Pigeons have been bred for various reasons for centuries. Domestic pigeons are bred for their flying and homing abilities. Some pigeons have returned to their lofts from as many as 600 miles away -- at sustained speeds of 45 to 50mph. Others breeds of pigeons, such as Trumpeters and Laughers, are known for their voices, while still others -- Fantails, Jacobins, Swallows and Wing pigeons -- are bred for their beauty and distinct colours. Breeding pigeons is a labour of love.
Review your housing documents, particularly the deeds or covenants for your neighbourhood, before you begin breeding pigeons. Make sure there are no restrictions against raising animals on your property.
A good size for a pigeon loft is 23 feet long by 10 feet deep by 8 feet high. If you'd prefer a smaller cage, try one that is 2 1/2 feet deep by 2 feet wide by 2 feet high with top and side coverings that will keep the interior dry. Place nesting materials inside the cage. Pigeons like pine needles and leaf stems. Include a nesting bowl where the female pigeon can lay her egg. Include a food bowl filled with a grit mixture that contains oyster shells, salt and minerals, and a fresh clean water bowl you replenish daily.
Purchase a male and a female pigeon of the variety -- homing, flying, show -- you want to breed. Pigeons cannot breed until they reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 months of age. Keeping a male and female pigeon together that are at least that old will lead to continuous reproduction unless you interrupt breeding by placing wooden eggs in the nesting bowl. Deciding to interrupt breeding depends on what you plan to do with any pigeons you raise and how many you want.
Young pigeons fledge, or leave the nest to fly on their own, at about 35 days of age. However, the parents begin re-nesting 18 days after hatching a baby pigeon. Move fledging pigeons to their own cage and continue the breeding process, controlling the growth of your population to meet your needs.
Pigeons are sensitive to damp environments. The most important thing you can do to ensure a healthy population is to provide them with a warm, dry environment and clean water daily. Pigeons also like to eat lettuce and other green, leafy vegetables, so feel free to offer them.