This story began as a quest for fresh chicken livers and ended up being all about quails. Let me explain.
I’ve been hoping to make pate for a while now, so when my search for fresh chicken livers came to naught, I asked a local restaurateur where to go he said, “Redgate Farm”. So before I knew it I was on the road to the farm to collect the last portion of chicken livers they had for the season.
The free-range chickens that Redgate rear don’t hold up as well in the cold weather, so they stop breeding them over the colder months and focus on the quails, which live life a little more cozy in 24-hour undercover heated quarters.
When I arrive at the farm, a little way past Newcastle, I catch farm-owner Charlie Scott tucking in to a bowl of cereal. While he finishes up we get chatting about how he and wife Caroline came to be farming fowl. It turns out that Charlie and Caroline have recently overcome a severe case of ‘Why-Not-itis’ that began in the early 1980s with the idea to breed quails, which lead to chickens, ducks, spatchcock and geese. Next, an additional wholesale business supplying delis and restaurants with Australian cheeses and Italian Parmesan. Then came the catering business and management of a local farmers market. All the while looking after three young children. Phew!
It wasn’t until Charlie and Caroline were filling in a Census that they realised just how hard they were working. When one of the questions asked how many hours they each worked per week on average, their hours exceeded the highest option available at 112 hours. It was then they decided to scale back their businesses and focus solely on fowl and cheese.
With intense focus on breeding free-range quails without the use of routine antibiotics or growth promotants, their brood of quails grew marginally bigger and bigger over time to the point where their hardy stock now weighs in at a staggering 310 grams in 7 weeks. This is compared to other commercially grown quails that usually weigh no more than 200 grams at the time of ‘dispatching’. It was fascinating to see a commercial quail operation, particularly with owners so passionate about improving the genes of their flock.
The eggs stay in the incubator (above left) for up to 2 weeks.
The frames turn at 90 degree angles mimicking the action of a mother quail moving her eggs about in a nest.
I departed with my chicken livers in hand, with a promise to return for some quail very soon. Have you cooked quail? I can’t say I ever have. But I’d really like to give it a go.Share this on: