The leaves are turning here in Ohio, and the night are getting cold. Thus I am forced to face the fact that winter will soon be here, like it or not. I am an “or not” person. The thought of tending to the animals in snow, or wind, or wind and snow sounds downright awful. So we prepare. We prepare now so there are fewer minutes spent fumbling around the barn LATER.
Think about your flock- Now is a good time to inventory your flock and decide who stays and who goes. Extra males, and older weaker birds that may not be able to survive the winter are sent to freezer camp– along with any trouble makers (you know who I’m talking about). Try to leave around 15 birds in your covey or per cage so they can cuddle up for warmth if need be.
Thoroughly examine your cage/coop/quail area. Patch up any holes that can create drafts, fix that loose latch, and dig out that old tarp. Tarps are great for small rabbit hutch type designs. You can leave it open in the front during the day, and close it off at night without much fuss. Coturnix quail are quite cold hearty but won’t fair well left exposed to harsh wind, rain, or snow.
Have a plan for waterers. If you are in a below freezing area, keeping waterers thawed out can be the worst part of animal husbandry. Water lines that freeze, or waterers that won’t dispense because they are frozen solid make for a bad morning. Plan ahead! If you are going to purchase a water heating “pad” that the water can set on, you should be set for the winter… these are wonderful and I highly suggest them if your set up allows…. but if you have no electricity or have cages stacked, you may need to get more creative with your winter war of the waterers. If you are using the mason jar waterers, switch to the plastic jars that can be bought at your local feed store. In case they freeze at least they won’t bust and create a potential fatal accident for your quail. I also suggest that you have replacements for all waterers so that when you go out for your morning chores than you can grab the replacement and swap it for the frozen one. Take the frozen one inside, and it will be thawed and ready to go for tomorrow, when you can swap it out again. Then you don’t have to put the time and energy into thawing a single waterer out in the cold winter mornings.
If you are using bedding, that will help insulate your birds. A thick layer of pine bedding will help to keep heat in, as well as some straw to burrow into will provide an added layer of protection. Just make sure that is doesn’t become to soiled that it becomes damp. Damp + cold = unhappy quail.
It you are using light to extend your laying season, take note on when your birds lay everyday and collect eggs shortly after. That way you can avoid frozen busted eggs.
Most of all use good ‘ol common sense. Notice your quail’s behavior and determine wether or not they are handling the cold. Birds that are puffed up are liking trying to tell you something!
So stay warm, plan ahead, and please share if you have any tips for lasting the winter!