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´╗┐Title: Profitable Squab Breeding
Author: Dare, Carl
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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COPYRIGHT 1914 BY CARL DARE



  Profitable
  Squab Breeding

By CARL DARE

A complete practical guide for the
beginner as well as the experienced
breeder.

Reliable information gleaned from
the experience of a lifetime in the
work.

Full instructions on all points from
the installation of the plant to the
marketing of the product.

  Des Moines, Iowa
  1914


  [Illustration: CARL DARE
  Des Moines, Iowa, October 1, 1914.]



TABLE OF CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I
  Profits of Squab Raising--Will It Pay?

  CHAPTER II
  Best Breeds for Squabbing--The Kind to Buy

  CHAPTER III
  The Construction of Houses--Pigeon House Plans--Nests--Water
  Fountains--Bathing Dishes--Keeping House in Sanitary Condition

  CHAPTER IV
  Feeds and Feeding--Breeding Habits

  CHAPTER V
  Increasing the Flock--Selecting Future Breeders--Banding--Mating

  CHAPTER VI
  Making a Market--Preparing Squabs for Market

  CHAPTER VII
  Diseases of Pigeons

  CHAPTER VIII
  Miscellaneous Information--Catching Mated Pairs


  [Illustration: A Typical Mammoth Homer. The Most Profitable for Squab
  Raising.]



INTRODUCTORY PREFACE


No business has had such a wonderful growth within the last few years as
the raising of squabs for market. Only a few years ago the use of squabs
for food was confined to a few of the most wealthy families. Game was
plentiful and cheap and those who were not very well off preferred quail
and other game birds to paying the high prices asked for the few squabs
which were sent to market.

Gradually the demand for squabs grew larger, as more people became
acquainted with their delicacy and good qualities as food, and this led
to larger numbers being produced. Soon all the larger markets furnished
squabs and then the smaller ones began to supply them and now many a
comparatively small market is not complete without squabs as a part of
the supplies of food kept on hand or provided on order.

Game birds have become scarce and high-priced, and squabs have taken
their place in such a manner that the demand for game is not so large as
it was, while the demand for squabs continually increases.

The rearing of squabs for market is immensely profitable as well as
easy. Squab-raising can be conducted on a scale large enough to make it
worth while in the back yard of a town lot, or it can be conducted on a
scale large enough to require several acres with equal profit on every
dollar invested in the business.

Squab-breeding is a business which is profitable when conducted as a
side line on a small space and all the work may be done by women,
children, or those who are not strong enough for the more laborious
occupations of life. At the same time it is a business which men of
affairs need not hesitate to undertake as there are squab farms on which
pigeons are kept by tens of thousands with great profit.

The squab business may be commenced with small capital and rapidly
increased from the increase of the flock, as each pair of breeding birds
will produce at least twelve in a year so the increase is very rapid.

So great has the demand for a book which would give all the details of
the business of squab-raising become, that we have felt compelled to
publish this book. It is written to teach people, beginners mostly, not
merely how to raise squabs, but how to conduct a squab and pigeon
business successfully. We have found breeders of squabs who knew how to
raise them fairly well and took pleasure in doing so, but were weak on
the business end of the industry. The fancier, who raises animals
because he likes their looks or their actions, or because he hopes to
beat some other fancier at an exhibition, is not the man for whom we
have written this book. We have developed utility pigeons and the
squabbing industry solely because they are staples, salable in any
market at a remunerative price. The success of squabs as we handle them
depends on their earning capacity. They are a matter of business. Our
development of squabs is based on the fact that they are good eating,
that people now are in the habit of asking for and eating them, and
there is a large traffic in them which may be pushed to an enormous
extent without weakening either the market or the price. If, as happens
in this case, pigeons are a beautiful pet stock as well as money makers
so much the better. It is just as easy to pet a practical animal as an
impractical animal, and much more satisfying.

This book is the latest and most comprehensive work we have done, giving
the results of our experience as fully and as accurately as we can
present the subject. It is intended as an answer to the hundreds of
letters we receive, and we have tried to cover every point which a
beginner or an expert needs to know. It has been our experience in
handling this subject and bringing it home to people that the little
points are the ones on which they most quickly go astray, and on which
they wish the fullest information. After they have a fair start, they
are able to think out their operations for themselves. Accordingly we
have covered every point in this book in simple language and if the
details in some places appear too commonplace, remember that we have
erred on the side of plainness.

It has surprised a great many people to learn that pigeons are such a
staple and workable article. They have been handled by the old methods
for years without their great utility value being made plain. When we
first learned about squabs, we were struck by the impressive fact that
here was something which grew to market size in the incredibly short
period of four weeks and then was marketed readily at a good profit. The
spread of that knowledge will make money for you. Show your neighbors
the birds; you tell them the facts, and perhaps give them a squab to
eat, then you will find a quick call for all the live breeders you can
supply.

We have tried to answer all the questions which a beginner would ask and
give all the details so plainly that any one can begin breeding pigeons
and raising squabs with success. The instructions given are based on
actual experience in raising squabs and we have tried to write so
plainly that any one can understand just how to begin and continue in
the business.

Those who follow the instructions given may look forward with confidence
to a successful career as pigeon-breeders provided they begin with the
right kind of breeding stock, the kind which produces heavy-weight,
plump, white-fleshed squabs.

  CARL DARE.
  Des Moines, Iowa, October 15, 1914.


  [Illustration: A Pair of Beautiful Blue Bar Mammoth Homers, Straight
  American Bred.]



CHAPTER I

PROFITS OF SQUAB RAISING--WILL IT PAY?


In first considering squab breeding the beginner always asks, "Will It
Pay Me to Raise Squabs?" It is well to consider this phase of any
business before making very much of an investment.

The squab business is comparatively new in this country although it has
already reached such proportions that there can not be any doubt but it
is the most profitable and pleasant business in which any one may
engage. Under the methods outlined in this book there is no chance for a
conscientious worker to fail.

This country is filled with plants large and small and I have yet to
find a plant that is not paying a handsome profit unless there be
something wrong with the stock or methods employed. I have visited the
great squab plants of California where thousands upon thousands of birds
are left to fly at will and nest in open boxes protected only from the
sun, and here I find that the squabs are paying a fine return on the
investment and thousands of tourists visit these large plants annually
and pay an admission fee of fifty cents each so that the revenue from
this source is considerable.

I have visited also the great squab district in South Jersey where the
squabs are produced for the large cities of the East; the plants also in
Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, and I find that on the best
equipped and best paying plants the methods employed are practically
identical with those outlined in this book. The fact that experienced
breeders in such widely separated sections of the country have adopted
almost identical methods is certainly proof that we have the right idea
and that the advice we give here to the beginner will be well worth
while.

The largest plants in the country are in the far East and far West as
indicated, but I believe there is no one other state that has so many
up-to-date plants as the state of Iowa. You will find a paying squab
farm in nearly every city of this state, and in some of them there are
two or three large and up-to-date, well equipped plants. In one little
town in the northern part of the state there is a plant where over
fifteen thousand breeders are kept right along. The proprietor of this
plant has told me that when he began with a few pairs of Homers of
indiscriminate breeding he had hardly enough funds to pay for the birds
and their feed for the first few months. He now owns the large plant of
several thousand birds of the purest stock with suitable buildings, and
a beautiful home and drives an up-to-date seven-passenger auto-mobile.
His son and daughter are both attending a university in the East and
every cent of his money has been made with pigeons. If his were the only
case of such kind there would still be proof enough of the profits in
the squab business to justify careful consideration by anyone, but I
personally know of thousands of others who have made a success, some of
them on a larger scale, and there can no longer be any doubt of the
opportunity of making money in this business.


THE PROFITS OF SQUAB RAISING

In another place in this book we have shown how easy it is to arrange a
place in which to keep squabs. Hundreds of people are so situated that
they could raise squabs who could not possibly take care of a flock of
chickens, because they lack both time and space.

In raising squabs the cost of attendance is reduced to the minimum.
There are no eggs to be gathered, no setting hens or incubators to be
looked after, no young birds to be fed and cared for. The pigeon-breeder
simply puts his birds in the loft, feeds and waters them and they build
their own nests and feed their young.

The space that would be needed by a dozen hens will comfortably keep
fifty or a hundred pairs of pigeons, and the revenue from a pair of
pigeons in a year is about the same as from a good laying hen.

The squab-breeder gets his money in four weeks, while the man who raises
chickens must wait at least twelve weeks before he can sell his birds.

The manure from a loft of pigeons can be sold as a garden fertilizer for
enough to pay for the cost of feeding the birds. In many cities and
towns florists consider pigeon manure the best fertilizer they can get
for flowers and garden crops and large tanneries use tons of it in
tanning leather. It usually sells for 50 cents a bushel in town for
fertilizing lawns, flower and vegetable gardens.

It will cost just about $1.00 to keep a pair of pigeons one year. When
the writer visited the great squab farms of South Jersey, he
particularly inquired about the cost of feeding a pair of pigeons one
year. In that country most of the grain is shipped from the West and
from Canada. The wheat comes from New York, Ohio, or states further
west, the kaffir corn mostly comes from Kansas and the hemp seed from
Kentucky. The peas come from Canada. All these grains are sold with the
freight added to the initial price and the feed dealer's profit, of
course. In the Mid-West the freight charges would be much smaller than
they are in the East, so the cost of keeping a pair of pigeons would be
considerably reduced.

In the South Jersey squab district we found that the cost of keeping a
pair of breeding Homers one year ranges from $1.10 to $1.25 a year. In
other sections of the country the cost runs as low as 85 cents per pair.
If a certain loft contains pigeons of extra breeding qualities, it will
cost more for feed, as the old birds have more squabs to feed than would
be the case where less productive birds were kept.

It should be understood that when we give the cost of keeping a pair of
breeding pigeons the cost of raising their squabs is included. That is
when we say it costs about $1.00 to keep a pair of pigeons a year, we
mean it will cost this amount to keep the pair and all the squabs they
produce in a year.

  [Illustration: Fig. 1. A Handy, Home-made Net For Catching the Birds.]



CHAPTER II

THE BEST BREEDS FOR SQUAB RAISING--THE KIND TO BUY


In selecting a breed, the beginner is at once struck by the hundreds of
different varieties, each one with some merit, and each one put forward
by breeders of more or less reputation as the one best variety to be
handled. I believe I have thoroughly tried and tested the merits of all
the leading varieties of squab producing pigeons and right here I wish
to caution the beginner against paying fancy prices for highly
advertised cross-bred stock. There is no advantage to be gained by
crossing the blood lines of two or more varieties for breeding purposes.
This is true in pigeons the same as it is true in every other line of
pure bred stock. The best results will always be obtained by using pure
bred birds and in selecting the variety to stock your plant you must
have in mind the investment which you expect to make and the market on
which you will sell your squabs. In all cities the squabs are graded
according to size and quality and the heavier birds will bring a premium
over those of light weight but in some cases the extra heavy birds bring
such a premium that it is worth while to produce squabs of unusual size,
while in the average market the extra heavy birds bring a little more
than those of good weight but not enough to justify the increased
expense in producing them.

After an experience of twenty years in this business I do not hesitate
to say that for the general market under all conditions, the best paying
investment for the beginner is the straight American bred Homer.
Reputable breeders of this variety will furnish stock of good size and
they are the best workers and best feeders and will stand more abuse and
mistreatment than any of the other varieties I have ever handled.

Squabs from the best American bred Homers usually weigh eight and ten
pounds per dozen with occasional lofts that will produce squabs weighing
as heavy as twelve pounds to the dozen.

Inferior stock that has not been properly fed will produce squabs much
smaller than the above, but at the same time you will find their squabs
weighing six or seven pounds to the dozen. If the squabs are plump and
of good quality, they will bring a fair price.

The Homers are the fastest workers and the best feeders and they will
produce squabs under unfavorable conditions that would discourage all
other varieties. For a second selection for the experienced squab
breeder who has a market for large squabs of extra quality I would
suggest the Giant Carneaux (pronounced Karno). These birds come to us
from France and Belgium and they are a little larger than the Homers,
fast workers and produce squabs of the whitest meat. Breeding stock in
this variety is higher in price and usually costs two or three times as
much as the Homer stock, and bearing in mind the added cost of
foundation stock it would be noted at once that the returns must be
larger from this variety to justify the increased expenditure. The
Carneaux is a bold appearing, beautiful bird and comes in solid red,
solid yellow, and red and white splashed. The latter color being much
preferred by squab breeders.

The Swiss Mondaine is an extra large variety that has met with
considerable favor in this country, and the squabs from this variety
often weigh as heavy as twenty-four or thirty ounces each. These birds
very much resemble the American bred Homer in appearance except, of
course, they are much larger. They are slower workers and the squabs
require about two weeks longer to mature for market. Breeding stock is
usually quite high in price.

Duchess, Runts and Maltese Hens are all large birds and have some merit
but I have not found them as profitable as the Homers or Carneaux
because they are much slower to mature and do not breed as rapidly,
moreover the stock is much higher in price. There are many Runt-Homers,
Runt-Carneaux and other crosses on the market being widely advertised
and boosted as great squab producers, but the infusion of the blood of
any of the larger varieties is bound to make such birds slower workers
and less prolific.

Taking all of these things into consideration and as a result of many
years in the business and after carefully testing the merits of so many
varieties I must insist that the beginner will do the best with straight
American Bred Homers of the right quality, or the Giant Carneaux.


BUYING THE STOCK

Always buy of a reputable breeder whose word may be taken for the
quality of his birds. The reputable breeder sells in the hope of
selling again and sells only such birds as he can recommend and knows
will give satisfaction.

If the reputable breeder says the pair he sells are mated it may be
depended upon that there are an equal number of each sex in a purchase
and that these pairs are already mated and ready to go to work almost as
soon as they are in their new homes.

The beginner must not be impatient if the birds after shipment are a
little slow in going to work, for he must remember that many of these
birds have been taken from their nests and their young and shipped many
miles with indifferent care en-route and some of the matings may have
been more or less broken up. Many beginners fuss too much with their
birds and disturb them until the birds have little chance to settle down
in their new homes and go to work. If you provide clean fresh water and
feed as directed in this book and leave the birds to themselves they
will soon be working.

Some very reputable breeders sell young birds with the understanding
that they are sold just as they come from the nests, the buyer knowing
when he buys these birds that they are not mated and that he must wait
until the birds have arrived at mating age and get ready to mate
themselves.

When birds are bought just as they come from the nests, there are always
more cocks than hens among them, as about nine times in ten when only
one bird is reared in a nest that bird is a cock; but there is nothing
unfair in this sort of sale, as the buyer gets his birds at a lower
price than he would have to pay for mated pairs ready to go to work.

If it should be found when the birds are settled to work in their new
home that some mistake has been made in selecting mated pairs and odd
birds are found in the loft any reputable breeder will furnish birds of
the opposite sex to mate with these odd birds at a reduced price, so the
purchaser will have nothing but mated and working pairs for his money.


WHAT IS MEANT BY MATED PAIRS

When we say mated pairs, we do not mean simply an equal number of birds
of each sex. We mean pairs which have mated and married and are ready to
go to work and rear squabs without further waiting after they have been
received. Pigeons mate in pairs and remain constant to each other for
life, as a rule. Matings are some times broken by the birds themselves
especially when some accident has befallen the young in the nest, or
when the birds are being disturbed by rats or mice, or when cooped and
shipped with a number of other birds in small shipping coops.

  [Illustration: Pure White Maltese Hen Pigeon.]

When a pair have gone through the courting stage and have mated ready to
build a nest and hatch young, they remain true to each other as long as
they live, or as long as they are allowed to remain together. If a
mating is broken by death or separation, the birds will mate with other
birds. This rule of constancy is rarely broken and may generally be
depended upon.

Some pigeon books say that a beginner can do as well with the common
pigeons that fly about the streets as with the straight Homers. This
statement is absurd on the face of it. The common pigeon has bred
indiscriminately and inbred until the squab produced by it is thin,
light in weight, skinny and dark fleshed to such a degree that they sell
for about $1.50 a dozen in the markets. Most people would willingly pay
three times that for the plump, meaty squabs from straight American bred
Homers.

The beginner who secures the right kind of stock has made the first long
step toward success as a squab-breeder and he should not hesitate to pay
the price which good breeding stock is worth, for poor breeding stock
means failure and loss in the end.

Your success depends upon the stock you buy. It is much better to buy
good stock at a fair price than it is to get poor stock for nothing. No
man can tell by looking at a lot of breeding pigeons whether they are
good breeders or not. No man can tell whether they will produce squabs
with white flesh or dark, squabs that will weigh ten pounds to the dozen
or six pounds. No one can even guess at the age of a pair of pigeons and
those which are old and worn out look just as nice as those which are
only a year old.

The whole future of the beginner depends upon getting stock which is
right in every way. Imported birds are usually of all ages and
qualities. American-bred birds, if bought of a reputable breeder, may be
depended upon to produce a large proportion of heavy, light-fleshed
squabs and properly selected and mated pairs will go to work and breed
regularly as soon as they have become accustomed to their new home. For
these reasons I would not advise the purchase of imported birds except
on rare occasions after carefully investigating the stock and the
circumstances of their importation.

  [Illustration: Fig. 2. Showing a Well Arranged Squab Plant of Moderate
  Size With Colony Coop for Poultry in the Foreground.]



CHAPTER III

The Construction of Houses

PIGEON HOUSE PLANS--NESTS--WATER FOUNTAINS--BATHING DISHES--KEEPING THE
HOUSE IN SANITARY CONDITION


No doubt many a person has been deterred from making a start in the
business of raising squabs on account of the fancied expense of building
suitable houses. No one should make the mistake of thinking that a
costly house is necessary. To be sure a well built, nicely painted house
is ornamental and adds to the appearance of a squab-breeding plant; but
this will come before long if the beginner has the proper qualifications
and the ability to increase the size of his flock as rapidly as he may
with good care and attention to his business.

The writer has traveled all over the great squab-breeding sections of
the East and West and found about every kind of a pigeon house that the
ingenuity of man has ever been able to build. We have seen houses which
cost thousands of dollars and those which were built of the odd boards
that were picked up about the farm. We have seen as fine birds and as
large squabs in a house improvised from piano boxes as we ever saw in
any of the great squab-breeding plants.

It is not so much a question of looks in a house as it is of comfort and
good care. One of the finest squab-breeding plants in this country has
grown up from a few birds which were housed at first in a corner of the
barn. The owner persevered and kept adding to his flock as he made money
from it, and he now has fine buildings and thousands of birds, all
earned from an initial investment of something like $25. Not a cent was
ever added to the original investment, all the increase and improvement
in buildings having been paid for out of the earnings of the birds
themselves.

Before we go further, let us say that the pigeon-breeders do not talk
about pigeon houses. A house or room in which pigeons are kept is called
a "loft," whether it is on the ground floor or in the peak of a barn.
The pigeon house is a loft and the flock of pigeons kept in a loft is
called a loft of pigeons. It is just as well to get the proper terms
used in the business at first, as pigeon-breeders always use them. To
return to our pigeon loft. A loft may be made in the corner of a stable
or other out-house, with a fly outside. We might explain for the
benefit of the beginner that a pigeon "fly" is a wired-in yard, a sort
of big cage in which the pigeons are kept within limits. The flies are
made by setting up posts about eight feet high and stretching two-inch
mesh poultry netting on them. A fly is usually about ten feet wide and
from twelve to thirty feet long. This is covered over the top with the
same kind of poultry netting that is used on the sides.

  [Illustration: Fig. 3. Showing End View of House No. 1.]

We have seen as good pigeon lofts as any one would need made in the loft
of a stable, the fly being on the roof. Posts were so set up on the roof
that their tops were even with the peak of the roof. The enclosure was
then shut in, sides and top, with poultry netting and the birds had a
roomy and dry fly which was always clean, as the rains washed the
droppings off the roof at frequent intervals.

In Chicago, we saw an extensive pigeon loft on the top of a flat-topped
building high above the street; and a very well-known squab breeding
establishment in a southern state is on top of a big hotel, the owner
breeding the squabs he needs for his hotel in this high-placed
situation.

From the foregoing it will be seen that the question of housing the
breeding pigeons is not a very complicated one, as there is a wide
latitude for action.

Some breeders even allow their birds to fly at large not using flies at
all; but this practice is not recommended. In the first place, the birds
do not produce so many squabs as they do under confinement and they are
liable to accidents, such as being caught by hawks, shot by boys, or
some other mishap which causes the owner to lose them and often lose
squabs which such birds have in their nests.

It has been found best to keep the birds strictly confined. One
well-known squab-raiser has a pen of fifty pairs of birds in his lofts
which have been confined in the same place for seven years and are still
working well. The writer visited this loft at the end of the seventh
year of their confinement and noticed that they were producing squabs at
a good rate.

For the convenience of beginners, we give ground plan and elevation of
two styles of pigeon lofts. The loft designed as No. 1, may be built at
a cost as low as $15.00, for one room, or it may be made to cost $50 or
even more. It will be seen that the plan is for two rooms, but this is
not the limit of size that is possible. We have seen lofts with a dozen
rooms in them, but would recommend about four rooms as the most
convenient limit where pigeons are kept extensively. Where a four-room
house is built for lofting purposes, the plan should include a storeroom
unless the owner has a room which conveniently can be used for a
storeroom for feed and as a place for dressing and packing the squabs.

In House No. 2, it will be seen that an alleyway is built in the house
back of the lofts. The partition between this alleyway and the lofts is
made of two-inch poultry netting, but the partitions between the rooms
are solid and as air tight as the outside walls.

A good many breeders are now using stout muslin instead of glass in the
windows, as this gives light, lets the warmth of the sun enter the rooms
and provides a good system of ventilation. Houses in which cloth windows
are used are found to be fully as warm as those having glass windows.

On the side of the house next the fly, a series of openings is made near
the roof, but low enough to open under the top of the fly. These
openings may be about eight inches square with a six-inch wide shelf
even with the bottom inside and outside. These are the doors through
which the pigeons go back and forth to and from the fly, and the shelves
beneath them are the lighting perches. These openings should be provided
with a sliding door so that they can be closed when it is desirable to
shut out the cold or to confine the birds for any reason.


NESTS

In providing nests for a loft, at least two nests for each pair of birds
should be provided. This gives the birds a chance to build a new nest to
use while the squabs are maturing in another, as after the birds begin
to breed they will have eggs in one nest while they have a pair of
squabs in another. Some breeders provide 120 nests for fifty pairs of
birds, but this is rather more than is necessary.

The nest boxes are easily made. The illustration on page 21 shows very
clearly the manner of constructing them. In practice, boards one foot
wide on which cleats one inch square are nailed across, one foot apart,
are set against the wall in perpendicular lines one foot apart and
firmly secured, the edge being to the wall, of course. This leaves the
cleats opposite each other. Then boards one foot square are cut and
laid on these cleats. When the work is done, we have a series of nests
one foot every way, each shelf forming the bottom of a nest and the top
of the one under it. If nappies are not used, a cleat should be nailed
on the front edge of the shelves in order that the nesting will not be
worked out by the birds. Nests made in this way are very easily cleaned,
as the shelves may be drawn out and cleaned without trouble.


NAPPIES

Nappies are dishes or bowls of a peculiar shape which are made for
pigeon nests. These nappies are used by a great many pigeon-breeders,
but we have not found them necessary as the birds are perfectly able to
build their own nests and will do so if the nest boxes are provided.

Where only a few pairs of birds are kept, we have seen boxes used for
nests. Boxes about the size of orange crates are used, these being
divided into two compartments and fastened to the wall by nails driven
through the bottom. We recommend that regular nests be provided as they
give a nearer appearance to the lofts and are more easily cleaned.


NESTING MATERIAL


A good supply of nesting material should be provided for the pigeons.
This may be short straw, or coarse hay in short lengths, but the best
material is tobacco stems which may be bought at about one cent a pound
from the stores that keep pigeon and poultry supplies. These tobacco
stems prevent insects from being harbored in the nests and save a great
deal of trouble in this way. The ideal nest is one made of tobacco stems
for a foundation and then finished with soft straw.

  [Illustration: Fig. 4. Showing a Cheap and Convenient Arrangement
  for Nests. Many Breeders Prefer to Use This Style of Nest Box
  Without the Nappies, Tacking a Strip Across the Front to Hold the
  Nesting Material.]


WATER FOUNTAINS

Pigeons are great drinkers and should be watered at least twice a day as
they need a plentiful supply of fresh water. The best way to supply this
is by using the regular watering fountains which are made for this
purpose. These may be bought through almost any breeder who sells
pigeons. If the one of whom the pigeons are bought does not keep them
for sale, he will give the name of a firm which handles them. These
fountains cost only a small sum and they keep the water clean, whereas
if open water vessels are used, the water becomes foul with dirt and
dust.


BATHING

Pigeons must be provided with facilities for bathing, as they will not
keep in good health if they cannot have a bath regularly. They delight
in getting into water and bathing themselves all over. An ordinary big
dishpan makes a good bath-tub for pigeons, or a barrel so cut off as to
be four inches deep makes a good tub for bathing purposes. Empty the
bath-tub as soon as the pigeons have finished their baths to prevent
them from drinking the foul water.


SANITATION

A pigeon loft must be kept free from insects and disease germs by
carefully attending to sanitary conditions. The free use of
lice-killers, cleaning the nests out as soon as the squabs are taken
from them and whitewashing the whole interior of the loft at least twice
a year will keep the enemies of the birds from gaining a foothold, as
well as destroy stray disease germs which may be floating in the air.


DRYNESS

Pigeons must have a dry loft or they will fall victims to disease. To
keep the houses dry they should have the floor at least a foot from the
ground and the location should be such that water does not stand around
the house or under it. Make the floor double, so that it will be
air-tight and let the air circulate under the house freely. Two objects
are accomplished by having the floor off the ground; the rooms are kept
dry and rats will not burrow under the house.


FLOOR COVERING

The floor of the pigeon houses should be kept covered with about an inch
of sand, if this can be procured handily. Otherwise keep it covered with
chaff, which should frequently be renewed.

  [Illustration: Fig. 5. Showing Construction of Crate for Nesting
  Material.

  The cover is removable and protects the material from the droppings
  and filth. Tobacco stems, straw or hay cut into lengths of six or
  eight inches, should be kept before the birds at all times and this
  crate is the handiest and best way to furnish this material.]


CLEANLINESS

It is necessary to keep the pigeon lofts clean. Some breeders advocate
cleaning them every week, we think a good cleaning once a month will do.
Every time the lofts are cleaned, the birds must be disturbed more or
less, and this results in some little loss, so the matter of cleanliness
should not be carried to extreme. If the house is dry and light, the
droppings will quickly dry up and will not become offensive for several
weeks.

  [Illustration: Fig. 6. Showing Ground Plan of House No. 1.]

  [Illustration: Fig. 7. Showing Ground Plan of House No. 2.]



CHAPTER IV

FEEDS AND FEEDING--BREEDING HABITS


Pigeons are exclusive grain eaters. They do not require animal food of
any kind, nor is green food necessary for them. Occasionally a nice
tender head of lettuce may be given to each loft and they will eat it
with relish, but such green foods as grass, lawn clippings, or cut
clover should never be given them. The lettuce is not necessary but may
be given by way of variety, but not more than one head to fifty pairs of
birds.

The principal feeds are red wheat, sifted cracked corn, Canada peas,
kaffir corn, hemp seed and German millet seed. Besides these, buckwheat,
barley, and canary seed may sometimes be given; but the first-named
constitute a good variety and should be used as a constant feed. All of
them are necessary and they should be properly rotated.


SOUND GRAIN NECESSARY

We want to emphasize the fact that all grain used for feeding pigeons
must be sound and wholesome. It is the very poorest kind of economy to
feed shrunken, musty, or damaged grain of any kind.


WHEAT

The wheat used should be sound red wheat which has been thoroughly
dried. New wheat should never be used. Good No. 2 red wheat, at least
six months out of the straw, should be selected.


PEANUTS

In many localities Canada Peas are so high in price that breeders can
hardly afford to feed them but the cheapest raw peanuts may be obtained
at a low price and these will take the place of the Canada Peas and give
just the same results. I have found them very satisfactory as a feed and
hundreds of my customers have reported excellent results with them.


CRACKED CORN

Sound, well dried, No. 2 sifted cracked corn should be used for pigeons.
By well dried, we mean that the corn should be of the crop of the
previous year. It should be cracked so that the pieces will be about the
size of wheat grains. It should be sifted to separate the fine meal, as
the pigeons will not eat the meal and if it is left in the food troughs
it will sour and produce bowel trouble in the birds, old and young.


CANADA PEAS

Canada peas should be well dried out, selecting those of the previous
year as they are thoroughly dry and sound. This is the highest priced
feed the pigeon-keeper will need to buy but it is not fed largely, being
used sparingly on account of the great nutritive qualities, which cause
squabs to grow rapidly and make heavy breast meat.


KAFFIR CORN

Kaffir corn has become a regular article of sale and can be bought
almost anywhere. It is between wheat and corn in value and makes a very
good pigeon feed. Buy seed of the previous year when buying for pigeons.


HEMP SEED

But a small quantity of hemp seed is used. If too much were given the
birds they would become very fat and get lazy. A good plan is to throw a
handful of hemp seed on the floor once a week on a stated day, say
Wednesday. Never put hemp seed in a feed trough, as the first birds to
get to the trough would "hog" all the seed.


MILLET SEED

The seed of the German millet makes an excellent pigeon feed. It also is
quite fattening and must be used sparingly. It is usually quite cheap,
compared with its food value, and should be kept on hand at all times.


BUCKWHEAT

Buckwheat is very fattening and should be fed sparingly. The
pigeon-breeder need not take any special pains to get it for his birds,
but in some localities buckwheat is raised extensively and in these
places the grain may be used by way of variety. Buckwheat is very
heating and therefore is best used in severe cold weather.


CANARY SEED

Canary seed is too costly to use as a regular feed, but birds relish a
small feed once in a while. In some parts of this country canary seed
might be grown very easily and it would find a large sale if enough of
it were produced to meet the demand which would soon grow up.

  [Illustration: Fig. 8. Showing End View of House No. 2.]


OTHER FOOD REQUISITES

Pigeons require, besides the grain they eat, salt, grit, and charcoal.
These should be kept in the lofts constantly, so that the birds can get
at them at any time.


GRIT

Pigeons must have grit and plenty of it at all times. Moreover this grit
should contain some tonic mixture and other essentials to keep the birds
in the best of working order. Many breeders fail to supply their birds
with grit of the right sort and for that reason do not get the best
results from their birds.

There are many so-called "Health Grits" on the market and many of them
with more or less merit but grits are heavy and freight and express
charges are high so it is usually best for the breeder to secure clean
sharp sand and mix the grit at home. There is great saving in this and
at the same time better results are obtained.


SALT

Salt is absolutely necessary to the health of the pigeons. It should
never be given them in the form of table salt, because they will eat too
much of it. If rock salt can be secured, it is the best form in which to
give salt to the pigeons. If this is not procurable, buy a five-pound
bag of table salt and wet it. Then put it in the oven and dry it, when
it will become almost as hard as the original rock salt. Put a bag in
each loft and let the pigeons pick out the salt through the bag.


CHARCOAL

Charcoal keeps the birds in good condition and a cigar box full of
charcoal, broken into bits about the size of wheat grains, should
constantly be kept before the birds. This crushed charcoal is to be
found in poultry supply stores. If none of these are within reach, the
pigeon-breeder may make his own charcoal by burning wood to a coal and
then extinguishing the fire with water. Corn cobs, charred in this way,
make an excellent charcoal for pigeons.

  [Illustration: Swiss Mondaine. Very large but usually slow workers.]


HOW TO FEED

It is usually best to feed pigeons by hand. They should be fed twice
every day. In summer, feed at 7:30 a. m., and at winter 4:30 p. m. In
winter, feed an hour later in the morning and an hour earlier in the
evening. Of course, these hours may be varied but the feeding should be
done at the same hour every day, morning and evening, as the birds soon
become accustomed to the feeding hours and if not fed on time become
very restless. Many successful breeders feed their birds in hoppers
thereby greatly reducing the labor of feeding. This method is successful
unless the birds get to picking out only certain grains and then more or
less trouble will be met. It is always necessary to construct hoppers in
such form that the birds cannot get into them and foul the grain, but
this is a very simple matter as shown by the illustration on next page.
Mixed grains sufficient for several days feeding may be placed in these
hoppers and the birds will eat only what they need for each meal.


FEED TROUGHS

Feed troughs should be ten inches wide, six feet long and three inches
deep. These are easily made and are much better than any of the
automatic hoppers on the market. Where the feed is given in hoppers the
birds will eat the kind they like best and waste much of the rest of the
feed.


MIXTURES RECOMMENDED

For the morning mix equal parts of wheat, cracked corn and Canada peas.
Give three quarts of this mixture to each fifty pairs of birds. For the
evening feed kaffir corn, cracked corn, millet and Canada peas, equal
parts. Give three quarts to each fifty pairs of birds.

Every third day, substitute hemp seed for millet, or feed a little less
of the regular ration and throw a handful or two of hemp seed on the
floor as recommended above. If broken rice can be bought cheaply a small
feed of this may be substituted for one of the feeds of hemp seed each
week. Peanuts may be substituted for Canada peas wherever it will mean a
saving in cost.


ALWAYS FEED INDOORS

Never feed pigeons out of doors, as any feed left over is likely to be
damaged by the weather; and in bad weather they must be fed indoors, so
it is best to feed them indoors at all times.

  [Illustration: Fig. 9. Showing Construction of Feeding Hoppers.

  Fig. A shows end construction of the double hopper from which the
  birds may feed at both sides and Fig. B shows construction of the
  single hopper. The style illustrated may be made in a few minutes
  from an old box and will hold about four bushels of grain. This
  method of feeding saves a great amount of time and labor.]


ECONOMICAL FEEDING

The pigeon breeder should always feed his birds, so that he will know it
is properly done. If at any time any of the grain from a previous feed
is left in the troughs, the ration should be reduced a little. If the
troughs are emptied in a way that shows the birds have not plenty to
eat, add a little to the quantity given them.

Pigeons which are feeding squabs require more feed than those not
working, as they must eat enough for the squabs and for themselves also.

Squabs are fed by the parents in a most peculiar way. The old birds,
male and female, eat the grain and drink water freely. This is partially
digested until it is formed into a milky liquid mass. Then the squab
puts its beak inside that of the parent bird and the parent by a
peculiar jerking motion of the head and neck "pumps" this liquid food
into the crop of the young bird. This feed is called "pigeon's milk" and
is very nutritious, young squabs growing more rapidly than any other
kind of young birds.


BREEDING HABITS

The breeding habits of pigeons are peculiar. When a male has selected
the female he desires for his mate, there follows a course of true
love-making in which the male struts around his favorite, coos to her
and evidently tries to show her what a grand bird he is. The female, if
attracted by her wooer, becomes friendly with him and the two "bill"
each other very much as if they were exchanging kisses.

The two then select a nesting place and build a nest therein and the
cock bird becomes very anxious for the hen to begin laying. If she does
not promptly attend to her duties, he will drive her about the loft,
talking angrily to her and striking her with his wings.

Finally the hen takes to her nest and deposits an egg. Then she misses a
day and deposits a second egg, this usually being all that are laid at
one time.

As soon as the first egg is laid, brooding begins. The hen occupies the
nest from about four in the afternoon until ten the next forenoon. The
cock then sits while his mate eats and rests. In this order the brooding
goes on and at the end of about seventeen days the first laid egg
hatches, and in due course the last one hatches if no accidents have
happened to it.

In this way it happens that one of the young birds is two days older
than the other and almost invariably the first hatched is a male, the
latter one being a female.

The old birds now begin to feed the young, and they grow marvelously.
They are kept stuffed full of "pigeon milk" and on this they seem to
grow while one watches them.

In a few days the hen is ready to lay again, and if there is a spare
nest box the pair makes another nest and the hen lays two eggs, after
which the couple are kept very busy brooding one pair of eggs and at the
same time feeding a pair of rapidly growing squabs.

When the squabs are about four weeks old they are heavier than they ever
will be again in their lives, as they have reached full size and are
very fat. It is at this time that they are taken from the nest and sent
to the market.

If not taken from the nest about this time, the old birds, desiring to
start with another pair of eggs, turn the squabs out and they fall on
the floor of the loft so fat they can hardly get about. Here they become
lean while learning to eat for themselves, and soon become sleek and
trim, instead of being unwieldy with fat.

This doubling up with families shows the necessity of providing at least
two nest boxes for each pair of pigeons in a loft. It is even better to
have more than two nests for each pair, as this gives them some liberty
of choice and often saves quarreling between two couples.

As pigeons mate for life, it is very important that only mated and
married pairs are kept together. If an odd cock or an odd hen is left in
a loft, there are family troubles without end; and the quarrels which
arise from this cause result in broken eggs and squabs killed in the
fights.

It sometimes happens that a pair will not produce young. This is usually
because the hen is barren. In such a case the hen should be disposed of
and a new mate for the cock furnished. It is best to shut the two in a
box with a wire partition between the two until they become acquainted
with each other, after which they will usually mate, although they do
not invariably do so.


DETERMINING THE SEX.

It is very difficult to determine the sex of pigeons without watching
them at work in the fly. Various breeders have methods by which they are
sometimes able to distinguish the male from the female but at best,
these methods are only a guess and the only safe way is to place the
birds in a mating coop or in a fly with others and watch them carefully.

As a rule the bones at the vent of a female are wider apart and softer
than those of a male, especially in older birds that have laid and
hatched young. Sometimes the sex may be determined by an examination of
the tail feathers, those of the male being worn on the under side at the
ends from throwing the tail down against the ground or the roof of the
loft when strutting. Others hold the bird by the beak in one hand and
the feet in the other and then when the bird is stretched out, the male
will usually hold the tail close to the body, while the female will
throw her tail out. These signs are only indications of the sex and even
the most experienced breeder will often be badly fooled in handling
unmated birds. The best and safest way is to watch the birds, as stated
above, and it will quickly be noted that the male is livelier than the
female and is usually cooing and strutting about her and will turn
entirely around in his flirting while the female seldom turns more than
half way around.

  [Illustration: Fig. 10. Showing the Construction of a Practical and
  Convenient Fly.]



CHAPTER V

INCREASING THE FLOCK--SELECTING FUTURE BREEDERS BANDING--MATING


Almost everyone who raises squabs finds that he must constantly increase
the number of breeding pigeons in his lofts in order to keep pace with
the increasing demand for squabs.

The most economical way to increase a flock is to save the best squabs
from the first breeding stock bought; and to do this it is necessary to
select squabs for this purpose as they are hatched, the object being to
improve the quality of the flock by keeping only the best of the squabs.

Where a flock is being increased, it is a good plan to buy some new
stock which has been banded and mate the cocks which have been bought
with home-raised hens and the hens which have been bought with some
home-raised cocks. This saves inbreeding.

Close inbreeding soon runs down the vitality of a flock and should be
avoided. This matter will be taken up further on.

As we have said, the first pigeon to hatch in the nest is almost
invariably a cock and the last one a hen. This rule is so constant that
it may be depended upon.

In selecting squabs for breeding stock, always select those from the
nests of pairs which produce squabs most regularly. Such squabs are more
likely to be good producers themselves.

Select the squabs which grow most rapidly and weigh the most at the time
they are ready for the market. Such squabs are from pairs which are good
feeders and will be most likely to become good feeders themselves.

Be sure to select squabs which have light-colored flesh, as these will
produce squabs like themselves and light flesh brings the highest price
in the market, unless they are sent in too soon.

When we say the light color in flesh of a squab denotes that it will
produce light-fleshed squabs, it is to be understood that this will be
the case if the parents are properly fed according to directions given
in a previous chapter. Pigeons which are kept confined and properly fed
always produce more and better squabs than those allowed to run at
large.

Having selected the squabs which are to be retained for breeding
purposes, band them at once. Open pigeon bands can be bought at about a
cent each. The best plan is to band the cocks right leg and the hens on
the left, using consecutive numbers for each pair.

Thus, 111 might be a cock and 112 hen. In making matings, the owner
would know at once that these two were not to be allowed to mate
together, as they would be brother and sister. If, in any case, nest
mates show inclination to mate together, they should be shut away from
each other, and forced to mate with non-related birds.

A forced mating is made by using a mating pen. This is a cage with two
compartments in it, separated by a wire screen, such as two-inch mesh
poultry netting. Put the cock in one side and the hen with which you
want him to mate in another, and leave them in the pen until they are
acquainted with each other. Then shut them in the same compartment and
usually they will mate up with each other all right.

Squabs which are to be kept for breeding should be taken away from the
older birds as soon as they have learned to eat for themselves. Feed
them well all the time, and at the age of about six months they will
begin to mate and then require regular attention, as they should be kept
under close supervision at this time.

As soon as a male bird is seen "driving" a female, both should be caught
and their bands examined. If they are nest mates they should be
separated as recommended in the beginning of this chapter and forced to
mate with other birds. It will only be necessary to remove the cock
bird, substituting another cock in his place.

If the cock and the hen he is driving are not nest mates, their band
numbers should be recorded in a book kept for this purpose. Such a
record gives the owner an opportunity to keep account of the number of
squabs a given pair produces and to pick squabs for breeding in the
future, knowing what the parents have done.

The record should give the number of the cock and hen and a brief
description of each. The following form is recommended: Cock 111--Red
Check, Hen 222--Blue Bar.

Each pair should have a space in which to keep account with it. After
the number and description may be a ruled space in which to keep account
of the number of squabs the pair produces month after month. If they
regularly produce and raise two squabs of good size and light color,
they are valuable as the parents of breeding stock and should be kept.

If a pair does not produce squabs, the chances are then the hen is
barren and she would be sold for what she will bring in the market and
the cock mated with another bird. If the eggs are infertile, the trouble
is likely with the cock and the matings should be broken and two birds
tried again. If the eggs still are infertile, the cock should be sold in
the market.

Usually there are more cocks than hens in a given lot of squabs and it
is easier to give a hen which lays infertile eggs a new mate and sell
the cock without experimenting further.

Barren hens and impotent cocks are not common in well bred birds, and
very little trouble may be anticipated from such causes.

When one of a pair of squabs dies, the chances are about nine out of ten
that the female of the pair dies. This is because she is two days
younger than her brother and has less chance to get a start. Thus it
happens that every loft produces more cocks than hens, a circumstance
which has led some of the hucksters who sell pigeons as squab-raisers to
send out lots of birds in which there were many more cocks than hens.
This is why we have insisted that the buyer should buy from a reliable
breeder and buy mated pairs.

In a loft containing fifty young cocks and fifty young hens it almost
always happens that the matings are not all made up, as some birds
refuse to mate with certain other ones, and there may be a few birds
which have not mated. In this case the odd birds may be put among other
young birds and so find mates that suit them.

In catching pairs at the time they are being recorded, or when they are
to be sold as breeders, two people should do the work. A catching net,
which is a netted bag the mouth of which is fastened to a hoop with a
long handle, is used. The pigeon breeder soon gets so expert that he can
trap a pigeon in such net without fail and without disturbing the other
birds in the loft.

When a couple of pigeons is found driving, the one who does the catching
traps one of them with the net while his helper keeps watch on the other
one of the pair. The captured pigeon is examined and its band number put
on the record. Then the helper takes the net and catches the one he has
been watching and the band number is taken, always remembering that a
bird with a band on the right leg is a cock and one with a band on the
left is a hen.

If the method here recommended is followed, the pigeon-keeper will be
able to know just what each pair of birds is doing and keep a pedigree
of every bird in his flock by a simple method of bookkeeping as follows:

When the squabs that are to be kept as breeders are being banded the
band numbers of the parent birds should be taken and set down in this
way:

  Squab numbers       Parent numbers

  Cock 111                84-67
  Hen 112                 84-67

In making this record the number under the head "Parent numbers" is
always set down in the same way, the name of the father first and the
mother next.

It is but very little trouble to keep such records and the value of them
is very great, for the pigeon-keeper can refer to his records at any
time and find how any bird that was hatched in his lofts has been bred.

This enables him to select the best producers and feeders and improve
his stock all the time, selling off its inferior ones and keeping up a
high standard, which will in time give him a reputation for squabs or
breeding stock that will be valuable to him, as he will get higher
prices than he could get for ordinary stock.

On a large plant this method means an endless amount of bookkeeping work
so it has not been attempted. The largest breeders do not bother to band
their birds or keep a record of squab production for each individual
pair but usually have a pen of select breeders that have proven their
worth and from these are raised the new breeders to replenish or
increase the flocks.

When a bird dies out of the working flock it is dissected to determine
the sex and another of the same sex is placed in the fly to mate with
the odd bird. These two soon get together and the fly is once more
filled with mated, contented workers.



CHAPTER VI

MAKING A MARKET--PREPARING SQUABS FOR MARKET


We make one of the sub-heads of this chapter, "Making a Market,"
although the market for squabs is already established, and the demand
for them in the larger cities is constantly increasing.

Notwithstanding this, the enterprising squab-breeder will make his own
market and get better prices than he can get if he sends his squabs to
the larger cities.

In the beginning he may be obliged to ship to the cities, but he can
build up a home trade among those who like to have the best the market
affords and by degrees his home demand will grow until he will find a
ready sale nearby and will be saved freight and commission charges as
well as the cost and trouble of packing and icing for the longer
shipments.

We know of numerous cases where squab-breeders have built up a home
demand which takes all the squabs and brings them high prices the year
around.

Very often the enterprising beginner will turn his attention to raising
squabs to sell to others for breeding purposes, and finds this very
profitable, although a good market for squabs is about the same as a
good demand for breeding stock. Other squab breeders arrange to sell
their young stock to those who do breed pigeons to sell as breeding
stock and thus have a regular and constant demand for their young birds.

All these ways of disposing of the increase of the loft are open to the
beginner, but the food market is the one that should be cultivated. We
know of a case where a beginner started in with a view of selling
breeding stock only, as he thought he was not so located that he would
have any demand for his squabs in the handiest market, a small interior
city, where squabs had never been put on sale.

After he got started he found that he could sell a few pairs of squabs
to one or two restaurants and the best hotel in the town. He began
supplying orders from these places and others began to call on him for
squabs for special occasions, such as local banquets, receptions and
other social functions.

He started with fifty pairs of breeders. He selected his best squabs to
keep for the purpose of increasing his flock and sold the others in his
nearest market.

At the end of a year he had saved another fifty pairs for breeding and
found he had sold squabs enough to pay for a new house and all of the
feed he had bought during this time.

Then he concluded to begin advertising squabs for sale as breeders. He
received quite a number of orders, but the demand for squabs for the
market became so strong that he gave up the breeding part of the
business and began to sell in the market only. At last so many were sold
in the town that a prominent provision firm came to him and made him a
flat offer of $4.00 a dozen for all the squabs he would raise. He
refused this offer, as he was getting more than this for a good many of
his squabs and did not think he could afford to make a binding contract
on a market where the price was increasing all the time. This same
breeder now has a thousand pairs of breeding pigeons and hires a man to
take care of them, while he attends to his own business, and makes about
$1,000.00 clear money from his pigeons every year.

Another way to build up a private trade is to introduce nicely dressed
squabs among the wealthiest families of a town. This can be done by
presenting them with two or three pairs, nicely put up in a box, and
asking them to try them. One breeder who started out in this way now
sells all his squabs at $1.00 a pair. He dresses them neatly, puts a
pair in a nice white box with a colored bit of "baby ribbon." He has a
demand for all he can get at $1 a pair, although he lives near a large
city where the price is often lower than this.

The enterprising squab breeder will be able to find a market for the
product of his loft, no matter where he lives. The express companies
carry squabs at the regular dressed-poultry rates, and in many places
there are fast freight lines which take butter and eggs to distant
markets in the shortest possible time.

The Parcel Post now brings a large field of customers right to your
door, for dressed squabs may be sent many miles for a few cents and the
package will be promptly delivered in good order to your customer. This
new branch of the Postal service opens up greater possibilities for the
squab producer and the live breeder who first takes advantage of this
service will reap the rewards.

Squabs properly packed may be sent 1,000 miles to market and yet be
profitable, but there is hardly a place in this country where a good
market can not be found within 200 or 300 miles, and even a thousand
miles is not a long distance for an express train.

The trouble will not be so much where to find a market as how to produce
squabs enough, once the breeder has been in the business long enough to
make a name for himself.

If any breeder sends squabs of good size and color and keeps up the
quality regularly, it will not be long before there will be a call for
his particular brand of squabs, and after that it will be a question of
meeting the demand, for this will grow all the time.


DRESSING AND PACKING SQUABS

Squabs are usually ready to send to the market when four weeks old. Some
well-fed ones, or those bred from the best parents, will come to market
condition a few days earlier and some a few days later. As a rule, it
will be about four weeks from the time they are hatched until they are
ready to send to market.

They should be dressed just about the time they are ready to leave the
nest, for they are heavier and fatter at that time than they ever will
be again.

They should be dressed at the time all the pin feathers are out. They
then have a solid feeling about the abdomen and the breast is plump and
full. It is very easy to learn the exact time that squabs should be sent
to market, and anyone can learn it at once.

Go over the nests in the evening and select the squabs which are to be
dressed the next day. These should be put in a coop by themselves, where
they can not get anything to eat, so their crops will be empty when they
are dressed. If they are sent to market with full crops, the contents of
the crop will sour and ferment and spoil the squabs for food purposes in
a short time. When dressed with the crops empty and properly iced in
warm weather, they will remain fresh until they can be sold in the
market.

A "killing rack" should be made before dressing begins. This consists of
a frame not quite shoulder high, a 2x4 scantling making a good
cross-piece for the top. In the side of this cross-piece drive ten-penny
nails about six inches apart, leaving half the length of the nail
protruding.

  [Illustration: Fig. 11. Showing the Arrangement of a Small Plant on a
  Back Lot.]

Make a loop of stout cord, looping it over both feet of the squab, and
by this string hang it on one of the nails. Then cross the wings over
the back in such a way that they are locked. This prevents fluttering
and is painless. To lock the wings, turn the pigeon with the back to you
and cross the hands. Then take a wing in each hand and pass one under
the other in such a position that the "elbows" lock together.

With the small blade of a pen-knife in the right hand take the head of
the squab in the left hand in such a way that the thumb and forefinger
may be used to hold the mouth open. If held in the right way, the
shoulders of the birds will be in the palm of the hand.

Run the blade of the knife up through the top of the mouth into the
brain and immediately pass to another squab, letting the one just killed
bleed, as it is necessary for the bird to be free from blood to prevent
red spots from appearing along its back after it has been killed a few
hours. These red spots are called "blisters" and injure the selling
qualities of a squab which shows them.

After the birds are thoroughly bled, carefully pick the feathers from
them, being careful not to tear the skin in any place, as this also
lowers the value in the market.

The English method of killing is rapidly gaining in favor in this
country and is superior in many ways to the use of the knife. By this
method the operator grasps the bird firmly in the left hand with the
thumb and fingers about the neck and the breast and wing, butts held
securely in the hand. The bird's head is caught in the right hand with
the thumb over and at the back of the head and the first and second
fingers at the throat. Then with a firm pull, the neck is dislocated and
the jugular vein is ruptured so the bird is killed instantly and
thoroughly bled, all of the blood however remaining inside the skin of
the neck.

A little practice will enable anyone to learn this method and it is much
faster, neater and cleaner than the old method.

When a squab is plucked clean, throw it into a tub of water from a
spring or well from thirty minutes to an hour. Then it should be thrown
into a tub of ice-cold water to further cool and solidify the flesh, for
all the animal heat must be chilled out before a squab is packed or it
will not keep well, arriving in the market soft and unattractive in
appearance.

Be very careful to have the second chilling water almost cold enough to
freeze the birds. In cold weather they soon cool out in water which has
been exposed to the air, but at any time in the year first cool them in
well or spring water of normal temperature.

After the squabs are picked and cooled, pack them in ice in barrels or
boxes. We prefer rather small boxes, say about the size of soap-boxes,
but many thousand pairs are sent to market in clean barrels. Empty apple
barrels or cracker barrels may be used.

In the bottom of the packet put a good layer of cracked ice. A good many
times the ice is not cracked as small as it should be. It should be
broken into pieces about the size of a hickory nut, so the pieces will
work down through the space between the birds. After the bottom is
covered with ice, put in a layer of squabs, pack down and so the
carcasses are closely packed but not squeezed together. Over these put
another layer of ice and again a layer of birds until within two or
three inches of the top. Fill the remaining space with cracked ice and
fasten the package.

Be liberal about using ice, for it is necessary that the birds should be
kept cool and the express companies make allowance for the weight of the
ice in weighing squabs packed this way.

If any grain has been found in the crop of a squab as it is being
dressed, it should be removed. Cut a very small slit in the breast over
the crop and wash out the grain. A small hose with light pressure from a
tank or water system is very handy for this purpose.

Before packing the birds, carefully wash all the blood from them and
wash the feet and legs until they are bright and red.

If there is a shade of difference in the quality of squabs, select the
best for the top of the package and take pains that the top layer is
very carefully laid in so that it will look nice when the package is
opened.

If there happens to be a number of dark-fleshed or rather light-weight
squabs in a killing, these should be packed by themselves and sent on in
anticipation of receiving a low price for them. Nothing is gained by
putting some poor squabs among a number of good ones, for they will
reduce the price of the whole package. If fine ones are put by
themselves and marked "Firsts" and the poorer ones sent without any
particular mark the prices obtained for the whole shipment will be
larger than it would have been if good and poor had been packed
together.

It is best to kill on a certain day in the week, the day depending on
the distance to market. In South Jersey they kill on Monday or Tuesday
and send the squabs to New York and usually get a check for them by
Saturday. Some kill Thursday in order to catch the Saturday markets, but
as a rule it is best to reach the market Friday morning, so as to give
the commission merchant two days in which to sell the birds. Often an
early shipment gets the best price.

At the same time the squabs are sent to market, mail a letter to the
commission man, advising him of the number of birds you sent to him and
by what express company or freight line. Give him any particulars which
may help him to make a good sale, if you think of anything that might
interest him.

In the eastern market squabs are graded by weight and quality. They are
called 10-pound, 9-pound, 8-pound, 7-pound and 6-1/2 pound, and the prices
range accordingly. When 10-pound squabs are worth $6.00 a dozen, those
weighing 6-1/2 pounds will sell for from $1.50 to $2.75 a dozen, according
to the state of the market, the high-priced ones always selling first,
unless a buyer has a special reason for securing a lot of light-weights.

When breeding straight Homers, one can reasonably expect 80 or 90 per
cent which will run 8 pounds or over to the dozen. About two-thirds of
the remainder will run close to 8 pounds to the dozen and one-third will
be classed among the lowest quality.

When 10-pound squabs are selling for $6 a dozen, a lot weighing more
than 10 pounds to the dozen will bring a premium of from 50 cents a
dozen up; but as a rule the most profitable squabs are the 8- and
10-pounders.

In picking squabs, some leave them hanging where they are killed, while
others take them in the hand. The weight of practice is in favor of
holding them in the hand.


NUMBERS OF SQUABS TO THE PAIR

Some enthusiastic or dishonest sellers of breeding pigeons talk about
their birds producing nine or ten pairs of squabs each year. There are
occasional pairs of very select birds which will do this, but they
cannot be bought at any reasonable price. No pair of birds will raise
two squabs every time they hatch, for accidents will happen, and one
squab or both, in some brooding periods, will die. Occasionally an egg
will be broken, and once in a while an egg will prove infertile. These
accidents, which happen in the best cared-for lofts, come to every
pigeon-breeder.

If a large loft of pigeons average six pairs of pigeons a year, it will
do as much as can be expected of it. More will fall below that than run
above it, because there are more careless pigeon-breeders than careful
ones.

Say, for the sake of a basis from which to arrange, that a loft of a
good strain of Homers, properly housed and fed, will produce an average
of six pairs of squabs each year. As pigeons breed ten months in the
year, this average should be easily made. This would be an even dozen
squabs for each pair of pigeons in the loft. These we will put at the
very low price of $3 a dozen, a price they will bring in a country town
of any size, and we have $3 as the gross returns from a pair of fair
breeding Homers.

Deducting from this the highest estimated prices for the feed of a pair
of pigeons, we have $1.75 left. This will be the returns from which the
pigeon-breeder must get his profits. The manure will pay well for the
labor of feeding the birds, so this item is eliminated from the bill of
cost.

It will not cost more than 25 cents per pair to pay for the other labor
of caring for a loft of pigeons where any number above 100 pairs are
kept. The owner of such a loft could do all the work before working
hours in the morning and after hours in the evening so the birds would
not interfere with his regular work.

The cost of ice, the cost of killing and picking the birds, and the cost
of packages may be put at 25 cents a dozen, which is a very liberal
estimate. This leaves $1.25 clear profit, after paying all expenses and
paying the owner for the time he puts in feeding his birds, this work
having been done when he would otherwise have been idle or not earning
money.

Say, it cost $1.00 for each pair of birds kept in a house and the birds
costs $2.50 a pair. The interest on this investment at 6 per cent a year
would be 21 cents, thus leaving $1.04 as absolutely net profit from a
pair of pigeons in a year, after paying all expenses at a liberal rate
and paying good interest on the investment.

There is no other business open to those who have a small capital which
will give such large returns. For every 100 pairs of pigeons kept, it is
perfectly safe to say that a clean and clear profit of $100 may be made.
Where a large number are kept, it is not uncommon for the owner to
realize $1.50 net profit from a pair of Homers.

The one who begins with ten, twenty-five, or fifty pairs of birds will
get proportionate returns from his investment in the way of increased
number in his flock and will soon be in position to consider himself an
extensive pigeon-breeder, because he may expect to have at least four
pairs of first-class breeders from each pair he started with at the
beginning of any year, having kept only the best and sold the poorest of
the squabs. These estimates are very conservative for it is our
intention in this book to give the beginner only the facts on which he
may rely. If he fails to do much better than these figures after some
experience in the business, he may well feel that he is not gaining the
fullest measure of success.

The business is only in its infancy and those who start in now or any
time soon may expect to reap a rich reward in the way of profits.

  [Illustration: A Flock of Mammoth White Homers in far off Alaska.]

The illustrations on this page and succeeding pages show the rapid
development of squabs from the egg to the market in four weeks.

  [Illustration: Eggs in the Nest.]

  [Illustration: Squabs One Day Old.]

You Can Almost See Them Grow

  [Illustration: Squabs One Week Old.]

  [Illustration: Squabs Two Weeks Old.]

  [Illustration: Squabs Three Weeks Old.]

  [Illustration: Squabs Four Weeks Old. Just Prime for Market.]



CHAPTER VII

DISEASES OF PIGEONS


The very best way to escape trouble from diseases among pigeons is to
prevent them by always keeping the lofts and flies in first-class
condition. Carelessness is the worst disease that affects pigeons, and
this is always manifest in the owner before it has any effect on the
birds.

If the lofts are kept clean, the feed supplied is sound and sweet, the
water pure and the feeding regular, the birds themselves will not often
be troubled with diseases of any kind.

However, with all possible care, diseases will appear at times, and it
is well to know what to do to prevent them from spreading and causing
serious loss.

Epidemic diseases will never appear in a flock which has been properly
cared for, unless they are brought in through putting newly purchased
birds among the healthy ones.

It is just as well to use caution when introducing new birds even if
there is not the least suspicion that they are not perfectly healthy.

When new stock is bought it should be kept by itself for a week to
determine if it is free from disease. Not once in a hundred times will
birds bought of a reliable breeder be found unhealthy, but prevention is
better than cure any time, so precautions should be taken. In such cases
it is much better to be over cautious than to have losses occur through
lack of precaution.


GOING LIGHT

"Going Light" is the common name for tuberculosis in pigeons. It is
brought on by drinking impure water, eating unsound feed, lack of good
supply of grit, or from natural lack of vitality. This disease never
attacks healthy and vigorous birds, but takes for its victims those
which have become weak from any reason. If it is not taken in hand at
once, the bird wastes away and becomes nothing but "skin and bones" and
dies. The first symptoms are usually diarrhoea, the droppings being thin
and watery. The bird does not eat, but sits around with its head drawn
down and really starves to death because it has no appetite to eat.

If a bird which has started to go light, is taken in hand at once it is
very often possible to save it for future usefulness. Give it a dose of
castor oil, giving about five or six drops. Put in a coop by itself and
the next day give it ten drops of cod liver oil. Repeat the dose of cod
liver oil every day until the bird is cured. Give it hempseed every day
and be very certain the seed is sound and free from mustiness. A good
health grit or tonic is the best preventive to be used.


CANKER

Canker is a disease of the same nature as diphtheria in human beings. It
appears occasionally in lofts where it never before has been found, and
seems to be contracted from germs which float in the air. It often
attacks the birds in one nest and not the one next to it, although if it
is not taken in hand it will soon spread to all the birds in the loft.

It no doubt comes from a cold very often and for that reason birds which
show symptoms of having caught cold should be carefully watched. The
first appearance of this disease shows in little yellowish white
blisters on the lining or mucous membrane of the mouth and throat. These
rapidly increase in size and spread to other parts of the throat and
form a cheesy growth until they show outside around the mouth, and the
bird chokes to death.

When canker appears in a squab only and the parent bird shows no sign of
it, the best thing to do is to kill the squab, disinfect the loft and
stay the disease in this way. It may be cured by using a little
patience, unless it has gone too far before it is discovered.

Remove the sick bird from the loft and keep it in some place not
adjacent to the pigeon house. Take a small sharp splinter of wood, such
as sharpened match, and scrape the cankers off, doing this as gently as
possible. This will leave a raw red spot, which should be gently swabbed
with a solution of peroxide of hydrogen and water, half and half. The
solution will foam as if it were boiling, but it is entirely painless
and does not hurt the bird in the least. Repeat the swabbing, putting on
plenty of the solution, until it ceases to foam. It does not matter if a
little of the solution goes down the throat of the bird, as it is
perfectly harmless when swallowed by man, beast or bird, and it is the
best germicide known, being non-poisonous and odorless.

Some good authorities recommend painting the cankers with lemon juice
and putting a piece of alum in the drinking water, but we prefer the
peroxide of hydrogen treatment. Do not return a bird to the loft until
it is entirely well, and always disinfect the loft when a case of canker
is found in it. Directions for disinfecting are given further on in this
chapter.

If the disease does not respond quickly to treatment, it is sometimes
best to turn the affected birds out of the fly and let them shift for
themselves without restraint. The open air and scanty supply of food
together with whatever they are able to find of nature's remedies will
effect a cure in nearly every case. Sometimes a bird will leave and
never return but just as well this loss as to kill the bird, or have
others in the fly affected. By this method I have often cured young
birds just beginning to shift for themselves and older breeders in the
last stages of Canker and when the bird is entirely recovered from the
disease it may easily be caught and returned to the loft without
endangering the rest.


ROUP

Roup sometimes appears in a loft, especially during damp weather or when
the birds have not had proper housing. It is shown by the discharge from
the nostrils, which has a very offensive odor. It is highly contagious
in its later stages, and if not cured before it takes on the contagious
form is incurable. When a bird has reached the last stages it should be
killed and burned or buried far from the loft.

If a bird is noticed to have a discharge from the nostrils it should be
attended to at once as the disease is very easy to cure at that time.
Put some coal oil in a sewing machine can and squirt some of the oil up
each nostril and in the slit in the top of the mouth. This usually
effects a cure, but if it is not better in a few hours use camphorated
oil in the same way. Any druggist will supply the camphorated oil.


CHOLERA

Cholera is a dreadful disease to contend with, but no pigeon-breeder who
keeps his birds properly need fear it, as it is caused by cold, dampness
and filth in nine cases out of ten. It is very contagious and it is very
hard to cure. Happily, the disease does not worry the careful breeder,
but once it gets started in a loft it may kill off every bird in it
unless vigorous measures are taken to stop its progress.

When a bird is attacked with cholera it presents a very miserable
appearance. Its plumage is ruffled up, its crop fills with water which
has a very offensive odor, and diarrhoea appears. The disease runs its
course rapidly and soon the victim is dead.

To stop the progress of cholera in a loft, put ten drops of carbolic
acid in a gallon of drinking water for two days. Feed only the very best
feed. Follow the carbolic acid by putting a tablespoonful of tincture of
gentian in each gallon of drinking water for ten days. Disinfect the
house thoroughly twice a week until the disease disappears.


VERTIGO

Vertigo is a brain affection which is incurable, although it does not
usually kill quickly. It is characterized by turning the head over the
shoulder and convulsions. These convulsions often occur when anyone
enters the loft, while at other times the bird is quiet. There is no
cure and it is best to kill the bird to put it out of its misery, as it
will never again be of any use as a breeder.


EGG-BOUND

Young hens are often affected by becoming egg-bound; that is; they are
unable to force the passage of the egg from the ovary to the nest.

When a hen shows signs of distress, catch her and carefully feel of her
abdomen. If she is egg-bound, the egg can be felt. Anoint the passage
with vaseline and introduce the finger as far as possible, being careful
not to break the egg. Then hold the hen over steam as hot as can be
borne without scalding, until the parts are thoroughly steamed and
relaxed. After this, carefully put the hen on the nest and usually she
will be able to pass the egg.


PIGEON POX

Sometimes a disease similar to small pox in human beings and chicken-pox
in poultry appears in a loft. This is known by small sores which appear
about the head and face.

When this disease appears, wash the sores with a solution of copper
sulphate or a solution of peroxide of hydrogen and water, equal parts.
Either of these solutions will cure the disease in a short time.


SUDDEN COLDS

Sometimes a pigeon will sit out in a cold rain or sleep in a stray draft
and catch cold. This makes it sick and stupid, and it should be cared
for at once.

To cure a cold of this kind, give five-drops of castor oil and the next
day a one grain capsule of quinine. Follow this with ten drop doses of
cod liver oil for a few days and the bird will soon be as lively as
ever.


LEG WEAKNESS

Leg weakness is usually caused by inbreeding or an accidental weakness.
There is no certain cure for it, because we never know just what has
caused the trouble. If a bird seems weak in the legs rub some
camphorated oil on the hock joint and repeat the operation as long as
necessary. The short-legged varieties like the Homer very seldom have
any trouble with their legs.


WING DISEASE

Wing disease is a trouble of the "elbow." It is caused by a hurt, and
the injured bird becomes lame in the wing. Presently a lump forms on the
elbow and this increases in size, filling with a yellowish cheesy
matter, causing the bird to drag the wing.

The only thing to do is to run camphorated oil on the injured spot, and
when the swelling has reached full size cut it open. Usually the bird is
not injured as a breeder, but it must make its nest on the floor, as it
can not fly. If the disease is noticed at the very start, it sometimes
may be cured; but if the trouble is neglected, a crippled bird is the
result. For the sake of the appearance of the flock such birds should
not be allowed to remain in the loft. If your windows or openings from
the loft to the fly are good size there is little danger of this trouble
for it is usually caused by the bird striking the wing in its rush to
get outside. Birds that are wild or too often disturbed are more liable
to this trouble.


WORMS

Worms sometimes bother pigeons. If a bird has a varying appetite and
seems to be running down, watch its droppings and it is likely that
worms may be found in them. If the worms are not found, it is not
conclusive evidence that they are not sapping the vitality of the bird
and it should be treated.

A bit of garlic every morning will usually cure the disease. The piece
of garlic should be about the size of a pea. A pill of powdered areca
nut mixed with butter is also an effective remedy, or a pill as large as
a small pea of gum aloes will kill the worms. Give any one of these
remedies and expect a cure. Give the remedy before the bird has eaten in
the morning.


LICE

Lice are not a disease, but they can do more damage than any disease. If
they once get a start in the pigeon loft, it requires heroic treatment
to get them subdued. If attention is paid to cleanliness, old nests
taken out and burned as soon as they are empty, insect powder sprinkled
in the nest boxes and tobacco stems are used for nesting material, lice
will never get a foothold in the loft. If it should happen that lice get
a start, take the birds out of the loft and clean it thoroughly. Then
paint the walls and nest boxes with kerosene and afterward whitewash
every part of the inside with lime.


DISINFECTANTS

Any druggist will supply a good disinfectant and give direction how to
mix it for use. This should be sprinkled about the floor once in two or
three weeks, and always mixed with the whitewash which is used on the
loft. A mild disinfectant should be sprinkled on the floor at least once
a week, and twice a week is better. Go quietly into the loft and gently
sprinkle the solution on the floor, but not on the nests, as this
frightens the birds. Keep the air of the lofts always smelling sweet and
pure and there will be no trouble with disease.


DOUGLAS MIXTURE

Douglas Mixture is an old-time tonic, much esteemed by a good many
breeders of pigeons and poultry. It is made by dissolving eight ounces
of iron sulphate (copperas) in two gallons of water and then very slowly
adding one ounce of sulphuric acid. Put in jugs and it will keep
indefinitely. If a tablespoon of this is put in the drinking water
occasionally, it will act as a tonic and make the blood richer. It is
especially recommended for use during the molting season.


GENTIAN AS A TONIC

Compound tincture of gentian is highly recommended as a tonic for
pigeons. If the birds seem out of condition, a tea-spoonful of this in
the drinking water will tone them up and give them good appetites again.
When the birds are molting during the months of September, October and
November, a tablespoonful of compound extract of gentian in the drinking
water every Sunday morning will keep the birds in condition, but this
should not be used if the Douglas Mixture is used as a tonic.


SWEET FERN TEA

For looseness of the bowels, sweet fern tea has been found a very good
remedy. Looseness of the bowels occurs from feeding too much wheat that
has not been well dried. It also comes from impure water or unsound feed
of any kind. To cure it a good handful of the leaves is put into three
gallons of water and boiled down to one-half. Put a teacupful of this in
two gallons of drinking water.


NUX VOMICA

Some breeders recommend nux vomica very highly as a tonic, and we
mention it so those who follow the directions in this book may have
their choice. Sixty drops of the tincture of nux vomica is put in two
gallons of the drinking water twice a week, during the molting season.
At other times in the year it is given when the flock seems to lack
liveliness or to be droopy for any reason.

The tincture of nux vomica is about the easiest of all the tonics to
use, as enough for a year can be kept in a small bottle and put into the
water without trouble at any time it is needed.


THE MEDICINE CHEST

Every pigeon-breeder should have a small box in which to keep a supply
of the medicines which may be needed. This box should contain a pot of
carbolated vaseline to be used on cuts or bruises, as in wing trouble.
There should be a four-ounce bottle of peroxide of hydrogen, a small
bottle of camphorated oil, an ounce or two of carbolic acid, a few
quinine capsules, a bottle of cod liver oil and a bottle filled with
kerosene. There should also be a medicine dropper, such as is used to
fill fountain pens, and a small sewing machine oil can to use in cases
of roup. Such a medicine chest will come handy many times a year.

Don't get into the habit of dosing your birds for every imaginary
trouble. If pigeons are given a dry, light house, good sound grain,
plenty of grit, salt, charcoal and perfectly pure water to drink, with
good facilities for bathing, there will be little call for use of
medicines. Only doctor sick birds when necessary, and then take them out
of the loft and keep them out until they are well. The careful
pigeon-breeder will always learn to know his birds by sight and will
notice any symptoms of disease as soon as they appear. Once any disease
is noticed, apply the remedy at once without giving the ailment
opportunity to become chronic.

If the directions given in this book are followed, the pigeon-breeder,
although he may start without practical knowledge of the business, will
be able to carry his birds along in good health and promote
productiveness in such a manner that he may anticipate the best results
from his work.

  [Illustration]



CHAPTER VIII

MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION--CATCHING MATED PAIRS


When it is desired to catch mated pairs, take the catching net into the
fly with you. Drive all the pigeons out in the fly and shut them out of
the house. Then take another person with you and go into the fly. Watch
until a cock begins to drive a hen and trap him in the net, while your
helper watches the hen. Take the cock out of the net and hand it to your
helper, who will catch the hen. Then band the two, putting the band on
the right leg of the cock and on the left leg of the hen. If squabs are
banded in the nest, nearly all of them will be found banded correctly if
the band has been put on the right leg of the squab first hatched and on
the left leg of the one hatched later.


STARTING A LOFT

Buy from ten to fifty mated pairs, according to the amount with which
you decide to begin. Keep all the best squabs hatched during the year,
so cross-mating them as not to have nest mates mated up for breeding.
Dispose of all under-sized squabs, and when the birds have grown up sell
all those which prove inferior. In this way you will learn to manage
your loft and get your breeding stock at the lowest possible cost.


THE PRICE OF BREEDING STOCK

It does not pay to start with poor breeding stock. Buy of a reliable
breeder and pay a fair price. No one can afford to sell first-class
breeding stock except in certain seasons at less than $1.50 a pair in
large numbers or less than $2.00 a pair when from ten to twenty-five
pairs are sold in a lot. It is poor economy to buy common pigeons as
squab-breeders at any price and just as bad management to buy cheap
Homers and run the risk of getting old and worn out birds.


BEST WEIGHT FOR SQUABS

Squabs that weigh less than eight pounds to the dozen are not desirable,
as they sell at a price which drops rapidly as they run below eight
pounds to the dozen. It costs just as much to raise a dark-fleshed and
light-weight squab as it does to raise a big plump bird with white
flesh; and a pair of pigeons which produce dark squabs of light weights
should be disposed of. Select all the time for heavy weights in your
squabs and get the top of the market.


LENGTH OF BREEDING PERIOD

Pigeons will breed regularly for seven or eight years, so it is to the
interest of the breeders to keep only the best in his lofts. The good
breeder watches what kind of squabs each pair produces and keeps
selecting the best from time to time until he has a loft full which may
be depended upon.


DON'T OVERCROWD

Don't overcrowd your lofts. It is better to waste a little room than to
have too many birds together. Give each fifty pairs a room eight by ten
feet and a fly at least ten by twenty-four feet.


SQUAB HOMERS

Health and vigor are the foundation on which success must be built. The
well-bred squab Homer carries its head erect, its plumage is smooth and
sleek, and its neck carries the colors of the rain-bow. When it stands
still, it seems on wires and when you go in to your loft in the morning
and look over the flock any bird which does not in turn give you a
looking over is not fit for a breeder. The eye is the index of health of
pigeons. If the eye is dull or the bird sits winking in a listless
manner, there is something wrong about it. Sickly birds shun society and
mope in dark corners. The droppings should be noticed. If the birds are
healthy, there should be a fair proportion of pure white in them, and
they should be rather firm. The squab Homer in health is a beautiful
bird, alive every moment and noticing keenly everything that passes.


INCREASING PRICES

Squabs have constantly increased in price in the larger markets for
several years, and hundreds of new towns have come in with a call for
good squabs. Everyone who begins to raise squabs for the market makes
the demand for them larger. There is no danger of overdoing the business
and it will continue to grow larger as game birds decrease in numbers.
Many restaurants now serve squab when there is an order for quail on
toast, and those who like good things usually go back and want some more
of that same kind of "quail." Good restaurants now keep squabs on hand
and put them on their tables under their proper name, having learned
that it pays to do so.


THE SOUTH JERSEY SQUAB DISTRICT

The great business of raising squabs which is carried on in South Jersey
started with one man and has spread out until almost every one in the
country for miles around Bridgeton keeps pigeons and sells squabs. About
7,000 squabs are sent out of this district every week, equal to 365,000
in a year, and there is never a time but these squabs sell as soon as
they reach the market at prices which make it very profitable to produce
them. Men, women and children raise squabs in this district, nearly
every one of them being sold in New York City.


THE PROFESSION OF SQUAB BREEDING

Only a few years ago the man who spent his time breeding pigeons was
thought to be engaged in a small business. Now it has become a
profession and is followed by all sorts of men as a profitable way of
putting in spare time. The professional man raises squabs as a
diversion, the clerk or shop operative keeps a loft to help out on his
income, young men pay their way through college on the profits of the
squab business, old men who have got beyond the harder work of life make
a good living from squabs; and still the insistent food markets call for
more squabs at better prices. There is no risk in going into the squab
business, if the birds are properly cared for.


REGULARITY

Have a certain time to do all the work and work to the schedule you have
prepared. Clean the house on a certain day in the week, kill the squabs
on the day which best suits your market. Feed as nearly at the same time
every day as possible, for the birds soon learn to know when feeding
time comes, and the squabs even learn to know when to look for the
parents to feed them. Keep everything going like clock work, and the
work will be properly done and the birds thrive better for the regular
habits they learn.


GO QUIETLY

There will always be a number of birds sitting, others will be feeding
the young, and quick motions or loud noises disturb them and cause them
to stop feeding or to leave their nests. Keep the birds tame by going
among them but go quietly.


THE BEST AGE

A pair of pigeons begin to breed at about six months of age, but young
birds are not very profitable as breeders. After they are one year old
they are in full working condition and for the next seven or eight years
may be depended on to produce regularly, if they are the right kind of
stock.


DON'T KILL TOO YOUNG

Do not kill your squabs too young. They should be killed just before
they are ready to leave the nest, but not before their flesh has become
firm and solid. A squab which is killed too young never brings a good
price, as the buyers in the cities know one immediately they have felt
of it, and a few squabs which have been killed too soon decrease the
price of the whole package. Remember that the price paid for squabs in a
given package is made on the basis of all of them being as poor as the
poorest in the package.


MICE IN NESTS

If you find some of your squabs smashed flat in the nests, look out for
mice. These little pests like to nest with a pair of pigeons, and
particularly in cold weather have a fashion of crawling between the
parent bird and the squab. This causes the parent to move about and kill
the young. To kill the mice, take a large cigar box--or any box of about
that size--and cut a small hole in one end. Put under this box a
mouse-trap baited with bits of toasted cheese and on top of the box put
a heavy weight so the pigeons can not get at the trap. Set a few traps
around the feed bin also, and it will not be long until the last mouse
is caught, as they like cheese better than the grain which has brought
them to the pigeon house at first. A good cat kept around the feed room
is often a good investment, but do not forget that a cat likes squabs
very much and must be carefully kept outside the breeding lofts.


FEED A VARIETY

In the proper place we have given directions for mixing feed. We refer
to it in this place to emphasize the necessity of feeding a variety of
grains and the mixtures we recommend on previous pages will be found
such as will produce results. Never feed one grain for the reason that
it is cheaper than the other. It does not pay to economize in this way.
True economy in feeding is to feed the proper kinds and just as much as
the birds will eat without wasting. They always pick out the kind they
like the best first, but they should be compelled to eat the whole of
the feed each time and should be fed just as much as they will clean up
from one feeding to another.


VENTILATION

Most pigeon-breeders keep their houses closed too tight during the
winter. If cloth is used in the windows instead of glass, there will be
good ventilation all the time as the muslin used for the windows allows
the air to get in and keeps it pure inside; but where glass is used, the
fly holes should be left open nearly every night during the winter or
the air will become so impure that it will be likely to breed disease.
Pigeons when they are not breeding, do not mind cold weather, but
breeding birds should have a tight house on account of the squabs. See
to it that the ventilation is attended to.


TESTING PIGEON EGGS

If you want to know whether an egg is going to hatch after the hen has
been sitting for some time look through it, if it is clear it will not
hatch and might as well be thrown away. If it is partly clouded, the egg
will hatch but not for several days. If it is dark all over except at
the large end, the young bird will hatch in three or four days, or it
has died. To find if it is alive, put some water in a pan having it as
warm as the hand can be held in it without burning. Set the pan down and
put the egg in the water, little end down and let it float. If the bird
is alive it will struggle in the egg and cause it to bob around in the
water. Testing eggs is not necessary unless it is noticed that a certain
pair have set for a suspiciously long time.


SELECTING A SITE

In selecting a site for the pigeon house as much care and judgment
should be exercised as in choosing the location of one's own home. An
unhealthy location for man would most likely prove unhealthy for the
birds. A damp place, or one exposed to extremes of heat, cold or wind,
is to be rejected. The spot selected should be well drained, should be
facing the south or east, should be free from obstructions which shut
out the rays of the morning sun and be sheltered either by trees or
buildings from the north and west winds. Such a place, with a shallow
stream of pure running water for drinking and bathing--so essential to
the health of pigeons--will be an ideal site, and will require a minimum
of expense and daily work in caring for the stock. Of course, such sites
can only be obtained in the country.

In no case should a house be built for more than 250 pairs nor more than
50 pairs be kept in each section. It must be so designed as to be well
ventilated and easily kept clean, secure from attacks of mice, rats, and
other animals and not subject to drafts of air.

If feeding hoppers are used they should be of good size and properly
constructed. If you do not provide a liberal supply of mixed grit in a
suitable hopper, you should keep at least a peck of clean sharp sand on
the floor of each pen all the time. Provide salt, charcoal and oyster
shell and keep a clean supply of each before the birds at all times.

It is usually better, however, to procure a good health grit or the
tonic ingredients and mix the grit yourself.

In these receptacles should be kept a generous supply of sifted cracked
corn, Canada peas, wheat, German millet, kaffir corn and hemp. These are
the six principal feeds.

A room 8 by 10 feet will accommodate 50 pairs very comfortably. The fly
should be extended 32 feet if possible.

Pigeons should be fed twice a day--in the summer time at 6:30 a. m., and
4:30 p. m.; in the winter at 7:30 a. m., and 3:00 p. m.

The best kinds of feeds to use are cracked corn, red wheat, kaffir corn,
millet, peas, hemp and rice. In the morning give wheat, cracked corn,
and peas in equal parts; in the afternoon give equal parts of cracked
corn, peas, kaffir corn, and millet. The birds should be fed in the pen
rather than in the fly.

Water the birds every morning before feeding using nothing except fresh
pure water. Always clean out the fountains before filling.

Bathing is very essential to the health of pigeons. In summer they
should have an opportunity to bathe at least every other day. In winter
the bath should be given only on bright, sunny days. It is essential to
clean house every week. After cleaning the nests, put powdered
carbolated lime in all cracks, corners, and damp places. Sprinkle the
floor with lime and sprinkle a bucket of sand evenly over the lime.

  [Illustration: Six Mammoth Homer Squabs weighing full six pounds when
  dressed for the market.]



INDEX


                                                        Page

  Banding,                                                37
  Bathing,                                                22
  Best Breeds,                                            11
  Breeding Habits,                                        26
  Breed for Years,                                        62
  Buckwheat,                                              27
  Buying Stock,                                           11

  Canada Peas,                                            27
  Canary Seed,                                            27
  Carneaux,                                               12
  Canker,                                                 54
  Catching Mated Pairs,                                39-61
  Charcoal,                                               29
  Cholera,                                                55
  Cleanliness,                                            23
  Corn,                                                   26
  Cost of Feeding,                                      9-48
  Common Pigeons,                                         15
  Cooling the Squabs,                                     45

  Diseases,                                               53
  Disinfecting,                                           58
  Douglas Mixture,                                        58
  Dressing and Packing,                                   43
  Dry Lofts,                                              22
  Duchess,                                                12

  Egg Bound,                                              56

  Feeding,                                          26-31-64
  Feed Troughs,                                           31
  Feed Hoppers,                                           32
  Floors,                                                 23
  Fly, How Built,                                         19

  Gentian Tonic,                                          58
  Going Light,                                            53
  Grading for Market,                                  46-47
  Grit,                                                   12
  Growth of Squabs,                                 50-51-52

  Hemp Seed,                                              27
  Homers,                                              11-62
  Houses, Cost,                                           17
  Houses, Plans,                                       24-25

  Increasing the Flock,                                   31

  Kaffir Corn,                                            27
  Killing,                                             45-64
  Killing, English Method,                                45

  Leg Weakness,                                           57
  Lice,                                                   58

  Making a Market,                                        41
  Maltese Hens,                                        12-14
  Mated Pairs,                                            13
  Mice,                                                   64
  Millet Seed,                                            27
  Mondaines,                                           12-30

  Nappies,                                                21
  Nests,                                               21-34
  Nesting Material,                                       21
  Nesting Material, Crate for,                            23
  Number of Squabs,                                       47
  Nux Vomica,                                             59

  Over-crowding,                                          62

  Parcel Post,                                            42
  Peanuts,                                                26
  Pox,                                                    56
  Prices Increasing,                                      62
  Prices of Breeders,                                     61
  Profits,                                                61
  Profession of Squabbing,                                63


  Quiet,                                                  63

  Record of Breeding,                                     40
  Regularity,                                             63
  Roup,                                                   55
  Runts,                                                  12

  Salt,                                                   29
  Sanitation,                                             22
  Sex, How Determined,                                    35
  Site for Plant,                                         65
  Sound Grain,                                            26
  South Jersey District,                                  63
  Starting a Loft,                                        61
  Sweet Fern Tea,                                         59

  Testing Eggs,                                           65

  Ventilation,                                            65
  Vertigo,                                                56

  Water Fountains,                                        22
  Weight of Squabs,                                       61
  Wheat,                                                  26
  Wing Disease,                                           57
  Worms,                                                  57



A. B. MORSE COMPANY, ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN





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