I have tried to come up with more ways to identify which eggs/chicks come from which button quail pairs. I do a few things to accomplish this goal.
Write the number of the pair that produced an egg on the actual egg using a non-toxic sharpie marker.
Placing eggs in separate containers line with shelf liner during the hatching period to keep the chicks with the numbered eggs that they hatched from.
Use multiple brooders so that I can separate chicks or group different colors together that are easily identifiable as coming from specific pairs (for instance pair #3 will throw 80% slate and 20% silver red breasted). This one still creates a problem in that I only have 3 heat lamps so if hatching from more than 3-4 pairs, there is a good chance I will still have some that I can’t identify with this method later.
Banding, this one I have just started experimenting with but it holds some promise since I can tag birds from different pairs. The number ofband colorsis limited but I can still use them to use a smaller number ofbrooders and make a list of what band color the chick is wearing, what color the chick is and the parent pair number. I have chosen to use elastic bird bands. They are not numbered butcan be removed withmuch greater ease if either the bird doesn’t needto be banded any longer or if the band creates a problem for the bird. Elastic bands also expand safely as the bird grows creating less potential for cutting off blood circulation in the leg.The little newly hatched chicks require an incredibly small size and I still find that some of them manage to kick the bands back off so it isn’t fool proof until they grow a little. The smaller size might also be a little too small for adults so there is the potential that it would need to be snipped off later. Still much easier do this with elastic than closed aluminum. Open aluminum could be an option but since these don’t expand, using them on newly hatched chicks would likely prove impractical since the size required would be smaller than that needed for an adult.
I wanted to test hatch out some of the eggs from my pairs to make sure all the pairs are fertile and to see what recessive genes each pair carries. I was trying to figure out how to isolate the eggs from each pair and found that most jars or plastic containers were too tall or too narrow to allow hatching space in the incubator. For 2-4 eggs I ended up buying (yes buying) salsa jars that were on sale just to put my eggs in. I labeled each jar with a sharpie.
Very carefully, and patiently slide the contents of the box out onto a table (the floor works too as long as you are sitting on it so that there is less chance of the eggs falling from a great height).
Carefully open the egg packets. If you are impatient, you may break or crack the eggs
Eggs should sit undisturbed at room temperature for 4 hours minimum and ideally 24 hours. Putting the eggs directly in the incubator can result in shock and death of the embryos.
Make sure the temperature in your incubator is stable at 99.5 degrees before you put the eggs in. You can readjust up a little if necessary if using a still air incubator but give the incubator a couple of hours to re-regulate after adding your eggs before making any changes.
I have ordered a few more button eggs that should arrive tomorrow. My goal is to have eggs from at least 4 diverse button quail breeders from across the United States. I do not like inbreeding and believe that diverse genetics, along with carefully choosing birds to be bred, is the key to robust healthy birds.
I have buttons from Pennsylvania and California so far and the just ordered eggs are from Colorado. I ordered these eggs because the breeder has a gene I do not yet have: fallow. With this color gene, the babies start out with bright pink eyes but as adults their eyes darken to look almost like that of a normal bird. The fallow gene has a neat diluting effect so that a red breasted button quail male for example, will have an orange belly rather than rust-red.
The temperature swings appear to have caused some issues in that I had one baby hatch out at day 15 (that one didn’t make it and had obvious problems). 14 had hatched between day 16 and day 17 and 5 more between day 17 and 18 for a total of 19 healthy button quail.
It just goes to show that it is worth waiting a couple of extra days before tossing eggs. I also ended up with 16 healthy coturnix quail from this hatch.
Hobby breeder of the beautiful little button quail in North Central Florida