I was browsing Imgur the other day and stumbled upon this crazy gif:
For those who may not be aware, chickens do eat meat. They are the closest living relative to the T-Rex and act like it! These feathered raptors not only take down mice but also eat grubs and worms, meat scraps, and some dairy to get their daily protein intake. But… I don’t own chickens. I own quail. Initially, I thought the Justin Rhode’s chicken feed (sprouted grain, meat/protein, greens/food scraps) would work out for us.
It turns out, quail don’t eat meat.
I can easily feed grain and food scraps to my quail. It all pretty much comes from their feed or my kitchen. I was, however, struggling with the protein source. If they can’t eat meat what else can I feed them to ensure they’re getting their daily protein intake? After some quick research, here are the 3 protein sources I will be feeding my flock:
Grubs. And Worms. And Insects.
Any insect, pupa or larva that isn’t toxic will be eaten by quail. When I dig through my garden, I come across these fat white Sand Chafer grubs. These grubs are tough for my quail to peck through but these little guys aren’t easily deterred. Whenever I dump a load of grubs in their coop, my quail go nuts trying to swallow them down as fast as possible. Outside of sand chafer grubs, you can also feed fly maggots, soldier fly larva, and mealworms to quail. Since I’m growing beans this fall, I also sweep through and feed any pests like Japanese beetles to my quail.
Did you know you can grow your own mealworms? We did! Check out the build instructions for a mealworm grow box here.
Feeding grubs and insects to quail is a great way to greatly increase their protein intake. According to Dana Goodyear of the New Yorker, ” Ounce for ounce, many [insects] have the same amount of protein as beef… and are rich in micronutrients like iron and zinc.” Insects are so high in protein that they can actually be used to supplement the human diet as well. With a short lifestyle in comparison to most livestock, insects are also quick to grow and reproduce. Some farmers, such as Justin Rhodes and the Texas Boys, raise maggots and worms in bins or vermiculture buckets. I recently tried my hand at growing worms but it got so hot over the summer that my plan failed epically.
Rich, Leafy Greens
Save some money and grow feed for your quail. Our protein, mineral-rich green of choice is comfrey. We have two comfrey plants growing in our garden right now and I plan on getting like 10 more.
Shhh! Don’t tell Alex!
T.M Teynor et al state, ” [The] protein content of comfrey dry matter (15 to 30%) is about as high as legumes…” and the plant can grow up to 3ft tall. Comfrey also grows rapidly and reseeds itself every year. I chose this plant due to its ability to adapt to shady climates, its high yield, and I won’t lie, the transplants were cheap for $2.50 a plant. When the comfrey leaves reach a certain length, I cut them off close to the base and throw the raw comfrey into the quail coop. My quail don’t flock to the comfrey as much as the grubs but they still eat their greens. Another great thing about comfrey is the variety of animals that can consume it. My rabbits love comfrey so I feed some to them as well. The raw greens are a great supplement to their hay and alfalfa pellets.
Comfrey, however, isn’t the only leafy green you can feed quail. Spinach, kale, and turnip greens can also be great for your birds. These leafy greens are actually more mineral and nutrient-rich than comfrey too. Grow a variety in your garden and see what works best! Who knows, you might be able to save on feed this coming spring and summer.
You read that right. Quail can and will eat their own eggs. Quail eggs have about 1.6 grams of protein per egg. Further, quail eggs are rich in vitamin A and iron, which your quail will totally benefit from. I usually take older quail eggs and hard boil them. I then chop them up so the quail eggs don’t look like eggs at all. One of the drawbacks of feeding eggs to your quail is they might learn that their eggs are food. This might lead to your hens laying and eating their own eggs before you can collect them. However, by cutting or mashing the eggs up into a mash, you can try and stop this behavior from developing.
The yolk and white aren’t the only part of the egg quail will eat. You can also feed eggshells to your quail. I usually dry the shells and then crush them into bits before scattering it across the hutch floor. By doing so, I am providing a calcium source for my quail that helps in the development of healthy, strong shelled eggs. Eggshells also help keep the quail entertained as they scratch about like their wild brethren. You don’t have to hard boil the eggs either. You can also just crack and crush the eggs in their feed. My quail will eat every bit they can. If you don’t have quail eggs, you can also feed quail chicken or duck eggs. Crush and feed them as you would the quail eggs.
Try to supplement protein in your flock this Fall and Winter using some of these food sources. As always be kind and tender to one another.