Feeding Button Quail

Button quail require a high protein diet

  1. Game bird starter (unmedicated) 24% protein or higher (28-30% is ideal for young growing buttons). I have used both FRM game bird starter and Country Side Organics Turkey Starter with good results. If I was not also raising coturnix quail for organic eggs, I likely would just use the FRM starter as the button quail do very well on it and it has a higher protein level that the turkey starter.
  2. Lower protein chick starters can be used if gamebird starter is unavailable but the diet must be supplemented with mealworms and hardboiled eggs. Failure to get the diet up to at least 24% protein can result in feather picking and even cannibalism (rare but possible if they get desperate enough). A higher protein diet also encourages breeding behavior.
  3. Button quail love small seeds (parakeet or finch seed, millet sprays) but if seed is fed, grit (crushed granite) should be fed so that the button quail can break down the seed properly.
  4. Pulverized oystershell or egg shell is an absolute requirement for breeding hens to get enough calcium.


Button quail should always have fresh water offered in a shallow dish (young button quail chicks especially are prone to drowning). Water should be changed at least once per day to avoid bacterial build up in the container/dispenser.

Button quail will naturally kick bedding into the water. The best way around this is to elevate the food and water dishes by placing them either on a brick inside the cage or on an upturned clay plant saucer. What to offer water in:

  • Smaller waterers can be silicone to the clay saucer so that there is no chance of it tipping over.
  • For a larger number of quail, there are no drown mason jar base waterers
  • For chicks, gallon milk jug caps with a couple of marbles added are ideal until they are about a week old
  • Other possibilities that I’ve seen people use but have not used myself:
    • Hamster water bottles
    • Poultry water nipples
    • Soda pop bottle waterers
    • Parakeet/finch waterers
  • If you choose one of these alternate methods or change the method you usecurrently, make sure the birds know where the water is. For chicks this means “pecking” the marbles in the cap with your finger until they try it.For adults this might mean gently holding the tip of their beak gently in water, then watching awhile to make sure they return to drink from it on their own. Button quail do not last long without access to water so this is very important
  • Sometimes I use a horse supplement called “Red Cell” a few times a week at a ratio of ¼ tsp to 1 quart of water. I cannot say for sure that it makes a difference but my quail rarely become ill and always have beautiful healthy looking feathers.

One thought on “Feeding”

  1. I have my quail in a 5 by 3 by 3 foot cage in my living room. Also have two finchs with them. I have a water dish and a small outdoor water fountain. All the birds seem to prefer the waterfall. I bought it at a thrift store for 8 bucks. Oh and you may wonder, A huge cage with native plants and tree branchs and cypress knees and waterfalls in your living room. Im a Single guy.LOL


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Hobby breeder of the beautiful little button quail in North Central Florida

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