Hatching Button Quail using home equipment

Button Quail are the smallest of all quail, maturing out at only 3 1/2″ tall.  They come in a variety of colors from their native wild color to a tuxedo (pied) to a solid white. With several colors in between.  They are easy to keep as adult birds and fairly easy to hatch using some simple procedures.

Most people purchase the eggs and they are mailed to you.  Upon receiving your eggs, gently unbox them checking for cracks or dents.  If the dents are not major go ahead and still try to hatch them.  If they have cracks and are not oozing you can gently coat the crack with fingernail polish and put them in the incubator.  Or, if you had rather not then contact the person you purchased them from and arrange for replacement.

After the eggs have set at room temperature for at least 6 hours, gently put them in your incubator that has been pre warmed to 99.5 degrees for a forced air incubator (or 100 degrees for a still air incubator).   Be sure the incubator is in a conditioned space such as a spare bed room and not near a window where the sun shining thru the window will hit the incubator and cause the temperature to fluctuate.  An incubator with an automatic rotating rack is best but if you do not have one then rotate the eggs at least 3 times a day. A mark on one side of each egg will help you know that you have rotated them.

Put a small 1 by 3 inch piece of sponge in the incubator so that it does not inhibit the movement of the rotating rack, keep the sponge pretty moist until the eggs are ready to be put into hatcher.  If you don’t have a separate hatcher, you can use the incubator, quickly remove the turning rack placing a pre cut piece of rubber shelf matting in the bottom of the incubator and put the eggs back in the incubator on the matting then do not disturb until they hatch.  Only open the lid to add water to the sponge.  (I use a kitchen baster to add the water.)

Once the chicks have hatched (note that most of the eggs will hatch within a few hours of each other) and their down looks dry you can either move them to a nursery setting or leave them in the incubator, keeping the temperature at 99.5 for their first week.  Put in a small container of water, I use a mayonnaise jar lid with small pebbles or 1/2 glass marbles in it to keep the little ones from drowning as they will fall asleep any where.  Also place a piece of paper towel covered with a small pile of 28% gamebird starter food.  You want them to “trip” over the food so that they start pecking and eating. Note that if you are using the incubator as their home, open up the observation windows a small amount so that fresh air can get into their container.  The heater will  compensate for the open windows.

Always keep plenty of food and water in front of them and every few days drop the temperature down by 5 degrees until you get down to the room temperature they are going to be staying in.  After the first week, I would suggest that you have a short box that is about 5 inches wider on each side than the incubator that you can set the incubator into.  As the little ones can jump out of the incubator quick as lightening, so if you have it setting inside of that short box, you have a 2nd chance at catching them before they get away.

Good luck to you and enjoy watching them grow and change colors!