If you want to try getting your female button quail to incubate her own eggs:
- Have her paired up with a single male with no other button quail in her enclosure
- Provide artificial plants and a hiding place or two like the half logs they sell for small animals.
- Add some dry alfalfa hay her to nest in. You could also try a small nest box: 8″ square with a 4″ hole.
- If you do not use flourescent lights or have adequate natural light, your hen is unlikely to brood her eggs since lighting helps promote the hormones required for a hen to incubate her eggs.
Since it can be difficult to get exactly the right conditions to encourage hens to incubate their own eggs, most people choose to incubate button quail eggs artificially and that is what the rest of this page will discuss.
Use a Styrofoam Incubator
- Incubator temperature should be set to 100-101 degrees F for still air incubators and 99.5 degrees F for forced air
- Incubation time is 16 days
- Eggs should be turned at least 3 times a day for 13 days
- Humidity can be 30-50% for the first 13 days but should be as close to 60% as possible for the last 3 days
- Chicks should stay in the incubator until completely dry
The Long, Detailed Information on Hatching Button Quail Eggs
These are GUIDELINES. First and foremost, follow the instructions that came with your incubator.
- Temperature: 99.5 to 99.9 degrees F (forced air) OR 100 degrees still air at the top of the eggs.
- If using an auto turner, place the eggs in the quail trays SMALL POINTY END DOWN.
- If not using an auto turner it is important to gently roll the eggs half a turn at least 2 times a day (3-4 times a day is better). You can put an X and O on each side of the egg gently with a non-toxic marker so that you can see where to stop turning (turn from X to 0 and then O to X next time)
- Humidity should be between 30-50% for the first 13 days. I opt for 30% since I am in Florida but if you are in a drier state, you may want to try for a higher level. You need a hygrometer if your thermometer is not dual purpose to tell you what the humidity level is.
- After the eggs have been in the incubator 13 days, stop the auto turner and place the eggs in the bottom of the incubator. If you were manually turning the eggs, stop turning them at this time as well.
- If using a still air incubator and were using an auto turner, you might have to readjust the temperature slightly since the eggs would be lower than they were in the turner.
- Increase humidity to 60%. Fill all water trays if using a styrofoam incubator and if that does not raise the humidity enough, fully saturate 1-2 sponges and place them near the eggs but not touching them (I usually place them against the incubator wall). Make sure the sponges you choose are chemical and soap free!
- Open the incubator as little as possible during this last 3 day period. When the incubator is opened the humidity level drops. Without sufficient humidity the babies get “shrink wrapped” inside their shells and will not be able to hatch. If the humidity level drops below 60% open and close as quickly as possible, re-wetting the sponges. If it is a percentage point off or so and the day the babies should hatch out, don’t open it…it isn’t worth the risk of the eggs drying out. Usually the day before I expect the eggs to hatch I will rewet the sponges since the incubator should absolutely NOT BE OPENED while the chicks are trying to hatch out.
- Chicks should be fully dry and removed every 12 hours during hatching. This limits the number of times the incubator is opened and will not harm the chicks. They will be fine up to 24 hours while using up the remainder of their yolk sack