The past few weeks have involved a fun new adventure for us…hatching quail!
Late this winter, we ordered 2 dozen quail eggs from Meyer Hatchery. They came carefully packaged and all but one made it into the incubator safely (with the kids’ helping hands). When the eggs arrived, we let them sit for 24 hours. It’s important to do this so that the incubator can reach and hold the correct settings, and the eggs can come up to room temperature after a cold ride in the mail truck.
We set the incubator at 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit with 45% humidity, and then…the waiting began. Quail eggs take approximately 18 days to incubate, and we decided to candle them once at day 5 to see if there were signs of development. We have quite a bit of experience with incubating chicken eggs, but this is a first time for quail eggs and I’m here to tell you that candling is much harder! We were confident that we saw development in 10 of the eggs and thought there was likely development in about 7 more. Either way, because of our lack of confidence, we put all 23 eggs back in the incubator and waited.
At 15 days, we put the eggs in "lockdown" which means carefully removing the eggs, removing the egg turning (that had been slowing rotating them for the past two weeks), putting down gravel paper (so they don't have a slippery surface when they hatch), increasing the humidity to 65%, and putting the eggs back in until the hatch begins!
On day 17 we came home from delivering beef and eggs, and could hear the cutest little “peep, peep” coming from the incubator. Two babies hatched while we were out, and a third was hatching!
We had 6 quail hatch on day 17, and 7 more hatch on day 18 for a grand total of 15 cute little quail to go in the brooder. We were able to catch a few of the hatches on video, and I have shared those on our Instagram and Facebook pages if you're interested in watching. These babies are TINY. I added a golf ball into the brooder for a quick picture for size comparison.
Thus far they have been an adorable addition to the ranch and hopefully they will grow to provide us with eggs we can share in the community. We’ll keep on posting updates, simply because they’re too cute not to photograph!