The King Cal brand has been used to market our co-op’s squabs since the early 1940s. Today, King Cal offers a range of differently prepared premium squabs. Although size and dressing vary, all our frozen squabs share characteristics that have made this bird a popular choice for centuries.
King Cal squabs are entirely dark meat birds. Dark meat gets its unique color and taste from higher concentrations of myoglobin — a natural oxygen-storing protein. In most birds, myoglobin is concentrated only in a bird’s leg muscles. However, squab contains high levels of myoglobin throughout the body, giving the bird’s meat a unique, delicious flavor.
King Cal squabs are ready for market before they begin to fly. By dressing them for market just before their first flight, farmers ensure that the meat around a squab’s wings does not become tough.
A squab’s fat is “baby fat” — located under the skin but not within the meat. This fat renders off during cooking, which allows squab meat to retain more moisture than most other forms of poultry without becoming too calorically dense. As a result, King Cal squabs very versatile and easy to prepare for large or small groups of people.
Ready to give squab a try? We have a variety of squab-based recipes that will fit any occasion.
Squab meat is delicious — and nutritious. Compared to a similar “dark meat” bird, it contains more protein and less fat and calories.
Squab was once known as “the meat of kings” — and for good reason. The flavor and composition of squab meat is without peer. However, several factors have caused squab to fall behind other types of poultry as a commercial source of food. Learn more about what makes squab farming a bit challenging — and deeply rewarding for our dedicated co-op members.
Squab farming is much different than modern commercial poultry farming. Adult pigeons mate for life and take turns incubating eggs and feeding their young. Squab farmers must provide enough space for each family unit to do what comes naturally — flying, feeding, mating, socializing, and rearing young — so they can be healthy and active.
Chickens, ducks, turkey, and most other forms of poultry are precocial birds — they can begin to eat bird seed the moment they emerge from their eggs, which helps them gain valuable weight quickly and be and be grown in large numbers. Squab, however, are altricial birds, born immobile and helpless. In the beginning, squab must rely on both their parents to feed them directly with “crop milk” by gurgling up their food.
A female chicken can produce up to one egg every day. If inseminated and incubated, each one of these eggs can turn into another chicken. Typical commercial chicken farms produce their chicks in a hatchery. By contrast, a pair of pigeons only hatch and raise about two babies every 45 days.
We embrace the limitations inherent in raising squabs, and we recognize that the scale of our co-op will never compete with large factory farms. Squab Producers of California doesn’t want to be the biggest; we just want our co-op to be the best at what we do: continuing our legacy of quality California squab production.