How cute! I put some of the wriggly chicks in this little abandoned nest to show how tiny they are... (two days old)

We’ve had a minor miracle here this week – actually we’ve had six of them!

I’d pretty much given up on hatching anything from the fertile japanese quail eggs I’d purchased.

Although they were very well packed by the sender, nearly a third of the eggs were broken on arrival… I reckon someone at the courier service used the box they came in to practice drop-kicking or hand balling (grrr).

Despite this I put the remaining eggs (ever the optimist!)  in R2D2, our fancy King Suro R-Com Incubator, on the off chance that some would hatch.

5 days in and R2D2 broke down… the pump which feeds the water into the machine to control the humidity stopped working completely – aaaghhhh! I had set the humidity to 60% – normally that’d stay fairly constant to ensure a good hatch. In this case the only thing I could think to do was to try and manually add water to try and keep humidity up – which worked to some extent – but there was a continual see-sawing of humidity levels from 40 – 60%. Quails take 17 to 18 days to hatch – so it required 12 days of trying to keep it relatively even… by the end of that time I was over it and prepared for a hatch rate of zero, ready to clean out R2D2 and send it back to the shop I’d bought it from (thank goodness it’s covered under warranty!), and ready to forget about incubating eggs until spring!

But…. on Sunday morning I awoke to find 6 perfect fluffy balls of quail… so cute and so tiny (and very fiesty!). I honestly couldn’t believe it. A hatch rate of 6 from 36 purchased eggs is dismal – but it felt like a huge success to me.

They’re currently residing in a brooder box in the laundry sink as I can’t bear to take them outside because it’s quite cold. They’ll probably live there for at least two weeks before heading out to explore, and it’s nice for the kids to have them close to home to admire. I’ve mashed down some micro-pelleted feed into crumbles for them, and placed pebbles around the base of their water feeder to minimise the risk of drowning (apparently baby quail are prone to that).

They will be fully grown in four weeks – so we’ll make the most of their baby animal charm now, and be mighty grateful to have them here at all!

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