If you’ve spent enough time at farmer’s markets, you’ve likely seen all manner of eggs for sale. Among the most unusual and intriguing ones that you may have spotted are quail eggs. They are adorably tiny and look like they were taken out of a dollhouse. Although some people do keep quails as pets, they are typically kept for poultry purposes, which often leaves owners overrun with tiny eggs.

The key to having healthy quails is feeding them a proper diet. In the wild, quails may have a more or less varied diet than pet or livestock quails, leading to different levels of health and altering the taste of their meat and eggs. Whether in the wild or as pets, quails are foraging omnivores, and their primary source of nutrition is wild grains and seeds.

Keep reading for more information about a quail’s diet and what you should feed them.


What Do Quails Eat in the Wild?

quails in grass
Image Credit: Piqsels

Quails are foraging omnivores, so in the wild, they are relatively opportunistic in regard to their diet. Their primary source of nutrition is wild grains and seeds. They will also eat any fruits and vegetables that they encounter, as well as insects, grasses, and leaves. Depending on the time of year, 80–90% of a wild quail’s diet will consist of seeds, grains, and other plant matter.

In areas where wild quails exist in large numbers, it’s not uncommon to see them around bird feeders eating fallen bird seed. They also enjoy populating areas around farms where grains and seeds are being grown. They will help themselves to unsprouted seeds and plants being grown, like soybeans and corn. If they feel safe, they will not stray too far from these sources of easy food.

Why Do People Keep Quails as Pets?

Quails are kept as poultry for meat and eggs in many areas, especially in some parts of Asia. However, these petite birds are fun to watch and can be rewarding to keep. They are a great alternative to chickens for people who live in suburban and urban settings. Chickens are larger and create more waste than quails, and they can be a handful. Whether you’re interested in keeping poultry for food or companionship, quails can be a fantastic alternative to chickens, ducks, and geese.

Quail eggs
Image Credit: Piqsels

What Do Pet Quails Eat?

Domestic quails eat a diet that is similar to what wild quails eat, and it’s also nearly identical to what other poultry birds consume. However, they are much smaller than most other poultry, so it’s important to ensure that their food is appropriately formulated for them. A game bird- or quail-specific commercial food is the best option for the foundation of your quail’s diet. If you are raising quails as food, they need a high-protein and high-fat diet that supports rapid growth. For game birds or free-range domestic quails, a more balanced diet that supports healthy growth and muscle development is necessary. Heavy food quails are not well-suited to flight or escaping predation.

An interesting habit that domestic quails have is that they prefer their food to be in pieces of equal size. If they are being fed a commercial feed that has pieces of varying sizes, they will begin to “forage” through the feed. They will do this until they find the pieces that are the right size for their personal preference, and they’ll leave the rest of the food behind.

domestic quail eating granulated feed
Image Credit: Manuel Trinidad Mesa, Shutterstock

Quails need to have access to calcium supplementation, with crushed oyster shells generally being preferred due to their high calcium content. They also need access to grit, just like chickens do. Grit is basically small pieces of rock that help with food digestion. They should have access to their feed around the clock to support their health and metabolism. Uneaten food should be replaced every couple of days. Unlike some other types of poultry, quails will only eat until they are full, so free feeding is safe and healthy for them.

To round out their diet, they should be offered insects and healthy kitchen scraps as treats. They are big fans of spiders, grubs, earthworms, and mealworms. They aren’t usually overly fond of veggies and fruits, but you can offer them kitchen scraps like cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, and cucumber.


In Conclusion

Quail are exceptionally hardy and interesting birds with tons of personality. They are known for their plucky temperament and curious antics. It’s important to fully understand the dietary needs of your quails, though. These birds can be picky when it comes to food, and they have such a fast metabolism to support their small bodies that they can only last a few days without food.

Finding the right commercial diet for your quails is the most important part of feeding them, but striking a balance between commercial feed and additional dietary offerings will keep them healthy for a long time.

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Featured Image Credit by Vinson Tan, Pixabay