Raising Pigeons, and Examples of Pigeon Houses



History of Raising Pigeons

Pigeons were one of the earliest domesticated livestock and their importance as a food source continued until the time of the industrial revolution. It is believed that they were domesticated starting 10,000 years ago and are mentioned in 5,000 year-old Egyptian hieroglyphics. Pigeon houses exist throughout the world but some of the oldest are found in the Middle East. The birds have been valued for their eggs, meat, and dung, which is an excellent fertilizer.

As compared to chickens, pigeons are easier to care for and can be eaten sooner. They forage for their own food and are edible in 28 days. Their houses protect them from predators.

Many nations including Scotland and the Middle East continue to house pigeons. Pigeon houses were found on plantations in the U.S. until the early 1920′s. A few centuries ago in parts of Europe, pigeon meat was important especially for the winter months and only the aristocracy were allowed to raise them.

In the sad tale of the North American Passenger Pigeon‘s extinction, the bird went from being one of the most abundant birds in the world during the 19th century, numbering in the billions, to extinction in the early 20th century. Unregulated hunting, loss of habitat, deforestation, and use as commercialized cheap meat for slaves and the poor were contributing factors.

Examples of Pigeon Houses from around the world

A pigeon house may be referred to as dovecote, dovecot, doocot, pigeonaire, pigeonnier, colombier, tour-fuie, culvery, duivekot, columbaria, colomendy, or palomar. Many are free standing, from small to large, but others are built into tops or sides of barns or other buildings.

See the large variety of house types from around the world in the photos below:



photo ~ The Wadlington Pigeon House was built in 1857 on the Oak Grove Plantation in South Carolina. This house held 55 breeding pairs and had 112 access holes.



flickr via lori5871 ~ Virginia, USA



flickr via lydiashingingbrightly ~ Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK



Germany



photo: wikipedia



The island of Tinos, Greece has 1,000 artistic dovecotes (photo)



photo wikipedia ~ Doorn, The Netherlands



photo flickr via dynamosquito ~ 2008 ~ Midi-Pyrenees region, France



photo wikipedia ~ Glasgow, Scotland



Pigeon house for 4,000 pigeons in Iran (photo)



photo flickr via sarahemcc ~ Uganda



photo wikipedia ~ modern pigeon house in Brasília, Brazil



flickr via jay galvin ~ 2008 ~ Egypt



photo ~ Egypt



photo ~ Masada

Utility Pigeons

Some pigeons have been bred to be larger, specifically for their meat, and this group is called the “utility” pigeon. Breeds of pigeons preferred for meat are the King, Carneau, French Mondain, Homer and Swiss Mondain.



pigeon eggs

Young pigeons, or squab, become very large in their nests prior to flying and these are used for their meat which is tender, rich, nutritious, and mild-tasting.



King pigeons (photo)

Squab is served at some of the finest U.S. restaurants such as French Laundry. Examples of squab dishes are breast of squab (French salmis), Egyptian hamam mahshi (stuffed with rice and herbs), and Moroccan pastilla.



photo: Darin Dines

The greatest volume of U.S. squab, however, is sold within Chinatowns.

Raising Squab

Pair bond parents, beginning around eight months of age, incubate eggs for 17-19 days, and brood their squab for four weeks. Both parents produce a “pigeon milk” to feed their young. One pair can produce 15 squabs per year and ten pairs can produce eight squabs per month without being fed by their keepers. They forage and return to their dovecote to rest and breed. Mates will produce young year round for five to six years. In addition to foraging, pigeons can be fed bird seed, Flock Raiser, and corn.

Pigeon Dung or Guano

(N 4.2-6.5; P 2.4-3; K 1.4-2.5) Pigeon guano has higher nutrient values than other fowl manure. It should be composted prior to using. The usefulness of their manure has added to the overall usefulness of raising pigeons throughout the ages.

~ THE END ~

Also see: Japanese Quail or Coturnix: Protein from Small Spaces

Recommended reference for information about how to raise pigeons: Mother Earth News

6 thoughts on “Raising Pigeons, and Examples of Pigeon Houses

  1. Mr.David Lott

    farming of pigeons for many is a big problem because no nurseries are selling right breeds here
    LOL
    David Lott

    Reply
  2. abraham

    hi david
    am from egypt .i need ur help to start raising pigeon for business please give me information
    thanks abraham south egypt aswan city

    Reply
  3. Jane Siska

    I saw the pigeon house in SC ( the first picture) near Columbia, but I cannot remember the name of the site. I think the tour guide said it had been moved there. Do you know the current location? Is is south of HWY 20 on the east side of Columbia. I think it may be near 378, but I am not sure. It is located on the land near a plantation house with other buildings brought in from other plantations. The other buildings includes another house, a very old cabin, a slave house, a kitchen and other buildings that I don’t remember. Could it be Laurelwood Plantation? Can you tell me the name of the site? It was very interesting! Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Jose Carlos Remedios

    Greetings from Boracay Island! I operate a Spanish restaurant and would like to include pigeon dishes in the menu. I would like to raise pigeons in my farm nearby to supply my restaurant. Could you please advise me on how to start? Design of bird housing? What breed would be ideal? Etc.etc.. Thank you

    Reply

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