Bracken Ridge Ranch Answers Commonly Asked Questions
About Button Quail (Chinese Blue Breasted Quail)
Photo of Pied Pair, Hen on Left
Pied Pair (Hen on Left)


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Chinese Blue Breasted Quail “Button Quail”


Do Button Quail Make Good Pets:

     No,  not in the way other birds like Parakeets or Cockatiels do.  “Button Quail” do not like being held.  When picked up, they often lose some of their feathers, this is a phenomenon of nature that has to do with survival.  When grasped by a human or seized by a predator, their stress causes a sudden drop in the hormone Prolactin, which causes their feathers to become relaxed at their base and come out easily.  Hopefully the predator is left with a mouth full of feathers instead of the bird.


Why Do Button Quail Need Oyster Shells In Their Diet:


    Oyster shells are rich in calcium carbonate, which is necessary for your birds during all phases of their life, but it is especially important during breeding season.  Each time a hen lays an egg, it is possible for her to use up  more calcium than she can produce from her food source.  A hens blood calcium level begins to rise about 8 to 10 days before she begins to produce eggs.   Her blood hormones, estrogen and androgens, increase just prior to producing eggs.  When this happens a bone mass, called medullary bone, is built up in layers along  some of the hens bones.  This acts as a calcium reserve that the hen is able to draw on during the breeding season.  The extra calcium is especially important when eggs are taken from the hen to artificially incubate, causing her to produce an extraordinary amount of eggs during one season.  When this happens, the calcium reserve is quickly depleted and she begins to draw it from her own bones.  although a hen has the ability to draw 40 to 60 percent more calcium from her feed during the  breeding season, she can get into serious trouble if the season is artificially extended. Her productive season as well as her life can be cut dramatically short.
Young developing chicks also need extra calcium carbonate for good bone and feather growth.  Oyster shells are a natural way to provide calcium.  It should be available to them at all times.


What Is Their Average Lifespan:


In the wild Chinese Blue Breasted Quail “Button Quail” live approximately 10 to 12 years.  If their nutritional, housing and lighting needs are met in captivity, they should live at least 6 to 8 years or longer.


Why Don’t Hens Live As Long As Males:


   The life expectancy of hens should be the same as it is for males, which is at least 6 to 8 years or longer.  There are many contributing factors that cause hens to die prematurely.  Extended lighting (even household lights in the evening) cause hens to produce an egg a day this drains her physically and robs her body of essential vitamins and minerals.   In the wild their day begins when the sun comes up and ends when the sun goes down.
Another reason for their premature death is improper diet.  They need a diet  should contain no less than 18 percent protein (more if their breeding season is extended by artificial lights.)  It should also contain calcium in the form of calcium carbonate (oyster shells) and vitamins A, E, and D.  The vitamins should not be given in the form of supplements, but instead though a proper diet of Game Bird Crumbles, non medicated Turkey Crumbles and Finch seed.


Are Button Quail Prone To Disease:


   No, They are very disease resistant and do not carry disease that can be passed on to humans or other birds.  They are susceptible to a few diseases that they can contact from other birds, but only when their immune system is compromised though poor living conditions or an improper diet.  They are very hardy.


Can I keep My  Button Quail In Groups:


     No. Unlike other types of quail, Chinese Blue Breasted Quail “Button Quail” are  monogamous.  In the wild they live in single isolated pairs that bond (1 male and 1 female.)  It is thought they bond for life, but it may be for only a season.   They are very protective of their territory and their mates.  Siblings raised together will get along until they mature, but sooner or later fights will break out.  Even hens will defend their mate and territory.  The fights may be as minor as feather pulling, but can also be serious enough to draw blood and even cause death.


Will My Hen Incubate Her Own Eggs:


   Yes.  Incubation is a natural instinct.  All hens will incubate their own eggs if the proper conditions are provided.  When they do not it is because they lack the natural stimulation that causes their pituitary glands to secrete oestrogen, progesterone and prolactin Which cause them to become “broody” and want to sit on their eggs.  Proper lighting,  and proper diet are the two main components that start their broodiness.