Butchering Quail

April 21, 2013

In my quest for additional food self-reliance, besides the garden I decided I needed to breed some sort of meat animal. We can’t have chickens here, so I thought quail would be the perfect compromise. I was right. They’re small, but they lay an egg almost every day. The boys aren’t obnoxiously loud – Mom actually likes their little mini crow call. I find it annoying at 3:00 AM – but at least it isn’t loud enough to wake up the neighbors. So, I purchased my first set of quail back at the end of January.

For my first batch, I purchased 8 adult birds. The next weekend, I went back to the farm and purchased 12 two-week old chicks. From those first two batches, I ended up with four quads (1 boy and 3 girls). The “spare” boys were put into a separate cage. I didn’t think there were enough of them to be worthwhile to butcher.

So, I went back to the bird place and purchased 23 day old babies (well, 20, but I got 23). I’m proud to say I didn’t kill a single one of them until today – and it was on purpose! I really didn’t think I’d be able to butcher them myself – I can clean a bird, I’ve done it before, but killing them? I did it once myself when a chicken was dying after a dog attack and once when I was house sitting, but it’s not something that I thought I could do to put meat on the table. I was wrong – I’ve come to the conclusion I can do pretty much anything once I set my mind to it…

What triggered this change? I’m frankly tired of cleaning up after the pooping buggers. I don’t mind taking care of the quads that are providing me eggs, but I was just done with the extra boys. My brother in law was planning to come over to kill them for me next weekend, but I got up this morning and decided I was done. I had watched a few YouTube videos on butchering quail during the week just so I’d know how to dress them – the BIL agreed to kill, not dress 🙂 – so I just did it. Turns out the killing part is actually easier than the dressing part…

As an aside, the one thing I can’t complain about is that their poop makes absolutely incredible compost for the garden…

So, how do you kill a quail? Seriously – you just cut its head off with a really good pair of kitchen shears. That’s it! No muss, no fuss, just hold the bird over a bowl. Voila! I was as surprised as most of my city friends probably are…

I did not sit there and pluck all the feathers – forget it. I skinned them then cut out their back bone and stripped out the guts. Quite easy, and the collies ate everything that had any meat on it – including the wings, skin and heads – feathers and all!!! The puppies turned into little vultures when I walked outside the first time. Grandma Monet wasn’t too sure about it at first, but decided it was pretty yummy by the end of the process. Great Grandma Connie was licking the blood out of the bowl as it was coming out of the bird! Clean up is a breeze when you have dogs around!

The dressed quail

Ok, so total birds butchered – 19. Total pounds after being dressed – 3.4. Total cost for the 19 birds with feed? Around $50. That’s about $15.00 a pound. Luckily, the rest of the birds (sorta) make up for the cost with their eggs! And it’ll get less expensive when I start hatching my own birds. Eventually, I’d like to get to the point where I can process about 40 to 60 birds at a time – but that’s going to take awhile. Once I’m there, and assuming I’m processing birds I hatched from eggs laid, not chicks bought, I figure I should be able to bring the cost down to $2 to $2.50 a pound. Buying the birds and keeping them for so long really drove the cost up.

I packed 6 birds into two 1 pint freezer baggies and set 7 aside for dinner tomorrow.

0023.4 pounds of quail meat

I’ve been trying to purchase eggs from a quail breeder who advertises jumbo quail, but she’s proving to be a difficult person to deal with. If I ever do get the eggs, I’ll have quail about twice the size of the ones I currently have. Hopefully, it’ll happen! If you know of a reputable breeder of Jumbo Coturnix quail, please let me know.


2 Responses to “Butchering Quail”

  1. Bente Eskildsen Says:

    Hiyah Shoshannah, I have bought jumbo magnum quails’ eggs in my local supermarket and hatched a small percentage in my incubator. Success rate is about 1 to 8, but all you need to get going is just one male and one female.
    The jumbo magnums are quite heavy birds, beige coloured. They don’t easily get broody, so you have to use the incubator.

    • I was going to purchase some jumbo quail from a breeder down here in Florida, but unfortunately the breeder wasn’t as forthcoming about her practices as I’d hoped. Luckily I put my deposit down via PayPal so I was able to get my money back… I’ll have to try this next time I want to breed!

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