Brooding Coturnix quail chicks is similar to brooding chicken chicks with some notable exceptions.
Feeding and Watering
Because quail chicks are so much smaller than chicken chicks, they can drown in the typical chick waterers. Use a specially designed quail waterer that has a smaller water trough to prevent accidental drowning. You can also add small stones or marbles to the waterer base to take up some of the space in the trough to help prevent drowning.
Also because quail chicks are so tiny at hatch, they often need to have their game bird starter feed mashed up a little finer for the first week or so. Feed quail chicks a game bird, turkey, or all flock feed with 24 to 27% protein. For the first few days after hatch, simply scatter the finely ground food onto small paper plates or use shallow lids from empty food jars. After the quail chicks are a week or so old, they have grown enough to begin using the traditional chick feeders.
Quail chicks need to have supplemental heat in a brooder until they are fully feathered at approximately 5 to 6 weeks of age. At hatch, the brooder temperature at chick level needs to be at 96-98 degrees F. Lower the brooder temperature by 5 degrees for each week of age until the quail chicks are fully feathered.
Coturnix quail chicks are so tiny and extremely susceptible to drafts or temperature extremes in either direction, so it is important to include a thermometer in the brooder. It is also important to use a solid-sided container as your quail brooder. Using a brooder with a screened bottom and/or sides may result in high losses of your quail chicks.
For the brooder flooring, use thick paper towels for the first 3 days while the quail learn where their feed is located. Make sure to change the paper towels frequently, especially if the water is spilled. After a few days, you may switch the brooder flooring material to pine shavings or other absorbent material. Do not use newspaper on the brooder floor since it is too slick and not absorbent enough. Using newspaper may cause splayed legs in your quail chicks.
Coturnix quail chicks learn to jump and fly at a young age. A screened top for your brooder will be necessary by the time your quail are 3 weeks old. Do not use a solid lid on the brooder as the quail chicks may overheat, suffocate, or coccidia may become an issue due to the increased humidity.