Quail meat is a high in protein, low in fat, all white meat. The meat of the bird and its eggs are often served as delicacies in fine dining restaurants at exorbitant prices. Why go and pay $20 for a single tiny delicious bird when you could pay significantly less for thousands of them being raised in your own backyard.
Raising quail, unlike chickens or other game birds is significantly more affordable. Quail are small, they do not need much space to live and if you are raising them as meat birds, they do not need much space to run around (as the meat will get stringy).
Today we will discuss what the beginner needs to know on how to raise quail as meat birds.
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Like every game bird, before you even get your chicks, you need to consider where you are going to house them. If you already have a barn or coop only use a corner of it for raising quail. If you let them run around the whole barn, they will find a small hole to escape from or you will just plain never catch them as they are fast and tiny.
An ideal shelter is something that is protected from the wind (as a draft will kill baby quail chicks rather easily), the shelter is also up off the ground, and you can get into it with out all your quail flying out.
Snakes and various other creatures absolutely love to eat quail and their eggs, so it is best to keep them in a very secure shelter. Also, use a wire mesh for the bottom of the cage so that you can clean the straw easier.
If you are going to be raising quail for a long period of time, you will need two cages. One is for your eating birds, they other is for your breeding birds.
Getting Quail Chicks
Now that you have your cages built, it is time to get yourself some quail chicks. If you have incubation equipment already, you can buy the eggs and hatch them. Quail eggs have about a 50% hatch rate right off the bat, but really it is just easier to get chicks.
You can go down to your local feed store and ask if anyone has been raising quail you could buy, or there are many catalogs that let you order the chicks.
I know, getting live chicks from a catalog sounds daft, but I have personally done it and it works out pretty well.
You can buy the old Bob White quail, they taste great and breed just fine, but it is recommended that you buy the Japanese quail. The Japanese or Cortunix is the fastest breeding and fastest growing quail. A mature female of the Cortunix breed lays around 300 eggs a year, so you will have a whole bunch of quail.
When you get your chicks feed them game bird starter mix for the first four weeks of growth than game bird growers mix for the next two. At this point, they are ready for butchering.
If you want to continue breeding, take three males and nine females and put them in your breeding cage. Always keep a 3 females to 1 male ratio for maximum fertility. As they lay eggs, it is suggested that you remove the eggs and incubate them yourself.
If you have more eggs than you know what to do with, why not eat them? The eggs, while small, are also a delicacy and very delicious. It does however take about 3 quail eggs to equal out to a single small chicken eggs.
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Now it is time for the hard part. Hopefully you have not gotten attached to your little quail. Euthanize your birds quickly by removing the head. After that is done, use a pair of sharp scissors to remove the wings and feet.
You can ow either pluck the birds or remove the skin. The skin, unlike other game birds, has very little fat and provides an excellent way to keep your meat moist while cooking. To pluck the bird, dunk it in cold water to cool the skin. Then remove the wet feathers. To remove the skin, again place it in cold water and get you scissors under the loose skin. cut and slide skin off.
After they have been plucked or had the skin removed, cut down the spine and open the bird up to remove the innards. Spray down with the hose or dunk in clean water to remove any excess.
Now your birds are ready to be baked, grilled, fried, or canned!
Recipes for Cooking Quail
Quail recipes are a lot like chicken recipes, except the cook times are a bit different. Using a chickens' cook time would dry out your quail.
Salt and Black Pepper
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup water
Season each quail with salt and pepper.
Use a sack of some kind filled with the flour and quail and shake to coat it.
Melt the butter and pour it over each quail
Pour water in bottom of pan, cover, and bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.
Quail can also be stuffed before hand to make for a more filling dinner.
Batter Fried Quail
3 cups water
1 Tbsp. salt
1 cup pancake or biscuit mix
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. seasoned salt
¼ tsp. seasoned pepper
2 envelopes instant chicken broth
Cover quail with salted water. Chill at least one hour.
Combine remaining ingredients in a paper bag.
Remove quail from water, and shake in bag of mix.
Fry in hot oil only until golden brown.