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Brooding Chinese Painted Quail -- Small Scale

Written by Kalvin

Once hatched and dried the three most important things for quail chicks are heat, food and water.

For a brooder you can use something as simple as a cardboard box or old fish tank, a piece of wire can be placed over the top to stop chicks from jumping out. You can line the bottom with textured kitchen roll, a towel or something else that is easy to change and will give the chicks grip to prevent splay leg.

Heat can be provided by a 60watt bulb, this will give plenty of heat for a dozen chicks, suspended close to the floor, I hang it so it's just above their heads out of pecking distance so they don't burn themselves, as they grow it will need to be moved further away. A shade or reflector can be fitted to reflect more heat towards the chicks; a metallic shade can be bought cheaply from Wilkinson's and works well. By four weeks they are pretty much grown and feathered, I've successfully housed them outside unheated at this age in summer but if the weather's cooler then they will need to be kept under heat for a while longer and gradually weaned off so they are used to the normal temperature. Have the bulb positioned to one side of the brooder and the chicks will have a gradient of heat in which they can move around and thermoregulate themselves.

For the first two weeks the chicks need a high protein food. Unmedicated chick crumb is ideal if ground to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar or food processor. This is usually only available in 20kg bags so although it's cheap, it may spoil before you use it all. Alternatively you can use Kaytee hand rearing formula, dry eggfood (Ce De, EMP etc) or something similar. It needs to be relatively small in size because the chicks are tiny and so are their beaks. They can be supplemented with boiled egg from day one and introduced to small amounts of fruit and vegetables at around two weeks. As they grow you can start to feed small seeds such as blue maw and at four weeks they can manage most seeds in foreign finch mix. To start with you may need to sprinkle some food around the area where the container is and tap your finger in it to encourage them to eat and teach them where the food is, as their mother would.

Water can be provided in a shallow dish, saucer or jar lid, if a deeper bowl is used then marbles should be placed in it so that the chicks only have access to small holes of water, if it were left open they would get wet which may lead to hypothermia or they may drown. After they've eaten you may need to tap your finger in the water as you did the food to encourage them to drink.

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