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 Post subject: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:58 pm 
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One of my plans for our new home we bought last summer is to have a pigeon loft. I am working on a design at the moment to fit my plans. Currently my plan is to try a few different breeds and see what I enjoy best. I figured while I do this, ZS members may want to see any updates and I know I could use help from any pigeon owners here. I plan to build a loft for at least 2 dozen pigeons. This is to not limit myself and end up building a second one within the first year. I'm wanting a dozen or so racing pigeons that I can train for releases to start and see how I like this sport. The remaining space I plan to have utility pigeons that I can let forage and reduce the cost of feed. These we will try our hand at food production. With the food production, I am looking more for foraging pigeon that can avoid predators over weight. I like the fact that I can let them out in the daytime and plan to have them as a back up food source. We currently are raising chickens and rabbits for food and wanted to add a little variety into that. Any input would be great from members that raise them and stay posted for anything I do related to it.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:06 pm 
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No experience in raising but growing up my neighbor had a few dozen they raised as food source. Overall I like them better than a lot of other fowl (besides chicken and duck). They had a tree fall on part of the coop and now my moms neighborhood had about 2-3 dozen wild pigeons, I'll still shoot them and eat them occasionally. However recently they have been getting more skittish and when they see the gun come out they fly away.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:55 pm 
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I have a friend that races pigeons. He recently dropped $30,000 on breeding stock. :awesome:

He said to me that racing and "trash" birds breeding together equals all trash birds. If you want to race keep them separate. If you want to eat them don't waste money on racers.

His advice. Take that for what it is worth. YMMV


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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:41 pm 
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Thanks for the tip stickle. I doubt I will race pigeons against other people. I just like the idea of being able to take my pigeons on a small trip and release them to return home. I have no idea what my opinion will be once I start doing releases though.

As for the update on my pigeon plan. I have decided how I want to start and what kind of loft we will purchase. We are going to buy a pre built and alter it to our requirements. We went to a local poultry swap today and saw no pigeons. We did learn about a local farm and livestock auction that happens on afternoons and I was told that pigeons are auctioned there often. The next Saturday I have off we plan to visit the auction and see if there are any pigeons. Meanwhile, we will start the loft slow and steady.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:51 pm 
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Another update here. To start, I forgot to mention another reason we want pigeons. We want to use their droppings to fertilize the garden. We decided to start smaller and are going with 4 Homer Pigeons in the form of 2 pairs. We had a family member give us a chicken coop they weren't using that is designed for 4 chickens. We will be putting this coop on top of a frame that is 4ft tall and wrapped in hardware cloth. The pigeons will have access to roughly double the coop size for flying space. It has 2 nest boxes and 2 roosts. I will place a few more roosts and add a trap door for them. This is to start the pigeons sooner than waiting for my 24 size loft. I think this will help me learn a little easier with less chaos and get me an idea if we will like pigeons as pets. We will let these ones breed and we will be letting them out to explore and forage once we train then to where home is.

Here is the loft we were given.
http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/produc ... icken-coop

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:13 am 
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Update:
I have 4 homer pigeons now. 2 pairs that the previous owner says have been breeding for a few months now. I chose a pair of pigeons with the typical feral pigeon and my wife picked a pair that has a red color she likes. I chose the feral look because it draws less attention to the birds while they are out. The fancier colored pigeons will be for trade/selling with other nearby pigeon owners. I plan to get a 10ftx10ftx10ft aviary in the near future since we won't have room for the babies in their current home. So I have a few weeks/months to build up more space for them.

These are them less than 5 minutes after putting them inside. They were a little scared and ran for the first hiding spot they could see.
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In the picture below the two with the red/brown necks and white/cream feathers are a mated pair. The other two are a mated pair as well.
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They were a little scared of any movement so I let them be for a few hours. When I returned 3 of them flew into the roosting area and one just kept looking at me. You can tell they are curious birds. The way they act with their mate is very cool. You can see the one pigeon wanting to go inside, but won't leave it's mate outside alone. It is sort of sitting on the edge not fully leaving it's made out of sight. They acted this way when we bought them and it was something we liked about how well they bond.
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The loft is placed inside a fenced area we are using as a rabbit breeding colony project. As of right now the pigeons are afraid of the rabbits and roost up when they come by. I placed some pine straw in various places for them to build nests with. You can see some of the pine straw added in the picture. I made a food and water feeder for them out of milk jugs to keep their waste out of the water.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:52 pm 
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So the summer was busy with all our other animals and I'm just now getting back for info. So we had a problem with snakes fitting inside the 1" chicken wire and killing our pigeons. That problem was fixed with some snake shot and havn't had a problem since. We purchased a 10x10x6' cage and are working on getting it sealed with nothing bigger than a 1/2" gap to prevent more snake attacks. Once that is complete, we will work on getting a trap door and then increasing the flock size.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:34 am 
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1/2" mesh is the way to go. Along with snakes weasels can also get through 1" mesh


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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2016 7:57 pm 
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Well, a lot has gone on for my pigeons lately. First thing I did was get a 10ftx10ftx6ft chainlink dog kennel and cover it in 1" chicken wire to keep the pigeons in. Then to keep the snakes out, placed some black material that construction crews use. I had never handled this stuff before and didn't think it would work. It is actually sharp due to it being woven fine strands of plastic. I chose this because it was free and a lot of people who lived here their whole life told me it would work. Ideally I would do 1/4" hardware cloth, but this cost me about 1/8th the price. It is doing a great job keeping the snakes out since I hammered it in and piled dirt up on the outside. Now stuff can't burrow in except the entrance. The entire pigeon loft is surrounded by a flock of chickens with a rooster that protects his ladies. So any furry predators have to kill rooster and carry him off first before they start picking off my pigeons.
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Once I put up a safe place for them, I wanted to make them comfortable and happy. I made nest boxes out of buckets, and some of wood. I made perches out of plastic bowls and put hay to easily clean. I'm not sure if they are using the bowls as nest or just places to perch. I have a few pairs already forming and don't travel more than a few feet apart. To keep it clean, I use milk jugs for water and juice containers for food. This was normally trash for us that I recycled. A family of 4 goes through enough milk and juice to replace these whenever cleaning time comes. I'm giving my pigeons wild bird seed, barley seeds, and chicken laying pellets mixed together. They favor the mixed bird seed and that usually goes quickly, but they will eat the barley and pellets once the rest is gone. So at this point I'm just waiting on them to make nests and start laying eggs. I'm late and they might wait until spring to lay.
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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:32 pm 
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Great thread, love seeing the updates and progress.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:39 am 
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeon_photography

Kinda neat way to get the FAA back out of aerial photos, though you don't have quite as much control.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:25 pm 
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That is interesting about the photography. As soon as I can get the flying short distances I plan to make a small legband that has a tiny container for carrying messages.

To update on my pigeons: I have 2 sets of pigeons that have laid eggs. They laid them 1 day apart. The first pair is a homer and a king pigeon. The second pair is a homer and I can't tell who the dad is yet. I think it is a different king pigeon because there was a king following her around a bunch a few days before the eggs showed up. But I haven't seen him around the eggs yet, I hope he is at least paying child support. :awesome: They are due to hatch around voting day here in the U.S so expect a post around then. On a side note does anyone know a better way to share photos than photobucket? I have a few of the eggs I want to share, but having issues uploading.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:02 pm 
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So the next thing I did was ID the pairs and band them with zip ties of the same color. The male got 2 zip ties.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 6:17 pm 
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Latest update: we have 2 baby pigeons and 2 more due to hatch any day. I picked mom up to take a quick peek at the babies and she wasn't too excited. She didnt peck, but she keeps doing a karate chop motion with her wing at anything that gets too close. They look happy and healthy. Today is their second day out of the shell so in about 3 more I'm going to start handling them and snap a few pictures. Still trying to find a way to upload since photobucket isn't working for me anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:42 pm 
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We are at 4 hatched babies at this time and I am starting to see why some people choose these birds over chickens for food. These babies are growing fast! We raised our laying hens from chicks and these pigeons grow a lot faster. Next spring my chicks are going to real slow since I am spoiled on these pigeon growth rates. This will put me at 13 birds. I'll keep posting if any changes come. Otherwise, I'll just watch them grow and let you guys know when they start flying.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:02 pm 
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Another update here. The first babies that hatched are at the point I cannot tell them apart from the adults. If they stand next to their parents they are still a little smaller, but if they aren't directly next to an adult I can tell. Tomorrow I'll have to band them to identify them. The second group to hatch is still a little fuzzy on the head and belly under their wings. They can fly a little, but I usually end up putting them in their nest at night because they get stuff on the ground level.

The male to the oldest babies was acting unusual one day. I hopped on a pigeon forum and they were thinking it was a calcium deficiency since both parents make a milk like substance in their throats. I was cutting their food with laying pellets because it's cheaper and has calcium that the mother needs for egg production. I stopped adding it for a little while and that is when his symptoms arrived. Once a day I was providing the dad with an electrolyte drink and hand feeding him laying pellets that are higher in calcium and he ended up perking up again right around the time the babies became independent.

A third pair of pigeons has eggs now. So I marked on the calender that they are due to hatch around 12/22. These are pure homer pigeons where the last 2 sets were homer/king. So that means I have 3 pairs currently making babies, I'm going to clean out the first babies nest and replace some clean hay to see if mom and dad will make another set of eggs soon.

Any questions? If not I'll post when I have some babies hatching or if I can figure out where I can upload images to.

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 Post subject: Re: Utility Pigeons
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:15 pm 
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velojym wrote:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeon_photography

Kinda neat way to get the FAA back out of aerial photos, though you don't have quite as much control.


Was just reviewing this post today and this got me thinking. With technology where it is at, I could easily start doing this myself. here is my starting plan.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Smallest-1080P- ... 2007581595

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