HOW DO I LOOK AFTER MY QUAILS

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This is an abstract of an answer I provide regularly to some of my Coturnix coturnix friends requesting general advise on quail keeping
“You seem to have a lovely palace for your quail and by the looks of it about 4 X 2 meters or more. That size would be more than adequate for 20 females and about three males. You need about one male per 6 or 7 females to ensure a high rate of fertility in the eggs. If you do not mind to have lower fertility rates in the eggs, you can cut the number of males. If, as in your case, the quails have enough space to stay out of each other’s way, more than one male per cage should not be a problem. See if the males and females have resolved the pecking order (no fighting) and if so, they should all be happy. If you do see fighting or restless birds, try to identify the culprit, which may be dominant or subordinate, whichever will cause interruptions in the pecking order and stability of the group, and remove the bird. If the fighting stops and the group becomes calm, you have done well, if not, try and replace the bird with another bad apple. Sometimes it is possible to stabalise the group by removing individual birds, sometimes not, but it is worth the try. The other alternative, as you mentioned, is to have individual breeding groups of 6 – 7 girls and a boy – this however would not guarantee stability of the group as they may still have issues with each other and destabilise the group and you would be back to square one to try and resolve the domestic violence!  If everything fails to calm the groups, you need to look at OTHER STRESS FACTORS, such as housing, disease and parasites, feed quality, etc. Also remember that temperament is highly hereditary and I select very heavily against this.
Housing needs for Coturnix coturnix is simple – remember they are ground dwellers and would not roost. Hence they need a lot of space to hide from the weather, other birds, have some private time or whatever. They love low growing vegetation and / or hiding spaces in the form of upturned boxes or plants, etc. The cage must be DRY AT ALL TIMES and the quails should be well ventilated, but OUT OF DIRECT DRAFTS. If the cage is dry and sandy, they will find their own dust bathing areas which you could encourage by turning the dry soil over and maybe ad some wood ash or lime to encourage them to bath. It is also a very easy and convenient spot to ad a bit of diatomaceous earth or flea powder to keep them free from external parasites. Furthermore clean and well balanced food and water needs to be available at all times (Ad lib).
Deworming once every three months is advisable
Live meal worms, table scraps (especially protein in the form of meat off cuts (cut into quail bite sizes), etc are always welcome and enjoyable for the birds. Not only does it provide additional nutrients, but it also keeps them occupied and less time to fight with somebody they do not like. Lettuce is a great delicacy for them and the additional vitamins do them well. The question is however at what level do you like your quails to produce at – if you want maximum production and feed a well balanced diet to achieve this, table scraps and other foods should not make up more than about 20 % of their daily requirements. Remember that young Coturnix need about 28 % protein in their diet and the older birds need 22 % protein. If you can provide them with these levels of protein and balance all the other nutrients to compliment the protein, they will be some of the most effective PRODUCTION MACHINES you have ever encountered. That is why I only feed my birds a WELL BALANCED COMPLETE QUAIL FEED and supplement daily with some greens for their enjoyment.”

DEFYING WINTER / PASTA CON BROCCOLI

F4C3750D-884C-4C80-905D-5620F6F5CF0CIrrespective of the cold winter weather Dunedin is encountering at present, the garden seems to defy the seasons and continues to produce, which keeps me healthy and out of the supermarkets with some spare change in my pocket.

BROCCOLI PASTA

This is a quick, very easy and delicious Garden Meal

  • 1 Head of Broccoli – Washed, dried and broken into pieces of about 25 mm in diameter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove of Garlic – Chopped finely
  • 1 Fresh Chili – Chopped finely
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padana Cheese – Grated

While you boil the water and cook the pasta in salted water, prepare the Broccoli sauce. In a large cast iron pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and fresh chili and cook for a few n minutes until soft, but not coloured (about 1 minute), then add the Broccoli and toss well in the oil and cook until the Broccoli is soft but still crispy and not mushy (about 2 – 3 minutes). Ad salt and black pepper to taste. Add the cooked pasta al dente to the pan with the Broccoli, garlic and chili and toss well.  Serve immediately while still hot and dress with a dash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, grated Parmigiano and crushed Black Pepper

ENJOY !!

Do not forget the homemade red to wash it all down.

 

 

 

PRIMO PIATTO

35492F00-6BDD-45AC-B95D-6BA46514696FWhile I was cooking the Secondo Piatto, which in this case was Lepre alla Cacciatora (Hunter’s style Hare), I became peckish and looked around what I could do for a Primo Piatto. I had a few Radish leaves and some Polenta from the day before.

Polenta

Ad a few spoons of good extra virgin olive oil to a cast iron pan and heat on medium to high. Cut the polenta  in slices of about 20 mm thick and fry until lightly brown, then flip them over and fry the other side.

Radish Leaves

This is the same recipe we use for spinaci, silverbeet, and many other leaves. Wash the leaves and shake dry. Ad a tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil to a heavy cast iron pan, then ad the leaves, some chopped garlic and some chilli, if wanted. Fry until all is nice and soft.

The above was made within a few minutes and some black pepper and parmigiano cheese finished it well. It was beautiful and went down well with some home made red.

 

HARVEST OF THE DAY

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It is officially winter here in Dunedin and from the temperatures, snow, mist and sleet I can vouch for that. Nevertheless the garden keeps on producing and I was more than pleased with the organic harvest of today. The soils are healthy and for the first time in four years I have large numbers of earthworms helping me.

GNOCCHI

It definitely is Gnocchi time again in the BYF household (Use the gnocchi link to go to the recipe). We have been using our own home grown potatoes for about four months now on a “dig when required” basis and must have consumed well in excess of 15 – 20 Kg of beautiful, fresh and organic potatoes already – my grandsons are addicted to roasted potatoes.  Today I needed the space where the rest of the potatoes were still underground as I am preparing soil for further planting and I also cleaned Quail Cages leaving me with about 200 Kg of manure and bedding material which I had to dig into the potato patch. I have today harvested another 28 Kg of potatoes and this, plus what we already consumed, will probably be enough potatoes for a whole year – all of this from only about 4 square meters.

ROASTED POTATO

This simple recipe never fails. Wash the potatoes well and boil in well salted water until almost done, but not soft. Drain and when cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes in half. In an oven baking tray melt (do not burn) a generous amount of butter – about 50 g per small tray. Now place the potatoes in a single layer – cut side down – in the tray. Ad a fist full of rosemary and enough unpeeled garlic and bake at 200 C for about 5 minutes until the butter is sizzling and the potatoes have absorbed some of the butter. Now flip the potatoes over with the cut side up and put them back into the oven until they are golden brown. Dribble with good extra virgin olive oil, some chopped up parsley, salt and black pepper and ENJOY!!!

Do not forget the home made wine to wash it all down.

The Beauty of Duck Hunting

I enjoy Duck Hunting, but my culture is different from the majority of “Hunters” out there. I eat ALL of the duck, including livers, gizzards, kidneys, hearts, etc – ZERO WASTAGE.  There are so many wonderful recipes and the 11 ducks I harvested today can supply many a delicious meal for family and friends. I hunted for three hours only, then stopped, as I had enough – the rest of the “Hunters” were still busy making war and will do so for many hours and days to come, then throw away most, if not all, the wonderful food. I understand there is a duck shortage in the Northern Island this year – I AM NOT SURPRISED.

Pasta con Rutabaga (Italian Swede Spaghetti)

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A friend brought us a wonderful, big yellow swede. We admired it for a day while it sat on the kitchen bench, and this morning it got too much for Mrs BYF. She attacked it with the large chef’s knife and about 30 minutes later we had a delicious pasta. I only post the recipes I have used a lot and those that I am certainly going to use again. This recipe is one of those!

Ingredients

1/4 or less of a massive yellow swede  cut into pencil shaped pieces

3 Cloves of garlic smashed and chopped

1 pinch of chilli

6 tablespoons of olive oil

3 eggs, lightly whisked

a few silver beet leaves optional ( I was digging and the plant was in the way)

salt and pepper

grated parmigiano cheese

Method

Pour the olive oil in to a large pan with a lid. Add the garlic and the pinch of chilli. Add the rinsed and dried swede pieces and fry for a few  minutes. Add a few spoonfuls of water and the silverbeet and cover the pan. Once the swede feels a bit soft and has turned a lovely dark yellow, uncover and let the water evaporate. Put the pasta in the salted boiling water and cook until done. Fry the swede a bit more until a little brown appears but turn off the heat before  the swede disintegrates. Drain and put the pasta in the pan on top of the swede, wait until the sizzle has subsided then pour the egg over the pasta. Mix well by gently turning the mixture in the pan over a few times.

Serve with a generous sprinkling of parmigiano cheese and a bit of black pepper. A dash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil will enhance the flavour.

I took some rabbit back straps from the freezer yesterday as well as harvested fresh salad this morning, hoping to have it as a main today, but after four helpings of Mrs BYF’s swede pasta, the quails were very happy with the salad and the rabbit is back in the fridge.

The Cherry and Black Current Wine complimented this wonderful dish perfectly

ENJOY!!