How to Raise Pigeons for Meat or as a Pet
According to many people, raising pet pigeons is an interesting and satisfying activity. Some people keep the domestic bird as a hobby or as a source of income (to earn money from selling the pet). But generally, the bird is kept for pet purposes or as a meat source.
For you to successfully raise pigeons at home, you must know the best practices for keeping them. It doesn’t matter which breed you are keeping or planning to keep. Whether you have homing pigeons or feral rock pigeons, these practices provide excellent returns. And in case you didn't know, there are around 300 breeds of pet pigeons, and they are categorized into three major groups: sporting, fancy, and utility.
If you apply the right practices when raising these birds, then you can be sure to get the best results from your feathered friends. Read on to learn how to raise pigeons at home and what practices you should employ.
The Best Practices for Raising Pet Pigeons
In brief, what are the best practices for raising pet pigeons? Well, they include:
- Raising them in pairs
- Providing secure and comfortable housing
- Controlling the living environment
- Providing enough healthy food
- Providing enough clean water
- Providing well-designed nest boxes
- Preventing and controlling parasites promptly
- Preventing and treating diseases and injuries accordingly
- Securing baths for them
- Providing flypens and perches
- Banding them for easy management
1. Raise Pigeons in Pairs: One of the Most Important Practices
Pigeons like to live in pairs (male and female), so when buying them, ensure that you get an even number. The birds usually pair themselves, but for the ones that cannot pair, lock them in a nest box for a few days and they will bond. The birds will pair only if they share similar characteristics and behaviors.
2. Provide Secure and Comfortable Housing
It is best to install more than one loft/coop (pigeon house) if you have more than one pair of the birds. Some pigeons do not get along well with others, and so if you have some which are aggressive, it is important to house them in a separate coop.
Pigeons are the prey of some wild animals and other birds, so you need to provide secure coops for your pets. For maximum security, ensure that the lofts are made of metal sheets or wood and wire mesh. The doors should be strong and well-fixed to keep away the predators.
For over 5 years that I have been keeping pigeons, I have come across, bought and used different types of coops—some have disappointed, while others have been quite useful. This cardinal nest box is so far the most useful coop I have dealt with! It is designed for one pair, and as shown, it is pretty spacious.
It is made of wood, meaning that it is secure and provides great comfort. It has a landing board to provide easy access for the birds, and when it comes to the door, you can just fix a strong wiremesh in the front for more security. The backside can be fixed on a wall with nails or wire, so it is just a hassle-free loft.
I usually use soft materials, like clothing, on the floor to improve comfort and make cleaning easier. If you love your feathered pets and always wants the best for them, you should get this nest box for them!
The loft design and materials should not affect the comfort of your feathered buddies in any negative way. The metal sheets and wires should be fixed properly to ensure that they don't scratch, pierce or injure your birds. You can provide some soft lining materials to improve the comfort of the coops. A landing board or trap is required at the door to help the birds access the house without any difficulties.
It is advisable to clean the lofts daily. Feces and feathers accumulate faster in the houses, so ensure that you clean them regularly, i.e., every morning. You will be able to prevent and control many parasites and diseases if you keep the coops clean.
3. Control the Living Environment
Pigeons are highly affected by weather conditions, and they cannot tolerate these conditions when they are extreme. All the species cannot survive harsh temperatures, wind or rain, so it is important to control the living environment of your birds.
During winter, you can provide heating systems to help them cope with the cold weather. For the hotter months, you can reduce beddings and increase ventilation in the lofts. If your area is affected by strong wind, you need to install wind barriers around the houses.
4. Provide Enough Healthy Food
These birds mainly feed on grains and seeds, and it is recommended to provide them with dry grains since grains with high moisture content can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Some popular grains include: wheat, corn, barley, and sorghum. There are also some ready-made commercial feeds that you can buy to improve the diet of your pets.
When it comes to the seeds, the birds love to eat peas, legume seeds, soybeans, and peanuts. It is recommended to break the seeds into smaller pieces to enable the young ones feed on them without difficulties. You can combine 2 or more seeds to ensure that they get enough nutrients. The newly-hatched birds are fed by the adult ones, so you should not be worried about feeding them.
Grit is a great addition to the feed. Some grit materials include: oyster shell, salt, limestone, charcoal, and bone powder which contains calcium, sulfur, iodine, iron, and other essential minerals.
You should place the food in a place where they can access it anytime of the day. One of the best places is near their houses. Put the food in clean troughs or trays, and you should clean the containers regularly to avoid contamination. It is not recommended to place the food inside the lofts because there is a high chance of it mixing with feces and other wastes.
5. Provide Enough Clean Water for Your Pigeons
Your birds should be able to access enough and fresh water all the times. It is recommended to place water near the food troughs. There are specially designed waterers that can help them drink water with no difficulties. You can use these water troughs to ensure that they drink enough water every day. You should also clean the troughs regularly to prevent the occurrence of diseases.
6. Provide Well-Designed Nest Boxes
Nest boxes are lofts designed for laying eggs and raising the young ones. A normal nest box is 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 14 inches deep. A third of the box should be opened and covered with a wire mesh to help the birds get fresh air while staying secure. The interior should be lined with nesting materials.
7. Prevent and Control Parasites Promptly
Parasites can greatly interfere with the attractiveness of your birds and reduce their productivity. The most common parasites are mites, lice, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and worms, and the best way to prevent them is to keep all the places where your birds live clean. Ensure the coops, food and water troughs, flypens, perches, and nest boxes remain clean and if possible sanitized.
If you detect any sign of parasite attack, use a suitable pesticide or insecticide to control the parasite. You can also quarantine the affected birds to stop the spread of the parasites. If the parasite attack becomes severe, get help from a veterinarian.
8. Prevent and Treat Diseases and Injuries Accordingly
A poultry disease is the worst thing that can happen to your flock. The most deadly and infectious diseases can wipe it in less than a week. Some common diseases include pox, Newcastle and influenza, and they can be prevented by observing hygiene in places where the fowl live. So keep the lofts, food and water troughs, flypens, nest boxes, and perches as clean as possible. Another great way to control diseases is to vaccinate your pets.
In case of any disease attack, quarantine and treat the affected fowl. You may have to get help from a veterinarian if you do not understand the disease. If there are dead birds, bury or burn them to control the spread of the disease. You should clean and disinfect all the places where your flock live and hang out.
When your pigeon gets injured, put him in a separate coop and provide him with water and food. Check him for signs of injuries, such as cuts, scratches, bruises, cuts, piercings, and broken wings or limbs. If you find major injuries, call a veterinarian. Some great ways to prevent injuries in these birds include providing safe lofts, keeping predators away, and securing their flight paths.
9. Secure Baths for Your Pigeons
These birds like to take a bath when the weather is warm, so provide water pots or bathing containers to allow them wash and cool their bodies. It is recommended to supply fresh water to the baths every day. This can also help prevent parasites and diseases.
10. Provide Flypens and Perches
Flypens prevent new birds from flying away, and they allow them to get plenty of exercise while being confined. A simple flypen is made of wire mesh, and it can be 16 feet long, 5 feet wide and 6 feet long. Perches are highly recommended in flypens as they help the birds rest after exercise. So provide enough of these structures in the flypens.
11. Band Your Pigeons for Easy Management
There are a number of management reasons why you would want to practice banding or striping. First, you can band your young birds to distinguish them. Second, you can band birds that are participating in sports to avoid losing them. Third, you can band some of your birds in order to monitor their growth progress. The strips come with different numbers to help you identify each bird.
Enjoy Your Birds!
When you implement these practices, you will definitely get the best results from your pigeons. You will be able to keep these birds in a hassle-free way, and the best thing is that you will own feathered pets that will always keep you happy and delighted. So spice up your hobby or maximize your income by raising your birds accordingly.
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Do you keep pigeons?
If yes, do you need to implement these practices to increase the benefits of your pets?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Where can I find a buddy for the pigeon I rescued as a young bird?
Find someone near you who also keeps pigeons.
I am having problems raising baby pigeons they get their feathers and then they die. What am I doing wrong?
It is a disease or the food you are giving them. You need to check them carefully for other symptoms to know the real cause of the death.
is it a good idea to pair different pigeon breeds? (e.g., roller pigeon with utility pigeon.)
Although it can be hard to pair different breeds, it is usually not a big issue. You can try to see what you can get!
We rescued a baby bird in the road that was ony a few days old. We later found it was a pigeon. It is now about 9 weeks old, but it shows little interest in eating seeds, It picks them up and more often than not drops them or spits them out. We have tried many different seeds but with no real improvement. We fear it may starve to death if left alone. How can we help it please?Helpful 3
© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores