Processing Quail (Graphic Photos)

We processed some of our extra male quails last night.  It’s my mother’s birthday this weekend, so they’ll make a great part of bday dinner.  I won’t say it wasn’t difficult, especially given that I love animals, but I feel if you’re going to eat meat, might as well face up to the ugly side.

This is the method that we used.

Turn back now if you don't want to see birds turned into nommables!

Turn back now if you don't want to see birds turned into nommables!

One of the things that I liked about this method is that it seems very humane.  You hit the bird’s head on the counter, so it’s either stunned or knocked out when you cut its head off.  It worked well for us (after a glass or two of wine…).  None of the birds we processed cried out.  If you don’t stun them properly, they will squawk, which can obviously be very distressing.

As a warning – like chickens – they do twitch after they die.  The beak moves, the wings flap, and the legs shake.  Don’t worry, they are already dead and cannot feel anything anymore.

So very not enjoyable, but if I’m going to be a meat-eater, I’d like to be at least a semi-responsible one.  It’s nice to know that the quails we will be eating were well cared for, had good lives, and were slaughtered in a humane manner.

After the blood has drained, cut off the wings (not enough meat) and the feet.  Then you can commence plucking.

Looks just like a miniature chicken underneath

Looks just like a miniature chicken underneath

I didn’t pluck them all the way, since I just ended up skinning them.  Quail skin is very thin, so if you want to keep it on, be careful with the plucking.

The guts come out fairly easily.  Cut off the neck and the vent.

Here’s how it looks when it’s done.

Ready for stuffing and/or cooking!

Ready for stuffing and/or cooking!

I put them into ziploc bags and stowed them in the refrigerator.  I’ll be marinating them today for dinner tomorrow!

Cozy in a freezer bag

Cozy in a freezer bag

In other news, we got another quail egg yesterday.  As if to scoff at our earlier giggling about how tiny our first egg was, one of our hens laid the smallest egg ever.

Small egg...and smaller egg

Small egg...and smaller egg

TIME INVESTMENT: We processed five quail, with a lot of dithering and dilly dallying.  Reserve a couple hours for the first time.  I’d be able to process a quail from start to finish in 5-10 minutes now that I know what I’m doing.  Put aside more time if you’re planning on plucking the whole bird.

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4 thoughts on “Processing Quail (Graphic Photos)

  1. I’m trying to do the same as you! I have the garden, the bicycle, the quail. And I’m *trying* to get the courage to process them now that my boy quails have started crowing! They’re only 6 weeks, but one in particular does it through out the night! I also live in a quiet neighborhood, in Davis 🙂 SO I keep reading this entry to bolster myself!

    Great job on everything, and congrats on your marriage!!

    • Haha, those boys can be noisy when they don’t have enough girls! I just put ours in the garage (it has windows, so I didn’t feel mean) and processed them when I couldn’t stand it anymore. I know a lot of people just go ahead and process them once they start crowing. We butchered ours at about seven weeks. Compared to butchering much later (a few months old, this one was loud too), there wasn’t any size difference. You’d be surprised, too. They were waking me up in the morning, but they weren’t loud enough to bother the neighbors. You can always ask your neighbors if the crowing is waking them up or bothering them. My hubby and I found that having a glass or two of wine helped with the processing. It’s not so bad once you do a couple.

      If you want to breed your own quails, the proper ratio will really shut them up. Our males each have four females, and they crow maybe three times a day.

      Thanks for the congrats on the marriage, and good luck with those quail!

  2. OH I feel for you I often wonder if I can butcher! I KNOW I could if I had to but my husband says he has no trouble with it so THANKFUL FOR THAT!! I want to tell you how much I appreciate you showing us how to butcher humanly.

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