Children hatch 12 chicks from box of Marks & Spencer quail eggs

'They were going to end up in a salad so they're doing better than they would have done’

Joanna Whitehead
Thursday 10 December 2020 11:10 GMT
Quail chicks hatch from supermarket eggs

Two siblings have successfully hatched 12 chicks from a box of quail eggs purchased from their local Marks & Spencer.

Ray Moorhead, seven, and his sister Pearl, four, from Bromley in southeast London, decided to experiment by putting the box of 24 eggs in an incubator.

Although their mother, Emily, warned that they were unlikely to hatch, she was astonished to hear chirping from the incubator less than three weeks later. 

Twelve of the quail eggs hatched, much to the family’s amazement, making the family proud parents to the fluffy birds.

In a heartwarming video, Ray tells the camera: “We are hatching a baby chick out of the incubator.

“It takes 18 days, and don’t worry, it’s worth it. Mummy thought none would hatch, but, she’s actually wrong.”

His sister Pearl informs the camera that “they came from the far-est away place that is Marks and Spencer!”

The quail eggs in the incubator

Emily adds that she had seen someone online who had done a similar experiment and thought it would be “a fun project” to do during lockdown.

She said: "I managed my children's expectations and told them that the likelihood of these eggs hatching is really, really slim."

The family put them in an incubator on 27 October.

“On Friday the 13th [November], I heard this cheeping and I looked inside the incubator and there was this tiny little chick that had just got out of it's egg.

"I went on the school run and returned home to find there was three. 

“By the end of that night, we had five and at the end of the weekend, we had 11. They just kept on coming!”

Caring for the fluffy birds was a full-time job, however.

“I was sleeping in the room with the incubator looking after them and then I had to help hatch the last chick who got stuck in his egg. We had to nurse him back to health but he's fine now,” she said.

Ray and Pearl gaze at the fluffy birds

"I was worried the chicks would get stressed with two noisy children but I've spoken to a few quail farm breeders who said they'd probably be fine as they've not known anything else.

“Furthermore, they were going to end up in a salad so they're doing better than they would have done!”

The first two chicks to be hatched were named Mark and Spencer after the shop they had been bought from as eggs.

Emily originally intended to give any hatched chicks to her friend, Andrew Jones, as he runs a restaurant.

A female quail can lay 300 eggs a year – the ideal gift for a restaurateur – but Emily decided the family would keep her son Ray’s two favourites: CutiePie and Lucky.

Film producer Emily said that Ray is “besotted” with the birds. 

”Pearl isn't as interested in them but Ray is devoted. I get out of the shower in the morning to do the school run and he's just got all the chicks out on the floor!

”The ones that are his favourites are really tame - he can hold three of them in his arms and they'll all fall asleep, it's very sweet."

A Marks & Spencer spokesperson said: “Our farmers work incredibly hard to ensure our free-range eggs aren’t fertilized by separating the birds.

“However, on the very rare occasion it does happen the eggs remain completely safe to eat unless they are incubated.”

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