That was pretty satisfying! First quail harvest...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by iamcuriositycat, Jun 26, 2010.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

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    Charlotte, NC
    Well, we did it. Harvested our first quail this afternoon. We started with just three, and they were culls from our adult birds. It went surprisingly well, and I think we will almost certainly do it again.

    My husband did the killing & I did the cleaning. My hands were shaking on the first bird and the last bird squeaked when I squeezed it, but all in all it went very well and was incredibly satisfying to bring up a plate of clean birds for dinner.

    Now, for questions. I've watched some videos of harvesting quail, and I've looked up recipes. We have an idea how we want to prepare these three, but I want to make sure I'm not missing something.

    * Do they need to be plunged in ice water or anything else right after being skinned?
    * Do they need to be stored for a while before cooking? Or can we cook them the same day we harvest them?
    * Do they need to be brined?
    * How long after death to clean them before they spoil (for three birds it's not hard to get them done quickly, but we're wondering how many we can do all at once and still have cleaned in plenty of time)?
    * How much of the innards have to come out--I know all the intestines do, but there's lots of miscellaneous STUFF up against the backbone that I had to kind of scrape out and wash out--how vigorous do I need to be about that?

    * Anyone harvested feathers from a skinned bird for use in crafts and such? How do you harvest them? Just pluck them out of the carcass? Do you clean them afterward? How?

    Thanks! I was really nervous about this but it went better than I expected and I'm ready to do it again in a few weeks when our first young'uns are ready.

    Oh, one more thing--what do you do with the innards? If I had a cat, I'd grind them up and feed them. But I don't (though I want one). We do have ferrets, but they are not the least interested. What else can they be used for? This time I just wrapped them in a bag and stuck them in the trash, but I hate to waste stuff. Thanks!
     

  2. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

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    I've never done quail, but i want to say congrats! The first time success is awesome!

    As to the innards, if you don't have an animal who wants to eat them, you could bury them in a compost area to improve the soil, if nothing else.

    I save the heart and liver for fishing bait; the feet, gizzards, and necks to make stock; and i give the heads and other insides to my dogs.

    The stuff you're scraping off the ribs is probably the lungs. I try to get as much off as i can, but i don't get obsessive about it. I just rinse out the inside after i'm done to help wash away any bits and pieces.

    I rest my chickens one to three days before freezing or cooking. A lot of those questions, for me, depend on age of the chicken and how i plan to cook it. I kind of experiment to see what turns out.

    As i said, i do chickens, not quail, but hopefully my experience can be a little bit helpful.

    Congrats again!
     
  3. wolftracks

    wolftracks Spam Hunter

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    With all the birds I have I have only used feathers from the guineasI had. I made earrings for my cousin. LOL Still have lots of those though.
    Feathers can be used straigh off the birds, but you can clean them. I use dish washing detergent and then blow dry them. You can also straighten the quils if you need to by steaming them and using your fingers to straighten. You can curl them with scissors or a knife the same way you do with curling ribbon. Feathers are a lot sturdier than most people think they are.
     
  4. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

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    I wonder if you could put them in a pillow case or a lingerie bag and machine wash and dry. That would be pretty cool. I would like to use them to make pillows, etc.
     

  5. Winsor Woods

    Winsor Woods Songster

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    I wouldn't worry too much about spoilage while you're processing the birds. Make sure you have cooler close by and some ice. As you get done with one bird, place it in the cooler with some ice. Adding water to the ice will help to increase the surface area that contacts the bird and will cool them faster. I'd let them rest 24-48 hours before freezing or eating. You can let that aging process go longer as long as you keep the temperature low enough. Mid 30's is great and ice water will provide that for you. Check the cooler periodically and add ice as necessary. If the water level gets too high, just dump some water out when you add ice. In this manner, you'll start to cool each bird as it's done with processing so you can process as many or as few birds as you want without worry of spoilage.

    The feathers would be great for crafts. I know many fishermen who tie their own flies. If you are skinning the birds, consider stretching out the hide and letting it dry. Then you could sell the hide and the craftsman could just pluck what he needs from the hide as he goes. I'm not sure that quail feathers are used all that much in fly tying but I've bought other kinds of bird hide for that sort of thing and they're not cheap. Might be something to look into.

    Dan

    Edit:

    Just reread your post. I would kill them one at a time and process them to the point where you get them into the cooler. Depending on how much help you have you could kill several at a time but I'm not sure how you are killing them. With chickens, I bleed them out because that makes the meat last much longer in storage. Even when I'm out hunting turkeys with a shotgun, I always get to my kill asap and slice the carotid arteries and get out as much blood as possible. So how are you killing those quail?
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2010
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

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    Charlotte, NC
    Oh, wow, this is terrific feedback. Thank you all SO much.

    My husband is cutting off their heads with a hatchet and then I'm cleaning. We plan to buy a sharp pair of shears and cut their heads that way. He hangs them on a wire frame by their feet until I get to each one and clean it.

    This time, he killed the three and then came in to tell me he was ready for me to clean. We have three children (9, 6, 2) and ALSO had a friend's children over so for this first time we wanted them blissfully unaware of the event until it was over, so we worked in shifts to entertain them indoors. We brought the cleaned quail in afterward and they said, "Wow. That looks pretty good!"

    Next time we'll give our children the option to watch or not and just let them decide where they want to be, and we'll do it when we're not also watching someone else's kids, lol.

    So this is how I think we'll do it next time: Dh snips head, places on wire to bleed. When it's done bleeding, I take bird, clean, place in cooler. If he gets ahead by more than two or three birds, he'll take a break and help me clean (or just take a break and have a beer--it's all good [​IMG]).

    If the kids are interested, I'll give them an anatomy lesson and let them pore over the various inner bits (they kind of like gore--my kids are weird). I think I'll toss broth-bits (heart, feet, and neck, right?) in one bin, intestines and other disposables (since I don't have a cat) in another, and hides in a third.

    I'll see if there's a market for hides. If not, maybe I'll harvest them and make a quilt or something. The feathers are super soft--it seems a shame to waste them.
     

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