Raw Diet for Coturnix Quail?

snailquail

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2020
15
41
39
Hi! I have 20 coturnix quail who i currently have on a high protein game bird diet, but I've been considering trying to transition to a diet i formulate myself! My problem is I do not know what exact things like seeds or fruit or nuts or insects or crushed eggshells for calcium or other types of protein (do they like things like fish? is that toxic to them????) to add to make a well balanced diet with enough nutrients and protein for them to thrive. Does anyone else have experience with this or advice?
 

snailquail

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2020
15
41
39
I don't know all of the details, but I have heard over the years it can be more work and more money to make/buy/grow your own bird feed ^^" good luck!
Yes, I'm sure it is!! The more expensive part is a bit of a hard one, but I mainly want to transition because I find a lot of happiness in preparing food for animals like that! Mixing things and growing things and combining things into different concoctions and meals to experiment with is the best part for me, plus I just love seeing what goes into it.
 

Quailobsessed

Crowing
Oct 12, 2019
2,026
3,226
351
Australia
I don't advise feeding your quails homemade feed unless you have done adequate research about their dietary needs and the food you plan to give them.

Here are some tips for you.

I wouldn't recommend fruit for daily food, but instead save it for treats, because birds don't need a lot of sugar.

Some good daily foods are vegetables (several kinds for lots of variety), legumes (great for protein, but they need to be cooked or sprouted first), grains (wholegrains are best), sprouts and insects. I would advise chopping up vegetables and mixing them with legumes, sprouts and wholegrains, and freezing it in good sized portions. Live insects could be given for them to chase.

I do a similar thing for my parrots. Here's a picture of their food. I change up the types of veggies, legumes and grains seasonally for variety.
IMG_20190923_213844 (1).jpg

I do supplement them with pellets, so if you're not planning to do that, I would add a little extra grains and legumes.

For introducing something like this, I would advise to mix a small amount with their current diet, and slowly increasing the new and decreasing the old.
 

shrimpsilkies

Songster
Feb 1, 2020
362
658
161
It’s probably quite difficult to replicate the protein level required by these birds, especially in the spring, without breeding insects as well since for wild quail this is the majority of their diet. A high protein gamebird food is rarely an ideal diet for quail but it’s really the only thing that’s good for them since they really do need that protein. I know that a German quail supply store sells a pellet/grain/seed mix as a staple diet for laying quail, and it included dried krill for protein. Perhaps you can find the recipe or something similar and attempt to recreate it, but it might be expensive.
 

snailquail

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2020
15
41
39
It’s probably quite difficult to replicate the protein level required by these birds, especially in the spring, without breeding insects as well since for wild quail this is the majority of their diet. A high protein gamebird food is rarely an ideal diet for quail but it’s really the only thing that’s good for them since they really do need that protein. I know that a German quail supply store sells a pellet/grain/seed mix as a staple diet for laying quail, and it included dried krill for protein. Perhaps you can find the recipe or something similar and attempt to recreate it, but it might be expensive.
Breeding insects was actually at the top of my list! I attempted lots of research last night, and tried to find good sources of thiamin, vitamin d3, vitamin a, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, choline, vitamin b6, calcium, and protein for poultry so that I could make sure that if I do this, their vital nutritional needs would be met.

I was thinking of breeding mealworms, but I read that occasionally they can live inside a bird's stomach for a bit after they are eaten and could possibly bite into the stomach lining, so I'm now considering cockroaches :) other protein sources i was considering are cuttlebone, eggs, earthworms, perhaps crickets, sprouted alfalfa, and oyster shell, along with perhaps a fish type of situation, BUT I've read that there can be some things in fish that will cancel out certain other vitamins? dried krill sounds like a good and easy to find option to maybe think about!!
 

Nabiki

Quail Geek
Premium Feather Member
May 15, 2019
9,248
59,544
1,046
Sonoma County, CA
Mealworms are really high in fat, so be careful of feeding too many of them to your birds. If you're raising them for meat, you might try different diets on different groups as well, since their diet influences how their meat tastes.
 

snailquail

In the Brooder
Sep 2, 2020
15
41
39
Mealworms are really high in fat, so be careful of feeding too many of them to your birds. If you're raising them for meat, you might try different diets on different groups as well, since their diet influences how their meat tastes.
That's why cockroaches definitely seem better! high protein, low fat. I will definitely switch up my bug proteins, though, to other low fat insects so the nutritional content varies :) mealworms only as treats.

I'm raising them for eggs and as pets, as I'm a vegetarian (obviously i have no problems with meat eating and majorly respect people who grow up their own meat!!).
 

FloorCandy

Crowing
Apr 15, 2020
3,514
7,101
441
I’ve found also that if you have a light in or right up next to the pen, it will attract bugs and the birds wait at the lights to catch them. I feel like it’s a good varied addition that enriches them in more ways than nutrients, as the sun goes down, they line up at the lights, even in winter, there’s a few here and there. Plus instead of me bringing more bugs into the yard in the form of meal worms, they are ridding the area of some of the natural insect population lol.
 

shrimpsilkies

Songster
Feb 1, 2020
362
658
161
Breeding insects was actually at the top of my list! I attempted lots of research last night, and tried to find good sources of thiamin, vitamin d3, vitamin a, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, choline, vitamin b6, calcium, and protein for poultry so that I could make sure that if I do this, their vital nutritional needs would be met.

I was thinking of breeding mealworms, but I read that occasionally they can live inside a bird's stomach for a bit after they are eaten and could possibly bite into the stomach lining, so I'm now considering cockroaches :) other protein sources i was considering are cuttlebone, eggs, earthworms, perhaps crickets, sprouted alfalfa, and oyster shell, along with perhaps a fish type of situation, BUT I've read that there can be some things in fish that will cancel out certain other vitamins? dried krill sounds like a good and easy to find option to maybe think about!!
To consistently feed a flock of quail you will need a truly massive colony of roaches. I breed dubia and they are slow to reproduce. I have a fairly large colony ~2000 with 100 breeding adults at the moment, and my 14 coturnix could eat it all in a week if I let them. I have no luck with red runners, my lobster roaches are still gaining size, and while I do have an ungodly amount of Suriname roaches, they are rather small and shelly (but parthenogenetic, so you’ll never run out). I also do superworms and mealworms, and they are best when the worms recently fed on vegetables or fruit and have more gut content than unnecessary fat. I do think breeding bugs for them is a good idea (excellent for taming them too) but I don’t know how feasible it is to use livefood as a primary protein source.

Unfortunately Coturnix are very picky with what they’ll eat. Certain greens and almost every fruit are rejected, and I only have 3 that like egg! Only my greediest will eat earthworms, and another one is the only one that eats slugs. In my experience Cots are quite dependent on pellets. If you do do the math and calculate a good, high protein whole food diet that they like to eat, I would definitely be interested in the recipe though!
 

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