Commercial Pigeon Farming / Racing Pigeon Breeding
Pigeons are beautiful domestic birds and are considered a symbol of the piece worldwide. Commercial pigeon farming is a profitable and interesting business. Pigeon farming is so easy that most people love to breed pigeons in their backyard or on the roof of their home.
If you want to create a successful pigeon breeding business using modern methods and create an additional source of income and entertainment for yourself, read this article to the end. Here we will discuss commercial pigeon farming, racing pigeon breeds, their breeding, and management techniques.
The breeding of pigeons in commercial conditions can be started with very little investment and with less labor. On a small scale, you can even breed pigeons during your free time. Commercial pigeon farming can be very profitable if you use modern methods instead of traditional methods.
History – Raising Pigeons / $1,400,000 per Bird
Pigeon farming started in the Asian subcontinent and is considered the center of fancy pigeon farming. However, the rearing of pigeons as livestock may have started in North Africa. There are indications found in the ancient history of Spain during the year 60 AD where pigeons are raised for meat purposes.
Pigeon farming started almost 10,000 years ago. Mughal Emperor Akbar was a great admirer of pigeon rearing; he has almost 20,000 pigeons reared during his reign.
The pigeon was used as a messenger and the sport of the flying pigeon as a messenger began 3,000 years ago. In 1150 Genghis Khan used pigeons as a messenger in Baghdad. In 1167, Sultan Nur-ud-Din began regular service with pigeons between Syria and Baghdad.
Pedro Tafur, a Spanish traveler, observed messenger pigeons at Damietta for the first time in 1436. The Republic of Genoa has two watchtowers in the Mediterranean Sea and equipped them with pigeons for security purposes.
In 1780, Sultan Tipu used pigeons to carry the message to his headquarters at Jamia masjid in Srirangapatna. Pigeon holes are still present on the walls of the mosque.
The first pigeon race took place in 1818 in Brussels, known as the Cannonball Run.
Paul Reuter used almost 45 pigeons to deliver newspapers between Aachen and Brussels. The result of the Battle of Waterloo was delivered to England by pigeons.
Now, in the 21st century, the Indian Police Department in Odisha used pigeons for the communication service during natural disasters. In 2002, this pigeon messaging service was withdrawn due to the expanded use of the internet.
There are hundreds of pigeon breeds that arise from common ancestors. There are over three hundred breeds of pigeons worldwide. The common types of pigeon breeds are described below.
Meat Producing Breeds
Many breeds of pigeons are raised for meat purposes. Pigeon meat is known as squab and is similar to that of black chicken meat. The famous meat-type pigeon breed is Texoma, White King, Silver King, Lokha, Gola, and Garneau.
Fancy pigeon breeds are famous for their unique characteristics. The famous pigeon breeds are Shirazi, Moyurponkhi, Lohore, Jacobin, Fantail, Trumpeter, Modena, Mukhi, Trubit, Templar, Giribaz, Lotal, etc.
These fancy pigeon breeds compete in different pigeon shows and different breeds are compared on different standards.
Racing pigeons are bred based on their aerial performance. The famous racing pigeon breeds are Racing Homers and High Flyers. These breeds are trained to compete and have also been used to carry messages.
Pigeon houses are generally known as coops or lofts. The term coop is used for breeding pens present within the pigeon houses. Pigeon owners used different types of housing systems, but there are no suitable designs that are pigeon housing systems. The pigeon farmer usually used the housing system that they find most desirable and elegant.
Most pigeon houses are built in such a way that pigeons move freely within the house. The pigeon can easily leave the housing system and can return to the house without the special assistance of any person.
Another point to consider is that pigeon houses are built to keep the pigeon safe from all kinds of predators and adverse weather conditions.
In multiple pens, there are at least two pens made of loft. Multiple pens have few benefits like:
- You can separate superior males and females for control breeding.
- You can also separate young and unpaired pigeons from adult and settled pairs.
Some fanciers have more than two pens and this will help the pigeon breeder to separate unmated and spare males and females. These leftover males and females are replaced if any pigeon dies of disease or predation.
It is difficult to differentiate pigeons in their young age, so these pigeons can also be useful to separate those pigeons that are weaned but are not yet sexually separated.
Pigeon Landing Boards
The landing board is essential for pigeon fanciers, who generally fly their pigeons. Pigeons use a bob, trap, or landing board to return home when they are ready to do so. The Bob Wired trapping Arrangement is used to catch racing pigeons.
Pigeon Fly Pens
If you allow your pigeons to fly freely, it will result in better health and spirit. But some pigeon fanciers do not allow their birds to fly freely due to complaints from neighbors. So if fanciers don’t allow their birds to fly freely outdoors, they will build a large closed area without any obstacles allowing them to fly freely. This large closed area is known as a fly pen.
Pigeon Nest Boxes
For adult and breeding pairs, pigeon fanciers provide nest boxes. Breeding pairs are very territorial over their nesting area. Then the breeding pairs can reproduce harmoniously if each pair has two nesting boxes of their own.
Pigeons are very territorial about their perches. It is best to provide each bird with a place to perch. The best practice is to provide all birds with more perches than the number of birds.
If you feed your pigeons with a proper diet, their health will improve. They will grow and reproduce properly. A pigeon diet must contain corn, wheat, rice, rice, legumes, enamel. gram, mustard, etc.
In general, food is placed in front of their coops and they collect their food themselves. Chicken feed can also be used for pigeons because it contains all protein and minerals in moderate amounts. A pigeon feed must contain 16% protein. A growing pigeon requires 40-50 grams of grain food daily.
Adult breeds of pigeon and meat should be fed limestone, oyster, salt, bone powder, mineral mix, and greet the mix with regular food. You can also feed them vegetables in the daily diet. At a rough estimate, generally, 25 breeding pairs can eat 3 kg of food daily. The common ingredients of the pigeon diet are
Wheat is available in a hybrid and indigenous variety on the market. Usually, the summer wheat variety is red and the winter variety is white. If you are feeding your pigeon wheat, your pigeon is in loose motion, this may be due to the presence of insecticides. Therefore, it is better to wash the wheat and then dry it in the sun before using it.
Corn is the best source of carbohydrates in pigeons. So supply fine, low moisture corn to your pigeons. Mother pigeons generally require finer granules. Corn is available in three types of orange, red, and popcorn.
Full-size peas are used in large pigeons. The oversized pea helps to quickly fill the crop. Peas are not good for young pigeons. A pea contains 22-23% crude protein.
Pigeons like mustard seeds. It is an oil-containing seed.
Pulse and Broken Rice
Pulse and broken rice are a good source of protein for pigeons. It is a healthy, chemical-free source of protein.
This is important for the minerals of the pigeons, mainly calcium. Huge dust and other germs can be found here. Therefore, be very conscious when supplying your pigeons.
Pigeons like to eat paddy, but long bristles are very dangerous to pigeons. These long bristles adhere to the pigeons’ throats and cause abscesses and scarring. Pigeons can die at some point from this problem.
Regular feeding is important for pigeons’ mental and physical health. If you are raising pigeons in a semi-intensive system, it is best to feed them twice a day. Pigeons must be fed in the morning and in the afternoon.
After seven days of hatching, the mother generally requires additional feeding during the mid-day, during this time, feed the pigeons with small grains. Each pigeon generally requires 60 grams of food daily and removes the pot after the pigeons take their diet.
Always supply clean and fresh water to your pigeons. Always keep the water pot near the coop and clean the water pot daily.
Pigeon Egg Production
In general, successful breeding requires adult breeding pairs. During the breeding season, adult males and females collect straw and make a small nest. The female pigeon begins laying eggs at the age of six months.
Female pigeons lay eggs every month and male and female pigeons hatch one by one. The incubation period for pigeon eggs is 17 to 18 days.
Pigeon Breeding Methods
There are certain breeding methods that are used to breed pigeons. If you want to breed your fancy or racing pigeon, you can use these methods such as cross-breeding, line-breeding and inbreeding method.
Cross-breeding is also known as out-crossing. The cross-breeding is done in those pigeons that generally do not have common ancestors in the previous 5 generations.
Cross-breeding can introduce new and more dynamic genes into the pigeon gene pool. Gallez Jules once said: “A crossing of two different bloodlines tends to result in more dynamic youngsters with increased vitality.”
Cross-breeding also ensures that when we introduce the new gene there is a good chance that we should improve the existing gene pool rather than hinder or dilute it. At the crossroads, proper loft management and record keeping are necessary.
Pigeon Line Breeding
Linebreeding is a form of inbreeding and is widely practiced today. Linebreeding is known as the cornerstone of selective reproduction. If you want to breed a racing pigeon, sometimes it only takes one pigeon for breeding.
If you want to increase the favorable trait in the springs, you can use the original racing pair for the original genetic traits. Furthermore, by line breeding, we can maintain the qualities of the original bird instead of diluting it.
Regular inbreeding can result in poor vitality and birds are more prone to disease. In addition to these issues, it is also evident that when inbreeding is done correctly, it will result in many fanciers’ champions who can play a significant role in improvement strategies and plans.
It is a sport in which trained racing pigeons are released from their homes and return to their homes at a carefully measured distance. In this game, the time it takes for a pigeon to cover a specific distance is measured, and then the bird’s traveling speed is calculated and compared to all other pigeons.
In this race, that pigeon is considered the winner who returns home with the highest speed. In the pigeon breed, specific breeds of pigeons such as the racing homer are used. These pigeons are specially trained and fly in races that have a distance of 62 miles, 100 km to 621 miles, 1000 km.
These races can be measured with different devices and equipment and sometimes they can be won and lost in seconds. Traditional timing methods include a rubber ring attached to a specially designed watch. Some traditional and modern timing methods are explained below.
Pigeons / Traditional Timing Method
In the traditional method of timing, the specific pigeon racing watch is involved along with rubber rings and a unique identification number. At the beginning of the race, the rubber ring is attached to the pigeon’s leg.
When the pigeon starts racing, the clock is set, the serial number is recorded, and in the end, the bird brings the ring home. When the pigeon returns home, the rings are removed and placed in a clock slot.
When the bird got home, the ring is placed on the watch and the official time is recorded. At this time, the average speed is measured and the winner of the race can be found.
This method has some problems due to some reasons.
- The official calculated time is not the actual arrival time. It is the time when it is removed and then placed back on the watch. Many vital seconds can be lost during this process.
- When the pigeon arrived home, its ring must be removed quickly, this process can be very uncomfortable for pigeons. Sometimes the pigeons are very tired and may hesitate to enter the loft for the trainer and precious time is lost during this process.
Pigeon / Electronic Timing Method
The electronic timing system is the ultimate method of timing racing pigeons. In this method, the arrival time of the birds is automatically recorded. In this system, the pigeon does not have to be in the attic to watch the birds when they return.
In the electronic system, a small RFID chip is equipped with a stripe, and this chip can be read when the bird returned home. When the bird gets home, the electronic scanning system records the arrival of the pigeon.
An antenna is placed at the loft entry point and when the pigeon crosses that entry point its electronic ban is scanned. The clock records the time and the clock is connected to the antennas.
In addition, the serial number of the ring is recorded with the arrival time. This system is the same as the transponder timing system in human races.
This electronic time system has facilitated the recording of the bird arrival system. The electronic timing system has been developed over the years and is changing the world of pigeon racing and making it easy day by day.
Please note that this system has created several loft management system programs in recent years. These systems can assist fanciers with pigeon pedigree, record keeping, and keeping track of vaccination and treatment records.
Pigeon / One-loft Racing
One-loft racing was invented from the local futurity races. Futurity races are defined as those races in which birds run from the race point to their homes. Another difference in the normal race and the futurity race is the involvement of the prize money.
The normal running process is a little complicated. In normal racing, there is a lot of participation from pigeon handlers, and pigeon handlers compete with each other. In some situations, some controllers are better than others, therefore a one loft racing was invented.
In one loft, racings are bred by different breeders in the same loft and by the same trainer under the same conditions.
Aloft method is the best method to check which bloodline is best for racing. In this system, the race time is recorded by electronic timing systems when the bird enters its loft.
In this racing system, all birds are brought to the same release point and then return to their loft. It is the fastest way to check which bird completes the journey from the first point A to B. This racing system is becoming very popular because in this system fancier can compare bloodlines on equal terms with the best breeders.
Pigeon / Doping
In doping, performance-enhancing drugs are administered to racing pigeons to increase performance. These drugs are the same as those used in human athletes. Similarly, corticosteroids are also used to delay molting, allowing a bird to run late in the season.
Pigeon / Diseases
There are fewer diseases in pigeons compared to poultry. They can suffer from various viral and bacterial diseases in addition to also suffering from various malnutrition diseases. Some deadly diseases in pigeons are described below.
Coccidiosis is a deadly disease in pigeons. This parasitic disease affects the pigeon’s digestive system, so the pigeon will eat less, as a result, food is not digested well and the pigeon will have no minerals or vitamins. This disease is curable.
Always provide healthy and fresh food for your pigeons because coccidiosis occurs mainly due to food poisoning. The infection can easily spread through the ingestion of infected tissue and feces. If any of your pigeons suffer from coccidiosis, separate them from the others.
Sign and symptoms
Diarrhea is usually the main symptom of coccidiosis. At some point, blood can also appear in diarrhea in severe cases.
Anticoccidial medications are administered to control this disease.
Ornithosis is a different and dangerous disease from pigeons. It is also known as parrot fever. Ornithosis is a zoonotic disease, so take strict measures when you find this disease in your colony.
Ornithosis is caused by chlamydia. This disease can spread through the air, feces, and urine particles. Sometimes peak-to-peak contact can also spread this disease. If any pigeon is affected by ornithosis, it must be isolated to prevent the spread of the disease.
Sign and Symptom
Ornithosis does not have its own signs and symptoms. The disease is mainly followed by secondary infections. When the bird’s immune system is compromised, another infection may appear. The common symptoms observed in this disease are inflammation, diarrhea, runny nose, fever, poor appetite, breathing sound, and ruffled feathers.
Broad-spectrum antibiotics are administered along with mineral and vitamin treatments.
Mycoplasma is a cause of respiratory infections. Mycoplasma affects pigeon’s respiratory system. Its signs are similar to those of chlamydia infection.
It can be caused by multiple organisms, such as viruses, and bacteria belong to the mycoplasma group of organisms.
Sign and Symptoms
Symptoms depend on the affected part of the respiratory system. However, the common signs are a runny nose, respiratory sound, eye swelling, sore throat, and birds that cannot fly.
Stress is one of the main reasons why this disease spread and pigeons show mycoplasma symptoms. To maintain a clean and stress-free pigeon environment that will keep the bird healthy.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease also known as paratypho. It can attack the intestine of pigeons and cause serious damage. Salmonellosis will affect entire parts of the pigeon’s body and will cause serious damage to the pigeons.
The main cause of salmonellosis is infected food, feces, and drinking water.
Sign and Symptoms
In salmonellosis, birds often experience diarrhea, weight loss, decreased appetite, fever, unusual flight movements, and lameness.
Treatment involves antibiotic courses and multivitamins.
Necrotic enteritis is a serious disease that is transmitted by the per fringe of clostridium. This bacterium is present everywhere and it is difficult to protect it from entering the farm. Clostridium can affect pigeons and all kinds of poultry.
Clostridium per fringe is the bacteria that is found everywhere, even in dust, food, water, soil, feces, etc., therefore, it is difficult to prevent this infection in pigeons.
Sign and Symptoms
Common signs and symptoms that appear are diarrhea, depression, ruffled feathers, and increased mortality.
Your vet may recommend specific antibiotics to treat necrotic enteritis.
Pigeon Meat Industry / Squab
The pigeon meat industry is growing day by day. Squab is the pigeon meat of the young domestic pigeon that is less than four weeks old.
Squab meat was first produced by the Egyptians for power and then this practice spread to medieval Europe and Rome. Today, Egypt is still the main contributor of squabs, which is almost 70% worldwide.
These pigeons grow at a rapid rate and have an extraordinary appetite. These pigeons depend on their mother pigeons for food in the form of crop milk. This crop milk is stimulated by the hormone prolactin.
The composition of the crop milk changes as the pigeon ages. At first, it has a high level of fat and protein with a high level of essential amino acids. In females, milk production decreases earlier than males, allowing females to lay more eggs and then incubate them with the help of males.
The Growing Industry of Squab in America
From the early 1900s, Squab was raised commercially in North America.
Annual squab production is one and a half million chicks in America and Canada per year in 1986. It is increasing day by day.
The growing Industry of Squab in Australia
In Australia, the squab industry has grown from $ 6.2 million in 2002 to about $ 11 million today.
Squab Meat Benefits
Squab meat is appreciated all over the world and people like the pigeon because its meat and bones are softer than adult pigeons. The texture of the pigeon meat depends on the environment in which they live. The pigeon meat of the pigeon that lives on a controlled farm is softer than that of the naturally growing pigeon.
Squab meat is nutritious due to its protein content. The protein present in pigeon meat is 17.5g / 100gm of meat. The value of protein is similar to that of beef.
Commercial pigeon farming is one of the profitable businesses. The breeding of racing pigeons is also growing because this is the hobby of pigeon lovers. You can rear and breed racing pigeons by following the guidelines mentioned above.
Pigeon Breeder Associations
|National Pigeon Association||USA||NPA|
|American Pigeon Racing Union||USA||APRU|
|Midwest Homing Pigeon Association||USA||MHPA|
|Royal Pigeon Racing Association||UK||RPRA|
|Royal Pigeon Racing Association||UK & Ireland||RPRA|