Denise’s Story: Dumped like trash

Our friends at MickaCoo Pigeon and Dove Rescue save these beautiful birds, and a group of pigeons came to Harvest Home in February 2011 after they were dumped like trash in the City of Oakland. Together with our other rescued King pigeons, they will live out their natural lives in peace.

The plight of King pigeons in modern food production is largely unknown to the general public. Like other animals raised for food, adult King pigeons and their offspring (squab) are raised in unsanitary, intensive confinement. California’s upper San Joaquin Valley is a leader in squab production in the United States.

Squab are young domestic pigeons raised for their meat. They are marketed at 28 days after hatching. It is a high-end delicacy meat analogous to veal and foie gras. Squab is popular in metropolitan areas such as San Francisco and New York City.

A commercial squab operation maintains 1:1 sex ratio among its breeder flocks. Male-female breeding pairs are monogamous. Each pair shares the rearing responsibilities of their offspring’s slaughter. Breeding pigeons are replaced typically every 4 to 5 years. Spent breeder pigeons are sold for meat. At the processing plant, squab and spent breeders are denied basic humane slaughter protections.

As an organization dedicated to alleviating the suffering of animals abused in modern agriculture, it’s our duty to shed light on the untold story of King pigeons. By telling the King pigeons’ common story, we have the compassionate opportunity to save the lives of even more animals in the future.