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´╗┐Title: Raising P.V. Squabs for Profit
Author: Trecartin, John S.
Language: English
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Libraries.)



Raising P. V. Squabs for Profit

JOHN S. TRECARTIN
Caldwell      New Jersey



RAISING P. V. SQUABS FOR PROFIT


_By_ JOHN S. TRECARTIN


A Manual of Instruction from My Personal Experience
in Building, Stocking and Managing the Largest
Successful Squab Plant in New Jersey


Tells how we market squabs for twelve dollars per
dozen, wholesale.

Details of necessary requirements for a successful
business.

How to house, feed, market and care for pigeons.

Importance of good foundation stock.

Profits and how secured.



COPYRIGHT 1920, JOHN S. TRECARTIN. CALDWELL, N.J.



CONTENTS


                                                                 Page

Introduction                                                        3

CHAPTER I.

Is There Profit in Raising Squabs?                                  5

CHAPTER II.

Description of Passaic Valley Squab Farm and Housing in General     7

CHAPTER III.

The Fundamental Requirements for Successful Squab Raising          10

CHAPTER IV.

The Utility Pigeon                                                 17

CHAPTER V.

Habits and Peculiarities                                           20

CHAPTER VI.

Squabs for Market                                                  24

CHAPTER VII.

Selecting Breeders                                                 28



INTRODUCTION


The squab business in America has too long been looked upon as a
pastime and game for children's amusement. Raising squabs is not
child's play, but a real scientific business with unlimited
possibilities for development.

Success in this business as in any other, depends largely on a proper
start. In the following pages I will endeavor to present with great
simplicity the right way to start in the squab business and the results
I have obtained in raising squabs for market. The information contained
herein, may, I trust, be of as much benefit to the reader as it is my
pleasure to impart.

JOHN S. TRECARTIN.


[Illustration: PASSAIC VALLEY SQUAB FARM, CALDWELL, N.J.]



CHAPTER I.

IS THERE PROFIT IN RAISING SQUABS?


Of the question of profit in squab raising, there is no doubt. Squabs
are coming into use more and more every day, not only as a delicacy for
invalids, but also for hotels, restaurants, catering establishments,
and household use.

The first question is naturally of the market for them. The Hebrews,
who entertain lavishly, are among our largest customers. They buy the
squabs alive, as their poultry has to be prepared according to the
Jewish Dietary Laws. The hotels in all large cities use enormous
quantities of squabs, and we have had to freeze large quantities for
them in the summer in the past few years, so as to insure them a steady
supply through the winter months. We have frozen as high as 5,000
squabs for a single hotel in one year, and now we make a practice of
always keeping a reserve of frozen squabs, to meet the winter demands.

The prices of squabs are for the most part regulated by the large
cities in the vicinity. Commission merchants are always anxious to buy
in any quantity and they send out weekly quotations as to what they are
paying for squabs. The prices to butchers, hotels, and consumers of all
classes, are based on these quotations and naturally the direct sale to
the consumer, cutting out the commission man, commands a much higher
price.

The following table is made up of the quotations Conron Bros., New York
City, paid for squabs during the first week in January in the following
years:--

    1912 Squabs weighing 9 lbs. to the dozen  $ 4.75
    1913   "       "     9 lbs.   "      "      4.75
    1914   "       "     9 lbs.   "      "      4.75
    1916   "       "     9 lbs.   "      "      5.50
    1919   "       "     9 lbs.   "      "      9.25
    1920   "       "     9 lbs.   "      "     11.00

Squabs are graded according to the weight of one dozen. That is, one
dozen squabs weighing twelve ounces each, would weigh nine pounds to
the dozen. We have taken that weight squab as a basis, as that is the
average weight squab produced from good breeders.

The cost of raising squabs depends entirely on the price of feed and
the number of squabs produced during a given period. Before the war, it
cost $1.25 a year for feed for one pair of pigeons. At present, the
cost per pair for feed is $3.00, according to our records. Now, how
many squabs will a pair of pigeons produce in a year? That question we
cannot answer, but we know how many squabs we have produced from our
breeders. In 1919, we raised an average of 14.3 squabs per pair, for
our entire plant. Our average pen production ran from 10 to 16 squabs
per pair a year, and as we always select our breeders for their fast
breeding qualities and plump squab, we fully expect to average 15
squabs per pair in 1920.

Considering the useful breeding life of a pigeon, which continues for
five years, the question of profit in raising squabs should answer
itself.

The selecting of breeders will be treated in full, further in the book.



CHAPTER II.

DESCRIPTION OF PASSAIC VALLEY SQUAB FARM AND HOUSING IN GENERAL.


The Passaic Valley Squab Farm, I feel, is an ideal plant in an ideal
location. It embodies all the best points and has few detriments.

I am going to describe it rather carefully, pointing out its advantages
and how it might be improved upon. The diagram will give a general idea
of the floor plan, and photo in beginning of book gives a view of
entire plant and water tower.

The plant is situated in a valley, protected from the full sweep of the
wind. The buildings cover about one acre of land and consist of 86 pens
combined into one large connecting building. (A) is granary and stock
house. (B) is picking and packing room. (C) is office. The granary has
entrance to sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, by halls. Each section is divided
into 20 pens, each 10 feet by 12 feet, with entrance on hall. Each pen
has its own aviary, 10 feet by 20 feet, for the pigeons to exercise.
The pigeons nest and raise their young inside, but bathe and exercise
outside, where they have running water. Each pen accommodates 50 pairs
of pigeons, so the plant capacity is over 8,000 birds.

Water is supplied by an artesian well and electric driven pump, that
pumps to tower shown in picture. Each section is watered by one pipe
running full length of building and perforated at each pen. The pan at
each pen fills and when full runs down an overflow pipe into a drain
under building. In this way a whole section of 20 pens is watered with
one shut-off and the supply is always fresh. All pipes in this system
slope to one low point, so that even in zero weather, we can water and
drain the pipes without difficulty. The bathing system is worked on the
same plan in the aviaries, but we disconnect this part of the system in
the extreme weather.

The entire plant is raised about 18 inches off the ground at all
points, as a protection against rats. All entrances have heavy screen
doors as well as wooden ones, which work with weights to always keep
them shut. In this way, rats are kept out, and any pigeons which may
get loose inside the halls, are always caught. Rats are the greatest
menace to successful squab raising and too great precautions cannot be
taken.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM OF PASSAIC VALLEY SQUAB FARM]

You will note on looking over diagram of plant that sections 1, 2, 3
and 4 are connected by granary only. This feature could be considerably
improved by a hall connecting the four sections at the other end. Then
again, there are no windows on the north side of all four sections, and
although this was done to keep out cold, it could be improved with a
few windows for greater light.

Altogether I feel that the plant is as near to a model plant as can be
found, and being within 20 miles of New York City and eight miles of
Newark, the best markets are always available.

I am not describing this plant to discourage any one starting in a
small way in a back yard, barn, or outhouse; but I wish to show the
possibilities within the grasp of any one to establish a real
profitable business of his own.

In the next chapter, I will handle the situation from the beginner's
standpoint.



CHAPTER III.

THE FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESSFUL SQUAB RAISING.


Good squabs can be raised in any structure, free from dampness, that
has sunlight and can be protected from rats. Any shed, outbuilding, or
chicken coop can be turned into a first-class pigeon pen with little
difficulty. First, the building must be made habitable by patching all
cracks and leaks in roof. If the locality is subject to cold wind, snow
and ice, attention must be given to sides and floors. The floors,
particularly, should have no holes, and double floors are a decided
asset for the northern breeder.

Making the house rat-proof, is very important, and the best method I
know is to raise the building on posts, not less than 15 inches from
the ground at all points. Line the posts with tin or put a can over the
top, as is done with corn cribs, and you will be well protected. A
window must now be put in the southern side of house to allow the
pigeons to reach the flying pen or aviary. The door also must be tight,
and it is safest to have a screen door on the inside, with a spring to
always keep it in place. If this is lined with one-half-inch mesh wire,
it will serve as a protection from rats, and allow for good
ventilation.

Equipping the house is easily and cheaply accomplished by the use of
egg crates turned on the side, with opening facing out. These should
have a three-inch strip nailed across front at bottom of crate, to keep
the squabs and eggs from falling out, or better still, make an inside
rectangle of three-inch lumber that just fits inside the crate. By
this, I mean a draw three inches high and eleven and one-half inches in
width and length, but without a bottom, as the lower side of the crate
completes the bottom.

[Illustration: Figure 3. CRATE IN POSITION AND NEST]

With this draw in place, the squabs are protected with a three-inch
partition in front, and to clean, simply pull the draw out and have a
basket beneath to catch the nest in. In making the so-called draw, care
should be taken to cut two pieces eleven-and-one-half inches and two
ten-and-one-half inches. The eleven-and-one-half-inch pieces are to run
all the way to the rear of box, and the shorter pieces comprise the
front and rear pieces. The longer pieces overlap the front and rear
pieces and are nailed securely. By having the front and rear pieces
short and the side pieces long, the draw will always pull out without
breaking. If made the other way, the nails may pull out when you clean
house. The ten-and-one-half-inch pieces are figured on the basis of
using lumber that is five-eighths-inch in thickness. Figure No. 3 shows
crate in position and nest ready to put in place.

One pair of pigeons uses both sides of one egg crate as they like to
alternate in breeding. Sometimes they have squabs in one side and
commence a nest in the other side. By the time the squabs are three
weeks' old, there will often be eggs in the other side of box. After
crates and nests are ready, arrange in east and west side of pen,
piling as high as necessary to accommodate the number of pairs. The
north side of house may also be used for nest boxes, or, if the east
and west sides of house are piled near the roof, it is well to have a
landing board or perch on the north end. A shelf should always be put
above the southern window and two openings cut through the side, to let
the birds into the aviary, when the window is closed.

Outside, there must also be a corresponding shelf for the pigeons. One
hole is not sufficient, as a cock bird will often block the one opening
and keep other birds off their eggs until they are chilled. To complete
the inside equipment, you need a drinking fountain or pan, so protected
that the pigeons can only put their heads into the water. A small box
will do for grit and this should be placed near the floor in a clean
spot, protected from all droppings. The feed, I believe, is best
handled by spreading in a long, narrow trough about one-and-one-half
inches high and long enough so that all the pigeons can get a chance at
the food at the same time. In a pen of 50 pairs, this is not practical,
but I have the trough six feet long, ten inches wide, and two inches
deep, for a large number like this.

[Illustration: Figure 4. ONE OF OUR AVIARIES]

The aviaries, except for being on the southern side of building, can
vary according to available space and number of birds. Pigeons, for
best results in housing, should never be crowded into less than one
square foot to a bird and one-and-one-half or two square feet is best.
The aviaries should have two to three square feet to a bird and should
be from six to ten feet in height. Our pens are 10 by 12 feet inside
and 10 by 20 by 10 outside. These pens accommodate 40 to 50 pairs
comfortably. Two-inch mesh wire is all that is required, although some
breeders use one-inch mesh. In ordering wire, specify galvanized after
weaving, or galvanized before and after. It pays to do this, as good
wire lasts eight or nine years. The posts or uprights for aviary should
be two by four lumber with the sunken end well tarred, or any fairly
heavy posts available. If the fly is to accommodate more than five or
ten pairs of pigeons, nothing smaller than two by four should be used
in the frame work, provided that the winters are severe. A heavy snow
will sometimes hold on the wire, and is apt to break the supports and
release the birds. Particularly watch the fastening of your wire to the
coop along the top edge.

The outside equipment consists of a bathing pan about 24 to 36 inches
in diameter and four to six inches in depth. A door should be provided
in aviary and a few perches or landing boards, along the sides.

This, I believe, completes the necessary house to make a successful
start, and the only exceptions I would make are for the breeders in
warm climates, who can best be advised to follow the example of
neighboring chicken and pigeon raisers. In southern California, I saw
fine squabs raised with a northeastern exposure, no floors, and only a
three-sided shed. Here one side was open entirely and nest boxes were
built high enough to protect from rats. The aviaries were constructed
of slats instead of wire, so as to furnish greater protection. In
Jacksonville, Fla., I went through a large plant very similar in
construction to the northern breeders, and the feeding was about the
same as mine. Each locality has a few distinguishing features, so if
you combine these instructions with a little observation and thought,
you cannot go far wrong as to proper housing.

In the next chapter I will deal with the breeders, and it cannot too
often be said, that no matter how fine the plant and equipment, it will
all be wasted unless you start with foundation stock, that has been
scientifically perfected.



CHAPTER IV.

THE UTILITY PIGEON.


From my experience in true utility breeding, or squab breeding for
market, there is one basic bird that stands for hardy, plump,
even-sized squabs, and plenty of them. That bird is the homing pigeon.
The homer will breed more squabs in a year and use less feed, per pair,
a year, than any bird I have ever handled. The birds are very hardy,
can stand extreme cold and breed well through the winter months.
Unfortunately, even these birds have a slight failing. The true homer
breeds a squab a little small for the best market price. The squabs run
six, seven and eight pounds to the dozen, and the best demand is for
eight, nine and ten pounds to the dozen squabs. We experimented
carefully with many of the larger breed of birds, but they all had a
failing, some would breed well in summer, but not in winter; some ate
too much for the number of squabs produced; some would breed one large
squab and the other very thin; and some would breed nice twelve-pound
squabs, but we could not get a proportionately high price for them to
warrant the extra food required and extra time required for them to
mature. After seven years of experimenting, we believe we have now the
best utility bird in the country, namely the P. V. Special Homer. These
birds breed squabs the marketable size: eight, nine and ten pounds to
the dozen. Less than 15 per cent. ran under eight pounds to the dozen
last year. They breed plump, broad-breasted squabs and do not eat more
than the average homer. The squabs are ready for market in four weeks
from the time hatched, and if kept for breeding, they commence mating
in three months; being one of the quickest birds to mature.

A small start with good birds is the foundation of success. A fine
flock can be built up from a few good pairs, but poor stock will soon
discourage anyone and do harm to the business.

Next to P. V. Homers, we believe the P. V. Carneaux are the best. These
birds breed a nine, ten, eleven and twelve pound to the dozen squab,
and always a beautifully-shaped and white-meated squab. Of course,
these fine, large birds will eat more than homers and the squabs will
take a little longer to mature, but if you are in a locality to command
a high price or sell them retail, you cannot go wrong in having a few
pairs. These birds are particularly tame and can easily be made into
pets.

I believe firmly, that for profitable squab raising these two breeds of
pigeons are decidedly the best choice, although there are other good
birds for squab raising, such as Mondaines, Royal Whites, White Kings,
and Maltese Hen Pigeons.

We have most of these birds for show purposes, but we will not go into
detail, as we feel that P. V. Homers and Carneaux are really the best
utility breeders.

A word of caution might well be put in here against buying cheap birds.
They are never worth any more than you will pay for them, and many are
only fit for eating purposes along with common pigeons.

Our method of shipping birds enables them to arrive in first-class
condition over very long distances. The birds are packed in strong,
light cases with a partition to separate the males and females. A bag
of feed and drinking cup go with each case. Instructions are sent with
each order for feeding and watering while in transit.

Your attention must now be given to preparing the pen for the
pigeons:--

Close all openings into the aviary and see that the drinking pan or
fountain is filled with fresh water. Shake a few tobacco stems loosely
in a pile under the window or else in a corner. The grit box should be
half filled with a good prepared pigeon grit; Red Cross grit is as good
as any and contains all the necessary ingredients for the birds. A
little feed should now be put in trough. A small handful for each pair,
is sufficient at first.

You are now ready to release the birds. The males are marked with a
color band on the right leg and the females on the left leg. Keep a
record as you let the birds go to see that each male has a female with
a corresponding band. That is, a male bird with a blue band on the
right leg must have a female also with a blue band on the left leg. The
next chapter will explain the habits of the birds and why they are
banded.



CHAPTER V.

HABITS AND PECULIARITIES.


In the first place, pigeons are monogamous. They must always be kept in
even pairs, because they select their mate and very seldom ever change,
unless forced to select another mate in a mating coop. Even pairs of
pigeons will soon settle down quietly in various nest boxes. They
usually keep the same nest boxes and alternate, having squabs first in
one side and then the other. After the birds have become accustomed to
their quarters and have selected in which nest they are going to start
housekeeping, it will not be many days, before they begin to carry
stems from the pile on the floor and start their nest. They need no
assistance and should not be unnecessarily disturbed until they
commence laying. This should occur in about two weeks and then it is
advisable to look over the nests twice a week, and see that all new
nests are well made and do not resemble a golf tee. Birds sometimes
will build a high nest and lay the eggs on the top without any support.
It is best to spread out a nest of this kind, after removing the eggs,
so as to give a good foundation. Make a slight hollow in the centre of
the stems and then replace the eggs, but be sure and see that the nest
is firm enough to keep the eggs from sinking in, under the stems.

It is advisable for the beginner to mark very lightly with pencil, on
eggs, the date laid. In this way it is very easy to learn the
appearance of an egg at different ages, and soon you will be able to
discern a bad egg at a glance and remove it, so that the old birds will
not waste time sitting on it. Fresh laid eggs are semi-transparent and
have a slightly dull appearance. They gradually grow opaque and solid
white, with only an air space discernable unless candled. During the
third week, the shell will begin to chip and the baby squab will chip a
complete circle, in end of egg and gradually work out. One egg will
usually hatch a day in advance of the other. This is accounted for by
the fact that there is from one to two days between the time the hen
lays the eggs. The birds always lay the eggs in pairs, but once in a
while two pairs of birds will lay in the same nest and give the
impression that four eggs have been laid.

Bad eggs are discernable easily with a little practice. At a week or
ten days' old, bad eggs will have almost the appearance of a fresh laid
egg, only they are shiny instead of dull on the outside, and are
semi-transparent. If eggs like these are shaken gently, you can feel
that they are loose and watery inside. On being held to the light and
turned, the air space will shift all over. In good eggs, the air space
is stationary. An egg, two or three weeks' old, having decided dark
lines through it, is a sign that the squab has died in the shell. If
uncertain as to an egg, it is best to leave till it develops definite
signs of being bad.

Young squabs do not need assistance to get out of shell, but the empty
shell can be removed later. The young squabs should not be handled too
much and I do not advise any artificial feeding at all, as the old
birds will give their young the best care. After eating and drinking,
the old birds will fly to the nest and feed the young from their bills,
just the right proportions of grain, formed into a substance called
pigeon milk. The so-called pigeon milk varies according to the size of
squabs and later contains whole grains and water. The squabs should
never leave the nest till fully feathered, this takes about four weeks,
and at that time the squabs are ready for market. To determine the
exact age for marketing, look beneath the wings, as they feather out
here last.

The feeding I have not gone into before, as it is contingent on the
squabs.

Of course, every locality has peculiarities of its own and certain
grains are cheaper in certain places. Your local dealer, no doubt, has
a good pigeon feed to start with. Later you can improve and economize
by mixing your own feed.

Our formula for winter feeding, is as follows:--

    Argentine Corn     30%
    Red Wheat          10%
    Kaffir Corn        25%
    Buckwheat          20%
    Peas               15%

Summer feeding is:--

    Argentine Corn     25%
    Red Wheat          15%
    Kaffir Corn        30%
    Peas               30%

Using these two formulas as a basis, you can easily arrange the best
formula for yourself. Corn and buckwheat are very heatening, and the
latter can be entirely dispensed with in warm localities. The corn
should either be Argentine Corn or small American Corn with a part
cracked corn. The amount of cracked corn is determined by the quality.
If you can get a good recleaned steel-cut cracked corn, fairly free
from loose fibre, it is all right to use half-and-half with the whole
American Corn. Otherwise use 25% cracked to 75% whole corn.

All grains must be reasonably cured and dried. Do not buy new crops of
grains until well seasoned. Inferior grains like heated corn, or wheat
that has sprouted, are all to be avoided. Scratch feed is not to be
recommended as a steady diet, but will serve for a while. Most scratch
feeds contain rye, barley and oats, all three of which I do not
recommend as pigeon feed. Scratch feed also lacks peas, and these are
the finest fattening and strengthening food that squabs can get.

See that the birds get fed regularly twice a day and that they clean up
all the food given them, within an hour. The morning feeding should be
between 7:30 and 8:30, and in summer, not later than 8 o'clock.

Afternoon feeding should be around 3 o'clock in winter and 4 o'clock in
summer. If the birds can only be fed once a day, feed in the morning
and see that some feed lasts until 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It is
easy to judge by the way the birds fly for the grain whether they are
fed too heavily or too lightly.

Fig. 5 illustrates the card we use to regulate feeding.

A circular piece of card board, mounted with a thumb tack through
centre, just outside the door, shows how much feed was given at last
feeding. The top of card indicates the amount. Always setting the card
the amount fed, avoids waste and having too much feed standing around,
which may become mouldy and cause sickness.



CHAPTER VI.

SQUABS FOR MARKET.


Squabs are ready for market at from four to four-and-one-half weeks
from the time hatched. As soon as the squabs are fully feathered, they
should be removed from the nest, as they will soon jump from nest and
run on the floor, thereby losing weight until killed.

If squabs are to be killed at once, care should be taken to remove from
pen just before feeding time, so that their crops will not be full of
grain. They may even be taken the night before, if kept in a warm
place.

[Illustration: Figure 5. REVOLVING FEED REGULATOR]

To kill squabs properly, they should be hung up by the feet. Two nails
driven partially into a board about an eighth of an inch apart will
serve nicely to clamp the feet. The wings should now be twisted over
each other twice, so that they cannot flap. Killing the squab requires
a little knack. First, take the small blade of a penknife and after
grasping the head of the squab firmly with thumb and forefinger, just
over eyes, put the blade down the throat at least one inch, and then
pull up through the top of head. If squab does not die in thirty
seconds, repeat as it is difficult for a novice to cut the wind pipe
and brain the first time.

Plucking is easy and should be done while the squab is still warm.
Start with the wings, which are the hardest, and end with the tail
feathers. Picking against the feathers is quickest and is less likely
to tear the skin.

After picking, the squab should be dropped into cold water to cool and
harden. It is best for them to soak for at least three hours, and over
night will not harm them, if the water is cold and something is put
over top so as to keep squabs entirely below the surface.

Grading squabs as to size depends on whom you are selling to. Small,
medium, and large, is usually sufficient grading, but if you desire to
grade by pounds to the dozen accurately, the following table shows just
what grade various weight squabs come under.

     6 Pound to the dozen Squabs 8 ozs. to 9-1/3 ozs.
     7  "      "      "     "    9-1/3 ozs. to 10-2/3 ozs.
     8  "      "      "     "   10-2/3 ozs. to 12 ozs.
     9  "      "      "     "   12 ozs. to 13-1/3 ozs.
    10  "      "      "     "   13-1/3 ozs. to 14-2/3 ozs.
    11  "      "      "     "   14-2/3 ozs. to 16 ozs.
    12  "      "      "     "   over 16 ozs.

It is not necessary to weigh each squab individually. A half-dozen
about the same size will show the approximate weight per dozen.

In packing squabs to ship by express, they should be laid side by side
or feet up and tight enough so as not to shake around. In warm seasons
ice should be used between each layer and newspapers will help to hold
cold and avoid bruising. Mark every shipment "PERISHABLE--RUSH," and
always send an invoice in all shipments sent to commission merchants.

In sending squabs alive, care must be taken to get the birds out with
full crops, so that they will not loose weight in transit. The crate
for shipment should be fairly open to allow for plenty of ventilation.
Over-crowding must be avoided as the squabs huddle in groups and
smother easily. A regular spindle coop, about 24 inches by 36 inches
and 1 foot high, will hold 30 live squabs for shipping; more than that
is risky.

All shipments of live squabs should also be marked, "PERISHABLE--RUSH,"
the number of birds in shipment, and also the value.

If squabs are to be sold for breeding purposes, they should not be
shipped till they are at least eight weeks' old, and preferably ten
weeks. Only strong birds should be shipped and no shipments should be
made in extremely cold weather.



CHAPTER VII.

SELECTING BREEDERS.


Selecting squabs for breeding purposes must be done with great care and
understanding. If the right kind of birds are not selected your flock
will gradually deteriorate. With careful selection, although slow, you
will constantly be adding profitable breeders to your stock. This is,
of course, if you start with P. V. Breeders, so as to have the nucleus
of a good flock to start with. Remember, good breeders will breed
plump, white squabs at a fast rate, while poor breeders will grow
small, dark squabs that have not the vitality to ever be first-class
breeders. Even with P. V. breeders you must use care in selecting the
young, and it is wise when starting with a few of our breeders to sell
your squabs for a time and buy more of our breeders until your flock is
large enough to have a good selection to choose from.

The months when squabs should be saved for breeders are, February,
March, April and May. The birds are in the best of condition then and
the squabs will be strong and vigorous. June and July squabs are good,
but are more expensive to raise, as they are at mating age in
September, October and November, when they are subject to moult and are
difficult to mate at this time. I do not recommend saving squabs during
the other months, as I have found from experience that they will breed
well for two or three years, and then, there is a falling off in squabs
and a heavy death rate among the hens.

[Illustration: Figure 6. THE HOME OF P. V. BREEDERS]

When ready to select your squabs for breeders, get some light pigeon
bands. We use a celluloid coil band that wraps around the leg and stays
in position without fastening. By using a different color band every
month, we know at a glance the age of the youngster. Always take your
squabs in pairs and unless there are two good healthy squabs in the
nest do not take them. They do not have to be of unusual size, but they
should both be well fed and weigh eight, nine or ten pounds to the
dozen if dressed. Band one bird on the right leg and the other on the
left and put back in the nest again. This banding is merely to keep
from inbreeding and marking so as not to kill, and has nothing to do
with their being males or females. It is impossible to tell with
certainly the sex of a pigeon without noting its actions. With squabs
it is still harder, and although after becoming experienced, it is
possible to make accurate guesses, one is apt to make a mistake even
with old birds.

The squabs banded should be left with the parent birds till they are
eight weeks' old. Then remove to separate pens. The birds banded on the
right leg should go in one pen and the youngsters banded on the left
leg in a separate pen. This will prevent nest mates going together and
avoid inbreeding.

The feeding and care for these birds should be the same as for old
breeders, except that they should not have large American Corn and only
five per cent. peas. The grit should have a little olive oil mixed with
it once a week. The birds will thrive satisfactorily for about one
month in their new quarters and then care has to be taken to see that
they do not get out in rainy weather, as they undergo a moult and are
very subject to cold. This moulting time lasts for about three weeks,
and when they get past this stage you will see signs of the birds
mating. Do not be in any hurry to mate them, as their first eggs are
usually bad and they sometimes will break their matings when taken out
too young.

The safest way to mate young pigeons is to catch the birds sitting on
eggs. Color band the hen on the left leg, who usually sits in the
morning till around 11 o'clock. The corresponding band should be
fastened somewhere on the nest, and when you see the mate sitting on
the eggs, in the afternoon, you must catch him, and band on the right
leg. Catching pigeons is usually done with a landing net or crab net
with a short handle. The birds should always be caught from behind, if
flying, so as not to injure them. After you have caught the pair, they
should be removed to a separate pen so that they can start to breed
without interference. If the eggs are good that they were sitting on,
they can be placed under other birds that have eggs of about the same
age, and sometimes are raised satisfactorily. Do not make the mistake
of just leaving all your youngsters alone and trusting they will form
even pairs, for if you do, there are sure to be odd cocks that will
interfere seriously with their breeding.

Night mating with a flash light is the quickest method, but requires a
dark night and considerable skill to always pick out the mated pairs.
Mated pairs will often sit together on the front of their nest at night
or the hen on the eggs or squabs and the cock on the front. These birds
can be readily caught but great care must be exercised lest the other
birds fly off their nests and spoil their eggs.

Driving pairs, that is, when one bird continually chases another around
pecking at it, are usually mated but not always, so be careful to watch
them closely if you select mated pairs this way.

As a closing remark I would say, I have found raising squabs is one of
the pleasantest, most interesting, and profitable ways of employing
spare time, and whether you are a man or woman, if you apply this
motto, you can succeed in the squab industry.

    Good Breeders, Good Feed, and Good Care,
      Then You Will Get
    Good Squabs, Good Prices, and Good Profits,
      Namely, SUCCESS.





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