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Japanese Coturnix Quail chicks are tiny when they first hatch. They really are like fluffy bumble bees, buzzing about at high speed in the incubator before they're even properly dried.
Chickwatch, here in Frugaldom, isn't the male-dominated, sexist passtime you might suspect, it's more of an 'everyone wants to see what's happening inside the incubator' type of event.
It's understandable! Once you have observed these tiny chicks hatching from their tiny eggs, the whole process becomes both intriguing and fascinating.
What with the birth of grandaughter at New Year, followed by two months of feverish househunting, then the sudden decision to buy instead of rent, followed by another two months of trying to get this place habitable while managing a juggling act to move an entire garden, complete with poultry, I haven't had much time for hatching eggs in 2011. But that doesn't stop the ducks, hens, bantams or quail from laying.
I did manage to fit a dozen duck eggs into the incubator in June, so I now have 9 almost fully-grown ducklings running around the orchard with my adult birds.
Then I decided I needed more quail to bring the numbers up sufficiently to warrant regular egg sales, but I ended up selling most of those chicks to recoup the initial set-up costs for yet another project. So I left the quail hens and cockerels paired up and popped some more eggs into the incubator.
I now have another 9 healthy, multi-coloured quail chicks running around in a brooder box, sprouting feathers and starting to try and fly. This latest lot hatched on Tuesday 23rd August and I really, really hope this one on the left is a hen, as it is one of the most unusual colours I have ever seen.
The parents of my last chicks are still paired in their breeding cages and the hens are still laying eggs. I'd love to hatch out more chicks but don't want to risk setting up the incubator when major work is scheduled to start on the house this month. (It'll mean the power switched off for longish periods of time, not good for incubating eggs.)
So... what does one do with extra eggs that are possibly fertile? After much debate, I listed them on eBid at 99p per dozen, with no reserve on selling price, that's what. They have a dedicated 'Poultry, Incubation and Hatching Eggs' section that not many people know about, yet.
For anyone who does not know about poultry and game, eggs are eggs are eggs. There are no chicks inside fresh eggs. They are deemed fertile ONLY because the hens that lay them are kept in the company of cockerels who may, or may not, be going about their natural business.
As eating eggs, they are no different to any other egg that you buy in a supermarket - you cannot tell the difference. However, no amount of care, attention and incubation will result in a chick growing inside a supermarket bought egg, so don't worry about that. I have been asked this question so many times! It is almost as common a question as being asked if hens lay eggs if there are no cockerels.
Yes, hens lay eggs regardless, you just can't get chicks out of their eggs, no matter how hard you try.
For transit, eggs are always well packed and are sent out through the Royal Mail system by whichever method buyers prefer.
If you are in or around the Dumfries & Galloway area, you are welcome to come and collect eggs to save on postage & packaging, which is charged at cost.
For hotels, restaurants or retailers, we welcome enquiries for regular supplies of fresh quail eggs. We sell these at £1.95 per dozen, discounts or trading exchanges always an option. (Yes, it is true, I do swap my quail eggs for other things, including chocolate!) Galloway LETS members pay 2 Crees per dozen.
If you have any questions about my quail, eggs or trading opportunities, please feel free to get in contact.