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Hatching quail chicks and raising the babies up to fully grown adults is one of the most rewarding parts of the hobby. Over the years I have bred hundreds of my own quails, chickens, and ducks on my homestead. Whether you are raising the birds for eggs or meat, it is a thoroughly enjoyable process.
When the mother hen sits on her eggs and hatches them naturally, they can be outside from day one because the mother hen will give them all the warmth they need. If however, you have hatched the chick artificially, you may be wondering when the quail chicks can go outside.
Generally speaking, quail chicks can go outside at around 4 or 5 weeks of age. It is essential that the chicks are fully feathered before moving them outside. If you live in a part of the country that is extremely cold, consider allowing the chicks to stay inside for another week or two to ensure they do not suffer from the cold.
When Can quail chicks go outside?
As a general rule, quail chicks can be moved outside at around 4 or 5 weeks of age, but other factors have to be taken into consideration. If your quail chicks reach 5 weeks old and it is summertime, then they are generally fine to go straight outside.
If however, your quail chicks reach 5 weeks old in mid-December when there is 4′ of snow on the ground, then you should consider giving them another couple of weeks inside.
Even at 5 weeks old, quail chicks may still need some additional heat at night. In my own quail coops, I have low-power heat lamps suspended above the quail chicks, just to give some background heat to the chicks at night.
How warm should it be before quail chicks go outside?
As a rough guide, if the nighttime low is about the same or lower than room temperature, then I would consider either keeping the quail chicks inside for a week or two longer or providing them a heat source at night.
Quail chicks have a low body mass, which means they lose heat very quickly. I myself have fallen foul of not checking the nighttime low temperature and losing almost an entire batch of quail chicks.
What is the best way to provide quail chicks with heat?
In my experience, there are two ways we can provide our quail chicks with some additional heat. One way is using a heat plate, also called a fake mother hen, and the other way is a heated bulb, usually suspended above where the quail chicks sleep.
When I give my quail chicks a little additional heat at night, I tend to use a ceramic bulb like the one in the picture. These bulbs are often sold for reptiles, but they do the same job for quail chicks.
I prefer ceramic bulbs as they do not emit any light. Having a bright light suspended above the quail chicks at night can affect the chicks’ ability to sleep, which can cause them distress.
Can Quail chicks be too warm?
Whilst I supposed technically quail chicks can overheat, in an ideal setup they will have the ability to move in and out of the area where the heat is. Much like they would move out from under the quail hen if they were too warm, quail chicks will often move to the outer edges of the lamp’s heat spot if they get too warm.
Wherever your quail chicks are living, if there is a heat source, their accommodation must be large enough that they can regulate their temperature by moving away from the lamp as required.
What other factors affect quail chicks?
Temperature is obviously a key consideration in deciding when to move quail chicks outside. Generally speaking, nighttime temperatures are lower than daytime temperatures, so don’t make the mistake of only checking the daytime temperatures before moving your quail chicks outside.
Other weather factors should also be taken into consideration. If strong winds could cause drafts in the quail chicks’ enclosure, then delaying moving them outside should be considered. Also, if heavy rains are forecast for the day or two after moving them outside, maybe delay the move too.
Are quail chicks with their mother ok outside?
As a general rule, any quail chicks that have been incubated and hatched naturally by their mother will be fine outside all year round.
Mother hens are generally very good at regulating their chicks’ body temperatures, and if the chicks are cold they will just tuck themselves under the mother hen.
It is rare for chicks hatched naturally to suffer from the cold, even if they are born during a cold spell of weather.
At what age do quail chicks need heat indoors?
In my experience, quail chicks will develop the first set of feathers after about 3 weeks, at which point the heat source can usually be switched off, subject to the temperature of the room they are living in of course.
How do you know if quail chicks are too cold?
The easiest way to tell if quail chicks are too cold is to observe them as a group. If they are all huddled together, there is a good chance they are too cold.
Sometimes quail chicks are huddled together even under the heat source, and this is a good indication either the heat source is not powerful enough, or it is too high. A bulb or heat plate that is too far away from the chicks won’t provide the baby birds with enough heat.
Raising quail chicks is fairly easy providing we give the birds clean bedding, good quality food, and a heat source.
Quail chicks can usually be moved outside at the age of around 4 or 5 weeks, subject to weather conditions outside. If the weather is too wet or cold, consider delaying the move for a week or two longer.
For more information about quail chicks, why not read my article, Why Are My Quail Chicks Dying (and how to prevent it)? or Why Aren’t My Quails Laying Eggs (Surprising answer?).