Some months back we got six jumbo quails. Five females and a male. We also got a secondhand incubator. We now have about 30 productive adults. We should of had many more but we had a problem with our cages not being very secure and a rat that was stealing our babies. But both those problems have been fixed and we are on the fast track to having more quails than we can handle.
We started off just using the eggs but now we raise quails for both eggs and meat. Its a simple way to raise your own meat when space is a concern because quails don’t need a lot of room. We also get so many eggs we can hardly keep up with them.
|About 3 days worth of eggs|
Our incubator is a Brinsea Octogon 20 and we can fit about 77 eggs during each incubation. This is our third successful incubation and the first time we filled the incubator to capacity. We have had a good success rate so far with only a few eggs not hatching each time. This time only about 45 hatched. It could be because our new breeding stock is still quite young. Quail eggs are incubated for 18 days.
Our eggs started hatching on Friday night, but the incubator shouldn’t be opened until the babies are dry. They can stay in the incubator for up to 24hrs so I left them over night to finish hatching and drying
|Our Brinsea Octagon 20 incubator|
Out brooder is nothing more than a plastic tub with the top cut off and replaced by fine mesh. I use a shallow food bowl that contains starter mesh grinded up even finer using a coffee grinder. I put marbles in the water bowl so that the babies do not drown or get too wet from walking in the water.
Warmth is provided by two sixty watt filament globes, but in summer I could probably get away with using only one.
For the bedding I use an astro carpeting type of fabric on the floor so that the babies to not get splay legs. I once used newspaper and a few babies got splayed legs, but as soon as I notice I changed it for this astro and the babies got better. After about a week I replace it with newspaper and hay/wood shavings. The astro gets dirty very quickly and it is quite a mission to clean, but it is important for the first week. They will only stay in this brooder for the first few days.
Splay leg is when the babies look like they are doing the splits and they cannot get up and walk, they just drag themselves around the brooder. It happens when the bedding substance is too smooth and slippery and they can’t get a grip with their little feet. If you catch it soon, it is fixable by simply changing the bedding.
|Brooder set up, nice and clean before babies go in|
Now the hard part is getting the babies from the incubator to the brooder. When you open the lid it is like a sea of baby quail all trying to get out at once. And the sides of the incubator are not very high so they can easily jump over. So I like to do this on the floor, so if one does get out, it doesn’t have far to fall and I can catch it quickly.
|Can you see us?|
As soon as they are in the brooder they start pecking at the food and sipping the water. It is amazing how instinct kicks in.
|Instantly pecking at the food, or huddling under the light to get warm|
Day old quails are just the cutest little things but they grow at an amazing pace. Before you know it they will loose this fluffy cuteness while they start growing their adult feathers. Within 4 weeks they will look just like the adults and by six weeks the females will start laying. And so the cycle begins again.