They are so flippin’ cute! They always look very disapproving. Hehe.
We started raising quail because our HOA will not allow chickens. Phhhht. I know, it’s crazy, we live out in the middle of rural nowhere. But, they are super fun, easy, and they lay eggs! (The quail, not the HOA.) They have turned out to be key in our plan for food self sufficiency.
I had a really hard time gathering all the info I needed for the first hatch, and I thought I would help out all you would-be quail farmers with the details of how I did it.
I started by researching incubators. There are a lot of really fancy ones out there, with humidity control and auto-egg turners, but the reality on the farm was that we just couldn’t make that kind of investment. I ended up buying this model, the Janome 10.
It worked like a charm. Kept a constant temperature, and has a nice window all around for chick viewing. It also re-warms very quickly after you have opened it to turn or candle the eggs. It does not have an auto turner, so you would need to turn the eggs manually. Also, it does not have a humidity sensor. Coturnix quail are not too sensitive to humidity, so I just filled the inner well with water for the first 14 days, then filled both wells at “lockdown” (that’s the last few days of incubation, where you don’t open the incubator). Alternately, you could buy a sensor and put it in there.
I ordered my Jumbo Brown Coturnix and Texas A&M eggs from PurelyPoultry.com. They arrived on time, with none broken, and they had even put in a few extra! We lost a few to overzealous farmer children as we were numbering them with sharpies, and putting an “X” on one side and an “O” on the other. You do this so that you know which ones you turned in the incubator. Also the dog ate one, but I still love him.
I set the temp to 38.2 C. Coturnix take 14-18 days to hatch, so I dutifully checked the water and turned the eggs 3 times a day for 14 days starting on the day after the eggs went in the incubator (By convention, that day is day 0). I candled after about a week. I found that it rook a little more than a week to really be sure whether or not the eggs had chicks in them. Eggs with chicks will have veins or a dark mass in them, whereas a dud will just light up. Maybe we will have a post on candling later, eh?
On day 15, the eggs go into lockdown. Turn down the temp by 1 degree, increase humidity a tad, and wait. Don’t do ANYTHING.
Mine started hatching on day 16. You will start to see little “pips”. This is when the chicks make a little air hole in the egg. They probably will take a rest after that, maybe even a whole day or more. Then, they will start “zipping”. This is when the chick cracks the egg all around in a circle to create a little door which they then kick out of. This process can take a long while too, so be patient. After the chick kicks out, he will be all wet.
Leave him in the incubator for 12-24 hours before moving him to the brooder, or he will get too cold. All chicks go for a little while without needing food or water because they have absorbed the yolk sac into their abdomen. Quail chicks need food sooner than chicken chicks though, so 24 hours is the max drying time.
Congrats! You are now on your way to having a flock!
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