Few things are more fulfilling than witnessing the complete life cycle of your livestock on the homestead. Hatching quail eggs is a great way to experience new life on the farm and it’s really easy when you have the right setup and the right information. Here is what you need to know when it comes to hatching quail eggs at home.
Purchasing Your Coturnix Quail Eggs
If you are just starting out with quail you can either purchase quail chicks or purchase fertilized eggs for hatching. There are a few reputable companies and Etsy shops that sell quail eggs for hatching but you may be able to find them locally.
I found my first quail and eggs on Craigslist locally a few years ago from a friendly farmer. This was a great option for me but you may not be so fortunate. If you must buy online, here are a few things to know.
Some sellers have a minimum order size because of shipping costs. Others may sell small orders but still apply a standard shipping cost that can cover several dozen eggs. This can drastically raise the price per egg on smaller orders.
You may need to verify that the company can ship the eggs to your state. Some states have laws that prevent the shipping of quail eggs from another state. The company should have this information listed somewhere on their sales page.
Packaging varies greatly with different sellers. Some like Alchemist Farm & Garden ship their eggs in 100% biodegradable and compostable materials and others use recyclable materials and still, others use standard packaging that will end up in a landfill. If this is important to you then shop accordingly.
Collect and Care For Your Own Quail Eggs
Perhaps you purchased quail chicks to begin with and your quail have grown to maturity and are now laying eggs and you’re ready to starting hatching more quail.
It should go without saying but maybe you just don’t know, you’re quail eggs must be fertilized by a rooster to hatch. If you are raising your quail in cages you can keep 3 to 4 hens with 1 rooster to have all the eggs fertilized.
How Long To Collect Quail Eggs For Hatching
You can collect your eggs for 7-10 days. After 10 days the viability starts going down which will lower your hatch rate.
Storing The Quail Eggs
Store the quail eggs in a cool dry place, preferably between 50°F and 70°F. You should store your eggs point down if possible.
Cleaning The Quail Eggs For Incubating
Do not wash your eggs as this will remove the protective coating that is naturally on the egg shell. If there is a large amount of dirt or manure you can try to rome it with a soft brush but if there is too much you might consider not using that egg.
The Right Incubator Makes A Big Difference
There are several great incubators on the market and some not so great. The bottom line is, the better ones are more expensive and the extra features do make a difference. The one I have is the Farm Innovators Model Digital Circulated Air Incubator with Automatic Egg Turner and it does everything I need it to do very well.
There are some other very good incubators out there but here a couple things to look for.
- Durable hard plastic outer shell protects incubator and is easy to clean
- Automatic egg turner turns the eggs completely every 4 hours to eliminate manual handling and...
- An integrated fan pulls in and circulates fresh air to stabilize temperature and improve hatch
- An easy to read digital display shows temperature, humidity, and days to hatch (adjustable for a...
- High/low temperature notification light flashes when temperature is below 97°F or above 103°F
Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I recommend an incubator that has a built-in fan and circulates the air, these are commonly referred to as “forced air incubators”. From personal experience and hearing from others, this will make a huge difference in hatch rates over a “still air incubator”.
Another nice feature to have in your incubator is an automatic egg turner. If you have the time and focus to make sure you turn your eggs 3-5 times a day then your fine but most people are way too busy to do this. Many incubators that have automatic egg turners don’t come with quail egg rails which are specifically sized to hold quail eggs, so this will be an additional purchase.
- QUAIL RAIL PACK: 6-pack of quail rails offers extra slots to hold small eggs, so you get more...
- FOR AUTOMATIC EGG TURNERS: Replace standard rails in Farm Innovators 3200 automatic egg turner
- HOLDS 120 EGGS: Each rail holds 20 eggs for far more space than large trays, helping you hatch...
- SIMPLE INSTALLATION: Installation is simple with easy-to-follow motor removal instructions; (L x W x...
- EASY TO CLEAN: Durable plastic trays are dishwasher-safe for effortless cleaning
Last update on 2021-10-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Controlling humidity, especially as hatch day approaches, is important and can have a huge effect on hatch rates. While most affordable incubators don’t control this automatically, they do monitor it. I find this to be good enough because adding some water to the incubator every few days to increase the humidity isn’t that hard to do.
There are however, automatic humidity systems such as this one made by HumidKit, that can be connected to many incubators to automatically control the humidity as well. I haven’t found this added expense necessary but you may.
The Incubator Temperature For Quail Eggs
The perfect temperature to hatch quail eggs is 99.5°F, but you may find that many incubator’s temperature settings don’t do half degrees so it will be fine to set the incubator temperature at 100°F.
Adjusting The Humidity For Quail Eggs
The ideal humidity level for quail eggs the first 14 days is 45%. I have personally found that this isn’t crucial in the early stages of incubation if this number varies some, but is what you are aiming for.
You will want to increase the humidity level after day 15 to upwards of 70% if possible. I have found this can be difficult depending on the humidity level outside the incubator but a range from 55% to 70% will be good enough.
Quail Egg Lock Down
On day 15 you will enter the lock down phase. This is the time period when you stop turning the eggs. If you have an automatic egg turner you will remove it during this time and put the eggs on the incubator floor.
How Many Days For Quail Eggs To Hatch
Quail eggs hatch at 18 days, I have had them hatch from day 16 to day 20 but most often you can count on day 18 being where the action is.
This is a strangely fascinating event to witness, you will first see a tiny hole where the chicks poke their beak through and they will proceed to work their way all the way around the egg until it opens like a lid. This process can take several hours and you may be tempted to assist them but do not do this, it’s all part of the process.
Caring For Quail Chicks After They Hatch
After a quail hatches, it needs to stay in the incubator for at least 24 hours but no longer than 36 hours to get completely dry and get a little stronger. This can be a bit of a juggling act as eggs will hatch at different times. You don’t want to leave chicks in too long but you don’t want to take chicks out too soon either.
You can usually identify the chicks that are ready to come out by looking at them. The ones that hatched first will look more fluffy and usually have way more energy than their younger siblings.
Be sure to not take the lid off the incubator for very long while you get the chicks out as this sudden drop in temperature can affect the just-hatched chicks and the eggs that still haven’t hatched.
Prepare To Brood Your Quail Chicks
At this point you should have a brooder set up, warmed up with food and water ready to go. As you move your chicks to the brooder I like to touch their beaks to the water so they can identify the source as you put them in. I have skipped this before and they figure it out but it is a common practice that gives a peace of mind if nothing else.
This concludes the incubation process. If you want more information on the raising quail process as a whole then listen to my podcast episode about Raising Coturnix Quail On The Homestead.
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