How to rear pigeons
By Alex Wachira
Pigeons are ornamental birds reared for their meat, eggs and for security purposes.
The feathers and bones are used as chicken feed while its manure is feed to cows' highlights biznakenya.com
Pigeons are considered as a symbol of peace, notes roysfarm.com
A baby pigeon is called a squab and matures in three to four weeks when it can be slaughtered for meat.
They start laying eggs at the age of six months, laying only two eggs after every one month up to five times a year.
The eggs are hatched after 18 to 21 days by both the male and female pigeons.
They increase in numbers very quickly as the birds can hatch more than five times a year, with a breeding capacity of about five years.
Pigeons' breeds include: the trumpeter, frill back, Chinese owl, archangel, giant homer, king pigeon and capuchin.
Keeping pigeons requires very little capital to start, a little space to stay and is less labour intensive.
Pigeons make sweet sounds known as coo.
They are raised in a pair. One pair of male and female pigeon stay together for their whole life and can survive for about 12 to 15 years' highlights roysfarm.com
The male and female both collect straw together and build a small nest for them to live in.
For healthy growth, the pigeons' coop should be kept dry and clean at all times.
A farmer can set up well-ventilated cages with a place to provide food and adequate water supply.
The shelter structure should be raised to keep off predators such as wildcats, mongoose, dogs and mice.
Pigeons feed on grains like wheat, rice, millet, maize, soybeans, groundnuts, wheat and insects found in the fields.
Every pigeon consumes about 35-50 grams of grainy feed daily, notes roysfarm.com
A farmer should feed them in the morning and early in the afternoon adds online publication farmbizafrica.com.
Pigeons if not provided with food fly around and find their own food making it easy to rear them.
A female pigeon feeds a squab for at least ten days through the beak but within a month a squab can fly and feed itself.
Pigeons like to take bath; they should be provided with their own bathing containers with about 7.5 cm deep water.
They bathe 2 or 3 times a week in the morning if the weather is good, adds biznakenya.com
The bath protects them against germs that cause diseases.
Diseases reported to attack pigeons are diarrhea which is the most common, TB, paratyphoid, cholera, fowl typhoid, fowl pox, new castle disease and influenza.
Parasites that attack pigeons are: roundworm, tapeworms and gapeworms.
To control diseases, a farmer needs to vaccinate the birds on time and deworm them regularly. They should also be fed on a balanced diet to avoid malnutrition.
"A sick bird isolates itself from the rest of the flock making it easy for a farmer to notice, though they hardly fall sick," says a pigeon farmer.
According to media reports, a pigeon chick can be sold for Sh1500 and adults up to sh40,000 while an egg goes for Sh25.
In case a farmer wants to import pigeon varieties they have to get a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service which checks on their vaccination, species and mode of transport.
Rearing pigeons too requires a farmer to obtain a license from the Kenya Wildlife Service.