New to Quail

The place to discuss Quail.

Moderator: Marigold

User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:07 am

Do you mean you had to turn the first lot by hand? Maybe things will get better on the next hatch. With up to 58 quails you should get plenty of eggs!
It's vry possible that several of the first batch only just made it through the hatching process, probably because of deficiencies in the eggs or their age, nothing to do with you, and then succumbed. Next time, thoroughly disinfect the incubator before the eggs go in, using proper incubator disinfectant; run it up for 24-48 hours beforehand and check the temperature with a second, good-quality thermometer, placed in various areas of the incubator; use only clean eggs with no signs of damage; incubate dry or with minimal water until Day 15; and when you stop turning the eggs, cover the bottom surface with something soft and grippy such as j-cloth or old tea towel, cut to fit, (get this ready before you set the eggs so you can just slip it into place and it will fit.) With such very tiny chicks, it would probably be better to let them dry out on a cotton surface rather then on wire, and then you can dispose of the cloth afterwards which makes cleaning easier.
I'm sure you'll have better success next time, for one thing the parent birds should be in better breeding condition by then. Yes it's sad when some of them fail to thrive, but a lot did hatch and are doing well. When chicks don't make it, it's really just Nature's way of weeding out birds that wouldn't have been very healthy anyway, thus avoiding problems for you down the line.
Meanwhile, enjoy the ones you have! They're very lucky to have had such loving care.
Katlin
Forum Contributor / Grower
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:03 pm

Re: New to Quail

Post by Katlin » Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:35 pm

Thank you, I appreciate your comforting words. I am disinfecting the incubator today. Yes, I turned the eggs by hand. I have ordered an automatic turner. You say "dry or with minimal water". Everything else I've read, says keep humidity in the incubator between 45 - 55%, so I'm confused about that. I have 3 thermometers in my incubator and they all read 100 degrees F (37.7 C) so I'm confident my temp is good.

I've got one chick now that was doing very well, getting the wing feathers and all. All of a sudden, it's legs are not working right. I guess I'm going to lose that one too. It's SO frustrating :x
User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:49 pm

I'm just repeating what I've found to give a good hatch, based on advice from a very experienced friend who has hatched thousands of quail, and she never adds water to the incubator until they start to pip - in fact, she says that on more than one occasion she's forgotten to add any water and they still hatched O.K. I know many quail keepers do it that way, though I expect other breeds of birds need higher humidity. I hatched this way and each time, all the chicks that came from fertile eggs hatched vigorously. Many chicken keepers also find rhey get good hatches from reducing the humidity, though.
I suppose quail evolved to live in hot, dry countries where conditions didn't naturally provide much humidity. The very tiny eggs would have a higher ratio of shell surface to contents than bigger eggs, so would be more at risk of taking in excess moisture through the porous surface and drowning if the humidity was too high.
The other factor of course, lies in the health of the parent birds. Because quail breed so easily they may get a bit inbred if stock from outside is never introduced. If you haven't already ordered the next batch, maybe try another source of supply? This would give you two sets of unrelated birds if you wanted to breed your own in a few months time.
Katlin
Forum Contributor / Grower
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:03 pm

Re: New to Quail

Post by Katlin » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:30 pm

Very good idea, buying from another source. My sources are limited, but I was at the co-op this morning and gave my contact info to an employee who knows someone who breeds quail and lives in my same city. I already have 48 eggs ordered so will set them and dry incubate and see how it goes. This is a learning process and there's going to be trials and errors. I guess I'm just a perfectionist and like to do it right the first time. I'm learning :-)
User avatar
rick
Part of the Flock
Posts: 1326
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:52 pm
Location: Warwickshire UK

Re: New to Quail

Post by rick » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:44 pm

I've heard that its possible to fix a splayed leg with a splint. Are quail too small to try that Marigold?
User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:05 pm

They are so very tiny when newly hatched, Rick, that I doubt whether that would be possible, let alone desirable. You know those little fluffy model chicks you can buy to go on Easter cakes, about an inch high? Newly hatched quails are very similar to them, except they run about very fast on spidery little legs, like bumblebees on stilts. The rate of growth in quails is incredible, from 'bumblebees' to fully-feathered adolescent birds capable of egg laying by 6-8 weeks. They certainly live life in the fast lane!
I think that, whatever the species of chick, it's better in the long run to harden one's heart and only rear on the ones that thrive naturally, hard though this may be.The reason that short-lived small birds have so many chicks so easily is because of the high mortality rate in the wild. A pair of bluetits will raise up to 15 young but only need two of them to survive to replace the parents the next year. Under controlled conditions of hatching, a breeder can achieve much better than that amount of 'wastage,' and I'm not suggesting that home-reared chicks are disposable, but neither are they immortal and one needs to be able to select the most vigorous to ensure the health of the next generation, as happens in nature. And, if course, when things go wrong, to think carefully about what to try differently next time.
User avatar
rick
Part of the Flock
Posts: 1326
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:52 pm
Location: Warwickshire UK

Re: New to Quail

Post by rick » Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:55 pm

Wow! And I guess that, unlike Bluetits they have to be fully mobile on the ground within hours of hatching. It reminds me of tree strategy - getting as tall as possible and bearing fruit comes before the risk of breakage!
User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:32 am

Yes, although hatched covered in fluff, not naked like nesting birds, they are alarmingly mobile right from the start and feather up very fast. Adult quail spend most if their time foraging at ground level, like chickens, though if alarmed they do a very fast vertical takeoff. If they do this in a cage or aviary with a low or too-solid roof, they're in danger of killing themselves with the impact when they hit it. They do seem to have a death wish - if not injuring themselves in a panic, they often inflict horrible injuries when mating roughly or fighting. As Katlin says, I found it a huge learning curve after chickens. They like an enclosure with plenty of cover to hide under. Coturnix quail 'wild' colour is brown, similar to sparrows, for camouflage, though there are now very many other pretty colours and patterns in domesticated ones. I found mine were much harder to tame than chickens, although they did get used to being caught when necessary. Maybe because they are constantly on the alert for predators to survive, like any small prey species.
BTW, Katlin, have you got your first aid kit ready yet? You may need some purple antiseptic spray, cotton buds to apply it to injuries, and a small spare cage to isolate an injured bird within sight if the others so they keep recognising her ready for her return when healed. I used a small seconpd hand hamster cage which fitted inside the larger cage where the others lived. Also, you'll need separate cages for each batch you hatch, as mixing batches will lead to much fighting, especially as the second hatch will be much younger in quail terms than the first ones. And spare cages for the 'teenage males' when they get troublesome. I found they needed 2 sq. ft of floor space each, minimum. I hope you've got plenty of room!
Katlin
Forum Contributor / Grower
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:03 pm

Re: New to Quail

Post by Katlin » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:53 pm

Marigold, you are such a wealth of information!

I have 5 cages built. I will keep one for an ICU and can easily build more. I did not know about the purple spray but will look for it today while I am out. I will start building their outdoor enclosure this weekend. I am still trying to decide where in my back yard I am going to keep them. I have my incubator cleaned and temp regulated ready to set eggs this afternoon.

How old are the chicks before I can tell if they are males or females?
User avatar
Marigold
Moderator
Posts: 5746
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:27 pm
Location: Hampshire, U.K.

Re: New to Quail

Post by Marigold » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:52 pm

Try googling Sexing Coturnix Quail and several videos will come up. I found this one was helpful
http://youtu.be/LfTv831gilc

it's much easier to sex the wild colour brown ones, because lots of the fancy colours don't display the feather colour differences, especially the Tux (tuxedo) colours with a white band across the chest. With many birds you can't be sure really, unless very experienced, until the males crow and produce blobs of foam when you gently squeeze their vent, or if course until the females lay! The foam isn't sperm, it's a sort of lubricant I think.
You can get purple spray at a pet store, most poultry keepers have it in stock for emergencies. It camouflages the blood from wounds so they're not so attractive to the other birds who might peck at the injury, as well as disinfecting it. With quails you need to spray some on yo a saucer and then just dip a cotton bud into it and apply to the injury. If you spray direct, it will go all over the bird and it does take a long time to fade. Also, many injuries are to the head, where the randy male grips with his beak, gets thrown off by the female, but doesn't let go, so chunks of feathers and skin come off with him.
Post Reply

Return to “Quail Forum”