They were in just any district.

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  • Can you narrow down a time frame when these first appeared?
    – justCal
    Sep 4, 2017 at 14:03
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    @user2448131 I think they grew sharply after 1950s.
    – Anixx
    Sep 4, 2017 at 14:23
  • 1
    Tastes like chicken. Sep 4, 2017 at 18:15

3 Answers 3


Pidgeon keeping is a real thing, for sports (pidgeon races), just admiring them (as pets), for food, as messenger pidgeons...

  • 3
    The pigeon meat was not consumed in the USSR, and most of pigeons in those farms were totally common (not well-bred sorts).
    – Anixx
    Sep 4, 2017 at 13:39
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    @Anixx: My neighbour is keeping some as well, and I cannot tell them apart from the hundreds of wild pidgeons around the place either. He on the other hand can possibly make neither head nor tail of my various longbows...
    – DevSolar
    Sep 4, 2017 at 13:42
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    And there were likely no pigeon races in the USSR.
    – Anixx
    Sep 4, 2017 at 13:43
  • @Anixx: Which still leaves using them as (cheap!) messengers, or just pets that are very easy to keep (and replace...).
    – DevSolar
    Sep 4, 2017 at 13:45
  • @Anixx - incorrect, there was pigeon racing in the USSR. This was a peoples hobby to a huge extent. Pigeon racing even predates the USSR.
    – Twelfth
    Nov 15, 2017 at 16:53

I can offer one other possible explanation besides squab. Manure.

According to this site on Micro-livestock:

Pigeons are traditionally raised in dovecotes - "houses" that protect the birds from the elements and from predators. This system allows free-ranging flight and requires almost no human intervention. Dovecotes are a good source of both squab and garden manure, and they continue to be used, especially in Egypt

The buildings you show seem to match the dovecote, specifically the 'urban' design. So if they weren't harvesting the pigeon, it may have been a convenient method of obtaining hard to get, free fertilizer in city areas for gardens.


Pigeon keeping was widespread in Russia (and perhaps some other countries of future USSR) even before the Soviet Union. The birds were kept as purely decorative pets, with no practical use whatsoever. They were not, under normal circumstances, eaten (except at times of famine), not used as messenger birds (there were messenger pigeons, but they were raised at more specialized facilities). Mostly, wealthy enough villagers would spend money on buying exotic pigeons to keep in their pigeon houses. "Exotic" not only in terms of appearance but also in terms of their flying pattern. There were some techniques to control their flight from the ground, to a degree - like waving flags or something. Dedicated pigeon keepers would brag for hours who has better pigeons and how they fly, etc. To my knowledge, the tradition declined later in the Soviet Union, but was (or is) still present.

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