I Smell A Rat...er....Pigeon??

In my years among the Amish I've noticed that they tend to be very ripe pickin's for hucksters, scheme-sters, and other people with dubious motives. Other sales schemes which aren't illegal - Tupperware, Stanley, etc - also find fertile ground in Amish communities.  I think part of this is "trust."  The Amish are a very trusting people.  Interestingly, this is a bit at odds with the reputation of the Amish being a "suspiscious" people.  I actually think they are both.  They are suspiscious at first of many outsiders, but a a slick salesman that can somehow penetrate the outer-shell can often find a willing customer.  Usually the slick salesman overcomes the suspiscion by throwing around grandiose visions of potential wealth, which appeals to the natural entrepreneurial streak of most Amish.  That's my long preface to this bizarre story about Pigeon King, a pigeon-breeding business (with no apparent market for the feathered friends) that is catching on among Amish farmers.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm skeptical about this business....sounds like a classic pyramid-type scheme that is roping in plenty of Amish.

Oh, and what the heck, while we're on an animal theme today. Check out what happened when a hog escaped from a butcher shop and headed straight for a nearby Mennonite school.

Re: I Smell A Rat...er....Pigeon??

What once looked like a high-flying and profitable opportunity — and sold under the promise to save family farms –seems to be crashing to the ground.

At least one Ohio breeder has confirmed rumors Arlan Galbraith has filed bankruptcy on his Ontario-based Pigeon King International pigeon breeding business.

Lucy Burkholder, whose husband Tim owns 1,000 pigeons as part of a contract with Galbraith, said by phone June 19 that the couple confirmed the rumors were true.

The Burkholders raise pigeons in Shiloh, Ohio, in northern Richland County. Lucy Burkholder said the family had been raising pigeons nearly three years and are “not quite sure” what will happen now.

“Tim always wondered how long it would last. Of course it was a shock to hear, but we didn’t think it couldn’t happen,” she said.

The voicemail box at Pigeon King headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, was full Thursday morning and not accepting messages. Communications manager Shelley Mason was not immediately available for comment via her cell phone.

More details have emerged regarding the financial status of the defunct Pigeon King International and its bankruptcy proceedings. In a statement signed June 26, PKI owner Arlan Galbraith revealed debts of more than $23.5 million to breeders and vendors across the U.S. and Canada.Galbraith sent a letter to breeders telling them of his bankruptcy June 17. The formal filing was made July 2.

Galbraith revealed owned assets of only $46,003, including a 2007 Dodge 1500 pickup truck and 2008 GMC van valued at $20,000 each.

He listed ‘trade fixtures’ at his Waterloo and Moorefield offices at $3,000 each, and the remaining $3 of his assets were attributed equally to livestock; loans, advances or accounts receivable; and cash on hand.
Galbraith’s accounts payable totaled a staggering $23,542,400, including money owed to Alma Poultry Farm in Moorefield, Ontario; various barn rental or pigeon breeding creditors, and trade accounts.

At the time of the bankruptcy, Galbraith owed some $2.8 million to owners of barns he rented across the U.S. and Canada.

One of those barn owners, Rudy Gingerich of Danville, Ohio, previously told Farm and Dairy he was the first in the U.S. to go into business with Galbraith.

Gingerich would travel the state to pick up about 3,000 young birds Ohio breeders were selling back to the company each month, and hold them on his farm in the barns rented by Galbraith.

According to the filing, Galbraith rented Gingerich’s barns for $2,100 a month. His losses over the next four years from Galbraith’s breach of contract total more than $100,000.

The highest rental loser is a farm in Moorefield, Ontario, which had been paid $5,000 a month in rent, for a total loss of $240,000.

Bankruptcy documents identified 12 Canadian and 24 U.S. operators who rented barn space to Galbraith. In the U.S., four are in Ohio and six are in Pennsylvania.

Although Galbraith previously refused to provide a full list of contracted breeders, the latest filing shows 168 breeders in Canada and 277 in the U.S. Those breeders were owed $20 million, according to the filing.

However, the list is likely incomplete since it does not include the names of all known breeders Farm and Dairy has interviewed about pigeon breeding in the past year.

The list names 49 Ohio breeders and 85 in Pennsylvania.

Galbraith’s top creditor in the U.S. was a farm in Green Ridge, Mo., owed $700,000. The next two creditors on the list debt-wise were in Republic, Ohio, at $250,000; and Enon Valley, Pa., at $225,000.

Galbraith also carried $277,000 of debt owed vendors, according to the filing. Some of those vendors included radio stations, print publications, feed stores, printing companies and Bell Canada telephone.

The filing also included a list of 16 people previously employed by Pigeon King International. The filing said those people were mailed notice of the bankruptcy the week of July 1.

Galbraith’s total amount owed to abandoned contractors will climb higher as more details about finances emerge.

According to bankruptcy trustee BDO Dunwoody Limited, Galbraith initially operated the pigeon breeding business as a sole proprietorship, so many of the early contracts are with him personally and not the Pigeon King International entity.

BDO Dunwoody Limited is not representing Galbraith, only Pigeon King International, in proceedings. Figures of Galbraith’s own debts were not available.

Breeders with contracts with PKI, Galbraith or his other company, Benn Contracting Inc., were included in the filing.

Galbraith’s own Sacred Dove Ranch, which was incorporated in February 2007, “apparently had no assets or liabilities,” according to the bankruptcy trustee handling the matter.

staib18's picture

Pigeon buiz may be legit.

I used to raise pigeons. They are not just used for food. There are many enthusiasts who depending on the breeds, race them or show them and some pigeons are like acrobats in the sky. For instance I had ones who were bread to roll backwards in the air in order to divert attention away from a flock when a falcon comes to attack. When the falcon dives the roller just rolls and escapes quite brilliantly out of the way. So pigeon enthusiasts keep those for that purpose.  

Like the horse racing industry there is allot of money involved within the circle of enthusiasts. And from what I read on their website  http://pigeonkinginternational.com/ they seem to cover all of those needs. Is it a legit business? It sure looks like it to me. Up to this point in my memory only individuals breed and raise the birds themselves and then either by auction or sale or trade these birds and depending on the blood line, a pigeon fancier can get a good price on a bird. 

I think that any money making avenue that the Amish or the rest of us for that matter go into is a risk. Many times while visiting Amish Country in PA I've seen non traditional animals being raised for many purposes to make money. There is no guarantee that those avenues will work either. So if someone wants to do this and do their homework to check out if this business is Kosher I say go for it.  

Re: I Smell A Rat...er....Pigeon??

"Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it, you can never get it back."


The only use I can figure is that domesticated pigeon called squab is cooked in high-end restaraunts and is supposed to be like a cornish game hen or something.

Re: I Smell A Rat...er....Pigeon??

I grew up Amish and my family is still Amish. They are very naive people and that is sadly why so many can be taken advatage of.

Re: I Smell A Rat...er....Pigeon??


What are the pigeons supposedly being raised for? are they being fattened up for market aka turkeys??

Might be weird but i felt sorry for the butcher and his family. Some days it might have been a good idea to sleep in. 



I remember seeing an article about this in one of the Pathways papers (Family Life or Young Companion), so I suppose it's a concerne in the Amish community...

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