Quail, specifically those falling under the New World species, are medium-sized, ground-dwelling birds found throughout America.1 Quail are considered small game, but they're also grown in poultry operations.2,3 While humans commonly consume quail and quail eggs, can your pet do so as well? The answer is yes!
Quail can be a nutritious treat for your pet because it contains nutrients such as protein, folate, vitamin A, magnesium and potassium.4 Feeding your pets whole ground quail can be a nutritious component of a homemade diet, in conjunction with other ingredients that comprise a nutritionally complete meal. If you opt to feed this protein as a food source, please follow a recipe that has been formulated to meet your pet's minimum nutrient requirements.
Another option is to use quail meat or eggs as a scrumptious treat. Ideally, treats should comprise less than 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake. Use this as a guide to prevent overfeeding treats to your pet.
Quail: An Alternative Protein for Your Pet
Quail has the benefit of being a "novel protein," a meat source your pet probably hasn't consumed before, so it makes a nice option for an "alternative" protein that can be used for a dietary elimination trial, if needed, for food allergies. It also provides nutritional variety for healthy pets when used as treats or food toppers.
According to a study published in BMC Veterinary Research, some of the top allergenic proteins for dogs include beef, chicken and lamb. Cats that were part of the study showed allergic responses to beef and chicken.5 Novel protein diets are used for allergy patients, but your nonallergic dog or cat can also certainly enjoy quail meat and eggs as a healthy treat.
Benefits of B Vitamins for Your Pet
Quail happens to be a good source of B vitamins, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science. According to the researchers, quail contains vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin.6 These vitamins play various roles in helping support your pet's health. Vitamin B6, for example, helps with fatty acid biosynthesis.7 On the other hand, thiamin has been identified as an important factor for carbohydrate metabolism and nervous system function.8
Don't Forget About Quail Eggs – They're Just as Good
You can expand your pet's list of nutritious foods by giving them quail eggs, which are just as beneficial as quail meat for your pet's health. A single quail egg (around 9 grams) contains nutrients such as calcium, protein, folate and vitamin A.9
According to one study that used an animal model, quail eggs, specifically in the yolk and albumen, contain antioxidants that may help with inflammation.10 In a different research paper, quail egg white is mentioned to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic aspects as well.11
Tips in Preparing Quail Meat for Your Pet
Quail meat or eggs can be included as a part of a nutritionally balanced homemade diet or fed as species-appropriate treats. There are several ways you can feed quail to your pets: You can add quail eggs (cooked or raw) to your pet's current diet as a food topper, use quail meat as training treats throughout the day or use quail as the foundation of a nutritionally balanced, homemade pet food recipe.
Quail meat and eggs can be fed raw or cooked, but there are other options, as well. Freeze-dried or dehydrated quail meat is super convenient for pet owners on the go, or active pet lovers who like to bring their pet with them on outdoor excursions, such as camping trips or hikes.
When Feeding Quail Treats to Your Pet, Safety First
With their assortment of nutrients, quail meat and eggs can be nutritious treats for your pet. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Wild populations of quail are in fact declining in certain areas,12 so for this reason, I recommend purchasing captive-bred quail meat raised in humane conditions by trustworthy producers.
Like most types of livestock, quail can be either factory-farmed or ethically and sustainably raised. Purchasing meat or eggs from organic breeders not only helps conserve the population of wild quail, but also gives you the peace of mind that the animals are fed well and raised in environments that mimic their natural habitat, and live better lives compared to their factory-farmed counterparts.