Monday, April 20, 2009

Quail chicks are hatched!

The eggs in the incubator

They started hatching right on time at the beginning of day 17 and continued through the end of day 18. I can't stress enough how much I enjoy the short incubation of quail chicks. We started with 118 eggs and ended up with 110 going into the final period of incubation. Out of those we hatched 85 baby quail. Because of the large number I couldn't candle all of them, so after the hatch was over and I checked the remaining eggs I realized around 20 infertile/never developed eggs were included in that 110 eggs.

That's rubber drawer-liner on the bottom of the incubator, the quail chicks are so small that their feet could slip through the standard mesh.

I keep the incubator in the pantry as it's the most out of the way place in our very small house. I get so excited (Notice my refraining from using the punny "egg-cited"? You're welcome.) about hatch day that for two nights I slept on the tile floor in the doorway of the kitchen and pantry so I could listen to them hatch and get up every 2 hours and see what was going on. People who incubate will commonly tell you to wait before the entire hatch is over before removing chicks, so you don't mess up the humidity level which can cause birds to not be able to hatch. With quail, at least in this volume, I learned that you can't really do that. They are very aggressive, curious and hungry and after they get mobility figured out, they just run all over the place and peck at the toes of the newly hatching quail (which, to them, look like tiny worms sticking out of the eggs I imagine). So about once every few hours I'd quickly grab all the dried off chicks and move them to the brooder. I felt I could safely do this because my humidity was hovering in the 80% range due to all the wet chicks, so even when I opened the lid it never dipped below 60% (the recommended humidity levels for hatching quail is somewhere around 60-65%). Quail babies also like the temperature a little warmer than baby chickens and ducklings, they seem to prefer the brooder closer to 100 degrees rather than the usual 95. Enough with the statistics, here's more pictures!

Speedy quail chicks in the incubator

It's hard to get over just how small they are. Here's one in my hand, and that's a power-ade bottle cap in the upper left that they're eating out of.

This video illustrates why you want to be the first one to hatch. Actually this chick is relatively lucky the others are just ignoring it instead of pecking at the new shiny thing in the incubator.

I just can't get over how tiny they are. These chicks will be laying eggs themselves in 6-7 weeks!

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I got eggs mixed from several different color patterns, that's why there are different looking chicks.


Anonymous said...

Why are some of the chicks different colors?

Callie Brady said...

So cute! Do you feed them chick starter? Looking forward to seeing photos of them all together in their new home.

ndlb4evr said...

They look so cute. My daughter is hatching Bobwhite Quails and actually today is day 21 so we are done turning them. We have just a little incubator that I have to turn the eggs. I think of the 4 eggs 2 are going to hatch. I am already ordering 6 more eggs for her to do.

Sweet Life Garden said...

You mentioned that you were going to try a few quail when I met you at a permaculture event. I am so impressed! They turned out to be beautiful. Worth waiting for.

Sebastien Millon said...

Amazing!!! That's a lot of quail to look after...

ChristyACB said...

Oh my goodness they are cute! What are you going to do with that many quail and the eggs that they lay? Is there a market for them in this economy? I know they served them at one of my favorite restaurants (I never got them) but I understand they aren't getting much business since people don't throw money around like that anymore. Just curious since that is the only place I've ever seen them served or used.

Unknown said...

That's so amazing! I still can't believe what I read in the paper today, I was so shocked! Clearfield, Utah has effectively outlawed backyard chickens.

I posted about it on my blog