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klorinth klorinth is offline
Posted 17th January 2009, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 27

Old Fashioned Style Loft


First I must admit that I am totally new to the idea of raising pigeons. Farm animals and birds, yes. But I didn't know much about pigeons until a couple 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.

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...


I posted this already on another forum, but I just found this forum and thought this is a much better place to post it.

Below are pics of my most recent design. This is a combination of a chicken coop and a loft. Chickens below and pigeons above. The chicken area will be enclosed with polycarbonate roof panels, but the pigeons would be able to fly in and out. Basically the chicken area in front is a sun porch that is used to create a warm place for during our cold winters. I would add removable panels to the pigeon area that would allow the same for the pigeons. But I would like it if they were still able to fly free in the winter.

Is this reasonable? Could they fly free in the winter? LOL Answered my own question... We have feral pigeons in the city all winter long.

Back to the loft... I would be keeping the size fairly small and compact because of the fly free idea. A sheltered area to roost and several nesting boxes for pairs.

How does all this sound? I would really appreciate any input.
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File Type: jpg Chicken coop 6.1.jpg (38.8 KB, 418 views)
File Type: jpg Chicken coop 6.2.jpg (38.8 KB, 416 views)
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UncleBuck UncleBuck is offline
Posted 17th January 2009, 04:49 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 216
What you are proposing is a type of dovecote (not sure if that is one word or not, too lazy to look it up I guess.)
You would have to find a way to close it off until the pigeons at least raise a couple of youngsters in there.
These are still popular in the middle east. The primary purpose of them was to basically let the pigeons raise them selves and the farmer was able to have "protein" in the winter months by grabbing a few squabs or even adult pigeons.

(Meant to add that if you wish to practice the construction, you can bring everything to my farm and try it. :P )
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klorinth klorinth is offline
Posted 17th January 2009, 06:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 27
UncleBuck,

The front part was to be an aviary. This would be closed for the first summer, until one or two sets of young have been hatched. I understand the homing instinct enough to not let them be free initially. I was also planning on getting three or four pairs at the same time as my newbie foundation stock. Ie, my trial and error pairs. From these I would raise young that would be free to fly.

From my reading so far... I would then need to have a separate loft for introducing new stock. Prisoner birds? I would need to bring new genes into the mix and this seems to be the only way to do it.
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spirit wings spirit wings is offline
Posted 18th January 2009, 02:30 PM
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Country: United States
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This is a 1700's dovecote or pigeon loft...you can go under it with a ladder to get to the squabs(at least back then)...the pigeons fly free and use it for shelter and nesting.


Last edited by spirit wings; 7th February 2009 at 06:37 AM..
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fastpitch dad fastpitch dad is offline
Posted 18th January 2009, 02:43 PM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 286
Quote:
Originally Posted by spirit wings View Post
This is a 1700's dovecote or pigeon loft...you can go under it with a ladder to get to the squabs(at least back then)...the pigeons fly free and use it for shelter and nesting.

I would like to see the plans for that. That's nice
How do you control breeding. It seems sooner or later you would have to many birds.

Last edited by fastpitch dad; 18th January 2009 at 02:45 PM..
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spirit wings spirit wings is offline
Posted 18th January 2009, 02:48 PM
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Country: United States
Posts: 20,301
Quote:
Originally Posted by fastpitch dad View Post
I would like to see the plans for that. That's nice
It is cool...I have entertained the idea of this one myself, but I just would'nt know how bad the hawks would be....The plans...well I don't have that, this one sits at colonial williamsburg and to give scale to it, Im 5'2 and can walk under it with it being about a few feet over my head, in the inside there is open cubbies on all four sides...
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RodSD RodSD is offline
Posted 18th January 2009, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: San Diego
Posts: 4,098
I like that 1700's dovecot picture. That is probably a better solution than killing those pigeons with predators, poison and other methods. By substituting fake eggs, they can control the population. At least that is what I do on mine.

Klorinth,

It looks nice to me. Usually people here don't recommend mixing chicken and pigeons together, but your design seems to separate those two together so I don't see a problem yet. The aviary I partly don't understand. Why does it have roof on it? Seems to defeat the purpose of having a full sun.

Here is a good site I visit from time to time although I don't have chickens. They have loft sections.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/coopdesigns.html

There are many knowledgeable folks there!
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klorinth klorinth is offline
Posted 18th January 2009, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 27
Spirit Wings,

That is a fabulous picture. Very interesting design. I was only thinking about a single side. Four sides really does make good use of space and materials. Our weather requires that i provide more shelter than that though.

RodSD,

The roof on the aviary is because of our extreme weather. They will need protection in order to survive. The feral birds outside the city migrate here. It is only in the city that they can find enough shelter. For the last couple of weeks our temps have been between -25 and -35 celcius. Add to that the wind and we have been down to -40 to -50 celcius. At these temps your skin freezes in a couple of minutes unless covered well.

I will provide them with a passive solar aviary by doing it this way. A roof and clear polycarbonate wall on the south. They would be able to stretch their wings without going into bad weather. But, on good days they would be able to go out and fly. I was watching a few today in the city. It got up to -6 today. Balmy!

I noticed that some on this site seem to have very strong feeling about having an aviary that is open the the sky. I understand the sentiment. That is part of why I like the idea of allowing them to fly free. By giving them a sheltered area and an open door, i am giving them both. Aren't I?

Thank you for the great information and ideas!

Ps. I am also on the Back Yard Chickens Forum. Thanks
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LokotaLoft
Posted 18th January 2009, 07:53 PM
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are there many preditors in your area? that can have a major impact on your ideas of having an open loft unless you dont mind many losses with your birds ....in my area if I had an open loft I would probably have no more pigeons left at the rate of lossing at least one per day if not more to birds of prey...
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klorinth klorinth is offline
Posted 18th January 2009, 08:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 27
Lokotaloft,

We do of course have them. Hawks, eagles, and owls. Plus the four legged kind.

We also have a feral flock of pigeons that lives around us. I watched them all summer, and they did not loose a single member. I counted. They have now migrated for the winter, so it will be interesting to see how many return in the spring.

The loft is meant to be a refuge for them. A place to hide and raise young, in safety.


I am finding it a little hard to figure out the detials of what I need in an open loft/dovecote. I have seen different types of doors or entrances, traps, etc. Would I need anything like this? Not with a dovecote?
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LokotaLoft
Posted 18th January 2009, 08:56 PM
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i think you could work it with alot less losses if you were able to close it up in the night time at least for the 4 legged preditors ... pigeons dont really migrate they just like to keep closer to food sources in the winter .. dont think you would need bobs but hope you could come up with something to keep hawks and owls out of the loft during the day ..
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UncleBuck UncleBuck is offline
Posted 18th January 2009, 09:57 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 216
You have to find a way to "Trap" the pigeons until they start breeding. This serves a two fold purpose: Keeps the pigeons home and keeps the other birds (Sparrows, starlings, etc...) out until the pigeons establish their residence. Once they raise a few pairs of off-spring, the off-spring will move into the other parts of the dovecote.
In India, I saw them use a removable cage that hung over the entrance to the dovecote.
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klorinth klorinth is offline
Posted 20th January 2009, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 27
Lokotaloft,

Four legged predators should not be a problem in the loft. It is on the ground that I am concerned. If you look at the pics above. The sun porch for the chickens will be walled with vertically oriented clear polycarbonate roofing panels. These create a completely smooth wall from the ground all the way to the roof. The roof will also overhang the walls. The panels and the overhang mean that there is no way to climb up to the landing board, nor jump from the roof onto it. The landing board would be 8' off the ground on the cross beam that you see in the front.

It is the flying predators that will be the issue. That is why I have been focusing on them in my thinking and questions. I need help with the design of the landing board, and the smaller entrance into the loft. I need advice on how to limit the chance of a hawk or owl entering these.

As I have mentioned we have large hawks, eagles, and owls. Predominantly large ones. The hawks are the ones that pick up rabbits on the run and fly away with them. These are not the small varieties. There are a few once in a while, but not often. This is why I am interested in the natural flying skills of different breeds. A fast and agile pigeon can out fly these raptors.

Edit:
I should also add that the yard is about 5 acres in size. There are no trees anywhere near the loft site. No chance for ambushes. The dogs also patrol the entire area. They will chase and kill anything stupid enough to enter. This includes the foxes, feral cats, and coyotes. None of which have tried to enter since the dogs took over. I watch the tracks. Only rabbits and Prairie Chickens have entered at night.

UncleBuck,
I am just starting to look at different types of "traps". I guess the easiest thing would be to block the entrance/exit of the aviary. This would allow the birds to move, sun, and bath while still keeping them confined. Would this also help to orient them to the property? Being able to see the layout daily?

Last edited by klorinth; 20th January 2009 at 11:31 AM..
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klorinth klorinth is offline
Posted 20th January 2009, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 27
I was looking at different pictures of peoples lofts. I find the landing boards for Thief Pouters interesting. They are of course designed to trap new pigeons. This is not what I am interested in. I'm more interested in the easy closing and opening of them.

I am attaching a picture of one from the Loft of Danny Finnigan, Scotland. If you look closely you can see the rope and pulleys used to close it.

Interesting. Are there any that might be easier or more effective?
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RodSD RodSD is offline
Posted 20th January 2009, 06:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: San Diego
Posts: 4,098
I can't help you with hawks solution. I am always present when I release my birds. I also lock the trap after they all got in. I think you can't leave the trap open all the time. It will just invite something going in. For four-legged kind, have you thought of cat-flap trap? I wonder if you can modify it so that the weight of the hawk closes the trap. I've never seen on, of course. You can be the first.
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