Congratulations! You have taken the first steps to become a Japanese Coturnix Quail owner and lover! Raising quail from eggs is one of the most satisfying and exciting things to do for multiple reasons, but that’s a topic for a different day! Today we are focusing on hatching this curious birds! So what are the first steps?
First, lets briefly discuss why hatching quail eggs is an option for you! Not only is the incubation process an exiting task, but buying live quail is not always a feasible option for most.
Not everyone lives in areas that offer live quail for locall pick up, and buying live quail online can come at a premium cost! However, almost anyone can order quail hatching eggs online from multiple sources and save a good amount of money in doing so.
I would strongly recommend everyone to look into their local market and see what is offered first and see if you can purchase live quail at a reasonable price. But for most, this isn’t an option. So let’s proceed to the excitement.
Lets start by covering the basic materials! Before you look into ordering quail eggs, there are a few items you are going to need.
1. An Incubator: https://amzn.to/3efdDrU
2. An Egg Turner: https://amzn.to/3edyfkk
3. Temperature Gauge: https://amzn.to/3BabYhs
4. Humidity Gauge: https://amzn.to/3BabYhs
5. Brooder heat source: https://amzn.to/3i3qsac
It is going to be a little of an investment the first year, but rest assure this equipment will pay for itself over time.
For your incubator, there are multiple styles and brands to consider, but the incubator I use and recommend is the HovaBator 1602N. https://amzn.to/3efdDrU Not only is it sturdy and simple to use and will last for years, but it is also bundled with an egg turner! I have tried several types and have continued to use this style for the past few years and I do not see myself changing anytime soon! The bundled egg turner will work, but iff you would like to upgrade, the Hova Bator Qual to Duck is my favorite! https://amzn.to/3edyfkk
You will also need a sturdy and accurate thermometer and humidity gauge. This is crucial!!! The easiest way to have a horrible hatch rate is by having the wrong temperature or humidity during the gestation. https://amzn.to/3BabYhs
Last, once the quail have hatched, you will need a brooder set up and a reliable and safe heat source. I have found heat plates to be the best and safest option available! https://amzn.to/3i3qsac
Once you have your equipment, its time to order the Eggs! There are multiple sources to get eggs, these include locally such as Craigslist or local ads such as Facebook or you can look look online on websites such as eBay, or online breeders. I personally have gotten some from reputable certified sellers on eBay but the majority of my eggs have come from myshirefarm.com There you will be able to choose from different variety of breeds and colors!
Okay, you ordered your eggs and they are soon to arrive! Now the fun really begins!!!
The first thing you should do it set your incubator to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity. I recommend you set your incubator at least 24 hours prior to your eggs arriving so that you have time to make adjustments as needed.
Once your eggs arrive in the mail, it is good practice to place the eggs pointy side down and let them come to room temperature for about 12 hours before placing them into the incubator. This will let the air sac inside the egg settle and let the egg slowly warm up naturally.
Once the eggs have settled and you have triple checked the temperature and humidity, it is safe to place the eggs pointy side down onto your quail egg turner. If you do not have an egg turner, you can write an X with a pencil on one side of the egg and hand turn the egg three times a day.
Now we wait! Let the eggs turn on the turner for the first 14 days without touching them. (If you are hand turning, keep turning for the first 14 days) The only work that you need to do is insure the humidity stays at 50% by adding water every other day or so.
You may also candle the eggs after day 5 by placing a strong light under the egg in a dark room to look for veins and development of the chick.
On day 15, it is time to stop turning the eggs. You can remove the egg turner from the incubator and place the eggs on their sides inside the incubator. (If hand turning, simply stop turning the eggs)
It is also time to add more water to increase the humidity to 70%. The added humidity is essential to make the egg shell more palpable and easier for the chick to hatch! The quail eggs will hatch within the next three days!!!
It is important to understand that an average hatch rate of shipped hatching eggs is 70%. Considering the factors of fertility, and shipping, 70% isn’t too bad. Over time, you may be able to increase your hatch rate to 75-80 and maybe more!
Last, It is critical to let your quail hatch on their own and keep the incubator closed! You do not want to keep opening and closing the incubator during the hatching period as that can greatly alter the humidity and essentially create a vacuum and seal any unhatched eggs.
I give my chicks 24 hours in the incubator once hatched before I remove them and place them into the brooder. They have plenty of reserve food and will be find during this period.
For the brooder, I tend to use a large tote with a heat plate for the first week and then upgrade the brooder to an outdoor set up to give them more space to grow and after the second week, I remove the heat plate as they are nearly fully feathered out and no longer need the extra heat.
An as simple as that, you are done!!! Be sure to take pictures of your experience as I can almost guarantee you will fall in love with the process and be amazed at how fast these quail begin to grow!
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