What do Quails Eat? Diet & Nutrition Needs

Quails are omnivores, meaning these birds will eat various foods. Both domestic and wild quails eat plant-based foods like seeds and green vegetation. Quails also eat insects and other animal-based foods. Quails’ diet changes throughout the year, depending on the decrease and increase in the availability of certain foods.

For instance, quails eat plenty of seeds and insects in the early summer and spring because these two food items are in abundance during this season. These birds eat green vegetation in summer fall when there are scarce seeds and insects.

What do Quails Eat in the Wild?

Wild quails can eat various foods because there are plenty of food choices for these birds out in the wild. Quails can eat seeds, plant material, and insects in the wild. Wild quails like eating hard, slick seeds, such as ragweed seeds.

Arthropods such as spiders and insects are a crucial food source for wild quails. They are a vital water source and protein for wild quails, especially female quails and growing quail chicks.

What to Feed Your Quails?

Domestic quails have fewer food choices than wild quails. Their diet depends entirely on what their owners feed them. Besides providing your quails with enough food, you should also introduce some of the most nutritious foods to your birds to ensure they meet their dietary requirements. These are some of the finest foods to feed your quails.

– Quail Feed

Quail feed is the most available food option for domestic quails. However, it would help if you introduced quail feed to your birds when they are at least six weeks old. Baby chicks can thrive on a chick starter feed after hatching.

The chick starter should contain the right amounts of protein because baby quails need more protein than adult quails. You can transition from chick starter to quail feed when your quails are six weeks old.

Nonetheless, quail’s feeds aren’t equal in terms of nutrients. The best quail feed for your birds should have at least 19% protein, 0.9% calcium, 0.4% methionine, and 0.5% phosphorus. Quail feed for egg-laying quails should have more protein and calcium than regular quail feed. The more nutrients a quail feed has, the more nutritious it is for your quails.

– Grains

Grains are pretty nutritious and an abundant source of energy for quails. Furthermore, grains are fiber-rich, which can help improve your quails’ digestive system and give the birds a feeling of fullness. Grains are especially good for quails in winter when these birds need to eat more to keep warm.

Nonetheless, quails like eating tiny grains such as millet, wheat, and rice because they can easily swallow such grains. Larger grains such as corn aren’t suitable for quails because your quails can choke to death after eating such grains.

Moreover, feeding your quails too many grains can make them obese because grains have plenty of calories. Nonetheless, grains are an excellent food choice for quails if you provide them to your quails in moderation. The smaller the grains, the better they are for your quails.

– Chopped Vegetables

Vegetables are good for quails because they provide these birds with tons of nutrients. Some vegetables such as chards, lettuce, and spinach have high amounts of vital vitamins, such as vitamin A, K, C, and D.

Vitamin C is particularly beneficial for quails because it helps strengthen their immune system, making your quails less susceptible to diseases. Because quails have smaller beaks than other birds, you need to chop the vegetables to make it easier for the birds to feed on the vegetables.

Some safe and nutritious vegetables to feed your quails include broccoli, carrots, cucumber, and cabbage.

– Fishmeal

Fishmeal has plenty of calcium, making it excellent for egg-laying females and baby quails because they need a lot of protein. When they are molting, all quails need vast amounts of protein in the winter. Your quails won’t grow feathers fast if they lack sufficient protein in their diet.

Fishmeal will give your quails enough protein, although you need to provide the fishmeal in moderation. You can also substitute fishmeal with mealworms because mealworms are equally rich in protein.

– Live Insects

Both domestic and wild quails love insects. Try introducing some live insects to your quails if bugs and insects are in your yard. You don’t have to give live insects to your free-range quails because they will get plenty of insects out there.

Free-range quails can access various insects, including crickets, beetles, bees, worms, and spiders. Some poultry stores also sell frozen insects, which are equally good for quails, although they aren’t richer in protein than live insects.

– Seeds

Seeds are among the favorite foods for quails. Seeds have plenty of fiber, vitamins, and other vital nutrients your quails need for optimal growth and development. The best seeds for your quails include ragweed, broomweed, and foxtail seeds. These seeds have essential nutrients that will help your quails grow healthy.

What Should Quails Not Eat?

Quails can eat various foods because these tiny birds are omnivores. From seeds and vegetables to insects, your quails can eat almost anything that isn’t toxic to them. While quails don’t have strict dietary requirements, not everything is good for your quails. Below are some of the things you shouldn’t introduce to your quails.

  • Table scraps-Table scraps consist of the leftover from your kitchen. However, table scraps contain plenty of salt, spices, and additives that can harm your quails. For instance, table scraps with too much salt can put your quails at risk of dehydration.
  • Bread– Bread isn’t necessarily toxic for quails. Nevertheless, bread isn’t suitable for these birds because it has no nutritional value for your birds. Your quails risk suffering from nutritional deficiencies if you make bread their main diet. Quails will peck at the bread once you toss it in their coop, but they won’t get any nutritional value regardless of how much bread they eat.
  • Junk foods– Junk foods and other processed foods are disastrous to quails. Junk foods have high-fat content; hence, they will make your quails obese and unable to fly around because of being overweight. Junk foods also contain spices and additives that will make your chickens sick in the long run. The additives in junk foods are also toxic for chickens. Besides being unsafe for quails, junk foods have little to no nutritional content because they contain highly processed ingredients. Therefore, your egg-laying quails won’t have enough nutrients in their bodies to help them maintain stable egg production.
  • Moldy or stale foods– Stale or moldy foods are toxic for chickens. Stale foods harbor bacterial infections such as salmonella. Your quails risk getting bacterial infections if they eat moldy or stale foods. Moldy food can also expose your birds to digestive issues like diarrhea.
  • Raw beans– cooked beans are fine for your quails. Nonetheless, raw beans are toxic to birds like quails because they contain a substance known as hemagglutinin. Raw beans also have an unpleasant taste that turns away quails from this legume.
  • Candy and chocolate– You might think of these two as tasty treats for quails. However, they are among the worst food choices for quails. They contain theobromine, a toxic compound that makes birds and canines sick. Candy and chocolate are also high in sugar, which is hazardous to poultry. It’s best to avoid these two sugary treats and introduce healthier treats to your birds.
  • Green potatoes- Quails usually enjoy pecking at green potatoes. However, green potatoes are toxic to quails because they contain a highly toxic substance known as solanine. Cooked green potatoes are good for poultry, including quails, although you shouldn’t feed your quail flock with large quantities of cooked potatoes.
  • Avocados-Although avocados are some of the healthiest fruits; these fruits are however toxic to quails. They contain a toxic compound known as persin. Raw avocados are highly rich in this poisonous compound; therefore, you shouldn’t feed your flock with raw avocados.
  • Citrus fruits-While citrus fruits are good for most birds because they have many nutrients, they aren’t among the perfect foods for quails. Citrus fruits have a high concentration of citric acid, which can be toxic to quails in the long run. Quails also have delicate stomachs, so the high concentration of citric acid in citrus fruits can wreck your quails’ digestive systems.

Can Quails Eat Chicken Feed?

Chicken feed isn’t toxic for quails, and your birds will enjoy eating chicken feed. However, chicken feed lacks some vital nutrients, and minerals quails need. Consider feeding your flock with feed featuring a special formulation for game birds to meet their dietary needs.

Do Quails Eat Fruits?

Yes, these birds eat fruits like other birds. Fruits are an essential part of the diet for quails, especially wild quails. Domestic quails enjoy eating various fruits because they find the fruits tasty. Fruits like melons are especially good for quails because they have multiple nutrients and quails also find them delicious.


Feeding quails is pretty easy since they can eat almost anything non-toxic. Moreover, quails have minimal dietary requirements, and it’s thus easy to keep them healthy provided you provide the quails with enough healthy foods. However, not everything is good for your quails. Therefore, avoid giving toxic food items to your quails lest you harm or kill your birds.

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *