What Do Quail Eat? The Ultimate Feeding Guide And Tips

Sakshi Thakur
Feb 20, 2024 By Sakshi Thakur
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Closeup of common quail.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 12.1 Min

Keeping quail birds is a simple job if done with precision.

A quail is a bird you can keep at home or on a farm with little effort. You must feed quail just bird food and no meat at all.

The quail is a granivorous bird. They are easy to please with a variety of seeds. A quail's diet is majorly made up of seeds from a bird feeder. Do not try to feed quail with your hand; use bird feeders instead. Quail like to eat cracked corn and millet among other seeds. You can feed quail corn and millet on the ground as well. They shall roam around and feed.

If you want to have many birds together, platform bird feeders are good. You can sprinkle quail feed near the bushes. Feeding quail feel safe when they are hidden from predators. They are picky eaters, so finding the correct combination is a must for their food.

Sunflower seeds are a good choice for quail feed. To attract wild quail you can use sunflower seeds or black chia seeds. It is said that wild quail are hunted for quail meat. Adult quail meat is tender and tasty when roasted on wood. This is a favorite among campers.

Quail eat food that is plant-based, so they are very happy to have fruit. They like to eat berries, grape seeds, cactus fruit, prickly pear, and so on. It is also interesting to know that quail birds eat bananas with pleasure. You can raise quail on fruits, like apples, cucumbers, grapes, and so on, rather than with chicken feed. Those keeping quail must ensure they have a protein and fat-rich diet. This produces good quality eggs and makes their meat tastes great.

Wild quail may make a nest in a field of grain seeds that they can easily feast on. Quail chicks, too, get food easily and a mother does not have to go too far.

If you enjoy this article and want to learn some more fun facts, then why not also read about what do parrots eat or what do prairie dogs eat right here at Kidadl?

What is a quail's favorite food?

A quail diet is made up of grains and plant-based materials.

They have many favorite seeds or fruits. Quail feed on sunflower seeds and sweet corn happily. These are used by hunters to attract them out of their nests. Quail are hunted in the wild. But you must know that wild birds may attack you so you have to stay alert. They can be aggressive.

You may notice that quail chicks eat insects. They eat chicken feed as well. As they grow up quail eat grains and fruits only. Insects help them grow faster. They are also given game birds' feed to grow fats in the first six weeks after hatching. Quail are often given starter feed to gain healthy weight quickly. This contains the calcium and minerals required by them.

Depending on the time of the year, they like to eat dry seeds and grains in the winter and dry seasons, while they prefer having fruits in the summer. It also helps them stay hydrated and beat the heat. You may see that quail chicks feast on earthworms, while adult quail show interest in them.

You can add cooked vegetables to their food. Do not give them raw vegetables. Make sure to boil and peel the vegetables. Also, you have to grind them to paste consistency. Larger chunks can get stuck in the throat of a quail and it may suffocate.

You can add fruits like bananas to the food you prepare for them. They love to eat bananas. It is not right to keep quail on only a fruit diet. This will make them full but nutritional value will decrease. For a chick, make sure that you add enough insects. This helps them grow and stay fit.

Also when you make food at home add half the amount of grains. Make sure you have added a lot of protein-based and fat-rich food. All this must be easily digestible for a quail. You must avoid any type of flesh for a quail. Also, do not give them dairy products. Quail find it difficult to digest lactose, so keep milk and such products away.

When you rear quail in captivity, first you must see and understand the habitat and quail food habits of wild quails. Wild quail eat plant-based food and like to eat all sorts of seeds and grains. They actually make nests near grain farms. They lay eggs in these nests so that they have ample food close by and will not have to go far from their nest.

What should you not feed quail?

Quail can eat pasta, rice, cake, sweetcorn, and lettuce.

Quail can be choosy at times, so if they do not like a certain food, they will not eat it even if given repeatedly. You need to know more about their likes and dislikes. Don't give them salty foods like crisps. Remember that you should never give meat to quail.

See these nine foods that you shouldn't include in quail food.

Coffee is not good for quail. They do not respond to it well. Quail will be all hyped-up. You will see quail fluttering all over your yard. It may lead them to fall sick and eventually die. You must totally avoid leaving coffee grounds on the floor or any sort of coffee beans in the reach of quail. Quail eat it out of curiosity and then may fall very ill.

Don't plan on treating your quail with chocolate. It can prove to be toxic for a quail. Quail eat it anyway but chocolate may kill them.

Onions are not toxic for quail. They will not kill your quail but the smell of the quail eggs is going to change. You may not like the new smell. So, if you have a farm and you keep them for quail eggs, avoid any onions in quail food. The flavor of the quail egg production will be saved. You must stick to bird food.

If you have a garden next to a quail coop, they will realize that food comes from the kitchen garden. In this case, they will help themselves to the food you are growing for feeding quails. It will be harder to keep them away. They will certainly over-eat and fall ill.

Iceberg lettuce is not toxic either. This lettuce has no nutritional value for a quail. So, if your quail is filling up on junk like this, there will be no space for food with proteins and vitamins. You will end up having malnourished game birds. That will never be good for your business. You can give them lettuce once in a while, but avoid making this a staple in a quail's diet. Give them quail feed to be safe.

Yogurt is also not a toxic food. However, the fact remains that lactose is hard for a quail to digest. They can get diarrhea. This fact can actually be applied to all dairy products. Quails eat cheese and may have milk, but they will fall ill. It is better to avoid it.

Avocados are a delicious fruit for us humans. However, they can be fatally poisonous for a quail. This is a total no-no for what quail eat.

Quail eat parsley happily, but this is toxic for them. It will make them sick due to vomiting and diarrhea. So if you have parsley for yourself in the kitchen garden keep it somewhere that your quail cannot get to it. Otherwise, they will feast on the green leaves out of curiosity and fall ill later on.

Quails eat turnips. They are not toxic for them. However, they have a strong smell just like onions. Quail produce eggs that have a smell of turnip. This will spoil the smell of the eggs and meat that your birds produce. Avoid giving a turnip to your quail.

You must look for starter feed for chicks and grow special vegetables in food plots that are away from their coop. Do not let wild plants grow in their coop or your quail may later fall ill. Most birds do not know how to differentiate between plants and munch on all leaves regardless of how they taste. So, if you are raising chicks to become game birds be very careful with what you feed them for proper growth.

California quail portrait.

What do baby quail eat?

A well-balanced diet is needed to raise happy and healthy birds. To be safe you can use a gamebird feed that has been specially designed for quail. Quail feed is enriched with vitamins and all essential nutrients.

Quail feed also helps baby quail to grow big and strong. A baby quail's diet must include insects. This also explains the change in their food habits during the breeding season. There are around 7-14 eggs in every clutch. This means that quail parents have so many mouths to feed all at once.

It is captivating to note that chicks are soon capable of feeding independently. The mom brings the food to them and makes sure it is full of protein.

Insects and invertebrates eaten by adult quail can also be eaten by their young birds. When reared in captivity, their diet must include high-protein pellets or something else to give them a protein boost.

You can also use citrus fruits, oyster shells, and so on to vary their feed. Quail love to eat seeds, so make sure to give them a mix of different seeds. This will help them get all the minerals and vitamins that are necessary for the growth of a quail.

Homemade Quail Feed

Quail mostly eat grains and plant-based food.

Those who are rearing these birds for their meat and eggs must be careful about what they feed their birds. It is necessary to keep your birds in clean captivity and provide them with protein-rich food. This helps them lay more and better quality eggs.

You have to remember that quail food should be of the best quality and comply with their requirements. Quail feed must be balanced, high-calorie, high protein, and digestible. When you prepare quail feed at home, choosing the right mixture can be tricky. Most quail farmers prefer to buy ready-made compound feed for quail.

Some farmers also use chicken mixes but this should not be a common practice as protein content is low in this food. While protein-rich feeds are essential for quail, this is especially the case for any young and egg-laying quail.

Different feeds are used for various ages of quail. The feed is different for chicks, broilers, and so on.

The mixture must contain grain and other additives such as the following.

Cereals, such as barley, wheat, and corn, should make up at least 40% of quail feed either separately or mixed together.

Fishmeal contains a lot of fat and protein. It is also packed with amino acids that are needed by quail. This feed is well absorbed by quail. This feed quickly deteriorates and gets destroyed.

Yeast should be included.When this is included, it means that the quail can get a sufficient amount of protein and vitamins.

Bone can make up a part of their diet.When these are included in a meal, they work as an excellent source of protein.

When you make your own quail feed, you have to keep these things in mind: keep the grain content high; half the feed must comprise of grains; add sufficient fruits and vegetables; you also have to keep the protein content high. You do not have to spend a lot on market-made feed for quail; if you have time you can do it yourself.

Here are steps that you can follow to make a good quail feed at home.

Make sure the food you include is of good quality. Make the feed in a clean and hygienic place and not just on a muddy floor.

Grains must make up around 50% of the feed. The whole feed is grainy in texture. You should make sure to pre-clean and dry the grains. Dirty grains will harm the digestive system of your birds. They can even die of food poisoning. Do not be lazy in this aspect. Also, remember not to use flour. You have to use the grains as a whole and not use any substitutes for these.

Add a lot of fruits and vegetables to the food so that there is some texture in the food. The dryness will be reduced. You can choose to use carrots (a rich source of carotene), cabbage (this improves the appearance and shine of their feathers), beetroot, and potatoes.

Remember to peel and boil any vegetables before use. Also, make sure to grind them well for the quail and chicks to gobble up easily. Solid and large pieces may choke your birds. Microelements that are contained in vegetables help the health of birds. The meat tastes better too.

Fish mince, greens, and eggs shells can be added. These will make it digestible and a rich source of protein. You may use cottage cheese but even only a little lactose is hard to digest for quail birds.

You can vary the feed contents according to the age group of your quails. If they are young chicks then you must add loads of insects and proteins. This allows them to gain body weight faster. Female egg-laying quail need calcium, protein, and fat all in of their food. This ensures good quality egg production and also enhances the taste of their meat.

You can add bananas or bread but only to a very small amount. They love bananas. However, do not over-feed them as they will lose the essential nutrients of the meal.

Quail are very choosy eaters. If you see that they do not like the mixture and are ignoring it you can change a few fruits or vegetables to change the taste. However, you must remember to keep the grain and protein high. This will keep your quail healthy and fit.

Quail must never be given parsley, avocado, chocolate, or coffee. These are toxic for quail. They may fall ill and eventually die. Take care of your quail. Give them a clean place to live with drinking water. Quail are rather easy to breed. Just make a good mix for their feed and half your job is done.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'What do quail eat?' then, why not take a look at 'What do oysters eat?', or 'Quail facts'?

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Written by Sakshi Thakur

Bachelor of Science

Sakshi Thakur picture

Sakshi ThakurBachelor of Science

Sakshi is a skilled content writer with extensive experience in the education industry. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for helping others, she has developed a reputation for excellence in academic content writing. She has worked with esteemed professionals such as Mr. Kapil Raj, a professor of History of Science at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, further enhancing her knowledge and expertise. Sakshi is well-versed in the latest developments in e-learning and has a deep understanding of how to engage students and make learning fun and accessible. In her spare time, she indulges in her creative passions, including painting, embroidery, and listening to soft music. She also enjoys exploring new cultures and traveling, which helps her broaden her perspectives and inspire her writing. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from Panjab University.

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