Artificial Incubation

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Artificial Incubation
I do not recommend that new breeders pull eggs from the nest and attempt to hatch them in incubators unless absolutely necessary (such as when parents have abandoned them) due to the extremely small size of newborn Quaker hatch-lings, and the amount of knowledge required to perform this successfully. Also in some cases the chick will need some assistance in emerging from the shell, which is an extremely delicate undertaking and is not recommended for the novice breeder. It bears no resemblance whatsoever to cracking an egg straight out of the refrigerator!

The topic of incubation could fill a book by itself with the many different techniques leading to a successful hatching of eggs. Having the right equipment is as important as knowing the process. Temperature humidity, ventilation, egg turning and sanitation are all important factors in the proper incubation of eggs (brown, 1979). In my experience with eggs that have been artificially incubated, the growth pattern of the chicks had been delayed somewhat. Instead, if eggs have been abandoned or are otherwise in danger, the first attempt at saving them should be to place the eggs in the nest box of a hen who is currently laying her own eggs. I have done this on many occasions and the hen will usually sit on the foster eggs as though they were her own, and feed the babies when they hatch.

In larger clutches that have all been laid by the same hen, there is usually a significant size difference between the first baby hatched and the last. The age differences within the same clutch can be two weeks or more. When a hen has a large clutch, extra supervision by the breeder should be practiced to ensure that the smallest babies are still being fed by the parents when needed. One way to ensure this is to pull only the largest two or three babies when they are approximately 10 days to 2 weeks of age, and leave the younger, smaller babies in the nest for the parent to continue feeding for a while (approximately one week). When the parents are doing a good job of keeping the babies crops full, it is a temptation to leave the chicks in the nest for an extra week. However, I think that the additional work involved in pulling them earlier pays off in tamer, friendlier babies that bond extremely well to humans, hardly aware that they are actually birds!


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