Developing Dual Purpose Quail for Small Farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2006: $7,600.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Martin H. Meers
Black Forest Poultry Farm


  • Animal Products: eggs


  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, feasibility study, market study

    Proposal summary:

    Farmers in the South have long sought alternative crops and livestock to enhance and replace their income from other less lucrative commodity-based enterprises. Coturnix Quail can be a profitable enterprise for farmers who wish to create a consistent revenue source with relatively small capital requirements and little space.

    Several improved strains have been developed over the years including meat-type strains and egg-type strains, Texas A&M and XLD respectively. The A&M’s put meat on quickly and provide a marketable carcass at 10 weeks. The XLD are sexually mature at 7 weeks and laying large eggs nearly every day by 9 weeks. However, farmers who are raising either type are limited to either market and do not have the flexibility of a diversified product offering.

    This research proposes to incorporate the features of both strains into a dual-purpose breed that will enhance the profitability of farmers in the South and beyond. Retail and wholesale sale of quail eggs for human consumption can be an important part of small farmers’ income. The Southern United States has a culinary history with quail eggs and many chefs are rediscovering their utility in salads and many other dishes.

    With the recent opening of a USDA inspected poultry processing plant in Kentucky, there is now an opportunity to sell quail meat as well as eggs locally. Farmer’s across the South have access to this plant or others like it. In the past, extra males from egg-strains have been discarded, now with proper breeding they can become a marketable product.

    This proposal will incorporate a series of matings ending in a dual-purpose Coturnix quail strain. The highly efficient reproductive rate of quail has created a useful position for them in breeding and genetic experiments at many universities. The quick cycle will enable this researcher to complete four (4) generations of matings and provide a sizable sample for analysis at each generation. Black Forest Poultry already breeds Texas A & M Coturnix quail and has access to quality XLD stock.

    Highly detailed record-keeping has been an important part of our farm-business since its inception. We will capitalize on this strength to record the relevant data from weight gain, feed conversion, egg production, livability, egg size changes and final carcass weights. We will use this information to show that over a period of four generations of cross-matings, we can maintain a highly productive egg strain while adding meat to the male side of the breeding.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.