Quail, specifically those falling under the New World species, are medium-sized, ground-dwelling birds found throughout the U.S.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.
Whole ground quail can be given as a treat or as 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.
Quail Fun Fact
Quails are found throughout the world, but earliest domestication records point to 8th century Japan.4 By the 16th century, the Japanese even semi-domesticated quails into singing birds. During World War II, almost all quails were wiped out, but the industry was able to flourish again thanks to imported quails from nearby countries.5
Quail: A Novel Protein for Your Pet
What makes quail popular is its 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 a treat or food topper.
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.6 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.7 These vitamins play various roles in helping support your pet's health. Vitamin B6, for example, helps with fatty acid biosynthesis.8 On the other hand, thiamin has been identified as an important factor for carbohydrate metabolism and nervous system function.9
"Quail meat or eggs can be included as a part of a nutritionally balanced homemade diet or fed as species-appropriate treats."
A Secret of Quail Meat: Oleic Acid
Quail meat already happens to have plenty of vitamins and minerals your pet can benefit from, such as calcium, folate and vitamin A,10 but that's not where it ends. Scientists dug deeper and discovered a trait that makes quail meat even better: it contains oleic acid.
According to a study published in the journal Food Science & Nutrition, quail meat contains rich amounts of C18:1 fat, otherwise known as oleic acid.11 Animal research has shown that increased intake of this particular fat can help optimize omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease — both of which were observed in the rats used in the study.12
Where Do Quails Come From?
Quail exist in all continents except Antarctica. New-world quails thrive in North America's environment, while Old-world quails are mostly found in Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa.13
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, vitamin A14 and high amounts of B vitamins.15
According to one study that used an animal model, antioxidants that may help curb inflammation are abundant in the yolk and albumen of quail eggs.16 In a different research paper, quail egg white is mentioned to have anti-inflammatory and antiallergic aspects as well.17
Did You Know?
Female quails can start laying eggs at 6 weeks of age. In fact, they are quite prolific at it. Some quail breeds can produce almost 300 eggs during laying season. However, these birds have a much shorter lifespan — around two years only. In comparison, chickens or ducks can live for about eight years.18
Tips to Prepare Quail Meat for Your Pet
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 small bits of 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 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 declining in certain areas,19 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 organic, pasture raised meat or eggs 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.