Quail Breeds And Characteristics
Quail, with their compact size and quiet nature, have become increasingly popular among urban homesteaders and are gaining traction on social media. These small birds are not only charming but also excellent egg-layers, making them a great addition to any backyard or indoor setup.
There are several popular quail breeds to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics. Coturnix quails are commonly raised for their meat and eggs due to their rapid growth and high egg production. Bobwhite and Button quails are also popular choices, known for their distinctive calls and attractive plumage. California Valley quails, Japanese quails, and Blue Scale quails are also sought after by enthusiasts for their striking appearances and adaptability to various climates.
Finding A Reputable Quail Breeder
When embarking on the journey of hatching quail eggs, it is crucial to acquire them from a reputable breeder who prioritizes the well-being of their birds. Take the time to thoroughly research and identify breeders who follow ethical practices and maintain high standards of care.
Look for breeders with necessary certifications and a track record of successfully shipping eggs or chicks. Whenever possible, it is advisable to visit the breeder’s operation to personally assess the living conditions and health of the birds.
Setting Up The Quail Habitat
Before ordering quail chicks, it is essential to have their habitat prepared and ready to accommodate their needs. Quails require at least one square foot of space per bird horizontally and have a maximum height requirement of twelve inches or a minimum height of eight feet to prevent escape.
To create an environment that mimics their natural habitat, incorporate natural elements such as branches, grasses, and live plants. The floor of the enclosure should consist of sand and wood shavings, providing a comfortable base for the quails. Additionally, nesting boxes should be provided for egg-laying.
The Incubation Process
If you are interested in hatching quail eggs, it is important to have a good understanding of the incubation process. Unlike chicken eggs, quail eggs have a shorter incubation period of seventeen to eighteen days. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully manage the temperature and humidity levels.
To ensure successful incubation, it is recommended to invest in a reliable incubator, preferably a forced draught incubator. Set the temperature to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also important to maintain a humidity level of around 60%, with a wet bulb reading of 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the incubation period, make sure to regularly turn the eggs every two hours until day fourteen. This helps to prevent the developing quails from sticking to the inside of the shell. Additionally, remove any eggs that are infertile, dead, or cracked, and transfer them to a separate hatching tray.
By following these guidelines, you can increase the chances of successfully hatching quail eggs.
Hatching And Caring For Chicks
The hatching process usually occurs on the seventeenth or eighteenth day of incubation. For still-air incubators, it is crucial to keep the humidity below 70% wet bulb. Around day sixteen, consider placing a cheesecloth in the hatching tray to assist the quail in standing.
After hatching, move the quail chicks to a heated brooder. Providing heat, such as a heat lamp emitting 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the first week, is essential for at least the first four weeks. Gradually decrease the temperature in the following weeks, dropping it by five degrees each week until the chicks acclimate to the outside weather. If you intend to keep the quail indoors, decrease the temperature until it reaches room temperature.
- Ensure humidity below 70% wet bulb in still-air incubators
- Place a cheesecloth in the hatching tray around day sixteen
- Use a heat lamp emitting 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the first week
- Decrease temperature by five degrees each week until chicks acclimate
- Adjust temperature to room temperature for indoor quail.
Temperature And Humidity Control
Achieving and maintaining the correct temperature and humidity levels throughout the incubation process is crucial for successful hatching.
For forced draught incubators, set the temperature to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain a humidity level of 60%. Use a wet bulb reading of 86 degrees Fahrenheit as a guide.
In still-air incubators, the humidity should be around or below 70% wet bulb. Additionally, to prevent any potential issues, manually turn the eggs in still-air incubators, preferably five times a day.
Water And Feeding Tips
When caring for quail chicks, it is important to provide them with a consistent supply of clean water. Use a narrow dish, such as a peanut butter jar lid, to prevent drowning. Adding gravel or small river stones to the water dish during the first week helps minimize the risk of accidental drowning.
It is crucial to clean the water dish at least once a day and refill it multiple times if necessary. Quail require high-protein feed, so ensure that their diet consists of a well-balanced, nutrient-rich feed specifically formulated for quails.
General Care And Common Issues
To prevent foot issues, feather picking, fights, or cannibalism, avoid using wire bottom cages when housing quails. If wire is the only option, layer it with cardboard or newspapers to provide a more comfortable surface.
Keeping quails in a draft-free environment is vital, as exposure to cold drafts can be fatal. Consider keeping them indoors if possible or provide adequate shelter from the wind. Once the quails have reached the appropriate age, around six or seven weeks old, carefully introduce them to other quails, keeping territorial breeds separate to prevent fights.
By following these guidelines and providing attentive care, quail eggs can be hatched successfully, allowing you to embark on the rewarding journey of raising quails on your urban homestead.