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Incubating Eggs


•With Proper Enviromental Conditions Chinese Blue Breasted Quail with set on their own eggs
Eggs should be stored 45-55º for 7 days or less for best fertility 
Shipped eggs should settle before incubation
The incubator should be running 24 hours before eggs are placed into it to insure proper settings
•CBBQ Hatch on Day 16 of incubation
•Incubate at 100º for Still air (no fan) Incubators
•Incubate at 99.5º for Forced Air (fan) Incubators
•Humidity should be 55-65
•Turn eggs first 13 days
•"Lock Down" Incubator days 14,15,16 without turning eggs nor opening incubator


Whether you decide to let a hen brooder her own eggs, hatch eggs you have purchased from another breeder,  or are incubating your own eggs it can be a fun and rewarding experience. There are few joys more exciting than watching tiny button sized chicks hatching.
 
There are many places that sell eggs online. If you purchase eggs online and they are being shipped to you note that only about 50% of eggs usually hatch. Some times higher and some lower but the average is around 50% for a good incubation. There are many things involved with the transfer of the eggs that can affect ones hatch rate. The handling of the eggs prior to shipping, the packaging, the weather during shipping, the postal services handling, temperatures and humidity during incubation. If anyone of those things goes wrong the hatch can be affected. Some of those things are no fault of the seller nor the buyer and completely out of control. With shipped eggs you want to consider that only 50% will hatch even though you want to have adequate space if they all do manage to hatch.
 
When deciding to use your own eggs from your own hens consider their fertility. Hens lay their first eggs from 8-12 weeks old but a male matures later than the hens so the eggs may not be fertile till he is also old enough. Hens first eggs many times are not fertile even if the male is old enough. If you are storing your own eggs for hatching at a later date store them in a cool, dry area. Eggs should be stored with the pointed end down so the air cell rests at the top, fat end of the egg or stored on their side. Eggs that are stored above 70 degrees can begin to develop slowly and the embryo will not survive. Below 40 degrees can negatively affect the eggs.  I find storing eggs 45-55 degrees seems to work well. Eggs can be turned side to side daily but avoid turning end over end to help keep the air cell settled. An eggs fertility is good for 7 days. Seven days after an egg is laid it will start to lose fertility. After 10 days it will rapidly lose it's fertility. If you are collecting eggs in order to have a larger clutch hatching at one time turn the eggs daily and begin the incubation when the oldest egg is no more than 7 days old.
 
If you are incubating shipped eggs open the box when it arrives and set the eggs on a counter in a room temperature room for 6 or more hours.  This will allow the chalaza to settle and give the egg a better chance of hatching. The chalaza is a spring like cord that is attached to the yolk. During shipping it can become stretched. Allowing the eggs to sit at room temperature allows the chalaza to tighten the spring back up before it is heated in the incubator and development begins.
 
 No matter the method you choose to obtain your eggs the incubator should be set up for 24 hours before you plan on setting the eggs. This will allow you to make sure the temperature isn't fluctuating.  In still air incubators (without a fan) it should be 100 degrees while in forced air (having a fan) it should be 99.5 degrees. For best results keeping two thermometers is recommended. If one thermometer is off or quits working it is best to have the second one to show a problem is occurring and quickly resolve it before the clutch is lost. The humidity should be between 55 and 65 percent. Once the eggs have settled and the incubator has been checked for proper temperature and humidity you can place the eggs inside.
 
 The eggs should be again turned side to side (not end over end) at least twice a day for the first 13 days. If you are not using a turner you may want to mark the eggs to know which side they should be turned to. You can use a black permanent marker. Many of them are dark enough you can see the mark even on such a  dark egg. The markers come in non-toxic as well. If marking your eggs it is best to mark the small, pointed end  to avoid clogging the pores in the eggs fat end.

 On the 14Th, 15Th, 16Th day the eggs should not be turned. If at all possible on the 13Th day after the last turn fill the water troughs full of water and do not open the incubator for the rest of the incubation. These last three days are often called "lock down". This term refers to the fact the eggs are no longer needing turning and can be left alone. Because the eggs can be left alone the incubator theoretically can be left shut causing humidity and temperature to stay very constant during these final three days.  The eggs should hatch on the 16th day!

Once they hatch they will be an array of colors. If you would like to know in advance what the adults plumage colors will be we have some pictures on our chick identification page that show both newly hatched chicks in a number of mutations and their adult counter part colors.

In many types of eggs it is possible to candle eggs. These very tiny, very dark eggs are incredibly hard to candle. In most cases trying to candle such a tiny egg will cause more harm than good. They eggs are so tiny they cool off inside down to the yolk and out very quickly. They are so dark it takes a very bright light to candle with and in most cases cause of the eggs color it is still very hard to see much.
 
Once the chicks hatch leave them in the incubator till they are dry before moving them into the brooder. Waiting till they dry will not only keep them from catching a chill but allows the other chicks to be exposed to far less temperature and humidity spikes from constant opening of the incubator. When they are dry move them into the brooder which should be at 90 degrees.
 
Hatching these small eggs can be a treat for young and old alike. Their small size is astounding and their ability to eat and drink immediately is amazing.

If you are encouraging a hen to brood or allowing her to keep her nest you will want to make sure the conditions are right for her. She will prefer to have a isolated area where she can nest in peace. Being a monogamous bird in nature it is hard for a hen who has to compete with other hens to stay focused on setting. It is best to have single pairs caged together. She should have an adequate supply of food high in calcium and protein as well as fresh water.
 
 Lighting can be an issue for hens who do not seem to want to brood. They find indoor lighting hard to sense seasons. The addition of full spectrum lighting sold in many pet stores or black light may increase the broodiness of hens and mating in adult males.
 Depending on the males temperament it is important to watch his behavior with the newly hatched chicks. In some cases it is best to remove him so the chicks are not injured.

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