Originally Posted by bfrancis
You're welcome and welcome to this thread!
How long have you had your quail? How big are your jumbos? Do you have pics? Pics are ALWAYS welcome here...I find seeing something will give others great ideas or things to think about...if nothing more than to say, "congrats" on set-ups and birds.
Since this is a discovery thread...you have brought up Texas A&M jumbo whites. I'm going to look up the info again and post the link, but did you know that Texas A&M didn't create a white quail? They used some English Whites in their Jumbo brown ( or wild) colors hoping to create a lighter skinned meat bird that could even have white meat on it, which didn't happen. So there are bigger whites out there, but not from A&M.
As the urban legend still prevails to include hatcheries, White coturnix have been given the label "Texas A&M", but are nothing more than English Whites. Dr Fred Thornberry was the lead professor on this project.
I know I will get tons of feedback both directions on this one...please be civil, and if somebody can post proof positive before I go through my file again, please do.
well, this is a start. take it with a grain of quail salt, been done before around here.
March 9, 2005
Gourmet Quail Business Taking Wing
Writer: Edith A. Chenault, (979) 845-2886,email@example.com
Contact: Dr. Lee Cartwright, (979) 845-4319,firstname.lastname@example.org
BANDERA – The soft "churtle" of quail can be heard when you pull into the driveway of the Diamond H Ranch in this Hill Country town. That's the sound of money to Tom and Polly Herrington. Advice from Texas Cooperative Extension has helped their business soar.
"We were in the game bird – bobwhite – business," Herrington said. "It started out as a hobby, and the first year I sold every bird I had. I raised twice as many the next year and sold all of those. Pretty soon it wasn't a hobby any more."
Herrington had been seeking bird health and nutritional advice from Dr. Fred Thornberry, now professor emeritus with the department of poultry science at Texas A&M University. About nine years ago, Thornberry told the Herringtons he thought there was a niche coming for the meat bird, and that he had a nice, big healthy bird in College Station that he'd like to see them raise.
"We did a little market research, and sure enough, it looked like he was right," Herrington said.
That bird carried the Texas A&M Coturnix quail blood lines that Thornberry had been genetically selecting to improve the poultry industry. The Herringtons received eggs from Extension and began experimenting with blood lines.
Thornberry was so right that last year Diamond H Ranch sold more than 550,000 meat birds across the United States under their registered trademark of Texas Gourmet Quail. This year they are expecting to sell even more. Tom and his son, Jim, operate the grow-out facilities and state-inspected processing plant that employ 18 workers. Polly operates a bed and breakfast at the farm.
"It's going great ... we've expanded every year. We happened to be at the right place at the right time," said Herrington. "We're about the only sizeable meat bird place in Texas."
Thornberry began developing a bloodline of heavier meat birds from the Coturnix – also known as Japanese or Pharoah – quail lines about 15 years ago as an Extension poultry specialist.
"Through (A&M's) support of the game bird industry, we have cultivated the industry and provided information to the industry for a number of years," said Dr. Lee Cartwright, Extension poultry science specialist in College Station.
When Thornberry began his work, the Coturnix was the only quail grown for the gourmet dining market. The smaller bobwhite quail were hunted and eaten, but are too small to be effectively raised for meat.
Thornberry had the opportunity to get many eggs from a Coturnix producer, who had birds of all sizes. For two years and six generations, the birds were crossbred to eliminate carcass abnormalities and for uniform size.
"During the course of my work, I was able to improve the breast musculature on the birds and maintain optimum egg production," to get a bird that was highly desirable for the gourmet industry, Thornberry said.
Then, as an Extension specialist, he began supplying gamebird hatcheries with the eggs to distribute the strain he called the Texas Gourmet Quail.
"Today, the Texas Gourmet Quail is in about a dozen countries and is widely produced for the gourmet gamebird market," Thornberry said.
When Cartwright began working for Extension, he further improved the quail line by crossing the meat line back to produce a white quail with most of the carcass characteristics of the larger brown bird.
"I believe the brown bird is still a superior bird," Thornberry said, "but most people prefer the white bird because they feel it has cleaner picking characteristics and an absence of dark melanin pigmentation in its feather follicles, the inner abdominal lining and its hock joints."
Both types of birds are raised for the gourmet market.
Chef Jon Bonnell of Bonnell's in Fort Worth said the Texas Gourmet Quail has been the centerpiece on every menu he has had in the three years the restaurant has been open.
"Other brands of quail that I have tried have darker meat and a 'gamier' taste," Bonnell said. "But the Texas Gourmet Quail is the meatiest and tastiest quail I've ever used. In fact, it is the only brand I'll ever use."
Bonnell sold about 3,500 quail in his restaurant last year. He featured quail on the menu last year when he was invited to the James Beard Foundation forum in New York – which is like "Carnegie Hall for chefs," he said.
The Texas Gourmet Quail is extremely hardy in comparison to bobwhite quail, Thornberry said. The birds reach slaughter weight at 6 to 7 weeks of age and realize 50 percent egg production at 8 weeks with no detrimental effects because of early maturity.
"These birds also have a meat coloration that very closely approximates that of the bobwhite quail. The flesh and carcass appearance of the bird is very appealing to the gourmet consumer," he said.
A "dressed" Texas Gourmet Quail weighs between 6.5 and 7.5 ounces, while a bobwhite quail weighs about 4.5 ounces, he said.
"The Coturnix will eat more in six weeks than a bobwhite in 18 weeks," Herrington said. "He has to, he puts on more weight. The meat bird is a fast grower. You can almost watch it grow from day to day."
The Herringtons process their birds at 7 weeks of age and market them from Florida to California. Whole quail or quail legs or breasts can be purchased at the farm, at the Herrington's Web site at http://www.texasgourmetquail.com or by telephone. The quail are shipped frozen or fresh.
"Word of mouth has been really good to us," Herrington said. "And the product is selling itself. It's a good product. And if you prepare it and package it nice, it's awful hard to compare it to anything else."
Not only did Cartwright help the Herringtons "answer a bunch of questions," but former Extension poultry specialist Dr. Sarah Birkhold helped them set up their processing facility. That facility is the only state-inspected quail processing plant in Texas.
"A lot of the other (meat quail) companies are trying to duplicate some of the (Herringtons') products and also trying to improve their quality," Cartwright said.
"Things are going to grow and improve even further. We estimate that the gamebird industry has been growing at approximately 20 percent per year for the last 10 years."
According to a survey conducted by the North American Gamebird Association, gamebird production (pheasants, quail and partridge) have a $5 billion economic impact nationally, Cartwright said.
"The gamebird industry will be expanding for many years to come, and the Diamond H Ranch and the Texas Gourmet Quail will continue to expand with the trend."
Edited by MobyQuail - 2/21/12 at 1:57am