Santa Barbara, California
Congleton, United Kingdom
Species group: Domestic (Fancy) Pigeons
Other name(s): Red Carneau Pigeon;
White Carneau Pigeon
AppearanceDetails: The Carneau Pigeon was developed in Northern France and Southern Belgium as a utility pigeon for eating as squab. Originally the Carneau were a very low maintenance pigeon that would fly freely in the fields. But over time, they were bred to be heavier and today they are the second largest domesticated pigeon after the King Pigeon. The Carneau Pigeon is still raised for meat in France, the UK (particularly Scotland), and there is a growing market in Australia. In America the Carneau was cross-bred with the King Pigeon and then back-crossed to re-establish the breed. American Carneaus are typically 20% heavier than their European equivalents. Carneau chicks grow rapidly and by 30 days old they are half the weight of the adults (is is at this age they are typically sold for meat). The red form of the bird, the Red Carneau, has traditionally been popular as a fancy, show pigeon. Today however, fanciers and hobbyists tend to prefer the white form and this is now overtaking the Red Carneau as the most frequently seen. The White Carneau makes a very smart show bird.
Weight: 600 - 740 grams
Average size: 25 centimeters
Lifespan: 7 - 10 years
Diet: In the wild, pigeons are eclectic about what they eat. They will consume plant matter (cabbages and asters are particularly favoured), small earthworms, seeds of all kinds, insects and grubs. To keep pigeons healthily in captivity you should try as best you can to replicate their varied diet. They should be supplied with a variety of nutritious seeds, produce, and some pellets supplemented daily with fresh greens (kale and dandelion are good). The addition of formulated pellets will help to supplement any nutrients missing from their diet. You can also feed your pigeons slugs and snails from the gardens (just make certain they are free from any poisons and toxins). Indeed, like chickens pigeons make an excellent form of biological control for pests. In addition to a regular supply of food, pigeons should have a plentiful supply of water.
Housing: Utility pigeons have been traditionally kept in dovecotes, basically double nesting sites with a perch. Most pigeon fanciers keep their pigeons in a large outdoor aviary called a loft although Carneaus also enjoy living as a household pet. As a minimum each pair of birds should have 4 square feet of floor space. Do not over-crows as this stresses the birds, causing them to fight and making them more susceptible to disease. Also, if you are going to breed your pigeons give them a double nest with a bowl for the nest. The hen will typically lay a second clutch before the first two hatchlings have fledged (it is the male's job to look after this). This is why pigeons bond to form monogamous pairs. If you have an outdoor habitat then it should be off the ground to reduce the risks from predators, particularly if you are growing pigeons as squabs (for meat). If, however, you do not want to breed your pigeons you must separate the sexes. Also ensure that the aviaries or any housing are cleaned daily. Pigeon droppings and feathers contain proteins that can act as allergens in human lungs. This reduces the risk for you and the birds. In addition all hard surfaces and housing should be disinfected monthly using proper disinfection procedures. This is done by first by scrubbing with a soap and water, then rinse thoroughly, and lastly applying a disinfectant such as bleach per the label instructions.
In terms of temperament the Carneau is second only to the King Pigeon in terms of placidity. It is a curious bird and if kept as a house pet you do need to keep an eye on them as they have a tendency to get into everything. They are social birds and will interact with other birds and with humans. As long as they are well cared for they typically put few demands on their owners. It should also be noted that due to their ancestry (they were developed from field pigeons) that Carneaus can scratch. It is not typically a big problem, but it is something to keep an eye on.Written by Dyfed Lloyd Evans