We have six egg laying female quail who live in our back garden, they like to dust bathe and hide in the straw playing chase on the warm summer months but when winter encroaches the quail need some slight changes in their care. Originally quail would fly over to Africa for winter, yes you heard me right, tiny quail flapping with their little wings all the way to AFRICA! But let’s face it who wouldn’t rather go on holiday to Africa when winter in England can be so bitter. But our girls being domestic can’t make that journey across the challenging seas so we have to try and keep them warm and mostly dry. But we didn’t have the time, space or money to build a ideal housing situation such as a shed so we’ve got some simple steps we’ve taken to keep them happy over winter.
- Covering them up. Our quail are in a old chicken run which already has plastic sheeting on the roof but we’ve used a table cloth to give the sides of the run extra cover from wind and rain.
- Adding a deep layer of straw in the run, this not only can keep them warm but also creates cover from wind and enchanted their environment and natural behaviour eg. burrowing into the straw. Remember if this bedding gets wet it will need to be changed to keep them dry.
- Adding a house. Quail don’t seem to enter their house at night so if the forecast for the night is unbelievably cold, then placing your quail in the house and retaining them from coming out till the morning is best for them, also adding a extra house. We’ve used the tortoise house as this has a lager door which quail prefer. Also tunnels and Guinea pig play housing are good to use it means if you are unable to shut them away they still have extra shelter.
People say that quail eat more when out in the cold. I think that really it’s not changed. They eat the food in the summer for to lay eggs and eat the same amount but just aren’t laying their putting it towards the energy to pull through, this is the reason naturally kept quails eggs will be more expensive since they’re not laying in the winter and can be a bit hit and miss in the summer still when they do lay the eggs they do taste amazing!