Frugal Family

Incubating our first Quail

8 days ago we starting incubating some Chinese Painted Quail aka Button Quail. The tiny grey eggs are no bigger than my thumb nail, so tiny and precious. We are just under halfway through our incubation period so far, as Button quail tend to hatch after around 18 days.

Image source:
Image source:

We chose button quail to hatch as a fun project for our kids, as we already keep chickens but I firmly state that they are my chickens but the kids do help out collecting eggs and feeding them. I figured Quail are a simple pet that they girls can have much more involvement with, due to their size and needing much smaller housing. The eggs that they lay are tiny, but they can still be eaten as a fun snack for lunch. The adults are only 4-5 inches in height, but they can jump a very impressive 6 foot!

Button quail eggs are notoriously hard to candle due to their size and dark grey shells. We do have a super bright torch that I figured might give us some insight to what’s going on inside the eggs. After 3 days of incubation we candled the eggs to find that every single one of our 9 eggs were fertile and growing well. The picture below shows the strong network of veins and the little black spot in the middle is the baby quail. With a careful eye you could even see the flicker of a heartbeat. The girls think it looks like a spider, and I think they are right!

Button Quail incubation day 3

I don’t want to over candle the eggs, because the eggs shouldn’t be handled and cooled down too much. The only time I should really touch the eggs is when they need to be turned, 3 times a day and that’s it. But watching what is going on inside the eggs is so addictive! I could sit and watch all day, but my husband Jay (who knows a lot more about poultry than I do) told me off when I reached for our torch after that first initial candling session.

I couldn’t resist on day 6 to just quickly check one of the eggs, in a brief candling session. Day 6 showed obvious strong movement, and the quail had doubled in size. The air sac had also grown much larger. I instantly became similar to a child on Christmas day, bouncing all over the house and talking very fast and high pitched. Time is flying by and soon our baby quail chicks will arrive, which I am told are only the size of a bumble bee when hatched. Once they have hatched they dry off inside of the incubator and are then moved under a brooder- a warm plate that mimics mummy-quail to keep the babies warm while they grow their adult feathers. I shall keep you all posted with their progress, when the time comes 🙂


Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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