Raising Squab, old fashioned style?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Klorinth, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Klorinth

    Klorinth Songster

    Mar 3, 2008
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    First I must admit that I am totally new to the idea of raising squab. Farm animals and birds, yes. But I didn't know about squab until a few yeas ago.

    As part of my research into old style house and barn construction I kept coming across sketches of these buildings that had holes in upper parts of the walls. Some of them even had little tiny rooms behind these holes. As I continued to research I finally came across an old farm manor plan that explained these. These were nesting holes and rooms for raising of squab. These homes and barns would have a small room or closet that contained the little homes/nest boxes. These nest were designed so that the pigeons could live their lives free in the farm, coming and going. Some had areas for providing feed. The reason for the access from inside was so that the back of the nest boxes could be opened and the squab removed when deemed ready to eat. A nice little source of meat that is mostly self sufficient. Minimal input, maximum output.

    Has anyone here heard of this? Does anyone do anything similar? I have watched the pigeons living in or around farms here on the prairies. It seems to me that these old farmers had a good idea going.

    Does this sound like a reasonable thing to attempt? Or am I completely out to lunch yet again?? Wouldn't be the first time...
  2. Chic-n-farmer

    Chic-n-farmer Showers of Blessings

    I have pigeons I keep for fun, not food (not that there is anything wrong with that [​IMG]) and I would be interested in seeing your plans.

    BTW Pigeons are very hardy. We had babies hatch a few days before Christmas. I can hardly believe they survived -20 windchills!
  3. Omniskies

    Omniskies Songster

    Mar 7, 2008
    Totally worth attempting. But if you're going to let the pigeons roam free then you'll have to keep predators in mind. Don't buy expensive, large meat birds. The large meat birds are tons better for squab, but you get a whole lot angrier when you find a puff of $20 pigeon feathers on the ground rather than when you find a $3 puff.

    Check out rollers or "barnyard" pigeons. Rollers are fun to watch zipping through the air and are usually pretty cheap for the backyard varieties (if you're paying more than $10 per bird then keep looking [​IMG]. They have the added benefit of having their natural ability to escape birds of prey (ie. dropping and rolling out of the way) exaggerated, which may help them avoid the hawks that _will_ by on your farm that will be protected by wildlife laws [​IMG]

    Barnyard pigeons are just mutts. They're backyard birds that normally sell for $2-3 each (around here). They're going to be small, but they'll still be tasty. The bonus is that you can probably replace your whole flock for $20 if need be.

    If you really dig your pigeons then later on you may want to consider setting up things to deter hawks. There are a bunch of flashy lights and wavy things you can set up that discourage hawks from hanging around. Otherwise the hawk population will continue to grow if you continue to keep it fed.

    Good luck with your pigeons. I'm expanding mine out, though I keep them in a pigeon loft and don't let them fly. We have a very efficient hawk around here and what I raise is impossible to replace around here.
  4. Yes, a very worthwhile trhing to try, Im vegetarian however I have been offered $10 per bird if i ever want to sell any squabs.
    They are a delicacy, ask a European (Italian) person about their experience with Squab.
    I cant bring myself to sell my squabs to anyone for dinner though!!
  5. seedcorn

    seedcorn Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    NE. IN
    If you are raising them for meat, then no cheaper thing to raise except for geese.

    Here in Indiana, get ready for hawks, hawks, and more hawks. I had rollers, had to get rid of them as hawks would strike every time I flew them. Nothing like a losing a competition kit to hawks....

    I'd find some farmer who hates pigeons and start that way.
  6. Klorinth

    Klorinth Songster

    Mar 3, 2008
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    There is actually a wild flock of pigeons that lives around our place. They seem to like the bridge just down the road and use the fields around us for an easy food source.

    Would these be a possible issue for my birds? If I were to let them fly free that is... What is the risk of loosing them to the wild birds? I have heard of this happening every once in a while with other things. I have read posts on here stating that turkeys don't seem to wonder off with the wild ones, so maybe they wont?

    I have to say that I also like the idea of doing this because of the fact that they would be able to fly free. I don't like to confine my animals any more than necessary. I would really like to be able to watch them fly over the farm. They can be a lot of fun to watch when doing mating dances, but flying is great.

    Going along with this idea... Are there any trees, shrubs, grasses, herbs, or anything else that is particularly good for pigeons? I know that seeds and grains are good. But what else?
  7. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Crowing

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Would these be a possible issue for my birds? If I were to let them fly free that is... What is the risk of loosing them to the wild birds? I have heard of this happening every once in a while with other things. I have read posts on here stating that turkeys don't seem to wonder off with the wild ones, so maybe they wont?

    If they were hatched at your place, they will most likely return, and may even bring some wild "visitors" back with them.

    I have a couple of old barns on my place and I think I'll try setting one up as you described in your first post. Wild birds already nest there at times, but I think I could make it more inviting to them by adding some nest boxes.

    Pigeons are opportunists, and if you have birds of your own coming to roost, and food available, it probably wont be long before a few wild ones follow them home. Everyone I know who lets their pigeons fly has had wild ones nest with theirs​
  8. Klorinth

    Klorinth Songster

    Mar 3, 2008
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Bear Foot Farm,

    I was hoping people would say that. From what little I know about pigeons, I figured that they would be fairly home oriented as long as they were raised in my own "aviary". I also wondered about wild birds hanging out. I would be quite willing to adopt some if they wished.

    I am definitely thinking that I will find a way of going ahead with the idea of an open aviary. I may or may not handle the birds like most people here probably do. But i do like the idea of having them.

    I guess my next question is whether or not I could combine a chicken coop with and aviary?? What I am wondering is if I could have two sections. One for chickens and one for pigeons? Would pigeons prefer to have their nesting area up high in a second story? Or would a first floor setup be fine?

    I have seen pictures of peoples setups, and they are all single story buildings. I assume this is for cost and convenience reasons, and because the birds do not just freely fly in and out. Since I am in the design stages of my chicken coop, it would not be all that hard to add another section to it. I could make it a little taller and have a half story on top of the chickens. This would certainly make it more comfortable in the winter. Passive solar heating with prevailing wind protection, assisted ventilation, etc.

    Any thoughts?
  9. Bossroo

    Bossroo Songster

    Jun 15, 2008
    Hawks are not the only predator to wory about. There are cats, racoons, possom, etc. that kill the squabs or tight sitting parent bird in this type of open barn. I love to hunt ! When I lived farther North, I was actually paid to come to several farms to shoot pigeons in the spring and summer. The farmers wanted them gone to save on their safflower, wheat, barley, and tomatoe crops. Some got angry too when flocks of a dozen to around a hundred landed on top of their homes and outbuildings after feeding to rest before takeing off for home in the city. I got .25 -.50 cents per pigeon that I shot and my bonus was the pegeon to eat. For most of these farms, I would do this for free in exchange for hunting rights to their farms for pheasant season. I visited each farm from once a month to a few farms once or twice a year from Feb. to Aug. on weekends and holidays. I got great excersize, fresh air, free meat, and got paid to do it. What more can one ask for.
  10. Teach97

    Teach97 Bantam Addict

    Nov 12, 2008
    Hooker, OK
    if you are just doing it for meat I would not worry about buying birds...trap some from a neighbor or something. It is real easy. No this is not a snipe hunt! Get a bag and a flashlight...shine the light at the birds on their nests and they are basically blinded and scop them up. You can also use a red light on a cap and get them...a long handled fish net helps as well so you don't have to climb. Get them and place them in their new home and close it off for a week or so...they should start coming back...at least some will and realize it is a safe place and such and should start nesting there. Pigeons and chickens do fien with each other...as long as you are free raging the chickens and are not really raising in close confinement (sounds like your goals). I do it with my birds but all of mine are show types. Sounds like a fun and rewarding project.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: