Depending upon the kind of set up you have for your quail, you need to figure out a watering system that your birds will understand and will also keep the environment clean.
It is no fun to have smelly, dirty, water dishes—no fun for you, and definitely no fun for your quail. Bacteria can grow in water that has been soiled by feed and droppings.
Bacteria equals infections, sick birds, and possible death. So, what kind of waterers should be used for this tiny little game bird?
Let’s take a look at a few examples of the options available:
Plain Old Pots and Pans as Quail Waterers
Ok, so if you are reading this article, you are probably looking for something a little more quail-specific. However, for those of you who are new to quail-raising, it may be tempting just to throw a dog dish into your pen and call it good. These can also be a quick option if you’re just wanting something easy and raising quail for sport and hunting (they are left to roam).
Open watering dishes can become cesspools of bacteria. Quail are messier than you might think, and they love to throw their food all over the place—everywhere and anywhere. These tiny game birds are foragers, and picky ones at that. They love to pick through crumbles in search of the “perfect” sized pieces. The rest of the sub-par-sized crumble will end up on the floor, in the droppings tray, and inevitably in the water.
Choosing the correct quail feeder will help with the food-flinging problem, but having an enclosed waterer is also quite helpful and easy to find.
Poultry Founts for Quail
You know the kind, typically red-bottomed with a white cylindrical top. These are also known as gravity-fill waterers. These can be good for free ranging quail or ones kept in a ground pen because the waterer can be placed on the ground. You simply fill the container with water, screw in the bottom, and turn the waterer over. The water fills the tray and stops when it is full. As the quail drink, the fount auto-fills.
Poultry founts are one step up from the ‘ol frying pan because they do not expose all of the water to the elements—or wasted feed for that matter.
The problem with founts, however, is they can be a tempting little perch for curious quail to jump onto. And that is a problem because droppings from above can easily fall into the fount.
A fount also exposes just enough fresh water to the possibility of having feed flung into it. Both droppings and feed can cause bacteria to grow in any kind of waterer. And in young birds, susceptible to coccidiosis, drinking water laden with feces can be deadly.
You should be careful when using poultry founts when you have a brooder full of babies. Quail chicks are tiny birds, and they can drown very easily. If birds are only a few days old, they are usually pretty weak, and if they fall into open water, they may not have the strength, or agility, to get out of the fount.
With that being said, if you do use a gravity fount for your chicks, you can easily prevent drowning by adding clean pebbles to the water tray. This makes it next to impossible for chicks to fall into the tray, and if they do, they can usually squirm around enough to set themselves upright once again.
Chicks have no qualms about drinking the water around pebbles. Just ensure that the stones are clean before adding them to water dishes.
As new innovative waterer, the nipple design keeps bedding fresh, and your quails’ water clean. Nipple waterers are one of the better types of waterers you can get for your quail. They are made to attach to a bucket, or other container, from either the top or bottom, depending on the type nipple you decide to use. Water is dispensed only when the quail peck at the nipple.
There can be a little bit of a learning curve for quail unaccustomed to the nipple waterers, and even some training involved, but in general, most poultry are curious enough to start pecking at the shiny “spigot” without any assistance from you.
Chicks can use nipple waterers as well, but if you have brand new babies, monitor them to make sure they know how to use them, and that they are drinking enough water. Remember, babies are much weaker than adult quail and may not be able to provide the force needed to make the water flow.
What would we do without technology? And speaking of technology, these little cups are the latest and greatest. Similar to the nipple waterers, poultry cups attach to an external source of water (like a bucket or PVC pipe). The small cups hang on the side of pens and cages, which means they take up very little space.
Poultry cups have a small tab that, when pecked, allows water to flow into the cup. These cups function similarly to a standard nipped, except they have a cup attached and are easier for quail to drink from.
It’s safe to assume that both quail and chickens prefer founts and poultry cups to nipples because it is more natural for them to drink from the water below their heads (some nipples can be placed horizontally).
Another perk for using poultry cups over other types of waterers is that they can be connected to any kind of container. You can use a small 5-gallon bucket or a 50-gallon drum! If you go big, make sure you have enough chicks to drink the water within a reasonable amount of time. Stagnant water can grow bacteria and cause health issues. So, try to pick a size that is relative to the number of quail you have.
Lastly, poultry cups are incredibly safe for young quail. It is improbable that a baby will find a way to drown itself in poultry cup…but don’t quote me on that.
Any of these waterers will get the job done, some much better than others. When it comes down to it, you have to decide what will work for your setup and the number of birds you have. For more information on raising quails, see here.