How to float test quail eggs

Well it’s been 21 days and any chicks that should have hatched should be out by now. Before we start the scrambled eggs, I wanted to make sure that we are right to give up on the eggs left.

The best way, at this point in time, to see if the eggs are still viable/alive, is to float them in water. The water must be exactly the same temperature as the air in your incubator otherwise you will chill and kill any unhatched chicks. Each egg is carefully lowered into the water. The results are as follows:

  1. If it sinks, it never had a chance.
  2. If it floats high in the water, it is mainly air and not viable.
  3. If it floats low, viable egg.
  4. If it floats and moves, viable egg with a chick wondering who threw it overboard.

Of the 19 remaining quail eggs, one floated high and the rest floated low. So as it stands 18 are viable with a slim chance of hatching at this late a date. Each egg was patted dry and quickly placed back in the incubator. The final 18 have until tomorrow morning. After that the incubator goes cold and the necropsy will be completed in the evening. Don’t worry, I won’t post photos of that.

First group in the brooder

We just moved the first group to the brooder. Sadly we had to euthanize one who was bleeding out from hatching the wrong way up. We have nine healthy chicks sitting under a nice toasty red heat lamp waiting for more of their siblings to hatch.


Posted from a phone most likely outside

Incubating Quail Eggs

We decided that keeping quail are worth the effort, but wanted to find a cheaper way to obtain them. Paying $3/adult wasn’t economical enough. I can’t tell you what came first, but I can tell you what comes cheaper, the egg.

Thanks to the marvel of the internet (you should give it a try someday), I was able to make a connection with a fellow bird keeper. I was going to put fowl fancier, but it seemed a little odd and I bet now it will attract all the wrong sorts. Back to my poultry peer. He has been hatching coturnix as well as button quail. As cute as the buttons are, coturnix make for better table fare so I bought 30 (hopefully) fertile eggs.

After fretting all the way home about the temperature in the truck, I managed to get the eggs home without any of them hitting the inside of the windshield. They needed their rest-time overnight and in the morning I set up the tray where they would slowly change from a breakfast favourite to a tiny little bird.

The incubator is empty at this point. Literally waiting for it to warm up.

After a shed load of research, I decided to go with the Brinsea Octogon Eco 20 incubator. It has a lot of really nice features that I won’t bother going into as it would bore the hair off a horse, and it always had very positive reviews online.

After almost crushing the eggs between the metal bars meant to hold the eggs upright in the incubator, I added some craft foam to protect the shells.

All nicely arranged and snugged up with each other for 18 days of heat and humidity!

Everyday I had to regulate the humidity to keep it fairly constant and every 8 hrs rotate the eggs. Luckily the incubator we used can be rocked side to side rather than having to open the unit and manually turn each eggs.

On day eight, we tried our hand at candling the eggs. Candling is the technique of using a bright light in a dark room to almost see through the egg. It’s very similar to putting your fingers over the lens of a flashlight and watching them glow. Apparently, chicken eggs are great for candling due to their size and even shell colour. Quail eggs are small. Quail eggs are also mottled with bits of dark brown. In the end, the two of us spent 20 minutes fumbling around in the dark with a flashlight and a bunch of eggs that may as well just have been cat turds as we couldn’t make out a thing.

Today is day 14 and the beginning of lockdown. From here onwards, there is no more opening the incubator to add water or have a poke at them. From now until the little chicks finish hatching, they are locked in. Sometime over the next four days we expect the peeping to begin. I will post more pictures as the hatch progresses.

Eggs free of their support bars, ready to hatch. No we didn’t hatch a robot. That’s the hygrometer/thermometer.