New to Quail and have questions about natural diet/care


5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
Hi! I've spent a long time reading on this forum but I still have a lot of questions.

I don't yet have quail (or any type of bird), but would like to purchase maybe three or four birds (if I can find them!). They would need to be kept outside, and I'd like the eggs for eating, so I suppose that means I need Coturnix.(?)

I keep reading about how important meat is to the quail diet, or at least protein. I suppose I could feed an organic feed during the winter, but I would really prefer foraging/growing my own food for them when I can. My original thought was that doing this for only a few birds would be easy. However, I read that you should keep the protein level of food consistent to avoid damage to birds.. And that they need 28% protein (from a meat source?)

So what I want to know is, can I find enough food out in my backyard (most days) for four quail if I collect berries, seeds, plants, and bugs? I live in Illinois and have time but no money. What could be the pros/cons of doing this? I'm not sure if it will be worth having a few birds if I will need to buy feed (which would need to be organic).
Do they eat about a half cup of food a day? How many bugs would a quail even need in one day? Oo I can't seem to figure this out.

Out here we have mulberries, blackberries, acorns, some other type of berry that's poisonous for people but the birds eat it (I'll have to look it up later), lots of turnip greens and turnip seeds...

I've also heard that you can use a small light to attract bugs right to your birds. ^ ^'

I have a cage approximately 5X5 feet for the quail, so I take it that is enough room for 4 birds?

Any tips or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
There are places around the web that can be pretty helpful regarding making up protein percentage. Look up crude protein sources, there are proteins in many things that aren't meat. Hard boiled eggs for example provide some extra protein as well as other beneficial amino acids. Another thing you can do is raise meal worms (meal worms are high in fat so you can only give them a few each per day or you're risking fatty organs but they are high in protein too)

There are other members that are doing similar things maybe one will chime in and help out. There are recipes for making your own feed on here but they are for 2000lbs of food at a time, but maybe you can scale them down some. Just search BYC for quail food recipes and they'll come up.
Thanks for the input.
I've found a few recipes at other places already but I guess I'll look around more.
Another thing I'd be interested in seeing is a list of things you shouldn't, and list of things you can, feed a quail.

As for protein percentages, yes, I know there are plant sources of protein, but I read on here that Quail are obligate omnivores, and must get their protein from meat. I haven't read this elsewhere though so I don't know what to think.

I'm wondering if as long as I try to give them about the same amount of protein every day, and give them a lot to choose from, they will eat the right ratios of what they need. I heard quail eat only as much as they need, but I suppose they may still over-eat on bugs if offered too many? Haha, or maybe I'm just asking questions that can't really be answered one way or another for ALL quail.

Or perhaps someone that keeps a few quail as pets would have a good answer...

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