Hatching Coturnix quail eggs using an incubator is perhaps the most rewarding and easiest of any poultry to hatch at home. This guide will help ensure that you are prepared prior to the arrival of your quail hatching eggs and ready for a successful hatch.
To Purchase Coturnix quail hatching eggs at Meyer Hatchery, shop our website.
Coturnix quail eggs hatch in 18 days on average. Depending on the quality of your incubator, they may hatch as early as 16 days or as late as 20 days.
Incubator Settings For Coturnix Quail Hatching
- Temperature is 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit for the entire 18 days
- Humidity is 45% for days 1-14
- Humidity is increased to 65-75% for final 3 days until hatching is complete
- Turn eggs for days 1-14, then stop turning eggs for days 15 through the hatching period
Step 1: Set Up The Incubator
There are several different features to look for in shopping for a home incubator. The simplest incubator will have a heat source controlled by a switch, that may or may not be controlled by a thermostat. It also should have a way to add humidity to the air inside of the incubator. Other features that may help produce a higher hatch rate include:
- A fan to circulate air
- An automatic egg turner to turn the eggs periodically. You may need to purchase a set of smaller rails or trays for your turner designed specifically for quail eggs. Most turners come equipped to handle chicken eggs.
- Digital display for temperature, humidity, and hatch day countdown
- Expert tip--avoid incubators that have temperature oscillations or hot spots. These variations will affect smaller more delicate eggs like quail, while chicken or other larger eggs are more forgiving. We recommend a higher-end Brinsea or Borotto incubator for hatching out quail eggs.
Your incubator should be set up and running at least 24 hours prior to setting your hatching eggs inside. This period will allow the environment inside of the incubator to stabilize and give you time to make any necessary adjustments before you place the eggs inside to begin the incubation period.
Locate your incubator in a room that maintains a constant temperature, is free from drafts, and away from windows and direct sunlight. Also, make sure that your incubator is located where children and pets will not bump or disturb it during incubation.
Step 2: Set the Eggs
You should NOT set shipped eggs directly into an incubator upon their arrival. They need 24 hours to allow the yolks to settle and to reach room temperature. Setting cold eggs in a warm and humid incubator will cause the eggs to crack and the embryos will die.
When collecting your own eggs to hatch, only incubate the cleanest eggs and never wash them.
When you are ready to set the eggs into the incubator, mark an X on one side of the shell using a soft pencil, and an O on the other end. During the incubation period, you will rotate the eggs. Marking the shell helps you visualize that they have been turned properly and frequently. Even if you have an automatic turner in your incubator, marking helps you ensure that the turner is working properly.
Step 3: Incubating Days 1-14
For the first 14 days, you will turn the eggs by hand (if you do not have an automatic turner) at a minimum of every 8 hours. Better hatch rates are usually the result of more frequent turning, but the trade-off is every time you open the incubator it loses heat and humidity. Maintain the temperature at 99.5 F and the humidity at 45% RH.
Step 4: Lockdown Days 15-18
On day 15 of the incubation period, you should stop turning the eggs by hand or turn off and remove eggs from the automatic turner. The chicks are nearly fully developed and they will position themselves inside the egg to prepare for hatching. You also want to increase the humidity to around 65-75% relative humidity. Do not open the incubator for the final three days of incubation.
Step 5: Hatch Day
Coturnix quail chicks usually hatch quite quickly and with little difficulty. Once they start pipping it takes very little time for the quail chick to complete the hatching process. It is good practice to take out all dry, hatched chicks from the incubator every 24 hours from when the first quail hatched. The humidity can rise when many chicks hatch at once and will make them very wet. Move all of your chicks into your brooder.
Step 6: Clean Up
After all of the chicks have hatched and are moved into the brooder, make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect the incubator and all parts following the manufacturer's directions. A 1:10 bleach/water solution is ideal for sanitizing.