Novice to Novice
( Novice - synonymous with student )

What prompted you to finally decide to get some pigeons? Was it your observations of birds flying free, seemingly unrestricted by gravity, allowing your mind to soar with them? Or was it the iridescent colors of the feathers on the neck, the form of various show pigeons, or the competitive performance of some flying breeds? Whatever the reason, you will need some housing for the birds you wish to acquire.
The Loft:
Although the lofts may differ due to specific aspects of the breed in question, all good lofts have some things in common:
Feed, Water, Grit, Minerals:
Now that the birds have arrived you gained the responsibility of caring for them. They will also need to be fed at least once per day. I think that there is consensus that proper pigeon feed consists of a large variety of grains, such as various peas, vetch, beans, barley, wheat, milo, corn, safflower, small seeds found in wild bird mixes, rice, and so on. Feeding a mixture rather than a single grain has the advantage that the protein in the various grains becomes more complete because a grain deficient in a limiting amino acid is likely abundant in another grain. I also prefer to germinate a portion of this mixture as this process changes and transforms some of the grain's ingredients.
We like the feed mixture we decided upon but how much should we feed? The easiest way would be to fill up the feed trough but we decided against this method because we abhor fat birds. Some fanciers feed on a clean floor and throw down the grains until a couple of birds go to the drinker. This would be the signal for stopping to feed. The Janssen brothers had a table in their loft upon which they fed the birds and anyone observing them noticed how they "weighed" the quantity of feed in their hands. Some other well known fanciers would want "POISON" written on the feed tin, again an indication of how much they abhor over-feeding. Dean Pallet of Great Britain weighs the feed for his young birds and gives 35 grams per bird per day. Feeding 30 - 35 grams per bird per day seems to be ample and yet will give complete control when it comes to calling in the birds from their exercise period although even this amount is too much according to that Belgian Champion. Since not everyone has the ability to feed the birds correctly it would be advisable to copy someone who has shown that the birds under his management perform well.
Suppose that one does not need control as the birds are locked up for the winter. Why not let them eat as much as the like? Please have a look at these droppings. Instinctively we'd like to reach for some antibiotics because poor droppings like these must surely be a sign of disease - coccidiosis perhaps?
Instead, I cut back on the quantity of feed and here are the droppings of the same bird 2 days later. Simple measures work quite well at times. Another reason why droppings become more watery at times is excitement but can also be a sign of too little feed which would result in the birds filling their crops with droppings and lead to the production of excess mucus. Still, my eyes always check the droppings as I enter a loft because the droppings are a barometer of the birds' health. Droppings should be firm and sprinkled with some down. The presence of these white fluffs of feathers is very important and is a testament to the health of the bird. I have never had pigeons capable of good performances without this down but do not know exactly of why this should be so.
But back to the amount of feed to give to the pigeons: too much of it can certainly be likened to poison and I personally need to weigh the amount I put into the troughs as I find it difficult to withhold feed. It is now the beginning of December, 2003 in Alberta/Canada and my birds are getting 50 gm/bird/day but they still attack me when I come to feed them in the morning. Perhaps that is too much or is a sign of some deficiency of vitamin B12, for example. Picking them up and "weighing" them in my hands tells me that they are not fat. They obviously need more feed in this climate than in Belgium. I also use a wire floor which prevents any spilled grain to be picked up by a bird.
Nevertheless, droppings are usually not the "poison"some fanciers believe them to be. If the consumption of droppings by pigeons were that detrimental, the species would no longer exist. And without coprophagy, internal parasites like worms and coccidia would soon die out. Although we may be able, I even doubt this, to keep the loft interior immaculately clean of any droppings all the time, we cannot hope to keep the roof and all outside structures free of any droppings and pigeons do eat their droppings, even after having been fed as much as they would like to eat.
Our birds must derive some benefit from this behavior or they would not do this and the problem I see with it is that these droppings may contain worm eggs or Salmonella bacteria. Since it is usually one's own birds these droppings come from, it is advisable to keep ones own birds free of worms through the periodic use of some effective anthelmintic such as ivermection or levamisole. It would be preferable to use them in rotation. Salmonella can be kept at bay through the continuous use of lactose and the use of effective probiotics.
The Bath:
If you are using Conqueror drinkers, very easy for the youngsters to get used to, you may soon find the youngsters to try and take a bath in said drinker. Offering a bath to the birds may not be essential but they derive so much psychological pleasure from it that baths at biweekly intervals (except in freezing weather) is advised, especially that much can be learned about the condition of individual birds. An ailing bird will not bathe while healthy pigeons will just love to do so. Bath water can also be used to fight lice and other external parasites by adding 3 ml Ivomec® Drench for Sheep per gallon of bath water.
A bath tub can be easily constructed from ¾" plywood, some 2"X4", corroplast and caulking.
This allowed me to make it large enough to allow almost all of them to have a bath at the same time. Here they bathe at - 2°C in the morning which will allow them to dry all day while the temperature is expected to be above freezing.
Whichever breed you decided to keep, NEVER EVER forget to enjoy them. If you decided for an exhibition breed, remember that any judgment during an exhibition is only the opinion of a person. If, on the other hand, you fancy sporting breeds, remember not to forget that it is the pigeon who performed and not you. Although management is important, it would all be for naught without the athletic qualities of the pigeons you are privileged to care for. Become or remain humble and, please, do not forget to enjoy caring for our feathered friends.
This page was last up-dated on January 4, 2004

Below are your comments:
Sunday January 4, 2004
Robert Lynch
Tifton,, GA, USA
The article might be for the novice, but it helps those of us who have been in the sport for a while to refocus on the basics. Very good article. Bob Lynch
Monday August 30, 2004
Mari Whitmer
Crosses, AR
I enjoyed reading all the information on your website. Very helpful for someone researching whether further to pursue the keeping of pigeons. Thanks.
Wednesday September 15, 2004
Daniel Teng
El Monte, California, USA
Thank you for your website which is very helpfull for me to understand the pigeons life. I do not intend to raise pigeons for racing, but I just want to rescue those falling into my backyard, injured or sick. Can you add some more info on the pigeons sicknesses, their symtomes, how to cure them and where can I get/buy the apprpriate medecine. I try to cure them on my own, because I can not afford to bring them to a vet. Thank you !
Wednesday September 22, 2004
LeAnn Rhinehart
Valley Springs, Ca.
I have gotten a lot from your article. I have been battling loose droppings for months now & have tried everything. I am going to cut back on feed & see if it helps. Thank you.
Saturday September 25, 2004
Freddy Soto
Brooklyn, New York
Hello My name is freddy but they call me BIRDMAN.. Anyway iam writing to you because iam a beginner to the pigeon world an I use news paper on my pigeon loft floor but its becoming a pain an i wanted to know what would be the most easyiest way to keep a pigeon loft kleen.. my loft is 5x6 an another 5x7 ft an some times i dont know what to do... So can you please help me...thank you .. If you wnt i can send you a picture of my loft so you can get a better picture of it an it can help you out a little better...Bye for now...
Wednesday November 3, 2004
sad lemjimer
Morocoo, Kenitra
bonjour, C'est avec un grand plaisire donner mon avis sur c'set merveilleuses et exellents texte,. Mercie de nous informer sur ses sujets. votre ami sad
Sunday February 6, 2005
Munir Din
lahore, Pakistan
Hello. i am Munir Din and i really enjoyed reading through your site. It was very Informative. I would be grateful if u could recommend some vitamins or steroids to improve the stamina of racing pigeons and some minerals or herbs to help birds recover immediately from the exhaustion of their flight.this is so that the birds can fly the folowing day with the same performance as we fly the birds on alternative days of the week.
Sunday June 3, 2007
Mac McSweeney
Landenberg, PA
I too, am a "newbie" and truely appreciated all the advice. I really would like some more info on loft construction. Also would like some more affordable homer prices...........Mac :)
Thursday May 22, 2008
Marius Jonker
Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Eastern Cape
A great site! Give us more - add more details! Especially on probiotics and enterococcus bacterium!
Tuesday November 11, 2008
mahmoud naimpour
Ancaster, ontario
Sunday January 18, 2009
peter dempsey
Arklow county Wicklow, Ireland
well done a site for old hands and new makes you use your head reminds us of what is important
Sunday January 17, 2010
adam jamhour
Tripoli, Libya North Africa
i got entertained from your articles nothing useless it is very informative and gripping at the same time we will become a knowlegable fanciers with your site
Saturday February 27, 2010
muneeb shah
peshawar, pakistan
hello everyone .this is a gr8 website.i like to say that Email of the contributing persons should be displayed ,so that would b easy for them to contact eachother and share their knowldge. regards
Wednesday May 16, 2012
Muhamad al habib habib
Indonesia, Java
Articel " the art of the breding " sangat luar biasa. Saya menerapkankannya tidak hanya dalam beternak burung merpati, namun saya terapkan pada ayam petarung/chiken figh. saya memperoleh hasil akhir sangat istimwa. Bravo Mr. Steven.
Wednesday August 22, 2012
Laura W
Somewhere, OK
Some of your information is a bit contradictory. In one paragraph you recommend a Loft that is completely open on one side with nothing but wire, while extolling the need for ventilation. Later, you recommend insulating the loft - which is useless if you have open vents. In another paragraph you discuss temperature and humidity controls. Good ventilation reduces temperature and humidity control. You can't have both. You either have good ventilation, or you have it warm and free of drafts.

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