After graduating with a major in Poultry Science from Clemson University, Bill Odom was working as a poultry specialist for Campbell Soup Company in Sumter, SC when he began growing Pharaoh quail to train his hunting dogs. He did this on open land across the highway from Manchester State Forest (hence Manchester Farms). Bill soon discovered that Pharaoh quail were too migratory to be released in South Carolina. However, during the off season, Bill had already begun freezing his excess quail and selling them to his friends and neighbors. Therefore, as the demand grew, so did the market for "farm raised quail" which Bill began producing in converted chicken houses.
When we first started selling to restaurants we were doing it directly through what we now call mail order. As demand, and supply grew we knew we could not continue to do it direct, so in the early 80’s we started selling through foodservice and retail distributors nation wide. We continue to ship truckloads of product from everywhere from Miami to Seattle, from Bangor, ME to San Diego on a weekly basis.
Our oldest signature item is our European Style Semi Boneless Quail. We remove all bones except the drummette of the leg and the wing bones. This “sleeve boned” product comes with our stainless steel grill pin (to hold open the body cavity) and has been a traditional favorite of upscale chefs for stuffing and baking for over 3 decades. With the introduction of the marination it has also become a popular grill item.
In the late 80’s we saw the need for a way to make our quail easier for the “culinary impaired” to cook. In 1991, we started tumble marinating our birds in our own light seasoning. The tumble action helps tenderize the meat and the vacuum helps lock the moisture in better than traditional injection (which a lot of poultry processors do). With this addition they can be cooked straight out of the package and taste delicious, but the seasoning is light enough that it doesn’t interfere with anybody’s signature recipes.
This video is Frank O. Hill (the manure man of SC) who is Steve Odom’s (Manchester Farms owner/partner) grandfather-in-law appearing on Jonny Carson.
Steve Odom in early flight pen.
Around the same time we took direction from one of our chain customers and started splitting our birds down the breast instead of the back. We thought this customer was out of their mind when they requested it, but after thinking about it we saw the reasoning. Traditionally people have cooked our bone in quail by battering and frying. This customer was grilling them and learned that the traditional butterfly (back) cut would over cook the legs by the time the breast was done. They found if you if you split them down the breast there was more surface area to cook the breast more evenly. This would allow the breast and the legs to get finished at the same time consequently getting off the grill 2-3 minutes faster.
In the spring of 2006 we created Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast and Leg portions as well as redeveloping our entire appetizer items including boneless quail breasts and partially boned quail legs. We introduced these in IQF, bulk, Marinated, natural versions. These items are perfect for caterers and upscale menus looking for a new idea.
During the holiday season of 2006 we were featured prominently on the shelves of a national club store with our Bacon Wrapped Quail Appetizers.
During the spring of 2007 we have been busy designing new retail items and redesigning old ones to better serve our customers. Look for and/or start asking for our new Bacon Wrapped Quail and Semi Boneless on the shelves of your neighborhood grocery store.
Manchester Farms is the oldest, most respected, and largest producer of farm raised quail in the United States. We pride ourselves on the quality of our products and the exceptional customer service we provide to our distributor, restaurant, and retail customers. You will not find better customer service anywhere in our industry. We do all this with no antibiotics or growth hormones. We currently employ close to 200 people and are in the process of expanding our operations constantly.
Manchester Farms is truly a family business, and recently it has taken the next step in its evolution. Recently Bill and Janet retired and left the management of Manchester to their son and daughter Steven Odom and Brittney Miller. Over the last 2 years Manchester Farms has seen unprecedented growth. At the urging of customers, we have also branched out from our Quail roots into other areas of further processing including our new Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breast Appetizers. Look/ask for these on your restaurant menu or grocery store shelf.
Manchester is small enough to react to customer requests rapidly (like the Bacon Wrapped Chicken), while still being large enough to accommodate runs for large chain accounts on many different items both protein and non protein items. If you have an idea let us see if we can help.
Over the last 35 years Bill and Janet hope you have enjoyed their Quail products and over the next 35 years Steven and Brittney hope you enjoy both their Quail and non-quail products until the 3rd generation starts.
Bill Odom in early grow out house.
Early Manchester Farms packaging
Christmas 1970 shipment
Manchester Farms History