Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hatching Day

We had our first quail hatch Sunday evening. There were eight more by Monday morning. The bulk of the day yesterday was taken up by monitoring eggs, checking humidity levels, and moving the dry chicks to the brooder box. Opening an incubator full of quail chicks is not for the faint of heart, let me tell you. They are all legs; designed to jump and run virtually from birth. I closed the incubator after one check and was all the way across the room when I heard a loud peeping. I turned around to see a chick sitting on the edge of the table. Luckily I got it before it could fall to the floor.

Other dramas of the day included breaking the cardinal rule of not helping the chick out of the egg (it had been hatching for more than 12 hours and was not progressing) and discovering that the brooder lamp had fallen into the box and the bulb had broken. Both situations turned out fine. The chick looked like it might not make it--it was very weak and stayed curled up in its egg position--but by morning it was standing up and ready to join the others. The lamp managed to not crush any chicks and none of them were injured by the glass. They were a little cold, but otherwise intact.

The grand total only made it to 29 chicks. It's hard to be disappointed when they are all so cute, but considering we started with 53 eggs, that's a pretty poor hatching percentage. Thirteen eggs never developed, eight developed but never made it to the hatching point, and three began hatching but died before they could emerge from the eggs. Just the circle of life and all that, I guess. But all in all, our 2011 quail adventure is off to a fun start.

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