Quails are somewhat picky eaters. While you might be tempted to feed your quail’s chicken feed, it’s important to take into consideration your quail’s dietary needs when determining what to feed them.
While quails can eat chicken feed, it is not advisable to let your quails eat chicken feed as chicken feed is not formulated with the necessary vitamins and minerals that quails need to survive. If you are going to let your quails eat chicken feed, it is essential that you add supplements to make up for the deficiency of the relevant nutrients.
Quails require feed that meets their dietary needs in order for them to flourish and survive. It is important to understand what to feed quails to ensure they grow up to be healthy birds.
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Different types of feeds suitable for quails
Here are the various feed options that are suitable for your quails.
Commercial game bird feed
Commercial game bird feed has been explicitly designed to feed birds from the pheasant family. Commercial game bird feed is ideal for quail and comes in different sizes and feed textures, including mash, crumble, and pellets.
You should avoid feeding your quails pellets as these are a bit too big for quails to digest. Additionally, mash can result in hygiene issues that may lead to illnesses if your quails’ cage is too small.
Therefore, crumble is the best form of commercial game bird feed for your quails.
Feed that is created for young birds is referred to as “starter feed.” Starter feed is high in protein, which is essential in helping your quails grow.
Starter feed mimics the protein-packed insects that juvenile quails generally eat during their first eight weeks in the wild.
When purchasing a starter feed, it is best to purchase a game feed that contains 30% protein.
Grower feed is often also referred to as “finishing” feed. This feed is designed to promote a healthy growth rate without producing excessive fat in your quails.
Feeding your quails a grower feed will help build bone mass to support muscle, which is ideal if your intention is to grow your quail for the dinner table.
If you intend to grow quail for the dinner table, you should make a concerted effort to ensure their diet contains 20% protein once they have reached six weeks of age in order to promote a healthy growth rate.
Feeding your quail medicated feed can help prevent coccidiosis, which can result in digestive problems and sometimes even death in quails.
Quail chicks are particularly susceptible to coccidiosis. In this regard, giving your quails medicated starter feed can be useful in warding off parasitic infections like coccidiosis.
Quails as flight birds
If your intention is to raise your quails as flight birds, you will need to feed them less protein than you would feed a meat bird.
Quails who are raised as flight birds require less protein because too much fat and muscle is not conducive for raising a swift flight bird.
Additionally, if you are raising quails for the fields, the manner in which you feed your quails will be different from how you would feed quails that you intend to use for meat or to be egg layers.
When feeding these quails, it is advisable that you sprinkle the feed to promote foraging and activity to prepare your quails for the field.
It is possible to find feeds that are specifically designed to promote feather growth for birds that are intended to fly in fields.
By feeding your quails specially formulated feed, you are increasing their chance to finish out lighter and be more prepared for flight during release, hunting, or dog training.
Things to include in quails diet
Here are some ideas of supplements to add to your quails feed to improve their diet.
Grit, which is crushed stone, is essential in aiding in your quails’ digestion. The crushed stones used for grit act as teeth in the quails’ crops to break down large seeds, grains, and any other matter that requires more processing.
Grit can be purchased at most farm stores and is relatively affordable. Look out for grit that contains beneficial additives like calcium or diatomaceous earth.
Adding ground oyster shell to your quails’ diet is highly advisable as oyster shell contains calcium carbonate that aids in strengthening young quails bones and helps promote egg production in breeding quail.
Diatomaceous earth is a fine dust derived from ground fossils and silica. Purchasing food-grade diatomaceous earth is efficient in eradicating internal parasites when ingested in small amounts.
Diatomaceous earth acts as a drying agent that can kill pests. Therefore, if you are concerned that your quails might have a tick, flea, or mite infestation, directly dust diatomaceous earth onto your quails and around their pen.
It is important to note that too much diatomaceous earth can cause your quails’ feet to dry and crack, which could result in pain and infections like bumblefoot.
In this regard, ensure that you only dust areas in which pests have been identified when coating your quails’ pen with diatomaceous earth.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are a crucial dietary need for quails. When quails live in the wild, they are able to get the vitamins and minerals they need in the seeds, plants, and grains that they forage for.
Due to the fact that your quails are living in confinement, your quails rely on you to ensure that they have the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive.
In this regard, it is advised that you purchase game bird feed as it is a complete feed that includes all the vitamins and minerals your quails need.
Treats for quails
Here are some options of treats you can provide for your quails to nibble on.
Quails enjoy consuming protein in the form of bugs every now and then. Quails particularly enjoy spiders, worms and grubs, but will enjoy just about any other bug they can find.
If you keep your quails in an outdoor pen, you may often find your quails fighting over insects. If you would like to treat your quails to insects regularly, consider raising insects or worms as protein treats for your quails.
Quails love sprouted seeds like alfalfa as a fresh, tasty treat. It is possible to grow your own alfalfa so that you have freshly sprouted grains regularly and implement a fodder system for your quails to enjoy their sprouted seeds.
While quails can be picky with what they eat, they may enjoy some vegetable waste from your kitchen scrapings.
Things to bear in mind when feeding quail
Quails require plenty of water that is easily accessible to them. It is advised that your water trough should not be higher than the birds back and that there should be marbles at the bottom of the trough.
Doing this is essential in preventing quail chicks from drowning while also making the water look more attractive to the quails.
You should clean the water troughs at least three times a week and replace your quails’ water daily to minimize bacteria growth.
Adding apple cider vinegar to your quails’ water every now and then can be beneficial in killing parasites and enhancing your quails’ feathers.
Keeping the feed dry
It is pertinent that you store your quails feed in a clean, dry place. Failing to store your quails’ feed adequately can cause the feed to get moldy, which can be deadly for quails.
Ensure that you use the feed before the expiry date, and throw away any stale or foul-smelling feed. If you suspect rats may have gotten hold of the feed, it is best to throw the feed away as rates can contaminate the feed.
Quails require feed explicitly designed to meet their dietary needs. For this reason, quails should not eat chicken feed, as it will not provide them with the necessary vitamins and minerals they require. Quails who are fed chicken feed require additional supplements to meet their dietary needs.