So, you've just bought some fertilized quail eggs from us at Spade and Feather or maybe from another breeder. Before you rush them home and pop them in the incubator, there are few steps you can take to ensure you have the most successful hatch possible.
Temperature We store our fertilized eggs at a temperature of 10°C (50°F) which is optimal for stopping chicks from developing, but still keeping the egg alive. Temperatures closer to freezing can kill the egg while higher temperatures, for prolonged periods, can kickstart the development of the embryo too soon. When you purchase your eggs from us, try to keep them cool. If you have a car journey ahead, keep them out of sunlight and away from heat sources in your car. If it's the wintertime, make sure your car is warm and ready before setting off.
Bumps in the road We package all of our eggs in quail egg cartons which keep the eggs safe from rolling around and breaking. Even with this protection, it's a good idea to keep the eggs in a safe place where they won't fly around your vehicle or bounce hard when you hit a bump in the road. Excessive jostling can affect the performance of your eggs.
Rest before incubation As exciting as hatching is, there is no rush. Once you're home with the eggs, you should open the carton, make sure the eggs are sitting point down still and leave them to rest. After a bumpy ride the eggs should sit for 12 hours before you incubate them. Allowing them this rest period will ensure the eggs slowly rise in temperature rather than shocking them with the 37.5°C (99.5°F) in the incubator. An ideal room to rest them in is one free from drafts that is kept at a comfortable temperature for you. This is a good time to start up your incubator and get the temperature and humidity set.
Incubation Once you're ready, load your eggs point side down into your incubator. Your incubator should be at a temperature of 37.5°C (99.5°F) with a humidity of 30-40%. This temperature and humidity should be maintained for the first 14 days. As with all fowl, it is very important to turn your eggs multiple times a day. Some incubators offer automatic turners, while some economical models require manual turning of eggs.
Lockdown On day 15, it is time to lockdown your eggs. At this point all turning of eggs must stop and eggs should be removed from their upright position and any holders or cups they sat in for the first 14 days. Let the eggs rest on their sides which will help the chicks hatch more easily. It is very important to raise the humidity to 55% or higher. If optimal humidity isn't reached, chicks will not be able to hatch and will die in the shell.
Hatching The hatch will begin on the 18th day. Be patient. Some times it can take a little longer for some hatches. You'll find that the majority will hatch within a few hours of each other. There may be a delay of a few DAYS until the rest hatch. We leave our hatcher/incubators running until day 24 just in case there are a few late arrivals. If you've purchased eggs from us or are looking too and have more questions, post below in the comments or contact us and we'd be happy to help. Happy hatching!