My daughter has raising quail on her list for a few years now, so finally this winter we decided to take the plunge and gifted her with 17 baby button quail to raise.
Like so many of our other critters, we kind of took the leap into raising button quail without a lot of knowledge or information. Having a farm full of chickens we wrongly assumed they were similar.
To start, 17 button quail would have fit into a water glass when we got them at 1 day old. They were transported in a small box with heating pads as we sped our way home through a snow storm.
They spent those first days in a plastic tub with shavings, and a heat lamp. Our biggest panic was when we were transporting them into their new home from the box and “were down one”. We found him a little later tucked under one of the box flaps… a little cold, but alive.
So, here are a few things we learned about raising button quail, so you can start out a few steps ahead of us.
Button Quail are Tiny
Obviously. I know. But, you can’t really comprehend just HOW tiny these little darlings are when they hatch, nor just how small the eggs are.
Frequently described as the “size of a bumblebee”, the button quail is so small that you need to be cautious when holding it. I liked it to holding onto a cricket… its active, and bouncing, but if you hold too tightly, you will squish it. So one my “cocoon” it within the hands, restraining it without restraint.
Be sure to put marbles in your water bowls so the quail don’t drown, and keep food easy to reach for their tiny little legs.
Button Quail Need Warmth
Somewhere along the line we didn’t catch on that our button quail couldn’t just harden off and move outside like our chickens. We live on the west coast of Canada, and our temps don’t goo too low (max -5 but not for long). Our hens keep warm in the insulated hen house, with lots of other fowl bodies to snuggle.
We are now building small “nesting boxes” outside of our garage that will be heated from September to March with a small heat lamp, and have an additional outdoor area similar to their natural habitat.
Until then… we house them in a few fish tanks (breeding pairs, and boys) but the tanks need cleaning every 3 days (button quail get a little smelly)
Button Quail Eggs
Quail eggs are a definite delicacy around the world, but what about BUTTON quail eggs? These are almost HALF the size of a regular quail egg…
Selling for apx 15$ for a dozen, they are still amazing as a garnish on an appetizer, soft boiled (boil for only 90 seconds) and are super cute fried up on a piece of toast. Their flavour is richer than a chicken egg, and delicious.
Button Quail as Pets?
If you are looking for an animal you can interact with, Button Quail, even when handled as chicks tend to be flighty and panicked. They “sproing” straight up when startled which means they will shoot right out of your hands if given the chance. We haven’t had them “engage” with us like our hens do, although they are quite sweet to watch.
Feeding Button Quail
Quail need a HIGH protein diet. We use the turkey crumble, with 22%+ protein. In size relations, Button quail eggs are the LARGEST eggs vs body weight of the hen in the world, which means our little birds need quality nutrition to produce them and stay healthy.
As well, since ours are raised in an outdoor “natural” environment (with a heated enclosure) they have access to greens and bugs that dare to happen into their spot.
In summery, if you love little critters, Button Quail are fun, interesting and fairly short lived (apx 2years) The boys (while useless except for breeding) won’t fight if housed together without females, and are fun for poultry shows etc. The girls produce sweet eggs, and while they rarely go broody and hatch their eggs, an incubator will do the trick if you want to breed.
We are enjoying them as “starter” quail, but have larger quail varieties on our list for the future.