The fastest way to breed pigeons? Let them be.
Pigeon are some of the fastest breeders and will raise anywhere between four to six broods of two eggs per brood every year. This means ten to a dozen pigeons per pair, each of which, after six to eight weeks, will mature and breed dozen baby pigeons which will then grow up, and…you get the idea.
That being said, there are, however, controlled methods of breeding pigeons, and even ways to make them breed faster. So, without further ado…
Pigeon breeding techniques: How to breed pigeons faster
Believe it or not, pigeon races are a thing. In such cases, breeders practice a particular form of selective breeding in order to cultivate and increase the potential and possibility of reproducing all the favorable traits associated with the original genetics of either one single pigeon or an original pair, seeing as how pigeons are largely monogamous maters.
You breed pigeons that have ‘winner’ genetic traits over and over to increase the possibility of passing on those genes to the next generations. Originally, line breeding evolved from inbreeding. But as is usually the case, inbreeding had certain issues that resulted in poor genetic traits in the pigeons. More on that later.
Outcrossing or cross-breeding is when you mate pigeons of a different strain, meaning they don’t have any common ancestors over the last four to five generations to introduce a new gene pool into the equation. This is reportedly supposed to result in more dynamic results, increasing the new generation’s vitality and longevity.
This is to ensure that the new genes have a good chance of improving the existing gene pool, rather than dilute or adversely affect it, as seen in the case of inbreeding.
As we discussed earlier, inbreeding often results in a poor gene pool that greatly affects the vitality, strength, and general health of the progeny. However, there is one scenario where inbreeding is used as a part of a potentially long game strategy, for the sole purpose of improving the stock number, as opposed to using the pigeons for useful—and I use this term very loosely—purposes in labs, for races…to spy on top-secret MI6 missions?
How to breed pigeons faster
Usually, it takes 10 to 14 days for the first egg to be laid by the female pigeon after mating. The second one follows a day or two after the first. The subsequent nesting period lasts anywhere between four to six weeks before the eggs hatch.
The easiest way to make sure your pigeon lays as many eggs as possible over the course of one breeding year is to make sure both the female and her mate are well-fed, healthy, hygienic, and are exercised frequently. Their condition must be relaxed so they can mate and subsequently lay the best possible yield of eggs.
That being said, the cut-throat nature of the pigeon-breeding business being the way it is, man has made it so that there is another way to speed things up and get even more eggs.
We just read about how in-breeding is sometimes the preferred method of breeding for the sole purpose of generating stock. Let’s take a closer look.
Pigeon A belongs to a whole line of in-bred pigeons belonging to the gene pool/strain X, while Pigeon B belongs to a whole line of pigeons belonging to genetic pool/strain Y. So, breeding Pigeon A and Pigeon B reduces the chances of bad traits, seeing as how they both belong to different gene pools.
The method works on the principle that by ‘cross-breeding’ pigeons from two different genetic strains, irrespective of the fact that they are originally ‘in-bred,’ you increase the possibility of producing a new generation of pigeon that is strong, healthy, and unaffected by any negative effects that are seen with inbreeding.
You can now effectively breed pigeons faster, increasing the number of pigeons that can now be used for purposes other than just ‘increasing the stock.’
Conditioning pigeons before breeding
It should be a foregone conclusion that, irrespective of what purpose you are breeding pigeons for, you maintain a certain level of hygiene, health, and safety regulations and know what you’re doing, as opposed to accidentally breeding killer pigeons and becoming the next plotline for a dystopian movie.
Step one is to make sure your pigeons are well fed and have clean water to drink from. Constantly monitor their health and immediately isolate and quarantine any pigeon displaying any signs of infection or disease. Pigeons are super-breeders, but they’re also super-spreaders.
Make sure their loft, cage, or enclosure is clean with fresh litter, well ventilated to ensure good circulation of fresh air, and it has enough light- natural, or otherwise.
Rule of thumb: healthy pigeons are happy pigeons and happy pigeons will have happy and healthy baby pigeons—or squabs as they are commonly called.
Conditioning pigeons bred for races
By normal standards, all pigeons bred for racing or other training purposes are given a well-rounded, balanced, and healthy diet, with enough vitamins, minerals, and protein to boost their health, immunity, and productivity. They are also regularly exercised and are kept on a fixed schedule to monitor their behavior, performance, and habits.
It is based on the data collected from this monitoring that it is decided if the pigeon in question is a good bet. The ideal pigeon is:
1.Built strong and healthy.
2.Has soft, yet strong wings that are in proportion with its body.
3.Of good bloodline. Bloodlines play a huge part in the breeding process. Only pigeons that have either been genetically tested as having great genes, or those that have, and I quote “adapted through natural selection and survived the race conditions generation after generation,’ make it on the list (Bob Prisco’s “Breeding Pigeons- Breeding Pigeons for Success Part 1”).
4.Has a decent temperament and, the universal door-opener,
5.Good looking and makes a good appearance.
Once the pigeon ticks all these boxes, the pigeons are selected and then paired off into what is termed ‘the golden breeding pair.’ As much of a culture shock, this is, it is tried and vetted process of breeding pigeons that are strong and healthy, clean and disease-free, with good genetics and an inherent quality to succeed.