I have been a gardener my whole life, and have often though about keeping animals, but I have not lived where it is allowed, and I didn't think I could deal with processing. I was horrified when Safeway (owners of Randalls Grocery where I used to work) just announced that they would no longer be using pink slime in their meats, meats that I had been buying and eating for years. Recently I watched Food, Inc and decided that the commercial meat industry just seemed dangerous and irresponsible to me. Anyway, buying supermarket meat is really just outsourcing my squeemishnes to places where my meat animals would experience much worse treatment than I could give them at home.
I have started buying my meats at farmer's markets and from area producers, but that is very expensive and anyway, I would like to raise some animals myself. In a year I am moving and hope to move somewhere that I can have chickens and goats, but where I am now the HOA will not allow it. So that has me thinking about quail. I would be raising for both meat and eggs. I would probably go for A&M as my wife isn't really a huge fan of dark meat. I need to get started fairly cheap though. My wife is a teacher and I am a minister, so money isn't in great supply. I want to know some tips for building a very cheap quail setup so that I have plenty of money for feed and more expensive items like an incubator.
So please, I would like your budget tips on coops, runs, brooders and the like.
I also have a few miscelaneous questions:
will quail forage for bugs to supplement their diet like chickens do? If so is a quail tractor set up a good idea?
If I have 7 foot privacy fence and plug all the gaps could I let the quail run free in the backyard if I clip their wings, or can they fly over or will predator birds get them?
Is the difference between eggs that I will hatch and eggs that I will eat other than one goes in an incubator and the other in the fridge? In other words if I am wanting to keep some eggs to eat do I need to keep the males separate from the hens whose eggs I want to eat?
How many should I start with and how many should I keep if I want to feed my wife and I quail a couple of times a week?
Jordan in Austin TX