Mangile's Pigeon Pages
American Pigeon Journal
June 1989, pages 31-32.
Many Questions For You About
Flock Pens and Individual Breeding Coops
By Robert J. Mangile
816 E. Atkinson Ave.
Pittsburg, Kansas 66762
Fanciers have pondered at length over the
pros and cons of separate breeding cages as compared to flock or open
loft breeding. Evidence shows that over the course of time, flock
matings always produce some illegitimate offspring. There is
threatening to fanciers when they are confronted with this aspect of
Consider a few examples that likely
occur in many lofts. (1) ... A hen lowers her body for her mate
in preparation for copulation and another cock begins fighting with her
mate. While they are fighting, a third cock mounts and breeds the
The hen seems uninterested in the difference! (2) ... A hen is
nearing the time to lay an egg and the fancier removes her nest
box. She lays on the floor or in another nest. The fancier
either puts the egg into another nest or arbitrarily removes the third
egg from the nest in which she laid her egg. (3) ... A fancier
moves a special pair of eggs or squabs to foster parents but looses
track of them. His ignorance is incorporated into his
(4) ... A fancier records a squab's band number in the wrong
place. The band number becomes part of a long pedigree
representing the wrong bird. (5) ... A fancier is slightly
confused with squab and egg switching. Absolute certainty is not
established. The temptation to deliberately cheat simply to keep
the books in order is always present. Does he make record
entries? Have you made similar record entries? Are you
We can produce a powerful moral
argument against all of the above but let us face reality; it does in
fact happen. Ironically ...everything is based on the accuracy
and morality of the fancier and the pigeons. When we pay big
bucks for purebred birds, are we satisfied with the ‘status quo’?
There is apparent self-fulfillment
among animal breeders who pride themselves with the purchasing and
raising of ‘pure bred’ animals. What this means to the average
person in our society is quite obscure. Terms like ‘pure blood’
‘pure gold’ suggests that impure blood or impure gold is less
desirable. But, quite strangely, the makers of ivory soap boast
that their soap is less than 100% pure.
With respect to breeding pigeons, we
can reduce some of the doubt with the use of individual breeding
coops. By breeding pigeons in separate coops a fancier might
believe that their pedigrees could be recorded accurately. But
can they? Over the years, my personal experiences with
individual breeding coops has convinced me that things can get
fouled-up just as easy.
Consider ... parings that produce eggs
within a week or so after being placed into a separate coop and raising
offspring that clearly were not sired by the cock in the coop.
This has generated much caution when selecting first round squabs for
future matings. My personal habits of switching eggs and squabs
have caused several mistakes over the years. Not to mention
entering band numbers incorrectly; for example: 909 for 606, (upside
down), or assigning it to pair number 968 instead of 986, etc.
Surely, this is not unusual to experienced fanciers!
There are many instances in which such
errors may go undetected. Consider a flock of pedigreed blue bar
homers or white kings. The birds are all of the same color!
would we detect errors? Impossible in many cases! Would we
care? Does anyone care? If anyone does care; why would they
care? Such errors have been going on for centuries. Can we
see ‘improvement’, in spite of pedigrees that aren't really
accurate? If it worked in the past it should work now. Why
bother with the concern? Yes, it's all very confusing!
If I were asked to keep records of
pigeons in a flock pen for three or four years as accurately as I
possibly can, I feel certain that I would have an error in the
pedigrees of many birds. Particularly if I was hell-bent on
keeping my ‘family’ of birds together, or in other words, I enforced
‘line-breeding’. It would only matter of time for a single error
to be incorporated into the pedigrees of many birds and
eventually my entire flock. Would I be upset? Probably not
because ... I would find too easy to ignore! Worse yet ... no one
would be aware or even care. And, that is where I get
confused? Humans tend to ignore things that present problems that
interfere with a clear focus.
My dictionary gives a definition for
the word ‘pedigree’ as, "a recorded or known line of descent, esp. of a
purebred animal". Is this the definition pigeon fanciers
accept? If it is and if you acknowledge that at least some of
what is stated above is credible, then you have a dilemma. Is an
individual breeding coop better than the open loft? Yes!
After the first clutch all the offspring should be legitimate.
The question is not one of honesty but
one of accuracy. Have you switched eggs or recorded band numbers
improperly? Or, do you know for certain that your neighbor kid or
another fancier hasn't jokingly switched eggs in the nest? Are
you absolutely positive of the sire and/or dam of every squab you
raise? Perhaps refusal to acknowledge such likely deviations is
simply to avoid upsetting our mental apple cart. Personally, I
have doubts about many aspects of our hobby. Individual breeding
coops will eliminate some doubts but not all of them! I need more