New chickens have arrived!

It’s been a loooooong winter/spring without chickens. We got out of chickens back in the fall and focussed on quail over the winter. Now with a happy covey of coturnix quail outside laying, and a few button quail left indoors ready for sale, we decided on getting four more pullets. After some searching on Poultry Swap Ontario (great forum) and Kijiji, I found the birds we wanted.

I drove up towards Minto to meet with the seller and quickly got lost. Apparently, Google maps has their own names for streets that no other map references or person has ever heard of. With my phone/GPS having seizures on the passenger seat, I was forced to pull over multiple times to ask for directions. Each town sent me to the next town until I saw a sign for Walkerton, 5km. Realizing I was miles off, I rolled up the windows, lost my temper on the steering wheel and cussed until I started to feel better. Thanks to a man at an LCBO (I stopped for directions, not for a drink) I was able to find the farm two hours late.

Fast forward a couple days, a truck cab that smells like nasty chicken turds, and the calling off of my search party, the new ladies are happy at home in the coop. To make for a larger environment for the pullets, I put an addition on the run that also doubles as a potting table. Any dirt or plant matter that falls through the slats is quickly picked apart and devoured by the hens (in theory, not tested yet).

coop addition

The potting table opens up for access to the food and birds

We were lucky to have most of the materials, so total cost was about $25 and a few hours work. The neighbour even gave us free fill to level the bottom out.

The birds we bought are still “chicks” as they’re 10 weeks old. They will start to lay at 18-22 weeks old, so for now they’re just free-loaders not paying their rent. The birds are all New Hampshire X’s (meaning crosses, not exes) and should work out to be relatively good layers, but not to production standards.


Hiding from the sun and a decent photo

Each bird is the same breed, but there is some variation in colour. One of the birds is a third red laced, while the others only have hints. The black on the birds is interesting as it has a green iridescence to match the green in their feet.


“Yeeessssss? Can we help you?”

If anyone is interested in getting some of these birds, let me know and I’ll pass on the seller’s information (and some better directions).



Quail Hatching Results

To keep track of who is in the lead/how many have hatched, we’ll be updating the list below. To answer a couple of people’s questions, we will not unplug the incubator once we have reached your number.

Family/Friend   –   Co-workers

  2. Current hatch count
  3.      – BT
  4. RP – ML
  5. RP
  6.      – EH
  7. C
  8. SAP
  9. MA – PB
  10. PR
  11.      – KK
  12. JD – DP
  13. EC – AD
  14. AMD – GM
  15. AD – DW
  16. MR – KK
  17. LD – BT
  18.      – OC
  19. BR
  20. SP – EH
  21. DP
  22.      – DP
  23. FD
  24. DP


Hatching has begun!

Just got in to find the first button quail chick has hatched! So far, no winners. Still early days. I’ll keep you posted.

We are on chick number two! Hopefully there will be many more tomorrow morning!

Our total is at 3 chicks now. It’s been a very slow hatch and we expect many more to come!

Quail Hatch Wagers

***8 chicks in total hatched, leaving J with the pot of $34!

In the spirit of good fun & some fortune, we started a little Quail Hatching Pool. 18 days ago I placed 22 eggs into the incubator that our first batch of quails laid. With there being no way of telling whether the eggs were fertile on day one, we decided to let other people in on the mystery. For $2, punters could place a bet on the number of chicks that would successfully hatch, and the winner would take all.

Below are the wagers, the punters, and the leader. We’ll update this page often with results as they come in. As quail can hatch over a number of days, we won’t close the competition until Saturday morning. I used initials to maintain privacy for all of us.

Number of Hatched/Punter/Status

  2. ML – out
  3. EH – out
  4. SAP – out
  5. C – out
  6. AKD – out
  7. JD – Winner!
  8. LD
  9. AD
  10. RP
  11. CD
  12. PB
  13. EH
  14. CD
  15. SP
  16. CD
  17. TF
  18. DP



Christmas Quail Hatch Totals

It looks like we’ve come to the end of the hatch now. In total we had 16 out of 40 hatch. Not very good results. Once I’ve let the eggs go cold, I’ll do another necropsy and see if the left over eggs were even fertile.

We’ll post some photos later of the 4 1/2 week old chicks next to the new ones.


1 week old Quail Chicks

It’s been about a week since the quail hatched and in such a short time they have already started to feather out and gain a lot of weight. They are all in a bigger brooder box on wood shavings. If you introduce wood shavings too soon, they eat it and get sick.

In their new home with a poop proof floor!

Watching their growth over a 12 hr period is amazing. The one day before work they didn’t have any feathers, and that evening they had pin feathered wings! Here is one of the Jumbo Goldens with his or hers (still a mystery) new feathers.

The serious look on his face is from him trying to pinch one off in my hand.

At some point this week I’m going to be picking up an additional 60 hatching eggs which, if I time it right, will start to hatch on Christmas Day! Move over Jesus, you’re sharing your birthday.

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.