It’s mid-September here in Colorado and Evan K., a subscriber of my YouTube channel, recently asked: “How cold does it get where you live? Have you had any problems with the watering system freezing?”
Excellent question! I live at 9,000 feet elevation in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado – it gets REALLY COLD up here in the winter. I’ve been up here for 16+ years and the coldest I’ve seen it was about 50 below zero (F). It doesn’t get that cold very often but below zero temps are common in the dead of winter.
So how do I keep the quail water system from freezing – and the eggs too? It’s pretty simple.
I use a “Thermo Cube“.
It’s simply an outlet that turns power on at 35F and turns power off at 45F. I plug a small space heater into the Thermo Cube and turn it on HIGH. When the air temperature gets down to 35F the Thermo Cube turns the heater on. When the air temperature gets up to 45F the Thermo Cube shuts it down. Simple and efficient.
This keeps the temperature of my quail house (a 10′ x 12′ insulated shed) about a balmy 40 degrees F all the time and prevents the freezing of their entire watering system and their eggs.
Without the Thermo Cube regulating the temperature of the quail house the eggs might freeze before I get home from work, so I really like this little unit.
One other note. Coturnix quail do not need to be “warm” to lay eggs or survive in a healthy way. Different varieties of quail survive in the wild in cold climates all over the earth and do just fine. If you want them to produce eggs all year, it’s not heat that you should be thinking about – it’s light. Check out my post on Supplemental Lighting for more on that..
However, if you decide to keep your birds warm all the time, you need to ensure that they stay warm because they won’t grow their “winter feathers” when it gets cold outside. This is important.
If you keep your quail at 70F all the time because they are your pets and you feel bad for them you probably aren’t doing them any favors. If the power goes out for 3 days due to an ice storm and it’s 20F outside, your birds will suffer badly or die due to the fact that they have not become accustomed to cold temperatures. So plan ahead to take care of your birds in the event of a power outage or emergency.
For example, my emergency plan is to simply put all of my birds into big plastic storage bins and bring them into the house until the emergency has passed. Have a few big bins, feeders and waterers around just in case.