Why Button quails? These smallest of quails, make delightful and easy pets. They come in many colors and often, if they are handled as young chicks, they can become tame enough to sit it your hands.
Buttons are native to Asia and are also known as the Chinese Painted Quail, Blue-Breasted Quail and the King quail. Many people are getting into the exciting hobby of raising birds and Button Quails are a wonderful choice to start with.
•They don’t require a lot of room. An aquarium or even a plastic tub can serve as housing for Button quails. •They don’t make much noise. Especially compared to other birds like chickens. •They don’t require difficult diets. Their diets are simple and easy to get. •They have small appetites. They are small birds that require a small amount of feed to keep them in good weight and health. •They won’t break the bank to purchase one. $5 will easily get you a nice Button Quail.
Button Quail have become popular all over the USA. They are entertaining to watch, easy to care for and profitable. To be able to watch them as they interact with each other or in their own environment is calming and many people find it enjoyable. They are easily housed in modest cages from cardboard boxes to specially made quail pens made for their small size. They eat a gamebird mixture and do well on it. A breeder with careful planning can easily make at least his operating costs in the sale of Buttons as they have become so popular.
The lifespan of a Button quail is 3-4 years as an average.
How to tell the boys from the girls- males have a white bib under their chins and rust colored feathers on their stomach and lower half of their bodies. Girls will lack these traits.
Button quail come in many colors such as normal wild type (a dark brown base), silver, cinnamon, golden pearl, blue faced, red breast, white, splash and tuxedo.
Housing is simple with space for 2-3 buttons being a minimum of 1’ x 14”. In this smaller type enclosure you can only house one male as two will fight. Keeping more than three in this smaller enclosure may cause feather loss from one hen picking on another and stress.
Buttons do best on a gamebird feed that has high protein level. A 24% protien non-medicated crumble works best. In a pinch you can substitute a chicken chick starter crumble but it typically is only 18% protein so you’ll need to add additional food to suppliment so they
get the right nutrition.
As a treat, Buttons like millet and hemp seeds. Giving it to them on the stalk provides interest for them. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to the menu also balances out the diet. They love live foods such as mealworms, crickets and wax worms and they come in a freeze-dried form for easy storage if you don’t like dealing with live bugs. Keep the supply of mealworms to 2 per day per bird. Often seen is that the male will give his mealworms to his hens. It’s a sign of bonding among Buttons.
Odor shouldn’t be a problem as they produce very little smell if kept clean and on shavings as bedding.
Some problems you may see are feather loss. This is typically due to overcrowding or one overly dominant bird. Try separating the offender for a few days and then introducing them back. In the end you may need a permanent separation to keep your quails from being too stressed.
Another problem is injury to the top of the head. When Buttons are frightened they will jump straight up in the air and bonk their head if they are in a cage. Sometimes the injury is severe. Using water gently clean the wound and apply a wound powder. Reassess your cage top and see if you can make adjustments so they do not injure themselves further.
Buttons can begin laying eggs as early as six weeks old. Unfortunately many Button hens do not have a good nesting instinct and do not make good mothers. The environment they live in is very important in that it needs to mimic natural conditions with room to move around and separate herself from the main stream and places to hide. If you have a hen that has built a nest and will sit on her eggs that is exciting! If not you can consider incubating the eggs. I wrote a great little book on incubating quail eggs by hen or incubator if you are interested you can go to http://cspotsfarm.com/the_beginners_guideto_hatching_quail_eggs.html
and read about it.
There are two sides to keeping the male in with the hen when she has the chicks. I’ve had very good luck keeping my males with the hens and they feed and protect the little ones. Some, however, have reported the males going after the chicks and in this case separation is necessary.
Eggs need to incubate 16 days for Button quails. Sometimes mamma quail leaves the nest after only 4-5 chicks have hatched. The remaining eggs can be put in an incubator to finish hatching. Chicks eat food and drink almost immediately and should be fed a finely ground game bird starter (or chicken chick-starter). You can introduce fresh foods and mealworms right away. Care should be taken to put marbles in the water dish as the chicks could drown or without any footing get splay-legs.
Button quails make great pets. You can watch their enjoyable antics as they go about their business and if you have a tame Button, you can interact directly with your little bird. Don’t be down though if your Button prefers not to be held. They will enjoy getting food treats from you after they get to know you.