Bobwhite quail are useful both for their meat and for hunting. As the natural quail habitat is reduced, breeders respond by repopulating the bobwhite quail species to meet demand. Breeders supply restaurants, homes and hunting preserves with game birds. Successfully hatching a brood of quail requires careful moderation and the proper equipment, but, with attention to detail, even a beginning breeder can achieve a high hatch rate.
Start your disinfected incubator a week prior to inserting the eggs to give it time to reach 37.9 degrees Celsius (in a forced air incubator) or 37.8 degrees C (in a still air incubator), with a wet bulb humidity level of 30.0 to 31.1 degrees C.
Bring the eggs to room temperature before placing them in the incubator with the small ends down.
Turn the eggs between three and 24 times a day until day 21 when all turning should stop.
Set the temperature of a forced air hatcher at 37.4 degrees C and a still air hatcher at 37.8 degrees C, with a wet bulb humidity level of 32.2 to 33.3 degrees Celsius. Line the floor with rough paper, cheesecloth or mesh to prevent spraddled legs in the chicks. If you do not have a hatcher, wait until day 21 to lower the temperature of the incubator one degree, and raise the humidity four degrees.
Place all the eggs in the hatcher or adjust the incubator temperature and humidity on day 21. Do not crowd the eggs or the chicks will not have enough room to fully hatch and may die.
Line a brooder box with mesh or rough paper. Place a no drown waterer inside and stock it with game bird starter feed. Bring the temperature up to 37.8 degrees Celsius.
Remove dry chicks from the hatcher and place them in brooder boxes. If your hatch rate is less than 80 per cent, leave the unhatched eggs in the hatcher for two more days in case you made an error in timing or temperatures.
Store eggs small side down at a temperature between 12.8 and 18.3 degrees Celsius and at a relative humidity of 75 to 90 per cent for up to two weeks if you cannot incubate them immediately.
Tips and warnings
- Store eggs small side down at a temperature between 12.8 and 18.3 degrees Celsius and at a relative humidity of 75 to 90 per cent for up to two weeks if you cannot incubate them immediately.