I’m starting a new hatch. This one will be my biggest ever — I’m planning to sell the extras, so if you’re interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are the steps to making new birds.
- Gather fertile eggs: Eggs are generally good for up to a week. Store pointy side down until ready to use. Turn eggs slightly every day until ready to incubate.
- Prepare the incubator: An incubator is a rudimentary device. Some folks use a Styrofoam container with an incandescent light. I’d recommend against it. If you’re planning to do this again, get a decent incubator that keeps the heat constant and which has a fan. Still air incubators aren’t worth the hassle. I currently have two incubators, one retrofitted with a fan and another with a fan that I bought secondhand. Both have egg turners which rock the eggs automatically during incubation.
- Preheat the incubator: Let the incubator run for at least 8 hours before adding the eggs to make sure it’s at the correct temperature and humidity.
- Add the eggs: Place the eggs in the incubator with the pointed end facing downwards. Make sure the eggs are not touching each other and there is enough space for air to circulate around them. If you do not have an egg turner, place on its side.
- Maintain temperature and humidity: Coturnix quail eggs need a consistent temperature of around 99-100°F (37-38°C). Here in Hawaii I incubate dry because our humidity is already high. I’ll add water only if the humidity drops below 40%. Monitor the temperature and humidity regularly and make adjustments as needed. My tool of choice is Govee wireless thermometer and hydrometer.
- Turn the eggs: Quail eggs need to be turned regularly to prevent the embryos from sticking to the shell. Turn the eggs at least three times a day, ideally every 4-6 hours. If manually turning, it can be useful to mark eggs with a grease pencil beforehand so you can tell when you have manually turned it.
- Other than turning, just wait until lockdown.
- Lockdown: Stop turning the eggs. Around day 15 of incubation, stop turning the eggs and increase the humidity to around 70%. This will help the chicks break out of the shell.
- Wait for hatching: Coturnix quail eggs typically hatch after 16-18 days of incubation. Be patient and resist the urge to open the incubator during this time. When removing chicks to put them in a brooder with heat lamp, quickly snatch them by cracking open the incubator. I mist the air before opening the incubator, just to be sure I don’t lower the humidity suddenly. A sudden drop in humidity can cause shrink-wrapping, where the chick can’t properly hatch.
Once the chicks have hatched, remove them from the incubator and place them in a brooder box with a heat lamp and clean bedding. Provide them with fresh water and ground up gamebird starter feed and watch them grow!