Sunday, February 26, 2012


We did it! Our first batch of coturnix quail has been hatched!

Between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon, 44 of the 56 eggs hatched. Four of them had to be culled, and 12 eggs never hatched at all. For our first attempt, a hatch rate of 71% is pretty darned good!!

We've learned a couple of things in the past few days. Just like chickens, quail chicks LOVE to scratch in their feed pans. In two days, they made quite a mess.

Big John came up with a great solution - he covered two Tupperware lids with 1/2 inch hardware cloth.

The chicks have adapted well, and it's cut down on a lot of the mess.

What a fun experience this has been! In just 3 short weeks, we went from this:

to this:

Big John is already on the hunt for more eggs!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


There was an explosion of quail throughout the night! We're currently at 17 in the brooder, 5 waiting to dry in the hatcher, 2 in the process of hatching, and 32 eggs hopefully getting ready! It's been a busy night!

Friday, February 24, 2012


It's been 20 hours since the quail started hatching.
And we're up to two! Yes, just two!

Here's a look at the new chick:

He/she just hatched within the last couple of hours and is looking good. I can see a couple of the eggs moving around, so I expect more chicks throughout the evening. It's not too concerning that they haven't all hatched by now (Day 19) because the eggs were most likely laid over the course of two or three days. If they aren't all hatched by Monday, we'll start to worry.

And here's our first little one - moved to the brood box and awaiting company:

Big John will be so excited to see his quail project when he gets home today!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


One down, fifty-five to go!!

Hopefully this little one survives and fluffs out - and is joined by many more baby quail. This may be a long night!


No sign of quail chicks yet. Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Today is Day 16 of the Quail Experiment. Big John is out of town, so I've been left with the hatching duties and specific instructions to keep him updated.

I've double checked the temperature and water level.

Everything seems in order, but no signs of pipping yet. Daisy has promised to help me watch!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

DAY 14

Today is day 14 of our quail hatching experiment! We started with 77 coturnix (or Japanese) quail eggs.

We cranked up our estate-sale incubator - and after lots of adjustments, many calls and emails to the manufacturer, and the threat of using a styrofoam version - we started incubating.

Today, Big John candled all the eggs to find out which were still viable.

Out of 77 eggs, 56 still seemed good. Big John transferred those 56 eggs to a smaller incubator (another estate sale find!) and lowered the temperature by a degree. Three days prior to hatching, eggs should not be rotated. This will allow the chicks time to reposition themselves inside the eggs so they can pip.

The 21 eggs that hadn't developed (and were very stinky) were discarded.

Our next job was to build a brood box. We have a couple of brooders for chicks, but nothing with mesh small enough for these tiny quail chicks. Big John built a plywood box and we attached 1/4 inch hardware cloth to the bottom.

He also built a top for it - the quail will be able to fly pretty quickly - and we used 1/2 inch hardware cloth to cover that.

 He even built a slide-out "poop pan" that I lined with leftover house wrap. This will keep our floors clean and be easy to wash off!

We're prepped and ready to go. If all goes well, chicks should start to appear Tuesday or Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Plan A:

Estate sale incubator's thermostat is off - way off. Big John has talked me through the calibration steps many times, but I'm just not the handyman he is. So we're on to Plan B.

With 24 hours of incubation under our belt - albeit not at the proper temperature - we had to come up with an alternative cooking method. A quick trip to the feed store netted a styrofoam version of an incubator. I went ahead and sprung for the automatic turner and quail rails. What the heck!

I've managed to complete the "some assembly required" to convert to quail-sized eggs, but am still playing with the temperature.

 And the most recent check of the Kuhl shows it's about at the right temperature. That figures. This is not as easy as it looks! I sure wish I had a broody hen right about now. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012


A few months ago, Big John and I shopped at an amazing estate sale. The homeowner would have been quite an interesting lady - she seemed to be an avid gardener, potter, crafter, and poultry lover. We came away with many great finds, including this huge incubator.

Double stacked and filled to capacity, it can hold 8400 quail eggs! Yes, that's eight thousand four hundred eggs! We're going to start with these 77 today.

A good friend of ours brought these eggs to us today. They're Japanese Quail - much like Bob Whites, only smaller. We've never hatched with an incubator before, and unfortunately this one didn't come with an instruction manual - that's the chance you take at estate sales! But Big John is pretty mechanically inclined, so we're hoping it will all work. In about 17 days, we should know if we're doing this right. Check back for updates!