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Anyone raise squab?

 
                
Posts: 51
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Maybe I just have the usual Friday Frazzles but I can't seem to find general information on getting started on raising pigeons/squab.

I am leaning towards pigeons as they are hardy, can be let out to fly (seems humane), relatively quiet, breed easily and are yummy.  Are my assumptions true?

If I want to start small would I get just one pair?  One male and a few females?

How do I make sure they don't fly back to their old house? 

Is there an ideal breed to use for food?

I do have one chicken.  What diseases and parasites do I need to worry about pigeons bringing into the yard?
 
                                                  
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Hey 

I just posted a bit about squab raising on a thread entitled "pigeons."
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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I wouldn't have thought you can let your pigeons out to fly - do you have any info on this BlueDog?  I would have thought they may not return home, and might mix with wild pigeons which could cause disease.

Pigeons carry most common chicken diseases from what I have read - worms and respiratory diseases primarily.  Might be good practice to keep the chickens and pigeons in separate parts of the yard.

Wild pigeons can carry psittacosis and chlamydia, diseases which can affect humans, so that appears to be one risk of letting them out of confinement.
 
                        
Posts: 66
Location: San Diego
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My grandfather raised white kings for squabs. The odd thing about squabs is that just before they get their flight feathers they are actually bigger than the parents. You have to realize that squab, although tender and tasty is a very fatty meat.
Pigeons are usually flown every day. They pretty much stick to their own flock and don't mix much with wild birds. They will return home every day.
My grandpa used to say that the nice thing about pigeons is that they get their food off other peoples land. If you have any grain fields around they are adept at gleaning the dropped grain after a field is harvested.
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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Interesting info, thanks hoodat.

That allays most of my worries about pigeons.  The only other thing that put me off was that I heard or read somewhere that they eat all sorts of junk, and in an urban environment this can include things which have lead based paint, which they bioaccumulate in their tissue.

Anyone know anything about this?  I'd be willing to pay to get the meat tested, but it's really the setup time and expense which would be wasted if it turns out they aren't good to eat.
 
                        
Posts: 66
Location: San Diego
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The ones you see in the cities have, through natural selection, returned to the wild form of rock pigeons. Any formerly wild animal will return pretty much to its natural form if allowed to breed freely in the wild. The domestic form is inferior for wild animals and is usually held in place by the manipulation of humans for their own purposes.
Garbage and human food such as hamburger buns is something the pigeons have learned by living in an urban environment. It's pretty much the only food available to them That junk food diet is why you see so many diseases in urban pigeon flocks. If you have a good diet available to your flock they will not be prone to eating such things. The daily flying is more a matter of exercise and enjoyment for a kept flock and they usually don't land to forage around fast food joints. You want your flock to have as little as possible to do with wild urban flocks where they can pick up diseases and parasites.
 
Dave Bennett
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I had friends when I was still in high school that almost literally lived off pigeons.  Every morning they would let the flock out to fly around all day.  In the evening when the birds returned they harvested how ever many they needed for dinner.  I loved being invited for dinner.   I believe that keeping a flock would be a good and relatively easy addition to personal food production that takes very little input. 
 
                                  
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Location: Basse-Normandie, France
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We do eat our fantails when we get too many. We started with five,  (I now have a lot more) they were given to us and had never bred any young nor even made nests. I did some research and found fantails are the only pigeon which will not breed in an aviary, where they had been kept by the previous owner. My understanding is they were originally raised to surround temples and they do stay very close to their own dovecotes. Mine, are free-range and organic, they raise two babies each month, if I don't remove the eggs - the eggs are very good to eat. They are free-ranging in an organic garden with my chickens and drink from the same water dispensers and eat from the same plates. They need bathing facilities, I have a stone sink and it must be changed after they have baths and should be filled every day in warm weather as otherwise they will try and bathe in the drinking water. The only problem I have had with them is predators, in particular sparrowhawks, which have just taken 20 of my birds in the last three weeks. I am just coping with two orphaned squabs and have a film on youtube showing how to feed them; if you are interested it's on http://www.youtube.com/user/Pavlovafowl . You can also ask me any questions and I'll be very happy to help if I can - as I raise organically, I use no chemicals in raising them either in feed or medication. Fantails are beautiful, healthy and prolific birds and will give a whole new dimension to your garden - they are also incredibly tasty - if you've never had an organic pigeon burger, you haven't lived!
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
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Cool video.  Thanks.
 
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