Button Quail – Breed Profile & Facts

Also known as the Chinese painted quail, the Button quail is one of the smallest quail species in the world. Although Button quails look like true quails, they aren’t genetically related to other quails in the Pheasant family.

Button quails are strictly ground dwellers; their feet can’t perch on branches and sticks. They have three toes, and these birds don’t have hind toes. Therefore they can’t perch on branches.

What is a Button Quail?

A Button quail is a small quail species known as the Chinese quail. It is also known as the Blue breasted quail or the Chinese Painted Quail. The Button quail is a member of a family of small birds known as Turnicidae.

These small birds look similar to true quails, although there is no relationship between them and true quails. Button quails inhabit the grasslands in Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. They are small running birds that avoid flying.

Button Quail Characteristics

The male Button quail has colorful gray-blue feathers on the chest. Males have rust-colored feathers on their abdomen. They also have white and black bands of feathers on the neck and face. Female Button quails are bigger than their male counterparts.

Females have brown feathers throughout their bodies. They also don’t have distinct facial markings, unlike males. Button quails communicate with multiple sounds, including clicking, chirping, and crowing. These birds are strictly ground dwellers who risk injuring themselves when they try to fly.

– Size & Weight

The Button quail is a tiny terrestrial bird that measures 3.9 inches in length and weighs between 1.1 and 4.6 oz. Some of the Button quails in the Turnix genus measure between 4.7 and 9.1 inches. They also weigh between 30 and 130 grams.

– Temperament

Button quails are shy and quiet since they aren’t noisy like true quails. These birds can be pretty difficult to tame without hand-rearing them. Nonetheless, it’s easy to tame them if you spend time with the birds, especially when they are young.

Males can be territorial, and it isn’t advisable to keep them together to avoid conflicts over females and dominance. Nonetheless, Button quails are non-aggressive birds that avoid confrontations with each other and other birds.

– Lifespan

Button quails have a fairly long lifespan because these small birds can live for over four years with good care. Nonetheless, wild Button quails have a shorter lifespan than domestic Button quails. Wild Button quails face threats such as predation and harsh weather elements, explaining why they don’t live longer than domestic quails.

– Egg Production

Button quails are tiny, but that doesn’t imply these birds aren’t prolific layers. A female Button quail can lay five eggs weekly, averaging about 300 eggs yearly. Button quails start laying when they are between 6 and 8 weeks old. They aren’t broody, and they are also excellent sitters.

Females lay year round if they get an adequate diet and light. Most Button females start laying in February. They will continue laying daily until they age when they lay no more.

– Meat Production

Although Button quails are some of the best birds to keep for egg production, they aren’t good meat producers. These birds are tiny, so they can’t make dependable meat birds. Thus if you are considering keeping any quail species for meat, it would help to avoid rearing Button quails.

Button Quail Care

Because Button quails are small and mature pretty fast, these birds are some of the easiest birds to keep. Their small size means these birds eat less and don’t need large living spaces. They can be comfortable in tiny spaces, especially if you don’t have too many Button quails in your flock.

These birds are ground dwellers, so there is no risk of your Button quails flying away. However, Button quails equally need excellent care like other quail species to thrive. The comprehensive guide below will help you care for your Button quails.

– Feeding & Nutrition

First, you must provide your Button quails with a well-balanced diet to keep them healthy. Ideally, Button quails should eat a high-quality game bird feed, making up between 60% and 70 % of their daily diet. Besides game bird feed, your Button quails should eat a decent amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Some occasional treats like live food, including crickets, mealworms, and fly larvae, are also healthy for Button quails. Consider giving your Button quails some carb-rich foods like wheat, rice, and cracked corn in the winter to help them conserve heat and keep warm. Nonetheless, too many carb-rich foods aren’t suitable for Button quails because they can make the birds overweight.

Provide some grit to your Button quails in a large bowl for the quails to sit in. Grit is essential for quails because it provides them with crucial minerals they will likely not get from what you give them. Furthermore, grit also helps in the breakdown of food and eases digestion.

Avoid overfeeding grit because it can obstruct your birds’ intestinal tracts if they eat too much grit. Button quails living outdoors don’t need grit because they can get it from the small pebbles they peck at in the soil. Spray multivitamin powder on the birds’ feed to ensure the quails get enough vital vitamins.

Your egg-laying female Button quails should consume plenty of crushed oyster shells since it is an excellent calcium supplement for all egg-laying birds, including Button quails. You can mix the oyster shells with the game bird feed in a bowl and then provide it to the quails.

Besides calcium from oyster shells and other sources, your egg-laying quails equally need protein because it will help these tiny birds keep laying year round, even in winter when egg production is at its lowest in all birds, including Button quails. The game bird feed you provide to your Button quails should contain around 16% protein.

Avoid feeding Button quails, fruit seeds, avocados, chocolate, and caffeine because all these can be toxic to the birds. Button quails need clean, fresh water; thus, you should change the water daily before refilling the bowls you use for watering your Button quails.

Discard any food, including fruits, feed, and vegetables, that your Button quails refuse to eat within a couple of hours. Such food leftovers can carry bacteria, ultimately harming your birds. Most importantly, ensure the Button quails have enough food by feeding them at least thrice daily.

– Housing

Proper housing is important for Button quails, so you should ensure your birds get adequate housing conditions. Your birds’ house should be rectangular. It should also have solid flooring no less than 2 feet in every dimension. It’s good to provide your Button quails with a large house.

Although these birds are ground dwellers, they occasionally fly for short distances. Thus, a large house that encourages your birds to fly around to exercise and keep them happy is vital while rearing Button quails.

Button quails thrive well in average household temperatures. Ensure you house the quails in housing conditions with temperatures not exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Be cautious of extreme temperature fluctuations when setting a house for your Button quails.

Place the coop a few inches off the ground and ensure it is in a well-lit and draft-free area. The pen should be inaccessible to predators like stray dogs, feral cats, hawks, and raccoons. Button quails are pretty vulnerable to predators, so you should keep away curious predators from your quails.

Ensure the coop’s floor is solid, and avoid installing mesh wire on the floor because it can injure your Button quails. The coop’s top should have a cover to protect predators from the quails and the birds from rainstorms and scorching sun.

Because Button quails are ground dwellers, they need comfortable bedding in their cage. You can make awesome bedding for your birds using pine shavings, paper-based bedding, organic soil, or grass hay. If you are housing your birds outdoors, preferably in a coop with a run, it will help to cover the run with warm material to add warmth in colder climates.

Ensure the coop has some hiding areas such as plastic flowerpots and cardboard boxes to make your Button quails feel secure. Like other birds, Button quails need light to help sensitive vitamin D in their bodies. Light is also critical for egg-laying Button quails because it encourages them to lay year-round.

You can use artificial lighting, such as a UV bulb, to provide light to your Button quails if you keep the birds indoors. No matter the lighting option, ensure your birds get between 10 and 12 hours of light daily. Keep a few foraging toys in the cage to ensure your Button quails get mental stimulation and prevent boredom.

– Health Problems

Button quails are delicate, tiny birds like other quail species. Besides being fragile, these birds experience multiple health problems in their lifetime. These are some common health problems in Button quails.

  • Quail disease– Also known as Ulcerative Enteritis, Quail disease is a bacterial disease that enters a quail’s body through fecal waste from other birds carrying this bacteria. Flies can also transmit this disease if they contact other sick Button quails. Quail disease causes lesions in a quail’s digestive tract. Fortunately, Quail disease is treatable through antibiotics. Some symptoms of this disease in Button quails include dropped wings, paleness, watery droppings, lethargy, and fluffed appearance.
  • Coryza– This is another nasty bacterial disease that affects Button quails. It is transmitted directly from one sick bird to a healthy bird. Coryza is similar to a flu bug or cold, although it is more severe for Button quails. The disease causes a respiratory infection in Button quails. You can treat Coryza in your Button quails if you detect it early. The symptoms of Coryza in Button quails include lethargy, difficulty breathing, swollen face, and snotty eyes and beaks. Like Quail disease, Coryza is treatable with antibiotics.
  • Respiratory infections– Button quails are more vulnerable to respiratory infections than other birds. Your quails can get respiratory infections depending on how you raise them. Since most farmers keep their Button quails in confinement, usually in small pens, their birds are likely to experience respiratory problems, especially if they don’t keep the pens clean.
  • Coccidiosis –Coccidiosis is a common health problem in Button quails and other birds. A tiny but deadly protozoan is responsible for this quail disease. Young quails have weaker immune systems than their adult counterparts. So they are pretty susceptible to coccidiosis. Symptoms of coccidiosis in button quails include sudden weight loss, loss of appetite, closed sleepy eyes, and ruffled feathers. Although coccidiosis is among the most challenging quail diseases to treat, you can, fortunately, treat the condition if you detect it early.
  • Parasitic worms- Many quail keepers don’t consider parasitic worms a serious health problem in Button quails. However, parasitic worms can be fatal to your birds’ health. Deworming your Button quails is the ultimate solution to dealing with parasitic worms. Some signs your button quails have parasitic worms include lethargy, diarrhea, and weight loss.

How Much Do Button Quails Cost?

Button quails are relatively cheaper. Adult Button quails cost anywhere between $7 and $12 per bird. Button quail chicks cost below $ 5.

Are Button Quails Good for Beginners?

Yes, Button Quails are good for beginner quail keepers. They are easy to raise, and these quails aren’t noisy or flighty.

Are Button Quails Hardy?

No Button quails are quite fragile. Mishandling these quails can be fatal because it can lead to serious injuries or even death. Furthermore, Button quails are vulnerable to multiple health concerns, especially when housed in poor conditions.

Can Button Quails Fly?

Button quails are usually ground dwellers. Nonetheless, these quails usually fly for short distances, although they can’t fly too far to escape from your premises.

Tips on Keeping Button Quails

  • Set up a good and secure house for your Button quails.
  • Keep your quails in a clean pen
  • Ensure your quails are inaccessible to predators
  • Feed your Button quails healthy foods
  • Monitor your Button quails for any health issues


Button quails are some of the smallest birds on the planet, but terrific layers. These birds are easy to contain since they aren’t as flighty as other quail species. Furthermore, Button quails are silent compared to true quails. They thrive well with minimal care and make excellent birds in any backyard.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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