How to Raise Quail
Incubating Coturnix Eggs:
- Turn on your incubator (if you haven’t done so already) and allow the temperature and humidity to stabilize at 99.5 °F and 40-50% humidity. If you have trouble stabilizing the temperature or humidity, make adjustments slowly, and wait an hour or so to see how much they change. Temperatures too high can cause the chicks to hatch underdeveloped. Humidity too high can prevent the air sac from developing and prevent the chicks from being able to break through the membrane in the shell. We highly recommend placing an additional thermometer and hygrometer in the incubator because the sensors that come with incubators are often poorly calibrated.
- Inspect eggs for breaks or cracks. Do not set any damaged or cracked eggs, as they will not hatch and could introduce bacteria to the remaining eggs in the incubator.*
- Allow eggs to rest pointed side down for 12-24 hours at room temperature before incubating.
- Set the eggs into your preheated incubator, turning at least 4 times per day.
- Incubate for 14 days, checking temperature and humidity often.
- Move eggs into lockdown after 14 days by removing eggs from the turner tray and placing them into hatching trays with a rough surface so that chicks do not develop straddle-leg. Increase the humidity to 50-60% at this time. If you have trouble stabilizing the humidity, it is best to have a lower humidity for quail. If you see any condensation or water droplets on the inside walls of your incubator, your humidity is too high!
- Do not open the incubator until at least 24 hours after the first chick has hatched. Coturnix normally hatch in 17 days, but a low temperature in the incubator or jostling during shipping may cause the hatch to be delayed by 2-3 days.
- Prepare your brooder 1-2 days before chicks are expected, and allow the temperature to stabilize at 95°F, or 100-105°F directly under the heat source and no less than 85°F in the coldest section of the brooder.
- Provide a shallow and drown-proof water source, and allow water to warm to the temperature in your brooder before placing chicks into the brooder.
- Start chicks on a game bird/turkey starter feed consisting of 28-30% protein. If feed particles are large, grind them for the first several days as needed. Coffee grinders, blenders, and mortars/pestles work well for this.
- Offer grit if feed is not a blended crumble or if chicks are exposed to hay or grass.
- Lower the brooder temperature an average of 5°F per week.
- Remove heat after 4 weeks or when chicks are fully feathered.
- Change to an 18-22% protein game bird/turkey layer ration after 7-8 weeks.
Caring for Adult Coturnix:
- Your quail should be housed in a large pen with tall ceilings (4 ft or taller) or cages 8-10 inches tall. Cages with ceilings between these two ranges (such as rabbit hutches) can be very dangerous for quail because quail are able to jump/fly with enough momentum to cause serious head injuries if they hit the top of the cage.
- Quail need a high-protein game bird feed. Quail should be fed a game bird/turkey starter feed with 28-30% protein and ~1% calcium until they are 7-8 weeks old.
- At 7-8 weeks, quail should be transitioned to a game bird or turkey layer/breeder/all-purpose feed with 20-22% protein and 2-3% calcium. “Adult” quail we ship are ~6 weeks old, so they can be transitioned to lower protein feed after you’ve had them for 1-2 weeks. This will give them a nice boost while they recover from the potential stress of shipping.
- Offer grit if your quail are exposed to hay or grass.
Lastly, enjoy your quail. Feel free to give them a container full of sand to dust bathe in, as well as mealworms or other treats in moderation.