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Author Topic: Hatching quails under a broody hen  (Read 314 times)

Jethro Tull

  • Joined Jan 2014
Hatching quails under a broody hen
« on: September 01, 2019, 07:25:35 am »
Hi, has anyone done this?

We were given some adult quails. Didn’t ask for them, didn’t know what use they would be, but we gave them a home. The eggs were a novelty at first, and with friends, but novelties can wear off!

Then one of our chickens went broody, a youngster and this was her first time as a broody. We put a lot of quail eggs under her

The first egg hatched on day 18, more on day 19 and 20.

So far so good, but this morning (day 21) I have found eight carcasses, all of them at a little distance from mum? All of them were dry and fluffy but of course very tiny

It occurs to me that she may have killed them, because I can’t find any other explanation. Would she see them as alien, and destroy them?

They had chick crumbs and water available (they didn’t drown)

Any ideas?
« Last Edit: September 01, 2019, 08:03:17 am by Jethro Tull »
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Hatching quails under a broody hen
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2019, 11:05:18 am »
I found when hatching pheasant chicks out under a hen, that the hen and chicks don't talk the same language. So when the hen called the chicks they didn't understand and go to her and they just hung about and got cold. As soon as I realised, I kept putting the chicks back under the hen, hoping they'd realise where the heat was. But they still wouldn't willingly wouldn't go to the hen for warmth, and I gradually found them all dead, just feet from her. Just died of cold.
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  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Hatching quails under a broody hen
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2019, 01:15:38 pm »
That's really interesting Landroverroy.  I wondered too if they couldn't get back under as she was too heavy, with no space for tiny delicate chicks. Rather sad in both cases. Ducklings seem to do OK under a hen although hens don't like it sometimes when the ducklings go for a swim!

Locally, quail eggs are popular in the delicatessen in town at ludicrous prices, and folk do buy them.  Which kind of quail are they Jethro Tull, do you know?  The two I know of are Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica, and Coturnix coturnix which I think is 'common quail', which we called Bob White.  My aunt kept them in the 1950s. and I can remember trying to peel bowls full of the tiny eggs.  Yes, the novelty definitely wears off!

I've just adapted a recipe for quails eggs: Rice and eyeballs.  Make a paella type mixed rice, spread it in a greased ovenproof dish, make small hollows across the surface.  Break a quail egg into each hollow, sprinkle on a little grated cheese and bake til set.  You could of course call it something different  ;D
« Last Edit: September 01, 2019, 02:12:37 pm by Fleecewife »

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Jethro Tull

  • Joined Jan 2014
Re: Hatching quails under a broody hen
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2019, 02:37:53 pm »
Thanks both.

Yes Landroverroy, your description matches my experience. I have dropped the charges against the broody hen, I am applyiñg the presumption of innocence.

We are now picking out the chicks as they hatch, giving them the hairdryer treatment (gently, not Alex Ferguson style!) and keeping them in a box in the greenhouse. The thermometer says 97F which is about right but I desperately need a lamp. The books recommend 250W bulbs but where can you find that in these LED times? I went into town this morning but neither B&Q nor Screwfix can help me. One farm supplier is closed on Sunday,  the other doesn’t do poultry equipment. My resourceful partner has sourced something on the internet for next day delivery, now we have to keep them warm enough overnight

And thank you fleecewife. We have hatched a lot of ducklings (and goslings) under broody hens, main problem is that sometimes a duckling has got caught and strangled in the heavily feathered bantam feet

They are japonicas, can’t think how many I would need to produce a sufficient supply of eggs to justify taking them into town once a week to sell them in a deli. However, there is a classy restaurant a couple of miles away (you can’t get a table for the next eight weeks, but why would you want to at those prices and with all that meat on the menu?) .....

Can’t say I’m that struck on quails at the moment, it’s a lot of nurturing for not much payback.


  • Joined Nov 2019
Re: Hatching quails under a broody hen
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2019, 10:06:09 pm »
I know this is a bit old but thought I would chime in as I have raised many of the cute little things and while the eggs are fun for awhile the actual quail is the reason to keep them.

They taste fantastic!

And grow very fast so a meal is always right round the corner, as it were.

They are also really easy to process and can be "done" in the kitchen with very little mess.  I used the bop and chop (hand pruners for the chop) and then skinned and split up the back for cleaning them out.  Start to finish?  About 3 min. each.

A tip for the eggs, boil as one would a hens egg and then tap a line of broken shell right round it.  Peel that line off so you have two halves of shell and a line of white showing.  Then take a spoon and gently insert it under the shell and run it round the egg.  The half will pop off as soon as you go right round.  Repeat on the other half.

Easy peasy and works with bigger eggs too.

Oh, and in a small space any light will work, even a 40-watt bulb will throw enough heat to keep chicks warm but higher is good, just watch for over heating.  A wonderful use for an old fridge is to take the doors off, cut a hole between the freezer and fridge bit, lay it on its back, fill it with wood shavings to give a level floor and put your light in the freezer part - a few planks of wood make a good heat saving lid that lets air in nicely - and the food and water in the fridge part.

It mimics a hen in a way, a place to go warm up and a place to run round and eat that can be quite cold as hens will lead chicks through snow so they are tougher than expected in many ways.  The first few days block off the big side and keep them in the warmest bit with their food/water and then move their food/water to just the other side of hte doorway and each day move it farther away until it is at the farthest end to encourage them to move lots.

And, if you have two, one can be raising mealworms as the other raises chicks.  Mealworms love used chick litter and chicks LOVE mealworms.


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