Brooding and Care of Japanese Quail
You may think that now that we have our quail chicks hatched our job is over but it's actually just beginning.
It’s very important that you build your brooder to a suitable size according the number of the quail chicks that you will put into it. The chicks will have to have enough space to be able to walk away from the heater lamp if they want to cool down a bit. Also bear in mind that the quail chicks will multiply their size significantly by the time the reach 3-4 weeks of their age, get fully feathered and can be placed into their permanent homes.
Make sure you have the brooder built and ready for hatching time and placed in a draught free area. Also make sure that no predators can get to the chicks. Place about 2”-4” of bedding (we use fine wood shavings) and for the first week cover it with paper or even better, with some textile, like an old heavy curtain or a bed sheet. If you will be using paper as a cover make sure it’s a rough and soft type of paper because the chicks will straddle on hard, smooth surfaces like a cardboard. It’s important to tack the sides in well, making it tight and secure to prevent the quail chicks from getting stuck in the gap or even worse, to get under the cover. On hatching day turn the heater lamp on well before you place the chicks into the brooder to make sure that the bedding and the walls are nice and warm for them. For the first week use super fine crumb feed since due to their size, the quail chicks won’t be able to cope with standard size crumb feed. The feed should be sprinkled on the floor so they can easily find it. Place a feeder in as well to show them where the feed should be. The drinker should be placed away from the heat source to keep the water cool. Make sure that you use a suitable drinker. If the drinking area is too deep place a piece of electrical wire or some pebbles or anything suitable for your type of drinker to prevent young quail chicks from drowning (They can drown in 3/4” deep water or less). Some breeders use standard light bulbs as heaters, we use commercial poultry heat lamps. Place the heat lamp about 12” high from the chicks but ultimately follow the instruction of the manufacturer for fire safety reasons. The heat level should be 35 - 36°C (95°F - 96.8°F) measured at chick level for the first week then reduce the heat level by 3.5°C (38.3°F) a week until the chicks are ready to move to their permanent place. After the first week you can remove the bedding cover and the protection from drowning if you feel that is safe to do so. You can measure the heat level but the quail chicks will “tell” you how they feel anyway. If the chicks feel cold they will gather as near the heat as they can. When they settle just outside the centre of the heat, you know that the temperature is right for them. Reducing the heat will depend on what type of a heater you use but in case of a heat lamp there are generally two ways. One is to keep lifting the heat lamp by a bit each time. The other is to start off with say a 250W bulb, then change it to a 100W bulb, then a 60W bulb. This is normally the way that breeders using standard light bulbs operate but they have a permanently fixed light closer to the chicks at the first place and start off with a 100W standard light bulb, then reducing the size every week. We prefer the heat lamps and our argument is that to our opinion the chicks need to get used to day and night conditions which is taken from them by a constant light. This is especially important if you want to breed good quality layers but the constant and strong light will cause aggressive behavior as well. Apart from the above mentioned things all you have to do is to make sure that your quail chicks have constant access to feed and cool water.
In four weeks time your quail chicks are feathered and ready to leave the brooder and move into their new homes. You can read about keeping adult quail by clicking here or navigate to the “Quail Keeping” page from the main menu.
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The following guidance and drawings will describe you in detail how to build a simple quail cage that will hold up to 12 Japanese or Jumbo Japanese Quail. This size should be enough to provide healthy quail eggs for a small family.
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