For many years, Bill Cossey of Williford has spent his days volunteering in and serving the community he loves. From serving as the chief of the fire department to helping provide food to neighbors in need.
After watching the changes in shipping, shopping and food availability that took place shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Cossey decided there was more he could do to help others.
Shortly after Easter, Cossey began researching ways to create viable food sources that could be used throughout the years and ultimately, settled on purchasing and raising quail.
“I want to help people. I started selling quail eggs to pay for the feed for my animals, but it has turned out there is a big demand for quail and for quail eggs,” Cossey said.
After acquiring a hand full of quail and further research, Cossey decided to begin a business, Hilltop Homestead.
“Before Hilltop Homestead, the closest place around back then to get quail was in Evening Shade. After getting started, I have been able to help three people start raising their own within just a few miles of here,” Cossey said referring to his local community.
When asked why he was so passionate about sharing his quail and knowledge with others, Cossey said he believed in communities taking care of one another and likened having quail or eggs available to borrowing a cup of sugar.
“I think we’re a little too dependent on the trucks that bring the goods to the stores. I think if a person needs eggs, your neighbor down the road should have them. If you think back to last year, food costs rose, the price of meat rose and some things were hard to come by,” Cossey said.
When asked why he chose quail as a resource to sell or share with others, Cossey said the game birds grow quickly and being to lay eggs quickly without antibiotics or additional hormones.
“I remember being limited on milk, and I didn’t have enough land for cattle. I couldn’t do anything about that. I had space for quail, and I had an incubator. Quail are low maintenance, high in protein, grow quickly and lay eggs quickly. Typically, within eight weeks, you have full-grown birds who can start laying as early as six weeks,” Cossey said.
Since beginning his operation and personally experiencing the many health benefits quail and their eggs provide, Cossey said he has given away more than 3,500 eggs.
“I started with 11 quail. I am legally allowed to have up to 200 hens, but I have about 140 right now. I am getting between 40 and 50 eggs a day and I can see a difference since I’ve been eating quail and their eggs,” Cossey said.
Although much smaller than a chicken, depending on the bread, it takes approximately three eggs to equal a chicken egg and a bird can produce between seven and fifteen ounces of meat.
“Years ago, I had rabbits and raised them because at the time, they were prolific. I still have some rabbits out here, but in the time it takes to breed and get a new litter of rabbits, I can produce 40 pounds of meat with the quail. Even if you were to dress them out after a couple of months, you’ve already gotten a couple of dozen eggs from them and then the meat from the bird itself,” Cossey said.
Although Hilltop Homestead does sell quail and eggs, Cossey said he also chooses to help members of the community by using the birds to provide food when it is needed.
“We want to help make everybody more self-sufficient. There may come a time when you can’t just run to the store. The housing form is not elaborate, if it’ll hold a rabbit, then it will hold a quail,” Cossey said.
In addition to the birds and their eggs, Cossey said the byproducts produced make for excellent fertilizer for gardening. “You can use their litter for the garden and it works great, but you have to let it sit for a while before you put it with the dirt,” Cossey said.
For more information about Hilltop Homestead, contact Bill Cossey at 870-955-8090.