Popcorn, PeeWee and Praddle, just a few hours oldCaring for Incubator-Hatched Button Quail Chicks

The following is a very basic approach to raising a few chicks that you have hatched in an incubator. It is by no means comprehensive, nor is it necessarily the "best" method. I can only say that it's worked well for me, and I've raised some very happy, healthy chicks this way... Happy Quails!

The three most important things for quail chicks are warmth, feed, and water.

For warmth, you need to make a "brooder box", heated with a lightbulb, which should warm the area directly below the bulb to 95 F the first week, 90 F the second, 85 the third, and so on till the brooder reaches room temperature, and the chicks are fully feathered. It's a good idea to have supplemental warmth until 5 weeks of age, no matter how warm you feel it is outdoors. Avoid drafts of course. The brooder box can be made of cardboard, and should be about 1 square foot. If you use one of those cheap clip on aluminum lamps, you can attach it to a table leg (with the brooder on the floor) and adjust it up and down to regulate the temperature. Put a screen over the top of the box to keep the chicks from jumping out. Line the bottom of the box with good quality paper towels (not the cheap, smooth kind). If you use several layers at once, it's easy to clean the brooder by just removing the top layer. The paper towels will provide traction for the chicks' developing legs, but if you find that they are still slipping, you can line the bottom with terry-cloth toweling or rubberized shelf-liner.

Basic Cardboard Box Brooder . Another Simple Brooder
Two Simple Brooders

Food must be of a sort that they can eat easily; seeds are not appropriate this early on. Non-medicated gamebird starter is best, but often difficult to find, especially in small quantities. However, you can order it in 2-lb bags for only $6.50 (this price includes shipping too!) by sending an e-mail to P.J. [This price quote is for US lower 48 states only. Sorry!] I don't know if PJ is still selling feed this many years on, so if you don't get a response, e-mail me to let me know

As an alternative, at your local pet store, you can buy a high-quality dry cat food as a starter crumble. You'll need to grind it up small in a blender, but it's high enough in protein to meet the young buttons' nutritional needs. Look for something 30% protein or higher if possible. Sprinkle this ground up cat food, *dry* on the paper towel. They'll gobble it up. You may want to supplement this with some hardboiled egg as well. Not only is it rich in protein, it also contains many nutrients that are important for growing chicks. Hard boil a regular chicken egg. Remove the shell, and mash the egg very finely. Put a bit of it on the paper towel with the handfeeding formula, and tap your fingernail in it until they get the idea that this is "eating". It shouldn't take them long to catch on at all. Just put a bit of the egg in at a time, as it spoils quickly. You can keep the rest of the egg in a little container in the fridge and use it as you need it.

'Safe' Chick Water DispenserMake sure they cannot get wet in their water dispenser. Many people use a shallow jar lid, and put marbles or flat glass aquarium stones in it so the chicks can drink around the stones but not climb (or fall) in. I prefer a tube type waterer, that has a very small reservoir at the bottom; they can dip their beaks in, but won't get wet. They are highly subject to hypothermia and drowning at this young age, so this part is important.

Lastly, don't introduce chicks to adults (even hens) if the chicks were hatched in an incubator. Adults see them as intruders and will very often attack and kill them.

Hercules at Five Days OldI've successfully raised a number of chicks this way, so I hope the information is of some help to you as well.

Happy Quails!

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