I don't know how others are but personally, I like to build my pigeon loft by myself. It's not so difficult, it's funny and a lot cheaper. You must have a plan for building the loft, you have to decide how fancy it will be and also how many pigeons it will accommodate.
Another thing to take into consideration is the pigeon breed the loft is built for. For racing pigeons I recommend it to be divided into three compartments (one for those pigeons that lay eggs, one for youth pigeons and one for those pigeons that take part in racing), while for recreational pigeons you will need just 2 compartments (the first two compartments). It is recommended to have one more compartment for sick pigeons. There are few principles you have to take in consideration when you build a loft for your pigeons.
- The loft has to be place with the front to the south and in a sunny spot.
- You also have to pay much attention to the wind as well; too much wind is not good for pigeons.
- The wind direction is also a major factor to be taken in consideration.
- Every pigeon needs one cub meter of air, so let's say that a loft 3m/2m/2m is 12 cubic meters then it should accommodate 12 pigeons.
- The base has to be made by concrete and covered with metal grills (wooden grills are also good – personally I consider wooden grills better but they are not very easy to be cleaned).
- Walls should be made from wire net (at least one side) and it should have small mesh to prevent the rodents entering into the loft. The net should be fixed in the loft's foundation for a better tightness.
- The loft must have an access door for the caretaker and one for pigeons. The access door for pigeons should be place on the top side of the front wall and the optimal dimension (according to my experience) is 50 cm /30 cm. The pigeon's access door can have metal bars that can be use to limit the pigeons access only in one sense.
- The pigeon's access door has to be gifted with a landing spot (a piece of wood for example, where the pigeons can land before entering the loft).
- The roof has to be well made to ensure that it keeps the interior dry.
- The compartments will be divided using wood or wire mesh.
- In the loft you have to build resting places for pigeons (resting poles and resting planks).
- The loft must contain mating and hatching boxes. These boxes are one meter long, 60 cm wide and 60 cm high. They are divided with a wall made by wire mesh. The front wall must have an access door made by wire mesh as well. I use the same boxes for hatching too. Normally, many people use different boxes for hatching with two build-in nests which are placed 20 cm above the box floor. The dimensions of these boxes are relative, they should have different size for different kinds of pigeons. For delicate breeds, isolated boxes are widely used. They have a very small access door but they have the upside part detachable for easy access, clean and disinfection.
- Hatching cells have to accommodate the parents and the baby pigeons. They don't have to be too large nor too small.
- Inside the loft has to be placed the following: trough, feeder, bathing pool and a box for sand and minerals.
The water troughs have to maintain the water fresh and clean all day long. Open vessels are not recommended. Plastic and glass vessels are very effective because the algae do not grow on their walls. However, if the water trough is properly cleaned algae are not a problem. Water containers (troughs) have an upper part that represents the reservoir and a lower part which is provided with openings where the pigeons introduce their heads to drink water. The troughs have to be placed slightly above the floor to prevent the water getting dirty. Each filling of the trough requires a well made cleaning and disinfection of the vessel because the infectious diseases are easily transmitted through drinking water.
Feeders (feed trough)
Every loft has to contain at least on feed trough. To learn more about feed trough please refer to this article "pigeons diet - pigeons feed" on this website.
Bathing pools are simple trays, used by pigeons for bathing. A bathing pool shouldn't be over 10 cm deep. Bathing pools have to be always clean and they have to be removed from the loft after it is used. Water bath has to be also clean and dissolved 1 or 2 spoons of salt in it (for every 10 l of water). Salt prevents the developing of the parasites in the water. Pigeons always drink the water they take bath in.
Over the loft floor, a good practice is to be installed a grill (10 cm above the loft's floor). Grill floor is used to keep away the pigeons droppings and feathers reducing the danger of infectious disease. The grill floor has to be removable, in this way the cleaning can be made easy. Droppings fall through the grill gaps on the loft's floor and it can be removed periodically.
The regular nests are simple plates (22 cm in diameter). The nests have to be special designed to not overturn even when the pigeon stands on its edge. The pigeons will line these plates with branches and feathers creating the nest. These plates can be made by wood, plastic or clay. There are disposable nests as well, made by cardboard. They are very hygienic and economical.
The most used resting peaches take the shape of a roof. They are made by 2 boards (about 25 cm each) joined together in a right angle. The resting peaches can be installed on one of the loft's walls. The number depends on the number of the pigeons. Droppings fall on the two inclined boards, then slide on the floor, keeping the pigeons clean and healthy. Resting peaches can take shape of sloping shelves.
Hatching cells is the most important thing for the pro-genitive pigeons. Only pair "tenant" can stand inside of it, any intruders are immediately chased out. Both, female and male protect their "home". These battles can harm birds (especially the head) but rarely happens because the intruder go away pretty quickly. Nesting cell must be large enough to allow both birds sit comfortably inside. Before the first series of squabs (baby pigeons) leave the nest, the adults will lay other eggs. It is necessary that the cell is big enough to accommodate two nests. If there is not the second nest, the female pigeon will lay the eggs next to the squabs, which is not recommended.