You can ruin a perfectly good egg by improper care. Each egg lost is costly since it represents one less bird for sale.
Observing the following tips will help you get better quality eggs:
- Collect eggs twice daily and three times daily if they are exposed to high temperatures.
- Store the eggs with the small pointed end down. If eggs are held more than 3 or 4 days before setting, turn them at least twice daily. Tilt to an opposite slant each time to an approximate 45º angle to prevent yolk from sticking to the shell membrane.
- Transfer eggs to a cool-humid storage area. Temperature of the storage area should be 55ºF with a relative humidity of 75 percent. Do not use a standard air conditioner (as used in your home) for cooling the eggs. This type conditioner removes moisture from the air; the idea is to add moisture to the air. The egg is mostly water; take away this moisture, and the egg is worthless.
- Do not wash dirty eggs or wipe clean with a damp cloth, or you will remove the natural protective coating of the egg and leave it exposed to entry by germs and other organisms. Some discard dirty eggs; however, moderately dirty eggs may be salvaged with some work and care. Remove excessive dirt and dry matter by scraping with a sharp blade. Do not use sandpaper as this reduces the integrity of the shell.
- Holding eggs longer than 10 days in storage affects hatchability. Therefore, plan your incubation program so eggs are not stored longer than 10 days. Planning ahead saves headaches, frustrations, and money.
- Before placing cool, stored eggs into the incubator, allow them to warm to room temperature. Otherwise, the shock of going from 55ºF to 100ºF can cause sweating and may reduce hatchability.
Improper adjustment of the incubator and careless egg incubation can ruin all plans. The following pointers may serve as reminders of correct incubation procedures:
- Determine the size and type incubator needed for your future quail business. Game bird equipment suppliers can furnish you with capacities and capabilities of various makes and models. For continuous setting you need an incubator with a separate hatching unit.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect the incubator and hatcher before each usage.
- Constantly check the incubator and hatcher during operation to insure that the temperature and humidity are correct. Correctness of both is essential for a good hatch. The incubator and hatcher should be in a room where no major variance in temperature or humidity occurs.
The following is a guide for incubator settings; this is only a guide. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations if they are given for quail. Note the difference in the temperatures listed for still-air and forced-air incubators. Forced-air incubators are those with internal fan air circulation. Still-air incubators usually have very small capacities, up to 50 quail eggs. In these, the thermometer bulb is located near the tops of the eggs without touching them.
Guide for Incubator Settings
- Period of incubation = 23 days
- Incubator temperature (at set) Forced-air = 99.75 – 100ºF
- Incubator temperature (at set) Still-air = 102ºF
- Humidity (at set) = 84 – 86ºF wet bulb
- Humidity (at pip) = 90 – 94ºF wet bulb
Initially, following the manufacturer’s recommendation on temperature and humidity settings is very important. After a few hatches you may find you need to vary from the manufacturer’s guide for best results. More quail raisers have problems with humidity than with temperature.
If the incubator has multiple trays, operate it with all trays in position all times (whether with or without eggs) to maintain proper temperature and humidity readings.
For continuous incubation or where trays contain eggs of various stages of incubation, a temperature setting of 100ºF and a wet bulb reading of 90ºF work satisfactorily.
Move the eggs to the hatcher on the 21st day of incubation. A temperature of 99-100ºF and relative humidity of 90-94ºF W.B. is recommended for hatching. No turning is practiced after the 19th day. Hatchability of total eggs set should be 75-85 percent.
Incubation Period for Various Fowl (Type = Number of Days)
- Bobwhite quail = 23 – 24
- Japanese quail (Coturnix) = 17
- Pheasant = 23 – 28
- Chukar partridge = 23 – 24
- Wild turkey = 28 – 30
- Mallard duck = 28
- Muscovy duck = 35 – 37
- Goose = 30 – 34
- Guinea Fowl = 28
- Bantam Chicken = 21
Common Causes of Poor Hatchability
- Continuous disturbance of breeders during mating season results in higher percentage of infertile eggs.
- Keeping blood line over 3 years may result in problems.
- Using eggs from old breeders.
- Hen or rooster crippled or deformed results in infertile eggs.
- Too many hens per rooster.
- Holding eggs in storage too long.
- Improperly storing eggs before incubation.
- Failure to turn eggs.
- Not allowing stored eggs to reach room temperature before incubating.
- Wide variation of temperature during incubation.
- Improper humidity during incubation and particularly during hatch-out period 21-23rd day.
- Poor sanitation and failure to clean hatcher.
- Washing eggs.