Help! Quail hen on and off eggs during hatch

AOrchard

Songster
May 27, 2020
258
499
146
Wisconsin
Hi! Advice needed.

New quail mama sat great the whole time. The babies started hatching today, while she still had flock mates in the pen (I thought I had a few days yet).

Another hen kicked her out and dragged off the first two to hatch. I arrived home to those two dead hatchlings, one brand new living quail hatchling, two pipped eggs, and 8 more fertile eggs to go.

Promptly removed the flock mates and the hen returned to the eggs a bit after. She gently but insistently wouldn't let the living hatchling under her, so I removed the hatchling and have it under a heat lamp. Over the last two hours she gets off the eggs and eats or drinks or just walks around and then goes back several minutes later. This doesn't seem right?

Pipped eggs have chicks moving visibly through the hole.

I can go to TSC and get a Harris Farms Nuture Right, but would it be running in time to matter?

Other suggestions?

I'm used to chicken broodies, but I've never had a quail go broody.

Thanks!
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Sep 29, 2014
8,085
24,220
951
New Zealand
I've never had a broody coturnix quail but from what I've read they often sit alright, but then they are a bit clueless as to what to do with actual babies.

She may be stressed from the rest of her flock disappearing, or nervous because the other hen attacked her nest. It's so hard to know. If possible you could try putting her flock in view, but where they can't get to her to see if that calms her down, but I know that can be tricky depending on your set-up. Or maybe try putting the cock back in with her. You'll know pretty quickly if she's happy with his presence or not.

I don't really think there's much more you can do at this stage other than see how it plays out. I've had chicken hens get off their pipped and hatching eggs for a quick snack or water break and the babies hatched out just fine, so hopefully your quail chicks will also be ok. They are tougher than we might think they are.
 

AOrchard

Songster
May 27, 2020
258
499
146
Wisconsin
I've never had a broody coturnix quail but from what I've read they often sit alright, but then they are a bit clueless as to what to do with actual babies.

She may be stressed from the rest of her flock disappearing, or nervous because the other hen attacked her nest. It's so hard to know. If possible you could try putting her flock in view, but where they can't get to her to see if that calms her down, but I know that can be tricky depending on your set-up. Or maybe try putting the cock back in with her. You'll know pretty quickly if she's happy with his presence or not.

I don't really think there's much more you can do at this stage other than see how it plays out. I've had chicken hens get off their pipped and hatching eggs for a quick snack or water break and the babies hatched out just fine, so hopefully your quail chicks will also be ok. They are tougher than we might think they are.
That's encouraging to hear that she can be off a little bit and they still hatch okay! Thanks, I'll see if I can get somebody back in view, or if she is okay with him.

One of the pipped chicks has hatched. She pecked it a few times, not hard but definitely confused, and it crawled under her while she was paying attention to be. She didn't object as much but it's also getting pretty dark. I hope it's okay, I'll be out asap in the morning to check.
 

AOrchard

Songster
May 27, 2020
258
499
146
Wisconsin
Okay so far! She sat all night and had several more hatch. I have returned the one from last night as well. She does wander off the nest a lot, and sometimes a baby or too follows, and she stays away from them but let's them follow her back into the nest now. She still gets pretty unsettled when they move under her, occasionally pecks (gently enough) one a few times, and seems altogether disconcerted about what she got herself into 🤣. She is starting to talk to them though and making calls to food, which I take as a really good sign! Will be monitoring closely all day.
 

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AOrchard

Songster
May 27, 2020
258
499
146
Wisconsin
9 hatched so far, I ended up pulling the babies. She seemed to kind of be okay with it until she left the box and five of them climbed out after her. She started to hurry and then they ran after her and then she totally freaked out, the way I would if a giant black spider started chasing me, and was jumping and flying trying to get away from them. So they are in their own cage now, and hopefully if she can hatch out the last couple eggs I can pull those babies and then she can go back to her normal life without being terrorized by these weird wiggly things that came out of her beautiful eggs.
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Sep 29, 2014
8,085
24,220
951
New Zealand
9 hatched so far, I ended up pulling the babies. She seemed to kind of be okay with it until she left the box and five of them climbed out after her. She started to hurry and then they ran after her and then she totally freaked out, the way I would if a giant black spider started chasing me, and was jumping and flying trying to get away from them. So they are in their own cage now, and hopefully if she can hatch out the last couple eggs I can pull those babies and then she can go back to her normal life without being terrorized by these weird wiggly things that came out of her beautiful eggs.
She may be a better mother next time if she decides to repeat the experiment. At least you gave her a chance.
 

AOrchard

Songster
May 27, 2020
258
499
146
Wisconsin
After I pulled the babies and cleaned out the broken egg shells, she had no interest in the five eggs that were left. I added back 10 unfertilized eggs from my other hens so it was a big clutch again, and then she climbed her right on and happily is sitting on all of them. Hopefully the last 5 hatch tonight or tomorrow.
 

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