February 7th, 2012 by cowgirljules
Junior has started to appreciate the passion I feel for these idiot birds, and has been very accommodating in supporting my hobby. He built the initial coop and fenced the yards, he tractors the chicken yard once in a while to keep it clean, and he only rolls his eyes at birds in the house. He draws the line if they happen to crow while he’s trying to sleep.
So when he, his dad, and our friend Mike cooked up a quail feed project between them, I was more than happy to help them out with the bird raising. We’ll just keep it to ourselves that I love this part, and it’s really cool to raise a new kind of bird, shall we? So he’s in charge of designing and building another brooder and a couple of quail hutches, and I’m in charge of the bird part.
I bought a hundred Coturnix quail eggs on eBay, and the lady graciously shipped us extras. And since I have that fancy new incubator, it was no trouble to juggle things around so they could incubate while my regular schedule of chicken hatching continued. They were so cute when they got here; so tiny and speckled and perfect.
They have a shorter incubation period than chickens, so it wasn’t long before they were popping out of the shells like popcorn. What started as one on Sunday night by Monday morning looked like a swarm of ants in the incubator, everything moving all around. When I noticed one stuck under the carton for a couple of hours, I broke protocol and took them out to put in the brooder. This usually lowers the humidity in the incubator/hatcher, and can keep the remaining eggs from hatching, but there were only about ten that hadn’t popped by then. I felt it was worth the risk.
I counted them as I took them out, and again as I set them in the brooder and showed them where the water was. Seventy-eight birds went into the brooder last evening, all fuzzy little tiny beasties. I put the unhatched eggs back into the incubator to cook some more, and as of this evening, I have five more. That’s a 69 percent hatch rate from the original eggs, not at all bad for shipped eggs. In fact, that’s the best hatch rate I’ve ever had with eggs that have braved the United States Postal Service, parcel crushers extraordinaire.
Oh, they are so cute too. You’re not supposed to raise quail around chickens, as there’s a disease that the chickens can pass on to the quail, but I risked putting a couple of quail with a two-day-old chicken, a large fowl Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, my project birds. Not only are the quail a quarter the size of the chickens, but they’re about four times as fast. They make that tiny baby chick look like Godzilla moving through Jello. I could at least count on the chicken holding still to get a shot snapped, but most of the quail pictures are nothing but a brown and black streak. Or, in two cases, a yellow streak.
It took me a lot of shots to get them both in focus, as those quail zoom right for the camera every time they see it (are you my mommy?) but a little serendipity got me a perfectly focused shot right when the quail scooted under the dumbfounded chick’s legs. Chickzilla!
So now that they’re here and zipping around, I guess Junior had better get on the stick about building them their quarters. They’re going to bounce out of their current brooder within a week, and they need a new house. Things will get interesting again in four months, when they’re ready for eating. Sure, I’ll keep a few back as breeders, but we’ll see this project through to completion, and it will be delicious. But for now, cuteness reigns. All hail Chickzilla!