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□¡□A Guide to Pigeon Farming□¡□

The word Pigeon has been derived from English word “Pijon” and as well as the Latin word “Pipion”. Domestic Pigeons are descendents of Wild pigeons ( Columbia liva ) distributed in Rocky Ravines throughout the Asia and Europe. Evidence of its domestication dates back to 4500 BC. They are generally kept for ornamental purposes. Pigeon raring has a global distribution. It is well accepted pursuit in Middle East, North Africa and several parts of North America and Europe. Pigeon raising is a popular hobby in China.
Production of young meat Pigeon (Squab Raising) provides alternative income to small farmers. Squabs are being reared as a side line in Villages,towns and on farms. Squab raising can be made profitable source of income with good management and market squabs require little land since all breeders are kept in small pens and houses. Recent survey conducted indicates that there is a fair demand of squabs in large cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangaluru. Squab raising also has tremendous export potential to Dubai, Australia Thailand and Singapore. A pigeon is atradition part of Middle Eastern diet. In China Pigeon meat is a popular restaurant dishes and there is good demand from Jewish community clubs all over the world.
No official figures are available and according to some, rough estimates several millions of Pigeons are raised every year by large number of Pigeonbreeds scattered throughout the sub continent. The main commercial ability of Pigeon is for meat production, the germplasm selected for this purpose produce squabs that grow quicker and have large breasts than the buds of unselected stock. The squabs are harvested just before full feather development and before the youngster have developed and started to fly, usually 21-30 days of age. Squab production is different from other poultry operations in thatthe squabs have to be bred and fed by their parents until the market age of 4 weeks. A pair of Pigeon may raise 15 young ones in a year. The efficiency of squab production per year has however not improved since decades. Squab weight up to 3 weeks of age was subjected to environmental influences, particularly due to their dependence on crop milk and the mothering instinct of the females. Only after 3 weeks of age genotype of squab also becomes an important factor in the body weight gains.
As over the livestock census, 2003 total poultry population is 489.012 millions and chicken constitutes the largest proportion (93.49 %) followed by duck (5.90%). Other species including turkey, quail, guinea fowl and pigeon constitutes less than 1%. Presently, the total poultry population is expected to be 570 million with no change in the proportional distribution.
Germplasm Resource
Pigeon farming in the Indian Sub continent was introduced during the medieval period of Mughal King. Overthe centuries various breeds/varieties have been developed using indigenous and imported germplasms but very few efforts have been made to document these breeds/varieties. Most of these belong to fancy and flier category. The utility breeds produce squabs and meat birds. They are fast growers which attain longer size andlarge breeds.
Fancy/ Show Purpose Breeds/ Strains
1. Kheri 2. Nisvari 3.Kabli 4. Hydrabadi
5. Patiala 6. Sahanranpure 7. Asceel 8. Lakka
9. Girbaz 10. Zeera 11. Lotan 12. Maina jog
13. Chandan Chuha 14. Kattu pura 15. Ujale
16. Kali Soraji 17. Lal Soraji 18. Neela 19. Surakha
Meat Varieties for Squab Production
1. King 2. Carneau 3.Swiss Mondaine 4. French Mondaine
5. Homer 6. Naqabposh 7. Gola 8. Umer
9. Lahores 10. Indian Mondaine
Adult Bird weight
Floor space required/bird
Age for Marketing
Production of Squabs by a pair of breeder Pigeons
Average weight of Squab
Age of sexual maturity
170-180 days
Female productive life
10 years
Male productive life
5 years
Incubation period
18 days
Dressing percentage
74 %
One of the essentials of success in squab’s production is good breeding stock. Pigeon breeds at 5-8 months of age laying two eggs each nesting, both the parents sharing the incubation till the egg hatch in 16-18 days. Good breeding stock usually will produce for 3 to 4 years. Culling is essential in building up a profitableflock of squab producers. Selection of pigeon can be done on the basis of good laying capacity, which produced good squab weight, livability and market quality. The first cross of two breed selected and the breed for squab production usually produces a very good market squab. Sexual maturity is attained at about 6 to 7 months of age when thepigeons begin to mate. Breeding season is usually long and may continue all the year round. In the prime life (3-6 years) pigeons produce about 5-8 squabs per year. Breeders need to be replaced after 4-5 years. Pigeons are usually reared in any water proof house that is easyto clean. The traditional pigeon shelters (devecotes) consist of columns of pigeon. Tower of mud, brick, stones or wood, which provides protection form predators are also popular for keeping these birds. Pigeons do not prefer communal roosts instead independent shelves should be provided (two breeding pair). These nests may be constructed in batteriesof any convenient number arranged in tiers one above the other along side of walls. This system allows free range flights and requires minimal human intervention.
Selection of Breeders: It is difficult to determine the sex of the pigeon by casual observation. Good pigeons for breeders have a white or pinkish white skin and light colored legs.
Breeding Facilities: The quarters of the pigeon house must be dry, well ventilated, and provided with plenty of day light.
A loft 7 feet wide and 10 to 12 feet long will provide ample room for 15 pairs of birds that is about 15 sq ft/pair.
Breeder houses should be equipped with nests, bowls, feed hoppers, bathing pans, and a rack for nesting material.
Care of Breeders: Pigeons are ready to mate at about 4 to 5 months of age. They mate in pairs and usually remain with their mates throughout life, although the mating may be changed if desired by placing the male and female in a coop together and leaving them there for 6 to 14 days or until such time as they become settled. No more than 10 to 15 pairs of mated birds should be kept in one loft.
Eggs: The pigeon hen lays an egg, generally skips a day and then lay again.
Incubation period (Days)
Eggs/year (Number)
Fertility (%)
Hatchability of fertile eggs (%)
Age of Sexual maturity(months)
Egg weight
Lb gm
Incubation: The male generally sits on the egg during the middle of the day, and the female the remainder ofthe time. The incubation period is about 17 to 18 days.
Brooding and Rearing: Both the parents care for the young. They feedthem regurgitating a thick, creamy mixture called as the pigeon milk into the open mouth of the young. Pigeons are the most rapid growing of all poultry. Squabs exceed the normal adult weight at the time theyare ready to leave the nest-at about 30 days of age.
Sexing in Pigeon: It is difficult to distinguish sexes until the birds are several months old. The females are usually somewhat smaller and more refined than the males especially in the head and neck, has tendency to waddle. The male is more aggressive,struts about with a louder cooling and often drags his tail on the ground.
Health Management
Indicators of Good Health are:-
1. Appearance of the dropping in terms of quality as well as quantity.
2. Amount of feed and water consumed.
3. Behavior.
4. Posture.
5. Body weight.
6. Rate and depth of respiration.
Signs of Disease:-
1. Discharge from nostrils, eyes or beak.
2. Excess loss of feathers or misshapen or ruffled feathers.
3. Soiled vents.
4. Dull or closed eyes.
5. Lameness, wound or swollen feet.
6. Over grown beak and nails.
7. Stains or scabs on un-feathered parts.
Management of the Diseased Bird:-
1. Separate the sick bird.
2. Discourage pecking of the bird by removing it from the flock; this willprevent the spread of infection from the flock.
3. Treat the diseased cases separately.
4. Give euthanasia if treatment fails. This will help in reducing the spread of infection in the flock and will in turn help in reducing the mortality.
5. Before introducing the new bird in the flock, the bird must be kept separately ...

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