The winter also marks the start of an important breeding period for those who want to breed young top pigeons. Fanciers across the country pair pigeons in the hope of getting a future champion. Due to its artificial nature though, winter breeding requires thorough preparation.
Breeding pigeons in winter is stressful, and not only for the pigeons. It also involves care and work for the enthusiasts, because the pigeons have to be in top shape. We’ll give you some tips to start the new season with a head start.
Make sure the pigeons are healthy
It’s best to pay a visit to the vet more than a month before you start breeding the pigeons (end of October, beginning of November). The vet can then check whether the pigeons are free of all the classic ailments, such as trichomonosis, coccidiosis, worms and paratyphoid.
Do you have to give them drugs? Then follow the vet’s directions to the letter. Otherwise you’ll do more harm than good. Also keep in mind that pigeons usually drink less during the winter period and that you have to adjust the dosages slightly. If you want, you can even mix their medicine in with their food.
During the previous racing season, did you encounter the same problems several times, such as thick heads or being out of shape? Then now is the time to find out the real cause of this. Winter is also a good time for a medicinal cure, if necessary. After the treatment you can give your pigeons a cleanse with a "natural cure" to remove excess toxins from their bodies. For example, give Colombine Tea and B-chol for eight days.
Give the lofts a thorough cleaning
Is the moulting almost over (late October, early November)? Then it’s best to get the lofts and pigeons completely free of parasites. That means thorough scratching, vacuuming and destroying all sources of contamination with a blowtorch. Afterwards you can disinfect every nook and cranny with a disinfectant spray. You also have to rid the pigeons of vermin themselves.
Get the pigeons out of winter mode
How do you achieve easy and consistent laying? To do this, you have to get the pigeons you want to breed out of their 'winter mode' bit by bit. About two to three weeks before mating, leave the light on in the evening until around 9 or 10 pm.
After all, your pigeons brain stem cells respond to the number of hours of daylight. As a result, the hormone balance and the associated fertility are set in motion, because in normal winter conditions hormone production falls sharply and the pigeon is less sex-driven and fertile.
Be careful with additional lighting during the winter breeding period. With a dimmer switch, you ensure that all the birds are in the nest before the lights go out.
Provide appropriate food
To get your winter breeders in an even better condition, you can also mix Ferti-Oil (vitamin E) in the feed, together with Form Mix Plus (to improve their condition). You can continue to do this daily until the second egg has been laid. By doing this, you ensure a quick and easy coupling, consistent and smooth laying, and a fertilization rate.
Couple the pigeons beforehand, if possible
To further facilitate coupling and to reduce the risk of fights when you want to breed pigeons in winter, it is also advantageous to "pre-couple" the breeding pair. Place them in a "half-box" two to three weeks before the actual coupling. Doing so allows the pigeons to get to know each other so they will immediately recognize and accept their partner two to three weeks later.
Advice for fertilization and laying
Breeding pigeons is difficult if there are too many 'prying eyes' in the loft. Therefore, keep the couple in their nest box for a few days before laying, a few hours before nightfall. That way, the rest of the flock is not disturbed during mating and the chance of unfertilized eggs and fights is greatly reduced.
What about moving eggs? Many enthusiasts will move or buy eggs the first round. Sometimes, however, problems arise with large differences in laying dates between eggs. Remember that you can store eggs perfectly fine for eight days before laying them. Keep them in a box with round seed in a dark cupboard at room temperature. Turn the eggs twice a day and cover them at the appropriate time. Please note, the eggs must not be incubated yet when you take them away!
Normally, hens start laying a week after pairing. However, every fancier has already experienced a pigeon already laying an egg after three or four days. Don't panic: it is quite possible that this egg has been fertilized. Fertilization of the eggs only takes place in the last days before laying and it’s only when the shell has fully formed that an egg can no longer be fertilized. So don't throw those eggs away. Let them incubate for eight days and then check whether or not they have been fertilized.