How Long Do You Incubate Quail Eggs? Comprehensive Guide and Troubleshooting Tips

How Long Do You Incubate Quail Eggs? Comprehensive Guide and Troubleshooting Tips

Raising quail can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but knowing the right incubation period for their eggs is crucial. If you’re new to quail farming or just curious about the process, understanding the specific timeline can help ensure a successful hatch.

Quail eggs, unlike chicken eggs, have a unique incubation period that requires precise conditions. By mastering the incubation duration and environment, you’ll increase your chances of hatching healthy, vibrant chicks. So, how long do you need to incubate quail eggs? Let’s dive into the essentials to get you started.

Key Takeaways

  • Quail Egg Incubation Period: Quail eggs typically require an incubation period of 17-18 days, with precise temperature and humidity control being essential for successful hatching.
  • Optimal Incubation Conditions: Maintain a steady temperature of 99.5°F (37.5°C) and initial humidity levels of 45-55%, increasing to 65-75% in the final days of incubation to ensure healthy embryo development.
  • Equipment: A quality incubator with reliable temperature and humidity control, automatic egg turners, and alarms is crucial for maintaining optimal incubation conditions and minimizing manual labor.
  • Daily Monitoring: Regular monitoring of temperature and humidity settings, along with twice-daily adjustments and record-keeping, helps identify and address potential issues before they impact the hatch rate.
  • Egg Handling: Proper turning of the eggs at least three times daily, and the use of candling to check for embryo development, are critical practices to prevent issues like embryos sticking to the shell and to ensure viable hatching.
  • Troubleshooting: Identifying and addressing common incubation issues such as temperature fluctuations, incorrect humidity levels, poor ventilation, and mold or bacterial growth can significantly enhance hatch rates.

Understanding Quail Egg Incubation

Factors Influencing Incubation Period

The incubation period for quail eggs typically lasts 17-18 days. Temperature, humidity, and egg handling can influence this period. A steady temperature of 99.5°F (37.5°C) is crucial, while humidity levels should start at 45-55% and increase to 65-75% in the final days. If temperature or humidity levels fluctuate, the incubation period may extend, impacting hatch rates. Additionally, consistent egg turning minimizes the risk of embryos sticking to the shell, which can affect development.

Equipment Needed for Incubating Quail Eggs

A quality incubator is essential for successfully incubating quail eggs. Incubators control temperature, humidity, and turning, which are all necessary for hatching. Choose an incubator with a reliable thermostat and hygrometer to monitor conditions accurately. Egg turners help maintain even development and reduce manual turning. In the final days, increase humidity by adding water channels or sponges. Incubator alarms can alert you to any deviations in temperature or humidity, ensuring optimal conditions throughout the incubation period.

Setting Up Your Incubator

Setting Up Your Incubator

Optimal Temperature and Humidity Levels

Maintaining the correct environment is crucial for quail egg incubation. Set the incubator temperature to 99.5°F (37.5°C). Ensure humidity levels are around 45-55% for the first 14 days. Increase humidity to 65-75% for the final three days. This mimics natural conditions, essential for successful hatching.

Daily Monitoring and Adjustment

Check your incubator twice daily. Monitor the temperature and humidity settings, adjusting as needed. Record readings to identify trends or issues. Ensure the incubator is in a room with stable environmental conditions. Avoid placing it near windows, vents, or direct sunlight to maintain consistent readings.

The Incubation Process

Turning the Eggs

Turning the eggs is critical for proper embryo development. This action prevents the embryo from sticking to the shell and helps in even heat distribution. Turn the eggs a minimum of three times daily, ensuring that each turn is about eight hours apart. Automatic turners can be valuable, reducing manual labor and ensuring consistent turning intervals. Make sure to turn the eggs an odd number of times each day to avoid them resting on the same side overnight.

Candling for Development

Candling helps monitor the development stage of the embryos. By day 7, start candling to check for signs of development. Use a bright light source, such as a small flashlight, to illuminate the egg’s interior. Healthy embryos will show vein structures and movement. Discard any clear or non-developing eggs to avoid contamination in the incubator. Candling should be done carefully to avoid damaging the eggs.

Troubleshooting Common Incubation Issues

Troubleshooting Common Incubation Issues

Troubleshooting common incubation issues ensures a high hatch rate. Here are key problems and their solutions:

Temperature Fluctuations

Temperature fluctuations can affect hatch rates. If the temperature is too high or too low, embryos may not develop correctly. Ensure the incubator maintains 99.5°F (37.5°C) for forced-air models or 101°F (38.3°C) for still-air models. Use a reliable thermometer and check it frequently.

Incorrect Humidity Levels

Incorrect humidity levels can result in dehydration or drowning of embryos. Maintain 45-55% humidity during the incubation period and increase it to 65-75% for the last three days. Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity and add water if necessary.

Poor Ventilation

Poor ventilation can lead to carbon dioxide buildup, harming embryo development. Ensure the incubator’s vents are open to allow adequate airflow. Regularly check that nothing on the incubator is obstructing ventilation holes.

Infrequent Egg Turning

Infrequent egg turning can cause embryos to stick to the shell, leading to deformities. Turn the eggs at least three times daily. Consider an automatic turner if you find manual turning difficult.

Late or Early Hatching

Late or early hatching can indicate improper incubation conditions. If hatching occurs significantly earlier or later than the 17-18 day range, review your temperature and humidity settings, as inaccuracies may be the cause.

Infertility or Dead Embryos

Infertility or dead embryos can result from poor egg quality or incorrect storage. Candle the eggs regularly to check for development. Discard any non-viable eggs to prevent contamination.

Mold or Bacterial Growth

Mold or bacterial growth inside the incubator can cause embryo death. Keep the incubator clean and disinfect it before use. Avoid introducing dirty eggs into the incubator.

Identifying these issues early can significantly improve your incubation success. Consistent monitoring and adjustments create an optimal environment for hatching quail eggs.


Mastering the incubation process for quail eggs is essential for achieving a high hatch rate. By paying close attention to temperature, humidity, and egg turning, you can create the ideal environment for your quail embryos. Proper setup and regular monitoring are key to catching and addressing any issues early on. With the right approach and troubleshooting techniques, you’ll be well on your way to successfully hatching healthy quail chicks. Remember, consistency and vigilance are your best tools in this delicate process.

Incubating quail eggs typically takes about 17 to 18 days at a temperature of 99.5°F (37.5°C) with a humidity level of 45-50% for the first 14 days. During the last three days, known as the “lockdown” period, stop turning the eggs and increase the humidity to 65-75% to facilitate hatching, according to The Happy Chicken Coop. For a step-by-step guide and more detailed instructions, you can visit Southwest Gamebirds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal temperature for incubating quail eggs?

The ideal temperature for incubating quail eggs is between 99.5°F and 100°F. Consistent temperature is crucial for embryo development.

How should humidity levels be maintained during incubation?

During incubation, maintain humidity levels around 45-55%. Increase humidity to 65-75% during the last three days before hatching.

How often should quail eggs be turned?

Quail eggs should be turned 3 to 5 times a day to prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell and ensuring uniform development.

What is candling and why is it important?

Candling is a process used to monitor embryo development by shining a light through the egg. It helps identify infertile eggs and monitor growth stages.

How can I troubleshoot temperature fluctuations in the incubator?

To troubleshoot temperature fluctuations, regularly check and adjust the thermostat, ensure proper ventilation, and avoid placing the incubator in drafty or sunlit areas.

What should I do if humidity levels are incorrect?

If humidity levels are incorrect, adjust the incubator’s water trays, use a hygrometer to monitor levels, and consider adding or removing water to reach the desired humidity.

Why is proper ventilation essential during incubation?

Proper ventilation is essential to provide fresh air, remove carbon dioxide, and maintain optimal oxygen levels for embryo development.

What are common reasons for poor hatching rates?

Common reasons include temperature fluctuations, incorrect humidity levels, infrequent egg turning, and poor ventilation. Addressing these issues can improve hatching rates.

How can I prevent mold or bacterial growth in the incubator?

Prevent mold or bacterial growth by keeping the incubator clean, using sterile equipment, and ensuring proper ventilation. Regularly disinfect the incubator between hatches.

What should I do if embryos die before hatching?

If embryos die before hatching, review and adjust incubation conditions like temperature, humidity, and ventilation. Candling can help identify issues with individual eggs.

How do I handle late or early hatching?

Late or early hatching often indicates temperature or humidity issues. Ensuring stable and appropriate conditions throughout incubation can help achieve timely hatching.

What causes infertility in quail eggs?

Infertility can be due to issues with breeding stock, inadequate mating, or genetic factors. Ensuring a healthy breeding environment and proper mating can reduce infertility.