We now have quail added to our collection of edible and laying birds! As well as four young quail from a colleague at work we were given a pair of adults by friends living nearby.
Our new arrivals!
The female of the adult pair was still laying although it is a little late in the year. Of course, as is our wont, we couldn’t resist trying to hatch some eggs! As usual we collected a week’s worth of eggs in our cooler at around 15 degrees C. This gave us 10 eggs – quail sometimes lay two in a day.
At the end of the week we transferred the eggs to the incubator and left them to incubate for 15 days before taking them out of the rotator at the “pipping” stage – when they are ready to start making a hole in the shell. Nothing happened at 18 days when they should have hatched. “Ah well!” we thought, try again in the spring. However as we have had slow hatches before we left the eggs in the incubator for a bit longer (just in case). To our great surprise and delight we heard “meepings” from the incubator two days ago! We checked and found one chick well on the way to emerging and four more with small holes in the shells.
The next morning there were five tiny quail staggering around the incubator. Once they had dried off we transferred them to a brooder box with a lamp to keep them warm. They are so tiny that we are using a small jar lid for water as they either wouldn’t reach, or would risk drowning in anything bigger.
Chicks and ducklings are of course very cute but these minute bundles of feathers definitely win top prize for cuteness!
This morning we had another surprise – I was working peacefully away at my computer and heard a loud and indignant “meep” from the incubator. Investigation revealed another hatchling – this one must still be on daylight saving “grin”.
We are hoping, ultimately, to be able to release quail into our vegetable garden – with a cage and nesting area that they can access but the chooks and ducks cannot. The released quail will then be part of our “pest control” system and will hopefully either breed themselves or lay eggs in their nesting area that we can collect and eat or incubate. We will of course eat any excess birds!