can truly enjoy the toys you’ve given them.
Introduce Them to Other Adult Birds
After five weeks since hatching, your chicks will be fully developed, and their feathers will be fully grown.
Now they’re ready to be introduced to the adult quails and interact with them.
At this phase, you must supervise the interaction to ensure the adult birds won’t bully the tinier creatures and your flock will be harmonious.
Where to Buy Quail Chicks?
Now that you know how to raise quail chicks successfully and are confident about raising one, the next question that may be lingering is where to get quail chicks.
You can purchase quail chicks from feed mills and breeders.
If you can’t find one near you, try asking local homesteaders that raise quail birds instead.
But how will you know if the chicks are healthy?
You need to examine whether their mother is healthy because her nutrition reflects her babies’ physical health.
You can even get adult quails and raise them by yourself until they lay and give you quail eggs and chicks.
This option allows you to gain experience in raising quails and ensure they’re kept in a good environment and healthy, as well as their offspring.
FAQs About How To Raise Quail Chicks
How fast do quail chicks grow?
Quails are one of the fastest-growing animals because the egg can mature into an adult in just 6 weeks.
At this age, they are already sexually mature and can start producing eggs at eight weeks old.
How do you keep quail chicks alive?
You can help keep your quails alive even without the hens by keeping them warm 24 hours a day.
In their first week since hatching, the temperature of their brooder should be set at 95°F.
Then, reduce the temperature by 5°F for the succeeding weeks.
How long can quail chicks go without heat?
Quail chicks will die without heat, so you must keep them with their mother or provide a heat lamp to help them survive.
At five weeks old, your quails no longer need a heat lamp if it’s not a cold season.
Do baby quails need sunlight?
Yes, they do need sunlight to stay healthy.
Four hours of sunlight per day is enough, but if they’re laying eggs, ensure they get 14 hours for better egg production.
Do quail chicks need darkness?
Quail chicks without mothers need light at night, especially during the cold season.
But they can survive 12 hours of darkness every night when given enough food and kept warm.
What is the best bedding for quail chicks?
The best bed bedding for quail chicks is wood shavings like pine because they absorb moisture to control odor and keep the tiny birds warm.
Why is my baby quail chirping?
The chicks may chirp sharply and loudly when the temperature is too cold.
They also tend to huddle together or lay on top of each other or under the heat lamp to get warmer and survive.
How long do quail chicks need heat?
Quail chicks need supplementary heat for 3 to 4 weeks after hatching.
Depending on the climate, heat lamps may not be necessary if you live in a warmer area or region.
When can quail chicks go outside?
Quails are safe to be released outside the brooder when they’re 5 to 6 weeks old.
By then, they’re already fully feathered and can regulate their own heat.
Final Thoughts on How to Raise Quail Chicks
Raising quail chicks is not an easy task.
It requires time, effort, and a lot of patience to set up a brooder, install heat lamps and ensure they’re well-fed and happy.
They can easily get bored, too, so you need a few quail toys, such as fun feeders and dust baths, to entertain them and keep the boredom at bay.
But here’s an important reminder. Don’t rush in transferring your quail chicks from the incubator to the brooder.
Let all the eggs hatch and become dry before moving them because every time you open the incubator, the temperature and humidity inside it drop.
And sudden drops can kill unhatched eggs.
Every time you open the incubator with unhatched chicks, you’re putting their lives at risk.
And that’s a wrap for this guide on how to raise quail chicks!
We hope this will benefit you as you embark on a new journey of quail-keeping.
If you need more guidance on how to raise quails, check out our list of books for raising quails below.