Pigeons are easy to raise and can be raised on anyones budget. They can be a very fun and rewarding hobby. Today they are primarily raised for flying and showing.
A pair of pigeons can be housed in an old rabbit cage, an extravagant loft, or anything in between. Here are some things to keep in mind;
The loft or coop should stay completely dry Always make your loft critter proof Make sure to close loft up at night I personally do not use chicken wire on flight pens or anything close to ground, unless it has a stronger wire underneath. Dont use wire bigger than 1" because certain animals can reach through and grab the birds If you are using smaller cages for housing or breeding they need to be tall enough for birds to stretch there wings. This is very important during breeding. Make sure coop is rat proof
Most pigeons are very easy to raise. The exception being some fancy breeds require certain special circumstances like the short faced and some feather leg breeds. As far as the rest they pretty much do a good job on their own. Just provide them with the things they need and they will do everything else. That being a nest box or bowl, the proper food and grit, water, and nesting material.
When it comes to the proper food there are as many opinions as there are fanciers. Again this comes to your pocket book. Pigeons in the wild primarily eat grains of all kinds. There are all sorts of pigeon mixes out there. We feed a mixture of cracked corn, whole corn, wheat, milo, and chicken laying pellets. Every now and then will throw in some rabbit pellets. I know there are some people out there shaking their heads but this has been a tried true mixture for us for 30 years plus. In my younger day "Old Timers" would tell me to never feed cracked corn it causes sour crop and collects moisture. Have had very few cases of canker in the years and most of the time could contribute it to mixing of birds at events or being careless bringing in new birds. The fact of it is wet grain of any kind will cause sour crop and we never feed wet grain. The birds get most of their protein from egg pellets. Here where we are we can get them in 16%,18%, and 24% protein. The argument on pellets is they produce watery droppings. It has been my experience that if you have watery droppings there is a bigger problem. The only thing you need to remember is that if you give any type of medication withhold pellets of any type and grit until you are done with the treatment. In summary it is my opinion most pigeon mixes are highly over-rated and over-priced. The economy mix starts at around $20+ a bag and it primarily filler field corn. It is just enough protein to keep them alive.You would be better off buying a bag of whole corn and mixing in wild bird seed with sunflower seeds. When you get up in the good mixes they have smaller corn like popcorn and can run $30 plus a bag. One of the most commonly neglected is health grit. It needs to be available at all times especially for birds who are contained to the loft.Most feed stores can get the XXX health grit in for you. The XXX is granite grit with other minerals added.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q. Can I let out my Fancy birds? A. Yes you can, but it is my advice not to. It will be far better for the birds to have a nice wire flight pen. Most fancy birds lack the homing ability and if they happen to get out of site of home for some reason they are lost. Whether it be a good wind or someone/something that startled them. Also birds like Jacobins,Capuchines, and Fantails are sitting ducks for predators. Most people think they are doing the birds good by letting them fly free, but in reality it is not the best thing for them. It is only a matter of time before something bad happens. If you want birds flying free, get a flying breed like homers, rollers, or tipplers.
Q. Can I resettle my grown homers? A. Yes and No. They say it can be done. As for myself I have never been able to do it. There have been certain birds here for ten years or more that get out and never look back. Those that have stayed when we tried to train them and they never returned. If you want birds to fly either buy birds straight off the nest or fly birds you raised off of breeding birds. Just becasue a grown bird has never been trained doesnt mean he can be resettled. They still have the drive to make it home and most will try it.
Q. How long have raised pigeons and what types? A. I have raised pigeons for +30 plus years. Started at the age of ten and have had them every since. Over the years have had at some time or another about every breed out there, but primarily racing homers.