Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Raising Japanese Coturnix Quail

Quail are an ideal bird to raise.They are easy, take up very little space and provide meat and eggs in a very short time. Quail start laying eggs at about 8 weeks old. If you want the meat, by 8 - 12 weeks they are ready to be processed.
 In the 6 - 8 months for a chicken to provide the first egg, a quail would have laid anywhere from 180 to 240 eggs. It takes about 5 - 7 quail eggs to equal 1 chicken egg... So, while you wait for your chicken eggs, you can enjoy quail eggs on their own, or in your favorite dishes.

Day old quail are about the size of a bumble bee.

 They will need to be in a draft free container with heat, food and water. Be sure to have a screen on top (unlike the picture) as it won't take long for the feathers to grow in and they will be flying out.

As they grow, they will need to be put in larger brooders. We have ours in the barn, with added heat, then they progress to the larger brooder without added heat...

 ... until they are all feathered out and ready for the large grow-out pens.

5x8 are acceptable pens - which equal 1 sq. foot per bird, minimum. Bigger is better, of course. Our pens are 6x10, 7x10 and 8x10


Our growout pens feeders

Because the birds do fly, they are usually not free-ranged. They are also a favorite food of many predators: raccoon, skunks, rats, foxes, coyote to name a few. So, we keep our quail egg layers in pens in an enclosed, heated room in our barn.
To protect them from their flighty nature, we keep them in cages that are 3' long, 12' high and 16" deep.

 They are fed in cans placed outside the pens and are watered daily.

The wire floor is extended beyond the cage, which catches the eggs and rolls them to the front.

To add to the enrichment of our birds, we provide a weekly dust bath. We use chinchilla dust. 
We also add to their nutrition by giving them greens - grasses and clover.

We are currently not selling eggs or quail

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quail Eggs: The Perfect Bite

HARD BOILED EGGS : Place  quail eggs in a pot of cold water. Place on  heat source (on medium, not high) and bring to a boil. Boil about 30 seconds, drench them in cold water and place in the refrigerator.

Some people add a pinch of salt - this is in case an egg cracks and you don't want a mess. We have never had an egg crack during this process, so we do not use salt in the water.

Another thought is to add a pinch of baking soda to the water which helps with the peeling. We have found the easiest eggs to peel  are the eggs that are one week old before cooking, and forego the baking soda.
 Place in cold water or refrigerator until very cold before peeling.

Serving suggestions: Dip in sea salt; coat with lemon mayonnaise then serve on salad; dip in favorite salad dressing; heat in cheese sauce; sprinkle with cheese and brown under broiler; heat in curry sauce and serve with rice.
We just drop them into our salads.

Deviled Eggs  

6 quail eggs
1 teaspoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon mustard (Dijon or yellow)

Rinse the eggs under warm water. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and peel. Pat dry.
 Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks with a very small spoon into a bowl; mash. Mix with mayonnaise, mustard.
Carefully fill the whites with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle with paprika  and arrange on a pretty plate or decorative cocktail tray.


 Shells can also be dissolved by placing in full-strength vinegar for about 12 hours, agitating every several hours. First the spots dissolve in bubbles  and float to the top

The rest of the shell dissolves. This leaves the egg enclosed in the membrane. There is an air bubble at the large end of the egg, break it and pull off the membrane.

This leaves delicious, lightly pickled egg. 

5 dozen peeled hard-boiled eggs
pickling solution:
2 pints white vinegar
1 pint water (less for tangy eggs)
2 Tbsp. salt
1 medium chopped onion
1 ounce pickling spice (2 ounces for spicy eggs)

Bring pickling solution to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Let cool and strain. Place eggs in sterilized quart canning jar. Cover eggs with cooled solution. For best flavor, let eggs soak in solution in the refrigerator for at least three days.

Peel the shell from your hard boiled eggs.  in left-over pickled beet juice (for pink eggs).  Banana pepper juice, hot pepper juice.
Quail eggs take about 36 hours in any pickled juice, before they are pickled. Quick and easy!

Hard-boiled quail eggs in shell
Brine solution: 2 ounces salt per pint of water
Place eggs in sterilized canning jar with shells still on and cover with brine solution.


 Bake slices of prosciutto (or ham)  in muffin tins with a raw quail egg inside until the whites are firm.

EGG FRITTATA (It takes about 5-7 quail eggs per large chicken egg.)
Crack 12 quail eggs (this has 1 chicken egg for comparison)

Add a small amount of liquid - about 1/4 cup (milk, water, broth)
Beat together.
 HEAT butter in 6 to 8-inch nonstick omelet pan or skillet over medium heat until melted. I use one of my cast iron skillets.

POUR IN egg mixture; cook over low to medium heat until eggs are almost set, about 8 to 10 minutes.
If you want to add a filling - left over vegetables. cheese, meat.
REMOVE from heat. Cover  and let stand until eggs are completely set and no visible liquid egg remains, 5 to 10 minutes.

Fill the medium saucepan three-fourths full of water and set on heat to boil. Allow water to come to full rolling boil.

Begin to stir the water around clockwise with the metal spoon, while the water is still boiling,  grab the first few quail eggs, break them one at a time and drop them carefully into the swirling water. Reduce the heat to medium heat and watch the eggs turn opaque. They will be done when this occurs.

Poached quail eggs taste delicious on top of all sorts of dishes: Eggs Benedict, Watercress Salad, Bacon and Eggs

Chef Anne Hart owner of Provence Market Restaurant in Bridgeport, WV, used our quail eggs to top her prize winning appetizer for the Cast Iron Cook-off at the world famous Greenbrier Resort

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quail Eggs

Quail Eggs nutritional value is 3-4 times higher than that of chicken eggs. They contain 13% proteins while chicken eggs provide a bit more than 11%.  Quail eggs provide five times as much iron and potassium as chicken eggs. They also are richer in phosphorus and calcium.  Quail eggs do not have “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and are very rich in “good” (HDL) cholesterol.  

There are many health benefits of Quail eggs. Here is a quick look at those benefits: 
~ kid friendly: bite-sized quail eggs  are ideal for controlling infections and inflammations leading to asthma, allergies, eczema and psoriasis. 
~ remedy against digestive tract disorders such as gastritis, stomach ulcer and duodenal ulcer. 
~ can help cure anemia increasing hemoglobin level and remove toxins and heavy metals from blood. 
~ can help in the treatment of tuberculosis, bronchial asthma, diabetes and vegetative-vascular dystonia. 
~ have strong anticancer effects and may help inhibit cancerous growth. 
~ help eliminate and remove stones from liver, kidneys and gallbladder. 
~ may accelerate recuperation after blood stroke and help strengthen heart muscle. 
~ powerful stimulant of sexual potency. They nourish the prostrate gland with useful substances, phosphorus, proteins and vitamins and therefore help restore sexual potency in men. 
~ promote good memory, enhance brain activity and regulate the nervous system. 
~ also strengthen the immune system slow down aging of organs and increase the life span; improve skin color and strengthen hair making it shiny and voluminous. That’s why quail eggs are used for facial and hair care masks.
 Resource for this article can be found at

Quail Processing *graphic*

Quail has been eaten through out history, and is called the Food of Kings

   We processed 65 quail the other day.

 Quail are the easiest and fastest growing meat. It take 8 weeks from hatch to the bird laying eggs.
Add 4 more weeks, and you have a tasty morsel.

They take up less space than chickens, and provide eggs and meat, just like chickens. It just takes more eggs, or meat to make a meal! :)

You  process quail the same as chicken.

We put them head down in a cone, and Jim quickly slits their carotid artery. After the birds bleed out, Jim cuts off the heads and feet and skins them

Then it is my turn.
Using scissors, I cut up both sides of the backbone. Grabbing the neck, pull the backbone out.

This gives me easy access to the innards. Quail are small, and it is hard to get your fingers inside, so we have found this to be the easiest way. After the innards are taken out, get rid of the gallbladder and save the liver and heart - these are wonderful extras, although it does take a lot to make a meal. But if you like chicken livers, these are a sweet delicacy.

 Then go back in and scrape out the light pink lungs.

Rinse the bird. Place in a pot of cold water and set in the refrigerator for 24 - 36 hours. This helps the muscles relax and more tender.

The best way to cook quail is similar to homegrown chicken - slow and low.

(Recipes here)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Processing Farm Chicken **GRAPHIC**

We finished processing our chickens in September. Hubby Jim, made the cones, scalder and feather plucker - which helps the process a lot. I wish we had these years ago, it saves so much time and effort.
I have to admit... all the years we have lived here, this is the FIRST year I processed chicken - whole. The kids have done it, Jim does it, but I always wait until the chicken is in the fridge, and I get to prepare it!
This year, because Jim is having problems with his legs due to his disability, he needed me to help (The kids are all grown and out of the house).

The first thing you need to do is to take away all food sources from the chicken for 24 hours. This cleans them out, so you don't have a mess on your hands. Put them in a cage of some sort, so they will settle down. When chickens get excited, adrenalin gets in their muscles and can make the meat tough.

Handy tools to have
1. Killing cones and sharp knife
2. Scalder with water temp up to 
3. Plucker (doing this by hand for one or two is certainly feasible.) 
4. Evisceration table
5. Water to rinse the chicken cavity
6. Ice filled cooler
7. Bags

1. Place the chickens head down in a cone and quickly sever the artery on both sides of the neck. There is a small bare spot near the top of the neck which is the easiest and best place to cut. The chicken bleeds out, and the messaging from the brain to the body is disconnected. This process is quick and humane. Leave  the chicken for about 3 - 4 minutes to thoroughly bleed out.

2. The chicken is dipped into hot water to loosen the feathers from the skin. This is called'scalding' (150 degrees). Jim swishes them around and up and down until the feathers on the back, next to the tail, release. Those are the toughest feathers to get off. This takes about 40 seconds - depending on the temperature - the lower the temp, the longer you have to swish.

3. The chicken is placed in the drum of the plucker. The machine is turned on, and the "fingers" strip the feathers from the skin.

4. Cut off the feet. These can be saved and used in making a good old fashioned chicken soup. Next,  the neck is slit and the gullet and windpipe loosened. On the opposite end,things need to be taken care of. Slice off the oil gland on the top of the tail. This is yellow, and easily slice off.
Secondly, a slice is made in the skin above the vent. Pull the skin apart large enough to get your hand up inside.

5. Grab on the windpipe and the gullet and slowly pull out. Don't worry about being gentle... you will really have to pull hard to get the guts to come out.

6. The gallbladder is attached to the liver. It is a dark green. When disconnecting, do not let it break and spill that acid out (if it does, throw away the liver). Set the liver aside for delicious recipes.

7. The heart is also delicious in recipes

8. Reach back in and scrape the lungs off of the sides of the back bone.

9. Finally, slice off the vent area.

Rinse the chicken inside and out, and place in a cooler full of ice. The chicken needs to be kept cool for at least 24 hours, then bagged and put in the freezer.  We use special shrink bags called Heat Shrink Bags

1. Place the chicken into the bag. We use zip ties to close the bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can before tightening the zip ties.

2. Slit a tiny hole (1/4")  in the bag. We do this right on the backbone where there is a slight divot in the bird.

3. Swish the bagged chicken in hot water (190 degrees) until the air has bubbled out of the bag.

4. The heat shrinks the bag. Place your freezer label over the slit to seal it. (If you buy the shrink bags, labels come with them.)

5. Place in the freezer.

Free Range chicken is not the same as grocery chicken. They are more muscular, so cooking these chickens do best when brined (marinated) cooked "slow and low."

***I will post some recipes later this week***