I'm the Goldilocks of pigeon lofts.
My first (the corner of a livestock shed) was much too big, and I fed a whole lot more homers than necessary, did a whole lot more clean-up than necessary, had a whole lot more trouble catching the particular birds I wanted than necessary, and took a whole lot more health risk than necessary.
So I downsized my second loft dramatically to a small walk-in accommodating six breeding pairs with just a 4'x4' footprint. It was designed with ease of maintenance in mind and had a grated floor, which needed shoveled out from under just a couple times a year and was a big step up from shoveling, sweeping and shoveling the first one every little whip-stitch. And I no longer needed to chase a particular bird I wanted, as all could be reached with little movement. But it didn't comfortably house as many reserve birds as I might wish to keep, took pains to get in and out of without letting birds slip out, and raised concerns about the health risk of breathing the "dust" the birds and routine cleaning kicked up in that small, relatively confined space.
Loft three, which I find "just right," is another walk-in with a grated floor and that's also designed to accommodate six breeding pairs, but I increased the footprint to 4'x6', which holds more birds, gives them plenty room to move away from the door when I enter and exit, and affords much more ventilation, while still offering sufficient shelter from the elements and allowing easy capture of any particular bird I wish. And it was built of treated lumber and metal siding, so rather than stirring potentially hazardous "dust' while cleaning, I can simply hose all but the nest boxes out. Aside from periodically emptying those next boxes, maintenance is down to hosing out the loft and shoveling the droppings out from under it just twice a year.
Please know I am not trying to suggest that my loft should or would suit anyone else's needs, but am only presenting some considerations I've found important. Be back in a while to post some pics and speak to some small refinements I've found useful, but in the meantime, here is a link showing a very popular loft design, how to build it and lofts a number of others have built beginning with that basic design: PIGEON LOFT LINK
Round two, some photos and "Why?s":
Aside from showing the raised grate floor, hose-proof framing and nest box design, the most important thing this shot shows is the placement of the loft's return trap. It is too far from portions of the loft varmints (and pets) can climb for them to reach and enter it, and it is on a side of the loft that shields it from the view of prey birds perched in the large oaks overlooking the loft. Hawks and owls most definitely do sit and study the birds through the loft's ventilation wire, but none, to date, has solved the riddle of getting at them in the loft.
Here's the highly sophisticated locking system for the trap's hinged outside perch/door, an inverted sliding bolt:
There's also an inside lock for the trap's bobs provided by a rod that can be run through holes near the bottom of the doors frame or through holes near its top to hold the bobs up, as shown here:
A front view during construction:
And the finished loft:
This one shows how the loft is ventilated (maybe not such a good thing in cold climates but great down here) and the small door that allows access to the area under the nesting boxes that can be used to service feeders, waterers and the nesting material bin without disturbing the rest of the loft.
The nesting area:
Since one of my goals is maximum reproduction from a minimum of breeding pairs, I make it as easy as possible for the highly territorial birds to almost always have two sets of young (squabs and new eggs) going at the same time by providing well divided, easily defensible duplex nest boxes that eliminate time and effort otherwise wasted squabbling over nest sites.
One of the "duplexes":
This shot shows my drop-down-for-cleaning nest box fronts. The bottom of each clean box is lined with a double layer of waxed paper (that doesn't trap moisture like some materials) topped with a paper plate to keep the birds from tearing it up. That lets me lift virtually all of the two or three crap-cemented nests that are taken out with each cleaning free of the box in one lump that leaves little behind.
Our nesting material bin:
Pine needles are the best nesting material I've found, and a simple wire bin such as this lets the birds get what they need without as much waste as other methods of offering it might create.
Inverted "V" perches help keep 'em from crapping on each other:
Again, what works for me may not suit the next person's needs at all, but after ten years of having pigeons and three years with this last loft, I'm not anxious to change a thing. Think I finally got it right.
Rick Hall wrote:Sharing a yard with your loft should have no influence your dog's reaction to the birds outside their loft. (I've had a loft in my yard for years, and my dogs' kennels at the lodge are all of thirty feet from our preserve bird pens.)
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