Breed: Jacobin pigeon
Temperament: self contained
Cost: From $50 to $200 each
Lifespan: 10 years
Recommended for: enthusiasts
Jacobin pigeons were named after the Jacobin order of monks who date from 1100 and were known for their distinctive hooded habits. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the Jacobins were Dominican friars so-called after the nearby church of St Jacques in Paris. (Jacobean refers to the reign of James I.)
According to breeders, the Jacobin pigeon was developed from a mutation known as early as the 1500’s. It went through four major stages of development to reach the bird of today.
The Jacobin is a medium sized pigeon, not as robust as a racing pigeon, quite slender and tall.
It is characterised by a distinctive muff or cowl of feathers which forms a rosette on both sides of the pigeon’s head. This is made up of a mane at the back of the head, the hood over the top and a "cravat" of two lines of feather running down the front of the chest. From the mane to cravat across the line of the eye the hood measures 5-6 inches. It stands a couple of inches above the head.
There is currently a trend towards breeding Jacobins with longer necks which then hold the hood off the shoulders. This is said to better display the hood. The breeder interviewed for our segment, Mr Darcy Cook, says there is a problem, however, in that the birds with the best feather quality also appeared to be those which were heavily shouldered.
There is no feathering around the feet. Apart from the hood, the birds are slender and sleek. The Jacobin in Australia comes in black, white, red and yellow.
Some breeders describe the Jacobin as a pugnacious bird, others prefer to describe them as being ‘individualist’ and recommend separate breeding boxes for each pair. This is because when paired for breeding, cocks can and will take over a cage floor as their territory and could prevent other birds from feeding.
Health and lifespan
As long as they don’t rely on their natural parent to rear them, Jacobins aren’t prone to any special diseases. Mr Cook recommends routine treatment for canker once or twice yearly for adults and at five days for babies. They can suffer from chronic respiratory disease (CRD) but affected birds are very obvious by their heavy breathing and require specialist attention.
Jacobin hens won’t usually lay after six years of age and cocks fail to fill eggs around that time. Most serious breeders clear out their lofts of birds over four years of age, although they can live for 10 – 11 years.
A 25 kg bag of pigeon mix costs around $13.50 and Mr Cook estimates that each pigeon would eat enough to fill two matchboxes daily.
Jacobins will be mated up around the end of July; it is around this time that breeders will cut the hood feathers and trim feathers around the vent to allow more efficient mating. The hood is so large that it can interfere with mating.
Once mated, Jacobin hens will lay an egg, wait a day, lay another egg and 17 days later hopefully hatch two chicks. Foster parents such as homers are usually used to hatch and raise Jacobin chicks as the Jacobin has been so developed that the beak is short and they have trouble feeding them.
The situation with the shape of the head is such that Jacobin hens may not even know if one of their eggs has slipped out under her as she couldn’t see in front. Homers can see and would immediately scratch the egg back under.
Jacobins will be allowed to lay three batches of eggs during the season, each batch usually consisting of two eggs.
Jacobins cost from $50 to $200 each. The first Jacobins to be allowed into Australia since 1949 arrived in 1991. These cost an estimated $800 per bird to import and were all reds and yellows.
Jacobins are not considered a housepet. They area breed for the fancy pigeon enthusiast, not for the beginner due to the fact that fostering is required.
Space and maintenance
Mr Cook allows 1.2m x 1.8m x 1.8m (4ft x 6ft x 6ft) for three pairs. Many breeders use sand on the floor, not sawdust which will blow around, and recommend cleaning the loft thoroughly fortnightly. Food needs to be fresh daily.
Australian National Pigeon Society
Trevor Joseph (National Ring Coordinator)
1 Avon Dam Road
Bargo, NSW, 2574
Phone: (02) 4684 1849
The Society can supply contacts in other states.