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Full text of "The Robinson method of breeding squabs; a full account of the new methods and secrets of the most successful handler of pigeons in America .."

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Book lEi 
















Two Coi^iES hecEiveo 

JAN. 13 1902 



COPY a. 


This Manual is written to give in brief and plain terms 
the rules by which Dr. J. G. Robinson, of Pembroke, Mass., 
has won his famous success in breeding squabs for market. 
I think everyone interested in profitable breeding stock will 
appreciate an account of the ways and means by which this 
gentleman and his wife have made such marked progress in 
the handling of pigeons. Although somewhat skeptical at 
first, I was shortly forced to believe that in this isolated ham- 
let of Plymouth county (where certainly there are no dis- 
tractions to annoy the patient student), they had quietly 
worked out problems which had been perplexing squab 
breeders for years, and were producing with mathematical 
certainty and regularity a table product so excellent as to 
make their squabs noted all over Boston where good diners 
gathered. By talking with the Boston marketmen who 
handled his product, I had a confirmation of the astonishing 
profit-showing of his books and I prevailed upon the Doctor 
to let the public know of this comparatively new industry, 
and its wonderful possibilities when intelligently pursued, 
and he has co-operated with me in this publication of the 
facts. To make the work careful and thorough, I investi- 

gated his plant for four months, in my leisure time, watching 
every detail, taking notes, and going over in conversation 
with the Doctor and his wife the experiments which had led 
up to his deductions and settled plans. I made a rough draft 
from my data, cut out superfluous words and boiled every- 
thing down, and the following pages are the result. I take 
no credit for ideas of my own, but merely have made obser- 
vations of another's work, checked them for accuracy, and 
written down the result. My intention has been to make 
a simple guide which faithfully followed by even a child with 
some gumption will result in a duplication of Dr. Robinson's 
success anywhere. He has revised the ])roofs and aided in 
the preparation of the illustrations. We hope this little hand- 
book will stimulate those into whose hands it goes to make 
a profitable living for themseb'es and aid in the development 
of this remarkable home industr3\ We welcome new facts 
and new experiences from any source and will take pleasure 
in incorporating them in future issues of this ^lanual. 

Boston, December, 1901. 

















Title. Page. 
































In raising live stock of an}^ kind, arrange matters so the 
animals will look after themselves as much as possible. We 
all know that automatic machinery has cheapened many arti- 
cles formerly dear, and the perfect breeding outfit is auto- 
matic, needing only a supply of feed and water. Aim to cut 
down the factor of personal drudgery, so as to leave your 
time clear to observe and plan, and execute intelligently. 
Beginners who load themselves down with a daily round of 
exacting duties soon lose heart, their patience gives out and 
they become disgusted. W'e have known breeders of rabbits 
to fail simply because they raised them in hutches. Each 
hutch had a door and two dishes, one for feed, the other for 
water. Every day, the door of the hutch had to be opened, 
the hutch cleaned, the dishes refilled (and often cleaned), and 
the door closed. It took 15 or 20 motions to do this for 
each hutch. Multiply this by 20 to 30 (the number of the 
hutches), and the burden grew unbearable. It was not sur- 
i:)rising that in three or four months the breeder's patience 
was worn out. The factor of personal drudgery had become 
greater than the rabbits. The thoughtful breeder would 
have turned his rabbits into two or three enclosures on the 

ground and let them shift for themselves. Then one set of 
motions in feeding would have answered for all, and there 
would have been no dirt to clean up. Infinite patience as 
well as skill is required to make a success of animals given 
individual attention. The aim of every breeder should be 
to make one minute of his time ser\'e the greatest possible 
number of animals. When you think and reason for your- 
self, you understand how much more i^ractical it is to give 
sixty animals one minute of your time than one animal one 
minute. Time is money and if you are too particular, and 
too fussy, and thoughtless about these details, it is a clear 
case of the chances being sixty to one against you. 

At the start, the proljlem of breeding squabs for market 
is in your favor, because one hundred pairs of breeding 
pigeons may be handled as easily and as rapidly as one pair. 
Tr}- to keep this numerical advantage in your favor all the 
time. Discard every plan that cuts down the efficiency of 
your own labor, and ado]>t every device that will give you 
control in the same time o\er a greater number of pigeons. 

It takes brains and skilled labt)r to run a poultry plant 
successfully. Every poidtryman knows that he cannot en- 
trust the regulation of temperatures of incubators and brood- 
ers to an ignorant hired man, but even a boy or girl, or un- 
der-the-average farm hand, knows enough to fill uj) the bath- 
pans and feeding-troughs for squab-breeders, leaving the 
time of the owner free for corres]>ondence and the more 
skillful work of killing aufl shipinng the s(|uabs. 

We found no written or printed advice about squab-breed- 


ing that was of real use. On the contrary, it was a hind- 
rance. The booklets, for instance, gave a warning against 
rats and dampness, i)nt no clear, practical remedy. They 
advised a form of nest-box which experience proved imprac- 
tical on acconnt of the time necessary to keep it clean. They 
advised a nest which turned cut to be wrong. They recom- 
mended feedinsT at stated intervals, which resulted in squabs 
squeaking continually for nourishment. They said nothing 
about cooling the killed squabs. Unless the cooling is done 
properly, the squabs cannot be marketed. And so in almost 
every particular the advice proved to be either misleading, 
or deficient. It was discouraging, but an incentive to 
thought and experiment. Unless the beginner with squabs 
wishes to pass through the evolution of devices and methods 
which we passed through, he will avoid every suggestion 
wiiich has not been demonstrated to be practical. 

The primary object is to breed squabs for market as 
cheaply, as easily and as fast as possible, without the expen- 
diture of a dollar for fanciful or impractical appurtenances. 
The amount of one's capital will settle the question of the 
number of pairs with which to start, whether ten, fifty, one 
hundred or five hundred pairs. When you have fixed upon 
the amount of money you w4sh to expend for breeders, lay 
out your plans for the plant. 

The pigeons need shelter for themselves and their young — 
for this purpose a weatherproof wooden structure is de- 
manded. This shelter, which w^e will call the squab house, 
needs to be supplemented by a flying-pen in which the birds 


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If one's means are limited, it is not iiei'essary to buy a large llnck. Yuu may start «itli a 
dozen pairs, and l)y rcariiiK your squabs to maturity, at tiie end of a year you will Iiave a large 
number of pairs. The sale of a comparatively few squabs during the year will pay for the feed 
for all anil make the tlock self-supimrlink,'. 


will get the air and exercise which their nature demands. 


The essential points in the construction of the squab 
house are these, that it should face the south, or east, 
or whence the least wind and most sun comes, that it be 
raised off the ground by short posts or stone pillars so rats 
cannot breed under it. that it have a (loul)le floor to keep 
out dampness, and that it be pro\ided with windows for ven- 
tilation. Its shape may be varied to suit the fancy of the 
owner, but the simplest will be found to be the best. The 
simj^le pattern may be extended at any time, growing as the 
business grows. 

First, then, if you are starting to make a new building, 
select a location on fairly high, dry ground. It is not neces- 
sary to go to the side or top of a hill, in fact there would 
be too much wind in such a location. Pick out a place that 
is not a meadow but whose soil is loose, giving indication of 
good drainage. Set the foundation posts so that if you are 
called upon to extend the building at any time, it will run 
east and west on fairly level land for a distance of two hun- 
dred feet or more. 

Use cedar or locust for the posts, or you may build up 
stone at the four corners. Elevate the foundation timbers 
from one to two feet above the ground. Shingle all around 
the building, also the roof, but do not shingle the end which 
faces the direction in which you later may extend the squab 
house. Then you will not have to rip off the shingles when 



Perspeftive view of the Uoltinsou Unit, witli pussa^euay. and u iiid-bieak foniialiori of roof. 
Notice tliL- iiole for pigeons' roost in the center of the fiyiug-pen. 


you come to make the extension. The floor should b^. of 
two thicknesses of boards, with tarred paper between, to 
keep out dampness. 

One window in the north side is enough. There should 
be two in the south side. Through these two the birds fly 
from house to pen. They may slide up or down, or be hung 
on hinges, the idea being to provide means for closing them 
winter nights after the pigeons have taken refuge from the 
pen in the house. The arrangement easiest operated is to 
set them in grooves, and attach a rope for closing them from 
the back of the house. 

Sunlight is as good for pigeons as for all live stock. The 
windows of the scjuab house should be large and set as high 
as possible, especially on the south side, where the sun shines 
in all day. The glass should be kept clean so that the direct 
rays will fall in the interior of the squab house, dispelling 
moisture and aiding the process of disinfection which the 
oxygen in the air perforuis continually. 

The window or windows in the north side of the scjuab 
house should be kept closed most of the year, so as to run 
no chances on draughts, which are a prolific cause of trouble. 
In the hot days of summer there is no harm in opening the 
north windows. The breeder should use common sense in 
managing the windows so as to keep the air fresh without 

The nest-boxcs are built of boxing and set in a vertical 
row at the back of the house, forming a wall between which 
and the north side of the house is a three-foot passageway. 


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A, passiiKeway; WWW, wiiiilows; 
DDD, do irs; >NN, nests; WH, wiiid- 
brt-ak; Kl', fljiiiK pen; Bl', bath-pan; 
SF, .self-feeder ; I'l', posts. The squab 
house is 12ft.xl3ft. 

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You can buy this boxing- at a saw mill all cut, ten by eleven 
inches, the dimensions of the nest, and if you get it in this 
shape you can put the boxes together with as much ease as 
a child builds a doll's house. You will have no doubts as 
to the squareness and plumbness of the structure when you 
have it up. Take long lengths of boxing eleven inches wide 
for the shelving which should form the top and bottom of 
the nest-boxes, then set the lo in. x ii in. pieces the proper 
distance apart. The finished nest will be eleven inches from 
front to back, ten inches from top to bottom, and about ten 
inches from one partition to the other (or whatever distance 
the proper distribution of your nests in pairs permits). 

'We have found five-eighths inch boxing to be the best 
suited. Build the nest-boxes up from floor to roof perfectly 
plain, just as the pigeon holes of a desk run. \Mien you 
have got them up take tv/o-inch strips of the boxing and 
separate each i)air of nests by tacking the strijjping onto the 
edges where they project out into the house. The object 
of this stripping is to make it harder for a pair of birds in 
one nest-box to disturb the pair in the adjoining box. Be- 
tween the nest-boxes of the same pair there should be no 

The backs of the nest-boxes should be on hinges so that 
from the passageway you may examine every nest. Gi\'e 
each pair of nests a number and it is possible to keep an 
extremely accurate record of each pair of breeding birds. 
This record may be kept in a book, numbering the pages 
to correspond to the number on a pair of nests. A better 



Tliis anaiiKeiiu'iit is simple aiul iiiHxpenslve. The door does not open to a passaceway (as 
in tlie Robinson unit), but directly to the interior, which is lined with nests. The flying-pen has 
a raised board tloor to prevent the gathering of pools of rain water. 


way is to use a card index, giving one card to each pair of 
nests. A card three by five inches in size should be used, for 
the record is hable to extend over a term of years. If a 
pigeon dies, or a pair is otherwise broken up for any reason, 
the card may be removed at once. If you are using a book, 
you will have a lot of abandoned records in a year or two. 
The card index, weeded out as the birds change, remains 
alive always, and is a perfect indication of the business you 
are doing, in every detail of expenditure and profit, as well 
as condition of birds, and the relation of feed to selling price 
of squabs may be figured out to a nicety. 

Roosts for the breeding pigeons should be tacked to the 
south and end walls of the squab house. These roosts should 
be made of inch lumljer 5 in. x 6 in. sffuare. Set two jMeces 
V shape and tack the roost (apex up) to the side of the house. 
One roost for each pair of birds will sufi^ce. When one 
pigeon is not on the roost the other is on the roof or on the 
nest. The construction of the roost makes it impossible for 
one bird to soil another bird on the roost immediately under- 
neath. Do not provide one pole for a roost (as in a poultry 
house). The roosting habits of pigeons are not like those 
of hens. You must have separate perches. If you have only 
one perch, one bully cock pigeon is likely to swagger down 
the line sweeping off all the others and disputing ownership 
with them. 

There should be a wire door leading from the passageway 
to the interior of the squab house. You will go in and out 
of this door to clean the nests, pick up squabs from nests 



This Illustrates how lli>' i>iTchc-i iiic niaih' ami f:isteiii'<l Id tlii'walls. Nail up as many as 
therp rs room and whitewash theiti. 


built on the tloor, etc. 

In the middle of the house, on the floor, place an egg- 
crate or other light structure, tacking it lightly to the floor. 
This serves two purposes. On it place hay, grass, straw, etc., 
to be used by the birds in building their nests. It also serves 
as a wind-break. It modifies the force of the air 1)lown by 
the wings of the pigeons as they fly from their nests out 
through the windows into the pen. Were it not there, the 
floor would be swept clean by the force of the wind from 
the wings. 

There should be a layer of sawdust one to two inches 
thick on the floor of the house. This prevents the nappies 
from being broken if by birds' quarreling they are pushed 
out of the nests. On a board floor they would break when 
they drop, but the sawdust lets them down easy. The saw- 
dust also makes an easy resting place for those birds that 
prefer to build their nests on the floor. There always will be 
two or three of these pairs of pigeons in every house. 

The nest-boxes should be perfectly plain, made of simple 
boxing in the manner described. Do not build up a piece 
of boxing at the front part of the nest to prevent the nappy 
from being pushed out. Early in our experience we built 
a few nests in this way but soon changed them over to the 
simpler form, on account of the difficulty of keeping them 
clean. The droppings bank up at the front of such a nest- 
box and it is almost impossible to clean them thoroughly. 

Two sizes of nappies should be used. The small one is 
the size known as No. 6, seven inches in diameter across the 



The nest 1)0X68 are buiJt of live eighths pine boxing sawed loin. xUiii. in size. They are per- 
fec ly plain without cleats or projections, so that no dirt will collect. The plweons build the 
nests in the nappies, using pieces of hay and grass. 


top and two inches deep. The large nappy is known as No. 
7, and is nine inches in diameter and two and a half inches 
deep. The large one is given to the pigeons first to receive 
the eggs. When the squabs are two weeks old, the large 
nappy is removed and the nest with its occupants transferred 
to the small one. The reason for the change is this : The 
nest which the 1:)reeding pigeons build in to receive the eggs 
should be large so that the cock and hen will have plenty 
of room to cover the youngsters and protect them from the 
cold. In winter time especially they are very careful not to 
leave their tender young uncovered long enough to be 
chilled. The squabs deposit their dung in a circle inside the 
nest. At the end of two weeks when you change nappies, 
you get rid of the dirty nest and at the same time provide 
a nappy in which there is plenty of room for the squabs, and 
also you liave a self-cleaning nest, for the youngsters deposit 
their dung over the edge of the nappy into the nest-box, and 
not into the nap])y, as they would do if you allowed the large 
nappy to remain. In the large nappy, also, some squabs, if 
left to develop, will become deformed, owing to the fact that 
their feet will push the nesting material off the slippery bot- 
tom, on which their legs will sprawl disjointed. 


The flying pen is simply a wire yard. It is as wide as the 
squab house, and as high, and extends toward the south 
about twenty feet. Set posts at the southern extremity and 
stretch the wire to them, sides and top. The top of the 



The camera was located in tlie passageway (see plan of Kobiiisoii unit.) Tlie lnn>,'ed back 
of tlie l>air of nests No. 21 has been let down, to show how the uefts and squabs are reached 
from the passageway. An inquisitive three- weeks-old squab is seen perched on the edge of the 


posts should be on a level with the top of the squab house, 
so that a neat appearance will result. Wire of two-inch 
mesh will suffice. The object is to keep strange and smaller 
birds out as well as keep the pigeons in. There should be 
a door in the south end of the flying-pen. In some localities, 
on account of the prevalence of the thieving English spar- 
row, it will be necessary/ to use wire of one-inch mesh in 
order to protect the grain in the self-feeder from spoliation. 

In stretching the wire for the flying-pen, you will have to 
lay several strips of the netting parallel in order to get the 
full width of the yard. In piecing these widths together, 
do not tie them with short pieces of wire, but use one long 
piece of No. 1 8 or 20 iron wire and wea^-e it in and out of the 
netting, first in one width, then in the other. In this man- 
ner you can unite two widths of netting in one-tenth the 
time needed to apply short pieces of tie-wire. 

The feeding trough should rest on a single post at the 
back of the tlyiiig-pen. but not close up to the wire, so that 
the birds can perch all around it. A simple form of self- 
feeder protected at the top from rain, is the best. It is built 
entirely of pine wood. It is best to invert a tin pan on the 
top of the post on which the feeder rests so that if mice climb 
up the post (if rough) they cannot reach the grain in the 

The bath-pan is placed on the ground at the back of the 
flying-pen. The best pattern is of galvanized iron, twenty 
inches in diameter and five inches deep. It should be filled 
with fresh water once or twice a day. The pigeons go to 



This i/hotoKniph of a i>iirt of one of our breediii« outfits at reiubroki- shows the construction 
of the tlyiuK pen, tlie location of tlie self-feeder, etc. The pipe supplies water for the bath-pans 
and saves steps to carry water in pails. 


it early every morning and loathe in it, keeping their feathers 
free from vermin by this habit. They drink from the pan 
before bathing. When thin ice forms in winter, they break 
it and splash their wings about as in summer. If you place 
the bath-pan close to the netting at the back of the flying- 
pen, you may fill it with water from a pail outside the pen by 
pouring the water through the netting. After a flock of 
birds have bathed in the pan, a thick, greasy scum may be 
observed on the surface of the water. 


This is made of galvanized iron, is twenty inches in diameter and five incnes aeep. It 
should be filled with water once or twice a day. The pigeons drink from it and bathe in it- 
They are clean and dainty and if necessary they will break the thin ice in the winier in order 
to get into their daily bath. 

The space from the rear of the squab house to the ground 
should be trellised with narrow stripping so that the pigeons 
cannot fly under the squab house from the pen. Trellis' 
work instead of solid boards is used in order that there may 
be a free circulation of light and air under the house, thus, 
preventing rats from obtaining a lodging and also making' 
ventilation good. 


This sliows the construction of the feeder, which is l)uilt wholly of iiiue. As the pigeons 
eat, the Knitn drops down on tlu- inside. One tilling of the feeder will last two or three days, 
sometinn-s a week (depending on the size of the fiock.) In a corner of the above picture, on the 
KTound of the flying pen, may be seen the straw, grass, etcused by the pigeons in buiWling their 


In the scjuab house, at the bottom of the nest-boxes, reach- 
ing" from them to the floor, is trelHs work through, which in 
winter the birds will stretch their necks to feed from a trough 
which should be placed at the bottom of the passageway. 

In the winter, or in a long stretch of rainy weather, a lamp 
or small oil-stove ma}' be set in the passageway to help drive 
off- the moisture. The object should not be to raise the tem- 
perature of the squab house, but merely to evaporate the 
moisture in the air. We have hot water pipes ru.nning the 
entire length of the passageways of our squab houses but 
tiiey are not kept hot enough to heat the air to any extent. 
We have set faucets at regular intervals and can draw water 
without going to the front of the house. For the same 
reason we have set pipes below the frost line in the ground 
at the end of the flying-pens so that we can get a water sup- 
ply easily for the bath-pans. We have faucets at the top of 
the ground, also valves sunk below the surface so that we 
can shut off the water in winter and prevent freezing in the 
pipes where they are exposed to the air. 

We have experimented witli all kinds of nappies and pans 
in the nest-boxes and l)elieve that most of the success at- 
tained is due to the use of the nappies described. Do not 
use the earthenware nests or wooden l^oxes which vou mav 
And advertised. 


Probably most breeders will start in the pigeon industry 
by remodeling an old poultry house. The foregoing instruc- 



Thisistlic iiNicf \\liiro \\i- lioust-d mir tii'>t scninli lui 
affair, luit it ;iiis\vercil for a wliilt 
trifling expensp. 

n^ II Kill 111,^. .-..iii.iii Mn-euers. It was a cln';il> ami uiiK'aiiily 
Any old ijouiiry house may he rcmodeleil for piueoiis at a 


tions have given the particulars of as substantial and con- 
venient a plant as it is necessary to build. An old poultry 
house may be remodeled in a day with little expense save 
the labor involved and the remodeled building- will answer 
the purpose well. 

rirst elevate the poultry house. Set it on four or more 
posts a foot or a foot and a half from the ground so as to get 
a protection from rats and dampness. Arrange the flying- 
oen on the south side as previously described. A passage- 
way for the duick manipulation of the nest-boxes is not 
needed. Simply build the boxing in the form of nests against 
the north and end walls of the building and you have a prac- 
tical arrangement. Set the roosts and wind-break as de- 
scribed and arrange the windows so that they may be closed 
at night in the winter. 

To remove tlie squabs and clean the nests, in such a house, 
you enter the door of the house and approach the nests from 
the front. It is not so convenient as the passageway method 
because you will drive some of the birds out of the house, 
but the interruption is not serious and when you have left 
the house thev will fly back to tlieir nests. 


We have known city people without a square foot of 
ground to make a success in squab raising by housing the 
pigeons in a garret. Tn such cases the flying-pen is built 
out from the window or skylight as shown in the illustration, 
so as to give the birds an opportunity to get light and air. 


The garret is lined with the nests. The clanger to watch out 
for in such a location is mice. Tin or fine mesh wire should 
i)e used plentifully in the corners and on the floors of the 
garret, or rats will get in and kill the squabs. With careful 
tinning, trouble will be avoided. 

It is also possible to utilize the upper part of a barn. The 


Builil a flyiiiK pen out from the windows (ot skyllRht) and line the Kairet with nests. Citj 
people who may have no hiiid can lucdd sqiiah!. sucicssfiilly and with little effort, in this way. 
It is not ne<>essary to heat the «arreL~the pi«eous thrive no matter how cold is the weather. A 
barn whicrli has a loft may be arranged in practically the same manner. 

flying-pen should Droject out from the roof just as in the 
case of the garret already described. The loft may be 
reached either by stairs or a ladder. It should be completely 
boarded in and the floor protected all around by fine mesh 
wire, or tin, so that rats cannot get at the interior. 

Many beginners wish to raise sc|ual)s until they get a flock 


which will make removal to a farm profitable. They can 
work intelligently and securely (if they are cramped for 
room), with eitbei- the back-yard, the garret or the barn ar- 
rangement, give the business a thorough test and then move 
to a farm if their aml)ition leads them to make the profit 
Avhich thousands of pairs of breeders earn. 


The feed consists of red wheat, cracked corn, kaffir corn. 
Canada peas, hempseed, oyster shells and salt, all cheap and 
easily obtained. No other food is given. No sloppy food is 
given and there is no mechanical preparation of the food. 
The diet does not vary from one end of the year to the other, 
with this exception, that in winter you allow two parts of 
corn to one of wheat — in sumn.ier one part of corn to two 
of wdieat. A suiuiuary of the food follows : 

1. Red Wheat. This may be procured anywhere at a 
cost of from $1.30 to $1.50 per 100 pounds. (Do not feed 
white wheat, it will cause diarrhoea.) 

2. Cracked Corn. This costs from 95 cents to $1.10 per 
]00 pounds. (Do not feed the whole corn. It is hard to 

<ligest and is especially unsuited to young stock, mnking 
liard labor for their crops.) 

3. Kaffir Corn, or Egyptian Wheat. This is procurable 
anywhere. It is grown ])rincipally in the South and \\>st. 
the largest supply coming from Kansas. It costs from $1.15 
to $1.50 for 100 pounds. It will grow in localities where 
there is little or no rain. Pigeons come to the hand fast for 



Till' td]) ( \\ hicli is c 11 liiimi-M -111 HI 1(1 li \ I ri'il willi t;nri-il paiier si> that the Kiiiiii will keep 

dry in storm wealliti-. 


it, thus demonstrating that it is a well-hked food. This com 
makes white flour and is an ideal food for pigeons. The 
color of the food supply affects to a degree the color of the 
squab meat, and as white squab meat commands the highest 
price, plenty of kaffir corn should be fed. 

4 and 5. Canada Peas and llempseed. These are fed,, 
not regularly, on account of their expense, but as dainties, 
in periods of moulting, extra strain, etc. Canada peas cost 
about $1.25 a bushel (about sixty poimds) ; hempseed costs. 
from $3.50 to $4 per too pounds. 

6. Oyster Shells. These cost from 45 to 65 cents per 100 
pounds, ground. They should be kept before the i)igeons 
all the time in a special trough. 

7. Salt. Coarse ground salt should l)e purchased and 
kept before the pigeons all the time in a special trough. They 
will eat it as they feel the need of it. On the south end ot 
some of our squab houses, on the j^en side, we have ])ieces 
of rock salt hung up, enclosed in wire netting. The birds 
peck at these pieces occasionally. They are not necessary, 
however, provided coarse salt is kc]it before them. 

8. Grit. The vard of the flying-pen should be gravelled, 
not grassed. We buy the same kind of grit as is used for 
poultry, only slightly finer. 

9. Nesting Material. On the wind-break in the centre 
of the squab house, also in a corner of the yard, keep a small 
pile of hay. straw and green field grass for the use of the 
pigeons in building their nests. They will fly to the pile and 
take what thev need. We have seen tobacco stems recom- 



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2 a -g 

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mended for this purpose, as a preventive of lice, but we have 
found them too coarse for nesting material and now never 
use them. There will be no trouble from lice if ordinary 
cleanliness is observed. 

Hempseed and peas are useful dainties in getting- ac- 
quainted with your birds. They will flock to your hand and 
eat them greedily. 

Our i)ractice is to go light on the corn, in feeding. Corn 
is carbonaceous and fat-producing and the pigeons become 
weakened under such a diet. It heats the blood and lays 
the system open to an attack of canker. 

The self-feeder and the feeding-troughs in the squab house 
should be kept supplied with a mixture of the grains before 
noted. We have seen recommendations to feed the birds 
once or twice a day only what they would clean up at one 
feeding but have found sach advice to be wholly wrong when 
breeding on a large scale. \A^hen the food supply is of the 
"clean-iu:)" kind, and consequently not generous, the young 
squabs will be heard srmeaking loudly for food. Where a 
continuous supply is at hand, one seldom hears the hungry 
cry of a squab, and all grow quickly and strongly to market 
size. It is poor economy to furnish a meagre and uncertain 
supply of food. Do not fear that the pigeons will waste the 
grain provided by a bountiful self-feeding trough. They will 
eat what they need for themselves and the squabs and never 
will gorge nor lose their trim, racy shape. We have discov- 
ered no diseases caused by overfeeding. 

Salt fish and preparations of mortar and grit are imprac- 







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(Se«- V.isv ;5(i tor Outside View.; 


tical and not at all necessary in the diet of pigeons. 

The proper mixture, as we have noted before, is two parts 
of corn to one of wheat, in winter, and two parts of wheat to 
one of corn in summer. Fill the self-feeder and the eating- 
trough in the sf(ual) house with the mixture. The other 
food materials, the dainties, should be fed by hand, throwing 
handfuls on the floor of the squab house or flying-pen when- 
ever you think the pigeons need stimulating. Vary the diet. 
Alternate with the dainties. If you feed a plain mixture too 
long, the pigeons will eat with poor appetites and the size 
of the stjuabs will deteriorate. Force your feed and you will 
force the size of the squabs. The ])rinciple is the same in 
feeding all live stock. Force coal under a boiler and you 
will force the steam pressure. Increase the fuel in the crops 
of the pigeons and you will increase the size of the squabs. 

The l)ath-pan should be filled twice a day if the breeder is 
solicitous as to the cleanliness of his birds. All the birds 
hathe. but some not every day. They never take cold in this 
way. The cause of a cokl is always a damp, draughty house. 
Their feet are not sensitive and in winter they have no hesi- 
tation in l)reaking thin ice and stepping into the pan. They 
drink from the bath-pan. not continually inserting the bill 
and raising the head, but obtaining their fill usually at one 
insertion of the bill. They do not rustle in the dirt and 
cleanse themselves in this \\-ay, as a hen does. 

In cold weather, fill the pigeons" 1)ath and drinking dishes 
with warm water. They apj^reciate it, as do all live stock. 



The hen pigeon builds the nest, which is not an elaborate 
affair, simply a good-sized handful of nesting material laid 
straight in the nappy. They do not build a circular nest in 
the careful manner of some birds. If they wish to hatch on 
the floor of the squab house, their nest is there usually of a 
rudimentary pattern. 

When the nest is built, the cock begins to "drive" the hen 
around the house and pen. In a flock of pigeons on the roof 


This roof li;is no wind break, but it is of the ordinary construction, wliicii is cheaper than the 
win<l-i)reak style. Altliouxli the pairs are mixed toi;ether, each pair of mates remains constant 
for years, one male attendinn the same female all the time. 

of the squab house, you always w'ill see one or two cocks 
''driving" their mates, pecking at them and nagging them 
with the purpose of forcing them onto the nest to lay the 
eggs. The cock seems to take more interest in the coming 
family than the hen. 

The hen lays one egg in the nest, then skips a day and 


lays the second egg on the third day. Seventeen days after 
being- laid the eggs hatch. The egg first laid hatches a day 
before the second, sometimes, but usually the parents do not 
sit close on first egg, but stand over it, and do not 
incubate it. Sometimes one squab may get more than its 
share of food, and the younger one will weaken and die. 
This seldom happens but if you see one squab considerably 
larger than the other, the thing to do is to exchange with 
a squab from another nest that is nearer the size of the re- 
maining squab. Tlie old birds will not notice the change 
but will continue feeding the foster squab. 

From the day of its hatching to market time the squab 
is fed by its parents. The first food is a liquid secreted in 
the crop of both cock and hen, and called pigeons' milk. 
The parent pigeons open their bills and the squabs thrust 
their bills within to get sustenance. This supply of pigeons' 
milk lasts from five to six days. It gradually grows thicker 
and in a w^ek is found to be mixed with corn and wheat in 
small particles. When about ten days old, the squabs are 
eating the hard grain from the crops of the mature cock and 
hen, which fill up' at the trough, then take a drink of water 
and fly to the nest to minister to the little ones. You see how 
important it is to have food available at all times. 

In 14, 15 or 16 days after the first pair of squabs have 
been hatched, the cock begins ''driving" the hen again. This 
shows the necessity of a second nest for the pair. In this 
second nest the hen lays two more eggs, and the care of the 
first pair of squabs, now between two and three weeks old^ 



So rapidly ilo squabs grow that yon will quickly 
notice tlieir iiuTease in siza from day to day. 



tlevolves upon the cock. When this pair is four weeks old, 
it is taken out of the nest and killed and both the mature 
birds are concerned then only with the new hatch. This 
sequence of eggs and hatches goes on all the time. 

If there are not two nests, the two new eggs will be laid 
in the nest where are the growing squabs and the parents 
in their eagerness to sit on the new eggs will push the squabs 


In this picture the squabs are seen in the 
smaller nappy, to which they were transferred 
when two weeks old and which remains their 
home until they are killed for market. 


out of the nest and they will die for lack of sustenance. 

The hen lays the eggs about four o'clock in the afternoon. 
The cock and hen take turns at covering the eggs, the hen 
sitting during the night until about ten o'clock in the morn- 
ing, when the cock relieves her, remaining on until the latter 
part of the afternoon. 


When the nappies are changed at the end of two weeks, 
the nest-box should be scraped clean with a trowel. When 
the sfjiiabs are taken out for market at the end of four weeks, 
the nappy should be washed and scalded and the nest-box 
whitewashed. If the nappies are changed and the whitewash 
used regularly, no trouble from parasites will result. In the 
summer it is well to add a little carbolic acid to the white- 
wash as an extra precaution. 


One way of mating pigeons is to turn males and females 
in equal number into the same pen. They will seek their 
own mates and settle down to steady reproduction. Another 
method is to place the male and female which you wish to 
pair in a mating coop or hutch. In the course of a few days 
thev will mate and then you may turn them loose in the big- 
pen with the others. The latter method is necessary when 
improving your flock by the addition of new blood, or when 
keeping a positive record of the ancestry of each pair. By 
studving your matings, you may improve the efficiency of 
your flock. If you are raising squabs for breeders, you 
should use the mating coop constantly so as not to inbreed, 
which the young pigeons might do if left to chance. 

In case a pigeon loses its mate by death or accident, th€ 
sex of the dead one must be ascertained and a live pigeon of 
the same sex introduced to the pen to mate with the odd one. 
Or the live one should be removed from the pen and placed 
in the mating coop with a pigeon of the opposite sex. 


The mating coop should have a partition of lattice work- 
er wire. Place the cock in one side, the hen in the other, 
and leave them thus for two or three days to flirt and tease 
each other, then remove the central lattice work or wire and 
they usually will mate. If they show no disposition to mate 
but on the contrary fight, replace the partition and try them 
for two or three days longer. If they refuse to mate after 
two or three thorough trials, do not experiment any more 
with them, but select other mates. Be sure your birds are 
mated before putting them together in the squab house, 
otherwise a stray cock will visit the nests in search of a mate, 
breaking up hatchings and causing fights. 

The determination of the sex of pigeons is difficult. The 
bones at the vent of a female are wider apart than of a male. 
If you hold the beak of a pigeon in one hand and the feet 
in the other, stretching them out, the male bird usually will 
hug his tail close to its body— the female will throw her tail. 
The best way to determine the sex is to watch the birds. 
The male is more lively than the female, and does more 
cooing, and in flirting with her usually turns around several 
times, while the female seldom turns more than half way 
around. The male may be seen pecking at the female and 
driving her to nest. When one pigeon is seen chasing an- 
other inside and outside the squab house, the driven one is 
the female and the driver her mate. 

The Runt pigeons are the largest and have the biggest 
squabs, but they are poor breeders, and it takes the squabs 
from one to two weeks longer to reach market size. The 



Protected from northerly wind and storms by the jot; in the roof, they walk about here for 
hours, their mates being on the nests inside. At night all go inside the squab house. Winter or 
summer, some of the pigeons always may be seen on the roof. 


:,traight Homer is the best for the practical squab raiser. 
Runts are expensive, costing from $6 to $io a pair, because 
f:hey are hard to raise. Som.e squab breeders have a few 
pairs of Runts in order to cross occasionally with Homers, 
but we do not advise it. You will obtain better results by 
judiciously out-breeding from selected Homers, forcing 
along the path of advancement the strains that are produc- 
ing the most and the biggest squabs. 

Neither the squab-breeder nor the flying-Homer breeder 
is much concerned about the color of feathers. There are 
blue checkers, red checkers, black checkers, silver, blue, 
brown, red, in fact about all the colors of the rainbow. Color 
has no relation to the ability of a pair to breed a large pair 
of squabs. We wish specially to emphasize the fact that the 
color of the feathers has no influence on the color of the skin 
of the squab. A white-feathered bird does not mean a whiter- 
skinned squab. The feed affects the color of the meat a 
little. A corn-fed pigeon will be yellower than one fed on 
a mixture. Squabs with dark skins (almost black in some 
cases) are the product of blood matings. The trouble with 
a dark-colored squab is in the blood and the only remedy 
is to get rid of them either by killing the parents or by re- 
mating. Usually the trouble comes from one parent bird, 
which you can find by turning up the feathers and examining 
the skin. Having found the bird which is at fault, kill it. 
This point has come up continually in our correspondence. 
The erroneous belief that white-feathered birds produce the 
whitest-skinned squabs seems to be widespread and we are 



The fingers of one liand grasp both the feet and tlie win^s. and tlie bird can neither struggle 
nor flutter ; it immediately becomes calm, realizing tliat it is mastered. 


asked sometimes for a flock of breeders "all white." Our 
experience with all white Homers is that they have less 
stamina than the colored ones. (This is also the experience 
of poultrymen with all white fowls; they are not hardy.) 
The marketmen will take two or three pairs of dark-skinned 
squabs in a bunch without comment, but an excess of dark 
ones will provoke a cut in price. Breeders who are shipping 
-only the undressed squabs should pluck feathers now and 
then to see just what color of squabs they are getting. The 
dark-colored squabs are just as good eating as the light- 
colored ones, but buyers for the hotels and clubs, and those 
who visit the stalls generally, pick out the plump white- 
skinned squabs in preference to the plump dark-skinned 
ones. As a rule, squabs from Homer pigeons are white- 
skinned — the dark-colored squab is an exception. 


Pigeons have few diseases. Jf housed properly, ailments 
are seldom encountered. Prevention is much easier and far 
more satisfactory than cure. When we discover an ailing 
pigeon, we at once isolate it and if it does not improve, kill 
it. According to Nature's plans for the survival of the fit- 
test, it is best to get weak and sick pigeons out of the way, 
then you are sure that your flock is growing hardier and 
stronger all the time. If there is a diseased pigeon, this is a 
sign of constitutional weakness, and you do not wish such 
xjualities perpetuated. It does not pay to cure the pigeon. 
You ought to kill it. 


Canker is the most common ailment. It is something hke 
diphtheria, a collection or false membrane forming in the 
throat. Inject a solution of alum into the throat and this 
membrane usually comes away. 

"Going light" is a disease manifested by a wasting away. 
Ji" you see a pigeon drooping in a corner, with no ambition 
to fly, catch it and you will find usually a prominent breast 
bone and its feathers soiled by diarrhoea. It takes too much 
time and trouble to cure a pigeon thus affected. We take it 
as a sign that a pigeon thus affected has not stamina enough 
to transmit desirable qualities, and kill the bird. 

We have learned that canker and kindred diseases are 
caused by an excess of corn. A corn diet is carbonaceous 
and fat-producing and the pigeons grow weak when they 
get too much of it, and fall a prey to disease. 

Pigeons kept in a house or loft artificially heated will raise 
few squabs and will become tender. The coldest weather 
will have no effect on a flock. The old birds protect the 
squabs intelligently in freezing weather and do not leave 
the nests for long periods. 

On cold and stormy days when the sun is hid, shut down 
the windows of the squab house and do not let the pigeons 
into the flying-pen until the sun comes out again. 

When pigeons are from four to eight weeks old, they are 
in their most precarious period. This is the time of the first 
moult, and moults are a trying condition for all breeding- 
stock, being a tax on the vitality. \\'hen a pigeon has safelv 
passed this first period, the breeder does not worry much 


about its future existence. 

In the case of young birds, the first mating does not 
amount to nuich. the eggs being undersized and the squabs- 
lacking in vitah'ty. 


To kill a squab, do not use a knife, as the writers advise. 
Hold the squab in the left hand. Take the head in the right 
with the thumb at the base of the bill, give it a slight 
pull, then a push back. This dislocates the neck and in the 
break of the spinal column a small cavity forms, and this fills 
with the blood, draining the body. Pull hard and you wrench 
the head from the body and spoil the looks of the squab. The 
knack is easily acquired. The first time a woman tries it, she 
may feel a bit squeamish, but not after she has mastered the 
operation with the second or third squab. It is painless to 
the squab and requires but little strength on the part of the 
operator — merely a little skill which is quickly acquired. 

Squabs to be killed should be gathered in the morning,. 
because then their crops are empty. 

The cooling of the killed squab is very important. It cost 
us a good deal to learn the right way. They should not be 
laid on a board or table, for the tender flesh will turn green 
at the spot where it touches anything. They should not be 
hung where rats, cats or dogs can get at them. We have 
lengths of two by four inch studding and these lengths are 
hung from the wall by pieces of wire. If the studding is 
propped up with boards at each end, cats and mice will crawl 



The position of tlie right hand is correct, but the left lianil should grasp tlie neck of the 
.s<|iiah close to the fingers of the right. Pull lirmly, then push V)ack, and the spine will he broken, 
the sQiiab expiring instantly. With the hands as shown in the picture, the etfect of a pull will 
he to separate the head from the body. Having illustrated the mistaken way to kill a squab, we 
hiivi- impressed on the operator what to avoid. The correct method is quickly acquired If you 
.stniliously a'-oid the wrong position of the left hand. 


up, then along the studding and devour the squabs, but 
neither cats nor mice can travel along the wires from which 
our studding hangs. Every four inches along the studding 
two nine-penny wire finish nails (a finish nail because no head 
is wanted) are driven in for half an inch or so. The feet of 
the sc|uab are put between the two nails and the toes prevent 
the l)ird from dropping to the floor. We number the nails 


Squabs bred from our Homers grow at four weeks to weigh from ten ounces to a pound. The 
average squab in the Boston market weighs from seven to ten ounces. No onewlio lias not 
eaten a squab can imagine liow delicious the meat is. The bones are small and there is more 
meat on a i^qiiab than on the average duck. 

in sequence and in hanging up the squabs to cool we know 
when we have finished hanging just how many squabs we 
will send to market the next day. 

The squabs should be allowed to remain over night. In 
the morning the animal heat will be entirely gone, and the 
birds should be sent at once to market. 

The ideal squab is not only large and plump but also has 


a clean crop (no food in it to sour), has been neatly killed 
(no blood showing) and has clean feet. 

Ship in small quantities, particularly in the summer. Do 
not pack up an enormous box, or the bottom layers will 

Inability to cool the killed squabs properly has discour- 
aged more squab breeders than all other causes combined. 
Follow the foregoing rules carefully and you will wonder 
liow anybody could have had any difficulty. 

If you are delivering plucked squabs to your market, pick 
the feathers out when the bird is warm, immediately after 
killing. Work fast but gently, or you will tear the delicate 
tiesh. When picked clean, throw the squab into cold water 
and leave it there over night to plump out and harden 
the flesh. In the sunmier use ice-water. 

During the last fev/ days of its growth, the squab puts on 
more feathers than flesh. If you discover squabs whose 
feathers are not prettily out but which are fat and plump 
enough for market, you may save a week (if you are deliver- 
ing dressed squabs) by killing and plucking them. 

A skillful plucker will strip the feathers from squabs at 
the rate of ten to twenty squabs an hour. A fast workman 
should pluck 200 a day. 


Pigeons may be shipped anywhere safely. Of all live 
stock, they are the easiest transported. Breeders of flying 
Homers in America frequently ship as far as Australia, the 


birds arriving in perfect condition. We have shipped squab 
breeders to the far west, the south, and distant points in 
Canada, and have never lost one by death or accident. How 
is this done? There is a Httle knack to it. The usual fault 
of inexperienced shippers is that the box or crate is too high, 
and too large, givnig an opportunity for one bird to pass 
another by flying over its head. If there is too much room 
between the top and bottom of the crates feathers will be 
rumpled and pulled out, and the birds by crowding, will 
suffocate one or two. A large, heavy crate also adds enor- 
mously to the express charges. It is not pleasant to buy 
pigeons and receive them in a cumbrous box weighing from 
-5 to 75 pounds, on which the express charges are more 
than double what they would be were the birds crated prop- 
erly. The best wood to use in crating is that of which egg 
crates are made. It is thin (about one-eighth of an inch), 
very light and tough and splits e^ enly. The ends and back 
of the crate should be made of half-inch or five-eighths pine 
boxing. If you procure this sawed six inches wide, in vary- 
ing lengths, you may make up crates to suit your order. The 
floor or bottom of the crate should be solid, also the sides 
and back. For the front and top, split the thin stuff about 
two inches wide and tack to the boxing with three-penny 
nails. The pigeons should be packed closely (but not too 
close), giving each room to turn and move about. In the 
six-inch space they have just about enough room to stand, 
and the contact of their heads with the top slats will remind 
them that they must not attempt to fly. and they do not. If 



The large size of squabs at four weeks of age may be judged from the fact that the wooden 
studding in tlie above photograph is two inches thick. The nails are ninepenny wire linish. ;ind 
the distance between the pairs of nails is four inches. The studding is hung at the ends l>y wire 
fast(!ned to the ceiling so that rats and cats cannot get at the squabs when they are cooling over 


they are going to a point only a day or a clay and a night dis- 
tant, they need no feed nor water. If the destination is more 
remote, two tin cups, one for grain, the other for water, 
should be tacked to the inside of the crate. A sponge should 
be placed in the water dish and wired in loosely so the birds 
cannot peck it out. This prevents the water from being 
spilled in transit. A given quantity of water lasts longer and 
keeps cleaner. For a very long journey, a bag of grain 
should be nailed to the crate. It is the duty of the express 
messengers to feed and v/ater the birds en route, and they 
are so instructed by their companies. It is well to tack a 
tag to the crate giving general directions to the express 
messengers, in a case of long distance shipment. 

Do you know that live stock is transported long distances 
by the express companies at the rate charged for ordinary 
merchandise? For carrying live stock short distances, the 
animal rate (which is double the merchandise rate) is 
charged. This is a peculiar rule, and it works so that the 
buyer at a reniote point gets his shipment cheaper than the 
buyer nearer us. P^or instance, we can ship a crate of pigeons 
to Chicago from Boston cheaper than we can to BufYalo. 
:V11 the express companies doing business in the United 
States and Canada have the same rule, which is, that between 
points where the single or merchandise rate is $2 or more 
per 100 pounds, live animals, boxed, crated or caged, are 
charged for transportation at the single or merchandise rate. 
Between points where the single or merchandise rate is less 
than $2 per 100 pounds, live animals are charged the animal 


rate (which is double the merchandise rate). In order to 
obtain the lowest rate of transportation, the value of each 
pig-eon must be stated jjy the shipper at $5 or less. At one 
time we i)ought a lot of fine Homers at $10 a pair and when 
they arrived we were asked to pay a big transportation 
charge. We discovered on investigation that the shipper, 
when asked the valuation by his agent, proudly replied (wish- 
ing to convince us perhaps that he was selling the birds to 
us at half price) : "Ten dollars apiece." The agent made no 
argument with the shipper (they seldom do) and accordingly 
billed the charges to us at a rate just double what he would 
have billed had the shipper declared the valuation $5 apiece, 
and we had to pay accordingly for the exhibition of pride 
made bv the shipper. When the agent asks you the valua- 
tion of the pigeons, get it within the $5 limit, or your man 
at the other end will have an extra charge and a sharp letter 
to send liack to you. 

We have seen breeders who have been shipping live stock 
for years and they never heard of the above rule of the ex- 
press companies, and also we have seen scores of express 
agents who did not know of their own rule, but always 
charged the animal rate on animal shipments. But the rule 
is found in every graduated charge book of every express 
company, and the experienced express men and experienced 
shippers know all al)out it. If the agent in your town is 
ignorant of the rule, ask him for his graduated charge book 
and vou will find it under the classification "Animals." 
Everv customer of ours entitled to the single or merchandise 


rate on his shipment gets a card from us in our letter to him 
with the rule printed on it. Many express agents at local 
points seldom handle a live animal shipment and do not 
know how to charge for it. 

A live animal contract release, to be signed both by ship- 
per and express agent, is needed in all cases where the value 
of the shipment is over $5. If pigeons which we ship are 
killed in a s'nash-up, we can recover from the company. We 
have no hesitation, therefore, in guaranteeing the safe de- 
livery of our pigeons to customers. Our responsibility does 
not end when we have given them to the expressman. Our 
guarantee follows them as long as they are in the hands of 
the express company. We will put them into your hands 
safe and sound. 

Once in a while you will read of live stock and breeding 
associations getting together and complaining about the 
'"exorbitant rates" charged by the express companies. The 
trouble is not with the rates of the express companies, but 
lies wholly in the ignorance of the breeders who meet to 
complain. They simply do not know how to ship and how 
to talk to the express agents. 

We never read the above advice as to shipping live stock 
in any book or paper. It is the product of our own experi- 
ence and the information cost us at least $100 in excess 
charges before we learned how to get the low rate. It is 
worth dollars to our customers, and that is why we have 
given it here in detail. 

Killed squabs go to market at the rate charged for ordi- 



This plKeon, one of the best of our squiib-breeders, is a pet and will fly to the hand. He r«- 
mained still for over a minute while the photographer focussed the camera. 


nary merchandise, no matter what the distance. Breeders 
having special customers who wish the squabs plucked 
should pack them loose in a clean pine box (with ice in the 
summer) and nail the box up tight. Such shipments go 
through in splendid condition and if the breeder has a choice 
article, with his trade mark stamped on the box, he gets the 
fancy price. Squabs which reach the Boston market from 
jobbers in Philadelphia and New York are plucked and 
packed with ice in barrels. Breeders around Boston who 
reach the Boston market with undressed squabs send them 
in wicker hampers or baskets on the morning of the day 
after they are killed. 


If you wish to have a very accurate record of your breed- 
ers, or if you are breeding pedigreed stock, you should mark 
the squabs when they are four or five days old. The only 
])ractical method is to place around one leg of the squab a 
seamless metal band, usually made of aluminum and having 
stamped on it your initials and a designating number, to 
correspond to the number of the card in your card index. 
When the squab is young, the toes may be squeezed easily 
through the band. As the squab grows, the growth of the 
claws makes the removal of the band impossible. The squab 
should be inspected occasionally for a day or two after you 
have put on the band, to make sure that it has not worked 
olT (which sometimes ha]:)pens). Having marked your breed- 
ers, you know each by its number, and you may make dif- 


ferent matings and keep a record which cannot get mixed. 

On the left of your record page or card write the date of 
laying, then figure 17 days ahead and write tlie day of hatch- 
ing. When you get the hatches, and as the squabs grow to 
market size, write whatever memoranda concerning their 
size, color, etc.. you wish. As the same pair of birds »,iccupy 
the same pair of nests year after year, your record will be 
an accurate one. 

If you allow five cents a month for the board of one pair 
of breeding pigeons, you can figure the amount of grain 
needed to a nicety. In a large fiock. fifty cents a year will 
cover the cost. A pair of pigeons not breeding will cost 
only thirty-six cents a year. 


A very profitable business may be built up in flying Hom- 
ers. If you have the time and the inclination, do not fail 
to have a pen of flyers and pens of fancy varieties of pigeons. 
Champion flyers and fancy birds sell from $10 to $100 and 
more, everything depending on the skill of the breeder. 

Young birds raised in your own squab house may be al- 
lowed to fly wide in the neighborhood, if you choose. They 
will not leave you. If you buy young birds of us, with the 
intention of raising flying Homers, you may dispense with 
the flying-pen. (But all market squab-breeders use flying- 
pens and confine their birds, so as to control their feeding, 
etc.) If you buy old birds of us, and have no flying-pen, 
they will leave you and fly back to us to the squab house 
where they were raised. If you live far from us, it may take 


the pigeons some time to work back, but barring accident, 
they will turn up at our place some time, for that is the 
working of the instinct of Homer pigeons. 

The young Homers when hvc months old are strong 
enough to be trained to fly. I^ake them in a basket (having 
omitted to feed them) a mile or two away, and liberate them 
one by one. They will circle in the air, then choose the cor- 
rect course. You should h.ave left grain for them as a re- 
ward for their safe arrival home, and an inducement for their 
next experience in flying. Two or three days later take or 
send them away five miles and repeat. Next try ten miles, 
and so work on by easy stages up to 75 or 100 miles. If yoii 
have a friend in another city, you may send yotir birds in 
a basket to him with instructions to liberate certain ones at 
certain hours, or you may send the basket by train to any 
express agent, along with a letter telling him to liberate the 
birds at a certain hour and send the basket back to you. 

If you wish to have the bird carry a message, write it on 
a piece of cigarette paper (or any strong tissue), wrap the 
paper around the leg of the bird and tie with thread ; or, you 
may tie the tissue around one of the tail feathers. A thin 
akmiinum tube containing the message may be fastened to 
a leg, or to a tail feather. 

A trap window should be constructed to time the arrival 
home of birds. This is an aperture about six inches 
square closed by wires hanging from a piece of wood at the 
top of the aperture and swinging inward, but held close to 
the aperture by its own weight. The pigeon cannot fly out 
but on its return home (if you have sprinkled grain on the 


-*l%r-i8C" -^ "nii' '^ ^~ 







inside of the house, next the wires) the bird will push the 
wire door and go in. It takes only a day or two for the 
pigeon to become accustomed to the trap. If you connect 
the trap with a simple make and break electric circuit, the 
pigeon on its arrival home from its flight will ring a bell in 
any part of your house or barn. 

When you have a record of the flyers, you will have a 
guide for mating. The majority of fanciers recommend a 
medium-sized Homer. A large hen should be mated to a 
small cock, or a large cock to a small hen. Instead of mat- 
ing birds of equal age, try an old cock with a young hen, and 
vice versa. For vitality and stamina, it is best to mate birds 
of different colors. 

A pair of breeding pigeons will occupy the same pair of 
nests year after }^ear, and they never will change mates, but 
you may break up an undesirable mating if you choose and 
re-mate the birds according to your determination, using the 
mating coop as described, 


There is a great difference between common and Homer 
pigeons, although they look alike to a beginner without ad- 
vice. Indeed, there are many common pigeons which arc 
larger and fatter than Homers, but the squabs they raise are 
as skinny as sparrows. It is an effect not of flesh but of 
feathers, which in a common pigeon are fluffy. The feathers 
of a Homer are laid tight as a board, the skin fits as close 
as a glove, and the flesh is hard and firm. The flesh of a 
common pigeon is flabby and soft, and the skin loose. The 

L.oi 0. 

Homer has a long- bill, its head in front of the eye is large. 
The bill of a common pigeon is short, its l)ill is more hooked 
and is sharper pointed, its head is shorter and more rounding 
on top. This is the kind of pigeon seen in the streets. They 
are bred only for use by undertakers at funerals, or by trap- 
shooters. They will live anywhere but a Homer has only 
one home. They cannot find their way back to their usual 
roosts if they wander away, but a Homer always Hies straight 
home. The common pigeons will alight on any buildings. 
A Homer will alight only on its own squab house, and if 
prevented from so doing will remain circling in the air over- 
head for hours. Common pigeons will move from one neigh- 
borhood to another and will foul different springs and wells, 
becoming a nuisance in a country community. A Homer 
drinks at its own home. A common pigeon has Httle intelli- 
gence. A Homer has the largest brain and the most intelli- 
gence of any variety of pigeons. Common pigeons are worth 
about fifty cents a pair and are sold to the unsuspecting as 
Homers. "See how large they are." the dealer will say. But 
as we have said before, the size is one of feathers and not of 
flesh, and the squabs are worth only ten to twenty cents a 
pair, and cannot be sold in an intelligent market. It is use- 
less to think of starting with common pigeons and improv- 
ing them as you go along by mating them with Homers. 
At every mating you take from the Homer side the desirable 
qualities and add only undesirable qualities. It is like 
trying to make champagne out of dishwater. You 
can do something practical only when you have 


eliminated the common pigeons entirely and are mating- 
thoroughbred Homers. Do not be deceived by a hasty in- 
spection of pigeons — a common pigeon is unlike a Homer 
as a crow is unlike a grouse. It is liard to make some be- 
ginners comprehend this difference. All pigeons (especially 
if they are of similar-colored feathers) look alike to them and 
they buy the clieapest they can get, with the inevitable result 
that they quit the business in disgust or are forced to dispose 
of their foolish purchase to trap-shooters and begin again 
with an outfit of Homers. It stands to reason that a pair 
of birds capable of earning a fifty-cent pair of squabs once 
a month is easily worth from $2 to $4, and that a pair of 
birds capable of earning only a ten-cent pair of squabs once 
in two or three months is worth only fifty cents. 

We had one or two unsatisfactory experiences with per- 
sons who had breeding Homers for sale "cheap." "large 
flock very low," etc. These pigeons proved an expensive 
investment. They were either birds that had been worked 
for ten or twelve years, beyond their ]")eriod of usefulness, or 
Avere too young, or were unmated, or there was an excess 
of cocks, and nmch time and effort were lost before we dis- 
covered the fact. One lot of Homers which we bought "at 
a bargain" produced very few No. i squabs, but mostly culls, 
and it was p]^\n that the dealer of whom we ]:)urchased had 
got rid of something which was unprofitable for him. The 
rejjutation of the breeder goes a long way in a pigeon sale. 
The beginner will find himself safe \\hen he pays a fair price 
to a reliable l)reeder. Genuine cases of good Homer pigeons 


being sold at "sacrifice prices" are rare. There is always 
something the matter with cheap pigeons. As in every Hne 
of trade, and in farming and all stock-breeding, articles that 
earn more are worth more. 


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