Pigeon keeping or pigeon fancying is the art and science of breeding domestic pigeons. People have practiced pigeon keeping for about 10,000 years in almost every part of the world. In that time, humans have substantially altered the morphology and the behaviour of the domesticated descendants of the rock dove to suit their needs for food, aesthetic satisfaction and entertainment. People who breed pigeons are commonly referred to as pigeon fanciers. The hobby is popular throughout the world.
Pigeons are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and short slender bills (and in some species, these bills feature fleshy cares). They are primarily grain eaters. There are 3 types of pigeons on the basis of utility. They are ornamental, racing and meat type pigeons.
The rock dove, which is generally believed to be the ancestor of domesticated pigeons, was probably domesticated around ten thousand years ago. Pigeons are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and short slender bills, short legs, and smooth and compact plumage.
Pigeon belonging to a widely distributed family (Columbidae)
CLASSIFICATION ON THE BASIS OF PURPOSE OF REARING
Fancy pigeons are a type of domestic pigeons, which are domesticated varieties of the wild rock dove (Columba livia). They are bred by pigeon fanciers for various traits relating to size, shape, color, and behavior, who often exhibit their birds at pigeon shows, fairs and other livestock exhibits
Eg: Fantail pigeon, Cropper pigeons, Jacobins etc
Pigeon racing is the sport of releasing specially trained racing pigeons, which then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance. The time it takes the animal to cover the specified distance is measured and the bird’s rate of travel is calculated and compared with all of the other pigeons in the race to determine which animal returned at the highest speed.
Eg: Racing homer, Rollers, Tumblers, and Tipplers.
Utility pigeons are domesticated pigeons bred to be a source of meat called squab. Squabs have been used as a food in many nations for centuries. They were bred to breed and grow quickly.
Eg: King, Modena pigeon,
Advantages of Pigeon Farming
Pigeon farming has some great benefits. The main and notable advantages of this business profitable are described below.
- Pigeons are domestic bird and it’s very easy to handle them.
- From their six month of age they start laying eggs and produce two baby pigeon per month on an average.
- Pigeon can be raised easily in the home yard and roof of the house.
- It takes about 18 days to hatch their eggs.
- Baby pigeon (squab) become suitable for consumption within their 3 to 4 weeks of age.
- You can build a pigeon house in a small place with little investment.
- Pigeon feeding costs is very low. In most cases they collect food by themselves.
- Pigeon meat is very tasty, nutritious and has a great demand and value in the market.
- Pigeon farming is also very pleasing and entertaining. You can spent some good times through watching the activities of pigeons.
- You can get maximum profit from them, by investing small capital and labor.
- Diseases are comparatively less in pigeons.
- Closet of pigeon is a good manure for crop cultivation.
- Different types of toys can be made by the feather of pigeons.
- Pigeons help to keep the environment safe by eating different types of insects.
- The squab has has a great demand in the market as a good patient’s diet.
- Pigeons start laying eggs at their 5 to 6 months of age.
BREEDS OF PIGEON
FRILL BACK PIGEON
The breed is known for the frill or curls on the wing shield feathers. The feather curl should also be present at the ends of the foot feathers or muffs.
This Indian breed of pigeon is known for its highly arched neck, which tends to shake. It carries its breast forward like a Fantail, but the tail is carried narrowly and close to the ground. It is most commonly found in black, with a white head.
The rump and tail are to be white, though in pigeon shows the majority of attention is paid to the quality of the head, neck, and wing markings.
The neck should be heavily feathered and should lead to a full, broad chest. Cheeks should be plump, and the beak should be “broad and stout and rather blunt at the tip.” Feet and legs are feathered so that the bird appears to be wearing thick stockings.
Pouters are among the tallest of pigeons and these slim birds can stand around sixteen inches tall on their very long legs. They carry themselves upright–in a manner reminscent of the Runner Ducks–and their globe or crop balloons out in front of them. They are characterized by a very large, inflatable crop
PIGMY POUTER PIGEON
Every domestic animal breed seems to have a mini version, and the pigeon is no exception. The pigmy pouter isn’t nearly as popular as its larger counterparts. But it still has a dedicated fan base.
ENGLISH CARRIER PIGEON
The breed is descended from pigeons that were used for that purpose, but today the English carrier breed is all show.
ORIENTAL FRILL PIGEON
The “frill” part of the name comes from the ruff of feathers that runs from the neck to the chest. In show birds, there are specific standards for how frilly the frill needs to be and how it is shaped.
The breed is known for large size and suitability for squab production.
MANAGEMENT OF PIGEON
Housing is very important factor for pigeon farming. Keep in mind the following factors before making house for pigeons. Houses for pigeons are generally called lofts.
- Built house for pigeon in a higher place. This will protect the pigeons from dog, cat, mouse and other harmful predators
- Ensure huge flow of air and light inside the house. Prevent splashing of rain water directly inside the house
- The house can be built by thin wood or tin, bamboo or with packing boxes
- Every pigeon require about 30 cm long, 30 cm high and 30 cm wide space
- Every room of the pigeon house have to have the facilities of staying two pigeon
- The house will be adjoining to each other and polyhedral
- Keep a door on every room measuring 10×10 cm
- Always try to keep the house clean and dry.
- Clean the house once or twice per month
- Keep the food and water pot near the house.
- Keep some straw near the house, so that the pigeons can make bed for them.
- Keep water and sand near the house, as they clean their body by water and dust.
Pigeons are large birds so they need large cages. The most suitable are rectangular ones with bars. Cover part of the bottom with paper or a bedding material. Birds will feel extra secure and happy in a partially enclosed cage, placed in a draft-free area out of direct sunlight. Cover the cage at night if it’s in a place where lights are turned on and off.
The advantage of keeping your birds in an aviary is that you can provide a flight area for them. A good-sized flight area is 9 feet long by 6 feet wide and 6 feet high. Pigeons like roosting high up at night, so place a roosting area as high as you can, and some regular perches lower down for daytime use. An aviary oriented south or southwest provides the right level of sunlight for your birds.
A pigeon loft is an outdoor structure designed to house a large number of pigeons. Birds can enter and leave freely once they understand the loft is their home, and they should always return at night. A good size loft is 4 feet wide by 8 feet long and 7 feet high.
Racing pigeons are commonly trapped home using a bob wired trapping arrangement that the birds push against the bob wires to gain access, but are restricted by the wires when trying to get back outside. Another form of trap typically called a Sputnik trap uses openings set on an angle which are just wide enough for one bird to gain access by dropping through into the loft.
Pigeons generally eat wheat, maize, paddy, rice, enamel, legume, Triticum aestivus, mustard, gram etc. Keep foods in front of their house and they will take the food by themselves. You have to serve them balanced feed for proper growing, good health and for proper production. You can also serve them balanced feed, prepared for the chickens. Pigeon feed should contain 15-16 % protein. Every pigeon consumes 35-50 grams of grainy feed daily.
Racing pigeons are avian athletes and like any other athlete, feeding them optimally for the job ahead, means that their full potential is more likely to be realized. The more the fancier deviates from the best diet, the harder it is for the birds to do well. Some birds can still win on other diets because they have other factors in their favour such as being exceptional genetically or under a particularly good manager etc, but a deviation from the best diet just makes it harder.
For optimal racing, diets need to contain 12-14% protein. For high performance sprint racing, this should be 12%. Racing diets also need to contain over 3000kcal per kilogram of energy (in the form of fat and carbohydrate).
For fast growing of baby pigeon and for nutrition of adult, feed them oyster shell, lime stone, bone powder, salt, greet mixture, mineral mixture etc. with their regular feed. Along with this, feed them some green vegetables daily.
Ration for Pigeon
|Feed Ingredients||Amount (kg)|
|Broken Wheat||2.8 kg|
|Broken Maize||2.2 kg|
|Broken Gram||1.0 kg|
|Soyabean Cake||0.8 kg|
|Rice Bran||1.8 kg|
Baby Pigeon’s Feed
Baby pigeons (squab) don’t need extra feed for 5-7 days. They take crop milk from their parents stomach. This is known as pigeon milk. Male and female pigeon feed their baby in this way for 10 days. After that, they become able to fly and feed themselves by their own. Keep fresh feed and clean water near their house.
Keep water pot near their house. They will drink and take bath from that water pot. Clean the water pot daily. Try to serve them sufficient amount of clean water always.
Generally male and female pigeon stay in pairs. During laying period they collect straw and make a small nest. Female pigeon start laying eggs when they reach 5 to 6 months of age. They lay a pair of egg after every one month. Both male and female pigeon hatch the eggs one after another. It takes about 17 to 18 days to hatch the eggs. If artificial nest needed, make it. As the eggs are very small in size, squab production is very profitable than consuming the eggs.
Diseases in pigeons are comparatively less than any other poultry birds.
They suffer by TB, paratyphoid, cholera, pox, Newcastle, influenza etc. Besides this they can also suffer by various endoparasites and ectoparasites and malnutritious diseases.
Advice to pigeon fanciers
- Follow the advice of an experienced veterinarian.
- Keep the pigeon house clean and germ free.
- Separate the disease affected bird from healthy birds.
- Vaccinate them timely. Use only the vaccine recommended by a doctor not by a farmer or fancier.
- Keep them free from worms.
- Feed them balanced food to prevent malnutritious diseases.
- Use medicine for removing louse from their body.
Disease to pigeon fanciers: pigeon fancier’s lung (Allergic condition, hypersensitivity pneumonia)
Pigeon primarily feed on seeds, fruits, and plants. This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones. There are different types of pigeon all around the world. While considering the breeds of pigeon their management also should be considering.
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