Learning how to hatch quail eggs isn’t hard, but it DOES need a bit more thought in the beginning.
With our newest edition to our homestead, we have become “masters” at the art of incubating. Well, maybe masters isn’t the right word. BETTER at it, I should say. When we got our first batch of quail eggs, we thought it was a matter of just throwing them in the incubator and calling it good. That worked for us with chicken chicks, but quail need a bit more finesse.
Your incubator should be at 99-100.4 consistently.
Having too low of a temp can stunt the chicks growth, and too high can kill them. As the chicks grow, the air temp may increase, so you will need to check the temps daily. An air circulating fan will help keep the air moving, and many of the incubators on the market have them. Digital thermometers will also help you keep track of the temp easier.
The eggs will need to be rotated at least 3 times a day until day 15.
The humidity level needs to be about 70-75% when incubating.
I would suggest that if additional water is needed, that you add small amounts of WARM water so that the temperature doesn’t drop down as it might with colder water added in. Once you have the correct humidity, open the incubator as little as possible Leaving it closed helps keep the heat and humidity at the correct levels. NOT opening the incubator is especially important from day 15, as that is the “lock down” day, and most quail hatch at day 16-18.
If you don’t hear “pipping” by day 16, you can take some of the eggs and “float them”.
We did this by taking 10 from all different places around the incubator and placing them in 99 degree water. The ones that sank were no good, and the ones that bobbed at the top still had air and a viable chick. That is how we knew if some would even hatch. The ones that bobbed were put back into the incubator and left alone for 3 more days. This should ONLY be done IF there is no sounds by day 16. You will have to listen carefully, as the chick peeps are very quiet.
Many people will take chicks out of the incubator right away, but that isn’t necessary.
We have left all our hatchlings in the incubator up until day 18. Some were nearly 2 days old at that time. Again, leaving the incubator closed keeps the heat and humidity for the others to hatch. On day 19, the eggs that didn’t hatch are removed and composted. Chicks are then moved to their brooder that was set up on day 17 with food, water and the heat lamp turned on to warm it up.
The brooder needs to have water, food, and heat.
We like to use a red heat lamp vs. the white as the quail seem to be more calm with the darker color. The temperature of the brooder should be about 100 degrees for the first week, dropping it down 2-3 degrees each week until they are feathered out. Water should be in a quail waterer, since they are smaller and will lessen the likelihood that the chicks will get in there completely and get wet. A chicken chick waterer will be too big, but if that’s all you have, add marbles to the bottom. We feed our quail chicks the higher protein feed our meat birds get, but for the first two weeks, I have to grind their food with a coffee grinder. They are too little to eat the bigger crumbles, in my opinion.
Once chicks are moved to their brooder, they may be skittish.
Well, they WILL be skittish. They are by nature a skittish bird. The hardest part is getting used to how they lay down and sleep. I was freaked out at first by it. They will lay on their side, legs stretched out and look dead. As adults, they still do that and from time to time, we go and check to make sure they are still alive.
After 3 weeks, they should have all their feathers and you can move them to a grow out pen.
At 5 weeks, our rooster quail were crowing and at 6 1/2 weeks, you should start seeing eggs. The quail reach full maturity at around 6-7 weeks so if you are raising a batch for meat, that is when you will process them.
Do you raise quail? What are your “secrets” to hatching? Be sure to pin this to your favorite board for later