Suddenly getting chicks...What are the MUST HAVEs?!

CaloosaBirds

Chirping
Nov 22, 2016
44
35
94
I've been procrastinating getting chicks since March. Well, a close, kind-hearted person decided to take the control of the situation, and through the grapevine, I heard I will be getting 4 or 5 chicks in a couple days. I have quail, so I have some equipment (but maybe all in miniature? LOL), but is there a list of MUST HAVEs for new chick owners? I'm actually quite happy and amused with this upcoming gift, even if I have to run around acting crazy for a day to prepare. Thank you!
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
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My Coop
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Do you have a coop for these 5 chicks? They are obviously going to need bigger digs than a quail!
I suggest brooding with a brooder plate or a momma heating pad. If you already have your coop, I would brood directly in the coop with either the plate or the MHP.
I like these for the waterer from day one as the water stays clean and the brooder stays dry. I made this for under $10.
Ancona.jpg

Other than a big, dry, very well ventilated brooder with safe heat source, clean water and good quality chick starter, there's not much else to do. You may want to have a bottle of Corid on hand just in case. I've never needed it for chicks but it's nice to have just in case.
 

CaloosaBirds

Chirping
Nov 22, 2016
44
35
94
Do you have a coop for these 5 chicks? They are obviously going to need bigger digs than a quail!
I suggest brooding with a brooder plate or a momma heating pad. If you already have your coop, I would brood directly in the coop with either the plate or the MHP.
I like these for the waterer from day one as the water stays clean and the brooder stays dry. I made this for under $10.
View attachment 2176119
Other than a big, dry, very well ventilated brooder with safe heat source, clean water and good quality chick starter, there's not much else to do. You may want to have a bottle of Corid on hand just in case. I've never needed it for chicks but it's nice to have just in case.
Thank you! No, I don't have a coop yet. That was part of my procrastinating. (But I DO have 2 unused sheds and am planning that one will become the coop eventually.) However, currently, my garage is also my bunny barn, so while it's not going to make anyone happy having MORE critters in there, that's where they'll go. Temporarily. LOL

I know what a brooder plate is, but not a momma heating pad...I will research! And nice waterer. I will definitely look into doing something like that, especially knowing they will be able to use them. (I even have one of those bottles that's not been used.)

So, basically, a big box (or something to hold them), pine shavings (this is what my quail and buns use), chick starter, heat source of some sort, waterer, Corid...? I feel like I'm missing something. LOL
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
30,891
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NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
Thank you! No, I don't have a coop yet. That was part of my procrastinating. (But I DO have 2 unused sheds and am planning that one will become the coop eventually.) However, currently, my garage is also my bunny barn, so while it's not going to make anyone happy having MORE critters in there, that's where they'll go. Temporarily. LOL

I know what a brooder plate is, but not a momma heating pad...I will research! And nice waterer. I will definitely look into doing something like that, especially knowing they will be able to use them. (I even have one of those bottles that's not been used.)

So, basically, a big box (or something to hold them), pine shavings (this is what my quail and buns use), chick starter, heat source of some sort, waterer, Corid...? I feel like I'm missing something. LOL
Now I didn't say a big box! I said a good-sized brooder with lots of ventilation. To me there's a big difference!
 

CaloosaBirds

Chirping
Nov 22, 2016
44
35
94
Now I didn't say a big box! I said a good-sized brooder with lots of ventilation. To me there's a big difference!
You are right! My kids and I got into the habit of calling the quail brooders "baby boxes" because it sounded cute. But I'm thinking I will need something bigger than the quail sized brooders for chickens.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,503
20,777
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Southeast Louisiana
So they are babies. Wasn't sure with your first post.

Your "must haves" included a brooder/coop of some sort that is predator safe and gives them protection from the environment. The environment means no rain or direct wind hitting them. They need a warm spot to go to so they can warm up if they need to but too much heat is dangerous. To me the ideal is one spot warm enough in the coolest conditions and a spot cool enough in the warmest conditions. I find chicks straight out of the incubator are capable of moving to safe areas of heat as long as they have the option. People use all kinds of ways to provide that warm spot. I use heat lamps but heat plates, heating pads, emitters, and various other heating devices work. What do you use for your quail? It should work.

You need food and water. The food should be low-calcium and of relatively high protein content. Typically 18% to 20% protein is used with calcium content in the 1% range, but some people use game bird feed with a protein content up to 24%. Just watch the calcium.

There are all kinds of things you can use or even make for feeders and waterers. I've made shallow troughs out of scrap wood to use as feeders. You can buy various things. You just want the feed where they can get to it. I haven't done quail but I'd think their behaviors would really be similar.

I don't know how you water your quail. The chicks will grow pretty fast but to start with they aren't that big. Again you can buy or use different things to use as waterers. Some people use nipple systems, some use a jar with a vacuum fed lid. I use this, just fill it with rocks so the chicks can walk on it without drowning and an drink between the rocks. This photo is for older chickens that aren't in danger of drowning. Keep the water clean. Dirty water is dangerous.

Grow out Water.JPG


Like all birds they need decent ventilation.

The brooder needs to stay dry. A wet brooder is a dangerous brooder pus it can stink. I brood over wire but there are many different beddings you can use to absorb moisture. Try to avoid spilled water and change bedding as required. Their poop can build up and remain wet.

Size. You need room for food, water, and for them to grow. How much room depends on what age you move them out. You can move them to a larger brooder if you need to. I'm not into magic numbers of square feet per chick as it depends on various things. If they start to look crowded, they are.

An easy quick way to make a brooder is to use a large cardboard box. You can maybe get a large appliance box or tape a couple of boxes together. Tape on another box if it needs to grow. Put something on the garage floor like plywood or cardboard to protect the floor from staining and use bedding like wood shavings, straw, crushed dried leaves, maybe even shredded paper.

They will soon learn to fly. I've had some two weeks old fly over three feet with little effort. So think how you might fix a lid on that to stop them from flying out. A light frame with wire mesh on it can be pretty easy to make.

There are no hard and fast rules on how you have to do any of this. If you have your coop finished and electricity out there for heat you can move the to the coop at any time. No need to make it really complicated or expensive. Predator and environmental protection. A warm spot and a cool spot. Ventilation. Food. Water. A dry brooder. How you go about any of this doesn't matter that much. Your quail experience should help.
 

CaloosaBirds

Chirping
Nov 22, 2016
44
35
94
So they are babies. Wasn't sure with your first post.

Your "must haves" included a brooder/coop of some sort that is predator safe and gives them protection from the environment. The environment means no rain or direct wind hitting them. They need a warm spot to go to so they can warm up if they need to but too much heat is dangerous. To me the ideal is one spot warm enough in the coolest conditions and a spot cool enough in the warmest conditions. I find chicks straight out of the incubator are capable of moving to safe areas of heat as long as they have the option. People use all kinds of ways to provide that warm spot. I use heat lamps but heat plates, heating pads, emitters, and various other heating devices work. What do you use for your quail? It should work.

You need food and water. The food should be low-calcium and of relatively high protein content. Typically 18% to 20% protein is used with calcium content in the 1% range, but some people use game bird feed with a protein content up to 24%. Just watch the calcium.

There are all kinds of things you can use or even make for feeders and waterers. I've made shallow troughs out of scrap wood to use as feeders. You can buy various things. You just want the feed where they can get to it. I haven't done quail but I'd think their behaviors would really be similar.

I don't know how you water your quail. The chicks will grow pretty fast but to start with they aren't that big. Again you can buy or use different things to use as waterers. Some people use nipple systems, some use a jar with a vacuum fed lid. I use this, just fill it with rocks so the chicks can walk on it without drowning and an drink between the rocks. This photo is for older chickens that aren't in danger of drowning. Keep the water clean. Dirty water is dangerous.

View attachment 2176194

Like all birds they need decent ventilation.

The brooder needs to stay dry. A wet brooder is a dangerous brooder pus it can stink. I brood over wire but there are many different beddings you can use to absorb moisture. Try to avoid spilled water and change bedding as required. Their poop can build up and remain wet.

Size. You need room for food, water, and for them to grow. How much room depends on what age you move them out. You can move them to a larger brooder if you need to. I'm not into magic numbers of square feet per chick as it depends on various things. If they start to look crowded, they are.

An easy quick way to make a brooder is to use a large cardboard box. You can maybe get a large appliance box or tape a couple of boxes together. Tape on another box if it needs to grow. Put something on the garage floor like plywood or cardboard to protect the floor from staining and use bedding like wood shavings, straw, crushed dried leaves, maybe even shredded paper.

They will soon learn to fly. I've had some two weeks old fly over three feet with little effort. So think how you might fix a lid on that to stop them from flying out. A light frame with wire mesh on it can be pretty easy to make.

There are no hard and fast rules on how you have to do any of this. If you have your coop finished and electricity out there for heat you can move the to the coop at any time. No need to make it really complicated or expensive. Predator and environmental protection. A warm spot and a cool spot. Ventilation. Food. Water. A dry brooder. How you go about any of this doesn't matter that much. Your quail experience should help.
This is very helpful and informative. Thank you for sharing all this with me! It is somewhat of a relief to think I can probably go with the "quail chicks, but bigger" ideas. I will definitely take your warnings about flying seriously. (Quail chicks can flush at an early age, so having something over the top has always been a must.)
 

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