Manchester Farms: Where Quail Is Done Right

In a world of mass produced, hormone-riddled products, Manchester Farms in South Carolina is going against the grain, sticking to their guns and doing what they do best: raising quail using old world methods. Brittney Miller and her husband Matt are currently at the helm of the family-owned and operated farm. Miller took over for her father Bill Odom, a former poultry specialist for the Campbell Soup Company who started the farm in the 1970s.

Today, the farm produces 80,000 Pharaoh quails per week spread out over 380 acres of farmland. The owners are deeply committed to producing high quality quail with absolutely no antibiotics where the flock is fed an all-natural diet of soybeans and corn with an additional probiotic put into the feed. "We put in our feed what's good for our children, which is also what's good for our quail," Miller told us during a recent visit. "We don't rush them or cause them to grow faster either."

The quails are raised on the property in barns instead of being raised free range in an effort to protect the quail from predators including snakes and rodents, as well as natural disasters and floods. The quails are instead raised in large barns where there are no restrictions on height or space for the animals, explained Miller.

As for the atmosphere in which they are raised, Miller says that a quiet flock is a happy flock. "When you walk into the barn, you want it to be calm and peaceful," she noted, also adding that they split the flock up into three separate locations in an effort to protect against an outbreak of disease.

Each quail is hand de-boned on premises by a team of four employees who have been working at the arduous task for years. They have grown to be such experts that they can debone 100 quail in only an hour, said Miller. "Everything about a quail's life cycle happens within our farm and we make all decisions on what's best for health, care and safety," she added.

"What we do is very old-world," said Miller. "What's great is that it's now being recognized as the right way to do things. It's nice to see people in the world of consumers recognize what is the right and the correct way to do this."

And from these old world methods has come new world recognition from the likes of chefs, consumers and television cooking personalities. Nationally-renowned chefs such as Steven Satterfield of Miller Union in Atlanta, Jenn Louis of Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern in Portland, and Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern and Untitled in New York often purchase from Manchester Farms.

Not only does the farm sell traditional hand deboned quail, it also sells bacon wrapped quail and quail eggs. The products are shipped frozen throughout the country and are often found in the frozen meat section of supermarkets and specialty food stores.