These instructions are a general guide. You should always follow the instructions that came with your incubator.
It is best if you set up your incubator about 1 week before the arrival of your eggs. This will give you time to make sure that your incubator is at the right temperature and that the humidity is right. You should also make sure that you have every thing you will need to care for you new chicks before you start incubating your eggs.
When your eggs arrive you must take good care of them. It will be best if you leave the eggs in the shipping container until you are ready to place them in your incubator. Store you eggs in a cool spot. Do not wash your eggs. The eggs can be held 3 to 4 days before incubation if necessary. If the eggs are not incubated upon arrival they should be turned at least once per day to prevent the yolks form settling.
The temperature of the incubator is the most critical part of the incubation process. If the temperature is not right you will have a poor hatch or have weak or crippled chicks. The temperature for bobwhite quail is 99.5°F for forced air incubators and 102°F for still-air incubators. You should locate your incubator in a room with a stable temperature of 70° to 80°F. If the temperature of the room fluctuates more than 10° to 15°F, it will be hard to keep a stable temperature in the incubator. If your temperature is right in about 23 day you will have healthy bobwhite chicks.
The humidity for bobwhite quail should be about 60% (86° wet bulb) for the first 20 days of incubation. On the last three days the humidity should b raised to about 75% (92° wet bulb). If the humidity is too low the eggs will dry out and the embryos will die. If the humidity is too low for the last three days, when the chicks try to hatch they will get stuck in their shells.
The eggs should be turned at least 3 times per day to prevent the embryonic membranes from sticking to the shell. If you are turning the eggs by hand you should use a soft lead pencil to mark an “x” on one side and an “o” on the other. This will help you make sure all eggs have been turned. Stop turning the eggs 3 days before the eggs are to hatch, for bobwhites that is on day 21.
You should prepare your brooder several days before you expect your hatch. This will give you time to get the temperature to about 100°F. On about day 23 your checks should start to hatch. Do not attempt to help the chicks out of there shells. Transfer the chick to a brooder that has food and water as soon as they are dry. Do not handle the chicks too much. Water should be put in a no drown waterer or marbles or rocks can be placed in the water to prevent chicks from getting into the water and drowning.