We harvested our first batch of Coturnix quail and have another 48 in the incubator!
Our 8wk project turned into 10wk (joyous rain delay + puppy rearing) but all the #coturnixquail are finally in the freezer. Soon, we'll finish the #bobwhitequail (they're pretty cute but take too long to finish out. One of our neighbors (we have a few #homesteaders on our street 💕) took our last batch of coturnix eggs to hatch for meat for their family while we have another batch already in our incubator (round 3!) which should be ready to put up in the freezer in November....just in time for winter and all the delicious stews, soups & braising.
The #1 question we get asked is
Why did we do this?
The price of chicken (grocery & local farmer) is outrageously expensive right now due to feed, drought, & availability costs. The pandemic drove some local farmers out of business which also hurt local supply, again driving up cost. Additionally, local growers have to drive to a USDA processor an hour+ away to be able to resale to the public and the processor currently charges $6 PER BIRD!! The farmer barely makes profit charging $10-12/lb. While we love supporting our local chicken farmers (and did for a few years) it wasn't long-term sustainable for us esp when USDA inspector rips off the farmers.
How most meat chicken is raised isn't really anything I want to think about but since we're here, even the most high quality breeders have them in covered tractors that they periodically move along the pasture, (so they really aren't free-range pastured meat.) In fact, cornish cross birds finish out at 6-8 weeks but are engineered to grow so fast their bodies cannot grow enough feathers & their legs cannot withstand their body weight so instead they sit next to the feed, poop where they sit and constantly eat. They lay in their poop until dispatch time. 🥴 Right. (But the world has to eat right?) Ours are sitting off the ground just because of this single fact.
Commercial chicken feed is all kinds of who knows what but the #1 ingredient is soy.
Quail has more protein, iron & vitamin C than chicken, as well has less fat and offers vitamin A, amino & other minerals where chicken does not. All in a petite little package.
So instead, we did it and I was pleasantly pleased with how very easy they were to clean. Much more like dove than a wild turkey and if I wanted, I could have easily kept the skin on. Was a simple pop head, cut wings, tail, legs, pull out meat from feathers, open backplate, clean out guts/organs inside. Rinse. Done. Only a pair of scissors needed. Even had a cool biology moment of finding & identifying all the organs, including the reproductive where you can easily see the egg development cycle in the picture below. Pretty cool. Once harvested, I cooled them overnight in the fridge in ice water and then I froze 4-5 birds to a bag planning on a meal for 4 per bag. That was it!
SOY FREE. CORN FREE. NON-GMO FED PROTEIN.
(Served in a butternut squash stuffing)