When it comes to keeping poultry, everyone knows that chickens and ducks are pretty much at the top of the list. But did you know that quails are making a comeback?
It’s true, and this is nothing new, because quails have been kept domestically for hundreds and hundreds of years.
It seems that people are once again rediscovering the advantages of these pint-sized birds, but like all birds they have unique nutritional requirements, and they can’t eat everything that ducks and chickens can.
How about something like spinach? Can quails eat spinach safely?
Yes, quails can eat spinach safely, and it can be a great but occasional supplement to their diet. Quails should not be fed too much spinach because of its oxalic acid content which can prevent the absorption of calcium in their bodies.
I think everyone knows by now that spinach is a genuine nutritional powerhouse, and this is still certainly true when it comes to quails.
You can use spinach to supercharge the diet of your quails, but you must not give them too much or else you risk them suffering from calcium depletion since spinach contains compounds that will bind with it.
It’s nothing to worry about as long as you are a little cautious, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know below.
Is Spinach Good for Quails?
Yes, spinach is very good for quails so long as it is fed to them in moderation! Spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals that quails need, and all together they can have a tremendous, positive impact on the health of these birds.
The nutrients present in spinach have been shown to improve circulatory health, and hands immune system function, prevent cellular decay, improve metabolism and enhance overall organ function.
Making spinach a regular part of a quails diet can improve healing, connective tissue growth, feathering, eyesight, and much more.
Best of all, quails don’t have to get too much spinach in order to get these benefits. Feeding it to them periodically as a supplement is more than enough to supercharge their diet.
And specifically, you shouldn’t give quails too much spinach for a reason we will talk about in just a moment.
Spinach Nutritional Profile
Everyone knows that spinach is a nutritional powerhouse, and that is no joke: one of the healthiest vegetables that you, or birds, can eat it is easier to list the nutrients that spinach doesn’t have rather than the ones it does have, but I’m going through it all anyway!
Looking first at the vitamins we see that spinach contains a great amount of vitamins A, C, E and K along with pretty much all of the B complex series, among the niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamin B6.
Spinach is also one of the richest sources of folate you can find among common vegetables.
The mineral content is likewise great, and spinach is absolutely packed with iron, magnesium and manganese along with lots of phosphorus potassium and calcium.
It has notably smaller amounts of zinc, although it is still more than enough to make it a reliable source for birds.
Altogether, this is a tremendous nutritional supplement for birds but one that they should not have all the time due to the high levels of oxalic acid present in all parts of the plant.
I’ll tell you about the specific nature of this problem in the very next section.
Warning: Too Much Spinach is Bad for Quails!
So spinach sounds like a great food for quails, and it is, but there is a big catch: you must not feed them too much, or feed it to them too often!
This is because spinach contains very high levels of oxalic acid, which will bind with the calcium in their bodies and prevent it from being absorbed.
This means that if you feed them too much spinach, your quails are going to suffer from calcium depletion, which can lead to a whole host of problems.
Issues with bone growth and repair are obvious concerns, but most gravely, too much oxalic acid can lead to malformed or even entirely missing eggshells in laying hens.
This is pretty gruesome stuff, but it can also be life-threatening for the hen since a broken egg can easily cause infected and cause septicemia.
The bottom line is this: spinach is indeed great for quails, but moderation is key.
Can You Safely Feed Spinach to Quails Raw?
Yes, and this is the best way to give it to them. Not only does raw spinach contain the highest concentration of all its vitamins and minerals, but it is easy for quails to eat as-is.
Can Quails Safely Eat Spinach Stems?
Yes. There is a persistent rumor floating around that quails, for some reason, cannot eat the stems of spinach.
This is completely untrue, and stems are actually just as edible and nutritious for them as the leaves. So feel free to give them raw spinach with or without its stem, whichever is easiest for you.
Can You Safely Feed Cooked Spinach to Quails?
Yes, though there is no great reason to cook spinach just for your quails, as their digestive systems are best suited for raw foods. Cooked spinach will also be lower in nutrients than the fresh stuff.
Can You Safely Feed Canned Spinach to Quails?
No. Canned spinach almost always has too much salt and other preservatives added, making it unfit for consumption by your birds. Stick to fresh spinach when you are looking to give your quails a nutritional boost.
Is Spinach Still Safe for Quail Chicks?
Yes, but only once they have matured a bit. This is for two reasons: first, and most important, is that quail chicks are developing and growing quickly, and any disruption of the calcium balance in their bodies can be disastrous.
Secondly, quail chicks have sensitive digestive systems anyway, and anything besides seeds or starter feed when they are very young can cause them digestive upset.
Once they are a few weeks old, quail chicks should have no problem digesting small amounts of raw spinach, and as they grow they will quickly become more accustomed to eating the same things that adult quails can eat.
How Often Can Quails Have Spinach?
Spinach should only be a supplemental item in the diet of your covey, not a mainstay. For this reason, no more than two small servings per week, or every 3-4 days, is enough to ensure they get maximum benefit while avoiding the negative side-effects of too much oxalic acid.
As long as you keep portions reasonable (according to their caloric needs) and feed it only occasionally, your birds will thrive.
How Should You Serve Spinach to Your Covey?
You don’t need to do much of anything to feed spinach to your quail. Giving them raw leaves to peck at is more than satisfactory, but if you want to give them a hand, a rough chop will reduce the size enough to make it easier for them to eat.
Make Sure Any Spinach You Feed to Quails is Chemical-Free
A word of caution if you are feeding your quails grocery-bought spinach: make sure you wash it thoroughly and that, when possible, you choose spinach grown organically.
This is important because conventionally-farmed greens can be heavily treated with pesticides and herbicides which can be very bad for quails and other birds if fed to them over time.
Don’t Give Them Spinach if it Has Bad Ingredients
Lastly, avoid feeding your quails any spinach prepared with ingredients that they just shouldn’t eat. Things like onions, salt, pepper, sugar, bacon and other things should all be off-limits.
These ingredients can easily be toxic to quails, so you should always make sure that any spinach you give them is totally plain, whether it is cooked or not!
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.