Incubation and Brooder

Chinese Painted Quail will lay one egg per day if they have 12 or more hours of sunlight; usually from mid-February to the beginning of November. They very rarely sit on the eggs unless they have plenty of hiding places and they are left alone. She will lay them all over the floor and when she is ready to sit, she will roll them all together in a nest, usually 6-8 eggs in a clutch.

The most efficient way to hatch Chinese Painted Quail is by artificial incubation, using an incubator. Over the past 20 years I have used various brooders and am currently updating my website with more recent information. This is a photo of the one I started off with.

quail_incubatorOnce the chicks have hatched, they can be kept in the incubator for up to 24 hours, where they can survive on the remains of the yolk, which stays in the abdomen. But they will also eat and drink straightaway if put in the brooder. You have to be very careful that you do not lose too much humidity in the incubator when you take the chicks out. Another option is to move the eggs to a separate hatcher on day 14.

chinese_painted_quail_brooderFor a brooder you could just use a cardboard box with a light bulb dangling in it for heat. Personally I use fish tanks for brooders for the newborn chicks and a 60w light bulb about 4-5 inches off the bottom. This will keep the temperature at 99°F for the first week. This can be moved higher after about a week and after a couple of weeks, when they are getting their body feathers, it can be changed to a 40w (85°F) and then, subsequently, a 25w (75°F down to 55°F) bulb until they are fully grown.

On the bottom of the fish tank I use non-slip matting so that the newborn chicks have got something to grip to prevent splayed legs. Don’t forget to put a lid on your brooder. My newborn fish tank has plywood covering both halves of the top; the half without the light bulb has holes in it to let the air in. As they need less heat I change to one half plywood and the other half covered in wire. Don’t be tempted to leave the lid off, even for a second. From day 10 they will fly out and can easily get across a room.

For food I use finely ground chick crumbs sprinkled on the floor and in a shallow dish. I also use a shallow dish for the water that I put marbles in to stop the chicks getting wet and drowning.

The first feathers to grow are the wing feathers. They are noticeable within three days and will grow very quickly. You will be able to sex the chicks at about three weeks of age and they will be fully grown by 6 weeks. The last feathers to grow are their head feathers – they can be nearly fully grown but still have a fluffy head!