What foods can quail chicks eat?


Jan 28, 2017
I've done a bunch of googling without much luck on this one. I've found a bit of information on what foods adult quail can eat, but nothing specifically about quail chicks. I have 7 one-week-old chicks right now and would love to get them pecking at something other than their feed but I don't want to accidentally give them something that'll harm them. Any advice?

QuailCo Eggs

In the Brooder
Mar 23, 2016
Hooper, UT
Hi All,

I have roughly 300 quail: 150 Gambel’s and 150 Valley’s. There are three types of feed you can buy: Pellets, crumble, or mill. We all know that Pellet size feed is too big for quail. There is controversy if you feed them crumble or mill type feed. With my experience, my quail consume the mill better than the crumble. Its finer for them to consume and they have less spillage.

Quail need a high protein feed. A game bird starter or turkey starter works and can usually be purchased from your local farm store. However, when raising quail from chicks, you will have to blend the feed very fine until the quail get older. I judge it by when they are fully feathered is when I stop blending the feed.

I feed my adults and chicks a 28% protein mill feed. I by my feed by the ton and here is a list of items I have added to my custom feed.

Corn Distillers
Soybean Meal
Mono Cal Phos
Ground Corn and Wheat
Ground Barley and Wheat
Turkey Premix
Yeast Concentrate
Vegetable Oil
Chlortetracycline (medication)

It’s crazy, through trial and errors, if I don’t feed my birds for three days, they start dying off very fast. Its important they have that high protein feed available at all times.

Quail need lettuce (Greens) too. Try putting in some iceberg lettuce in a corner for your chicks if you want to give them something different to peck at. Add fresh lettuce every day or two. However, I don't usually introduce any new typs of feed to my chicks until they are adults. I've realized through my experience that babies and tenage quail are very touchy.

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Jul 9, 2015
Ontario, Canada
There's another thread a few weeks ago about what people feed their quail as treats :)

Treats should never be more than 10% of their food a day or else they won't be able to fit enough boring game bird feed to get their proper nutrition (especially their high protein requirements, even more so for growing chicks).

Quail might stick their beaks up the first few times of a treat and seem to be wary of sticky/wet treats like a banana or tomato slice and will even start wiping their beaks dry without even touching it xD!!!

Finch seed mix is cheap and good to keep them busy and everybody seems to like it, you can also get millet seed puffed up like itty bitty balls of popcorn (bought at bulk barn same with the seed mix), banana, blueberries, tomato, pomegranate seeds, scrambled chicken/quail eggs, dark leafy greens, similar rules to chickens I find :)

Make sure to give them appropriate sized grit so they can digest the treats :)


5 Years
Jun 8, 2014
omnivorous--- the country boy approach. lol

Quail are able to eat a variety of foods (Vegetation's, Grains and Meats). They need higher proteins that are often not found in grains. In adults, I personally never had much luck getting them to eat a mix of grains (scratch) as they picked through the grain for their favorite (millet's) and left the rest and would only eat it as last resorts. Cracked corn and soybean were often left for days, ground soybean always being the latter and wasted. So the better food for the adults is that noted by most all of those who are aware of their needs (Higher Protein commercial feeds) 21-28% and the higher the better.
As young Chicks, I see grains useless and vegetation as more a summer supplement opposed to the more important foods they feed on and many unknowing feeders/owners seem to ignore. Meats.

Meats are insects, other and yes that can actually include the red and white meat products. Meats are much higher in proteins than a lot of the meal grains. In my arsenal meats play a larger role in the young chicks natural growth. In early hatches, i use Tuna and sardine's a supplement to any high protein chick starter. It takes the chicks a while to figure it out and that is fine, but they eventually eat all of it. In later summer, I supply them with their natural source of insects in the brooder and finisher.

The Omnivore status is obvious to most as the species I know of are labeled as being cannibals by nature, just like a chicken or other species of such natures. If you look at the quails, chickens, pheasants... beak it will confirm its omnivore status as it is curved at the end and though it is not as strong, it is roughly the style of a hawk beak, thus confirming its ability to tear away at flesh like meats. This is not to say go out and shoot some squirrels and throw them in the pen, but that is not a bad summer idea and depends on your squeamish natures, maybe even a health code issue for some.

In the hot summers, Dead animals and certain other foods will attract flies and other insects which lay eggs and make those gross little larvae we call maggots. Gross as it may be to us, most all birds enjoy the little white squirmers of human distaste as they also pack a punch of proteins. Thus I occasionally will let the insects have their way on a Pan of "Whatever" for a couple of days and when the maggots emerge, place the pan in the pen.

If you consider maggots beyond your stomach endevor but feed meal worms, then they too are from the same family of larvae so to speak. Meal worms are noting more than the Black Beatles larvae, laid in the ground and feeding on the compost of vegetation until and before they molt/mutate and reach adults.

Financially, all the above helps out as well as keeps the quail in their natural diets. But in spring/summer new comers should realize that a larger portion of the diet consist of the population and variety of insects (meats), as well as the editable vegies and grains they may encounter along the way. Winter time is the months when most quail will resort to the only available sources of foods "Grains" as the main food source as the others are more limited, thus the foraging of the grains sustains and keep them alive until the spring.

Personally, I have to agree with Quail in summer, I wouldn't pass up a rib-eye steak for a granola bar.


8 Years
Aug 31, 2011
i have a seeder which i grow fresh bean sprouts and alpha which the quails love. alpha seeds sprouts are really high in protein, they love it, i usually give it to the quails when they are 2 weeks old. whats left over i use in my salad.

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