Pigeon husbandry and racing management

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All domesticated European pigeons descend from the wild Rock Pigeon of Asia and the Mediterranean. Around 7000 to 8000 years ago pigeons began to affiliate with humans, whose buildings resembled the birds’ natural habitat in respect of resting and roosting places. This chapter informs the reader on pigeon husbandry.

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3.1 Traditional dovecotes. From the Arabic region. An English dovecote, from which fancy doves are allowed to fly freely. (b, © John Chitty)
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3.2 Modern free-standing systems. A set-up with several lofts, some with attached aviaries. The loft exits can be seen at the front. (b, courtesy of E and R Schmölz)
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3.3 Interiors of modern lofts for racing pigeons. This arrangement has timber grating on the floor. Pigeons can be prevented from leaving the cells. A breeding pair in their cell, which has a grating floor above a conveyor belt for removing excrement.
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3.4 Breeding pigeon with a clutch of two eggs. Newly hatched pigeon chick; hatching of the second egg is imminent.
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3.5 Rubber racing leg-bands on a pigeon. An electronic racing ring. The pigeon is registered when placed in the racing cabin and again automatically when entering the loft after the race. (a, courtesy of Alistair Lawrie; b, courtesy of E and R Schmölz)
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3.6 The widower system, with females waiting in their nest cells (which can be divided) offering an added incentive for racing males to come home. In contrast, the widower system is not used for young racing pigeons; they have no nest cells, just simple box-perches. (Courtesy of E and R Schmölz)
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3.7 Removal of droppings is an essential part of loft hygiene. The bottom-drawer system enables easy regular removal. Modern systems use automated conveyor belts. (Courtesy of E and R Schmölz)
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