Pigeon Fostering

Pigeon Fostering…..

This is our method to raise an all white round, then a race team, using fosters and ‘natural parents’….

Put the pairs together, and let everyone lay a round of eggs. Most pairs will lay within 7-10 days of each other.

Throw away all the eggs from all the pairs on the same day.

Approximately 7-10 days later, everyone will lay a second set of eggs, usually within 3-4 days of each other.

Now the hard part — keeping track of who you are fostering whose eggs under…. LOL Good record keeping is ESSENTIAL here.

Remove the eggs from Pair A – and carefully put the eggs from Pair B under them. (Pair A is the pair you are NOT raising babies from at this time). Record on the nest card that Pair A has Pair B’s eggs…..

Pair A will incubate and raise Pair B’s babies. In the meantime, about a week later, Pair B will lay again – and then are allowed to keep/hatch these eggs. This way, you have now got 4 babies from Pair B, within 7-10 days of each other in age.

In our loft, this of course would be repeated with Pair C and D, E and F, etc.

Once the first set of babies has been weaned, the process is repeated. Although by then, we usually do not have to throw out a round of eggs – there are enough pairs laying within the same time frame, to swap eggs – so Pair B will not necessarily raise Pair A’s – etc. (confused yet? LOL)
Again, good record keeping is essential – otherwise, you end up not knowing whose babies are whose

We also have a few birds who just don’t produce good babies on their own – so whenever possible, they are used to foster “good” producing pairs babies.

Emergency Fostering

Sometimes one of a pair is lost – or the parents aren’t good parents (common with Young Birds), and you find yourself in a dilema. Do you hand raise a baby (difficult), or is there another pair in the loft that could help out?

Sometimes, one baby is much smaller than the other – and the larger one keeps pushing the weaker one away at feeding time – and the weaker one is in danger of dying of hunger….

In the first case — you have some choices.

1/ If the babies aren’t fully feathered yet – and you have a pair or two who have a single baby of similar size/age – you can put the babies in with the ‘singles’ to be raised. Hopefully, you’ve already banded and recorded the parentage of the orphan babies – so you don’t mix up whose baby is whose.

In a pinch – a pair COULD raise three babies – but watch carefully that all babies are getting properly fed. You might have to suppliment one or two of them from time to time.

2/ If you have two orphan babies – and only one other pair that could foster for you – and they have two of their own — you can try putting one baby in with the pair – and keep one in the house to hand feed. Again, watch that all three in the nest are adequately fed. You could also swap the babies every other day – hand feeding one, while the other spends a day getting “bird fed”. LOL

3/ If the orphans are from a pair of birds that are really important to you – and you have another pair of breeders who are on 12-14 day eggs, that you are willing to sacrifice — you can put babies up to 5 days of age into that nest, removing the eggs of course. The “foster” parents will have a very strange suprised look on their faces, when their eggs suddenly turn into rather largish babies…. but they will take to them like they are their own.

Case Two…..

Sometimes, one chick just doesn’t grow as quickly as the other. Could be there is something wrong with it – or could be, it’s just not as strong. The larger of the two might take all the food – and the little one just will never do well, and could starve to death, even under it’s own parents….

In this case – if you have more than one nest with a similar mix – one baby smaller than the other – you can put the two larger babies in the same nest under one pair – and the two smaller babies together under the other pair.

Or – if you have a large/small set of babies – and a pair of parents who have a single baby that is similar in size to EITHER of the ‘mix’ sized babies – put the two similar sizes ones in the same nest. (it’s preferable, if possible, to leave the smaller baby with it’s parents – where it is now an “only” – and will get fed more, without any sibling rivalry…. lol)

Of course, if necessary, if there are no foster parents available – you can try supplimenting the smaller baby by hand feeding it once or twice a day -then putting it back in the nest with it’s parents/sibling. This way, it should catch up in size to the larger baby – and you won’t have to suppliment any more.

“HOLDING” Eggs…..

This is worth a small note – we’ve tried this, and raised babies from the same cock bird with 3 different hens – all within the same breeding period….

Pair A lays eggs. As soon as the first egg is laid – gently remove it from the nest, and put it in an egg carton in a safe place, at room temperature. Turn the egg GENTLY once a day. Do the same as soon as the 2nd eggs is laid. Make sure the eggs are at room temp (68-70 deg), and they are turned once a day. It is imperative that you remove the eggs BEFORE the hen starts incubating. Once incubation/growth has started, removing the eggs will kill the baby growing inside…

Now, this hinges on you having another pair ready to foster – you know they are going to lay eggs within 3-4 days of Pair A. Anything more than 3-4 days, and you might not have any success….

After Pair B (the foster pair) has laid their second egg – remove the eggs, and put the Pair A eggs you’ve been ‘holding’ under them.

With luck, 18 days or so … you’ll have 2 lovely hatches!

btw — we did this using what is called the “bull” system. One cock bird in a ‘room’ with 3 hens (we actually had four – but the cock bird didn’t like the fourth one for some reason… lol). He paired with the 3 hens – they built three separate nests – and we fostered the first two hens’ eggs by ‘holding’ them – and let the cock bird raise a round with the 3rd hen (moved the other hens out into a different area, once they’d laid their eggs). We got six babies from the same cock bird – all hatched within 7 days of each other.

Using ‘natural’ breeding, it would have taken 4-5 months to have achieved the same result (6 babies from one cock bird).

One more note on fostering…..

You can ‘switch’ eggs up to about 4-5 days, max. After that, you run into trouble…

For Example — Pair A has laid eggs. Pair B lays 4-5 days later. You can still put Pair B’s eggs under Pair A with success.

If Pair A’s eggs are older than 4-5 days – and you try to foster Pair B’s eggs under them – they might abandon the eggs before they hatch. Some pairs will sit the nest only as long as the regular incubation period is – and if the eggs don’t hatch within a day or so of the ‘due date’ they expect – they give up and leave the next.

Of course, we’ve had pairs that will sit on eggs for almost a month before giving up…..

Pigeon Fostering by WhiteWingsCA

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18 thoughts on “Pigeon Fostering

  1. Hello Chris
    Thank you for Pigeon Fostering this is very, very good information.

    Thank you again

  2. Dear Chris: I own 16 old homing pigeons that I recently bought to a friend of mine that moved and had to finish with his loft. I have 5 “forced couples” and already two of them have lay eggs. Your article on pigeon fostering is wonderful and came in the very wright moment. Thank you very much and congratulations. Eugenio Caviedes

  3. I found this and thought I would share it…

    Polygamous Breeding
    There are several ways to get additional young from your special cocks. The facility you have available will pretty much determine the number of young you will be able to raise as well as the extra pairs you need to act as foster parents

    SYSTEM 1
    Let’s say you have eight pairs of stock racing pigeons that you want to raise from your race team. When you mate them put four pairs together, wait 6 or 8 days then put the remaining four paris together. If you have all 8 hens the same color that’s best — if you have 4 BBs and 4 BCs — that works okay too. If you are really lucky the cock you are going to use as your “Poly Cock” does not care what color the hens are.

    In this scenario you need at least 9 identical compartments. One for the cock and 8 for the mated pairs.

    When the 1st 4 pairs have raised their babies to about 14 days or when the cock starts to call the hen — you remove the cock and the babies to a pen away from the hens. Leave the hens alone with their nest bowls in place for 2 or 3 days — By now you should have 4 hens alone.

    Starting now you take the poly cock to the hens, only long enough for treading. If at first the hen does not accept the cock, move him to the next hen. After one or 2 trips — It usu-ally works. One or two hens AM the other two throughout the day.

    Do not allow him to remain with any one hen longer than necessary you don’t want either to become attached.

    Since the 2nd egg is fertilized 4 hours after the 1st egg is laid — you continue putting the poly cock with the hens only to the day they lay egg #1.

    1 then remove and mark the first egg (eyebrow pencil works well) and replace it with a wooden egg.

    The following morning, bring back the original cock and the babies. The cock will be very aggressive for a half hour or so but by the time the hen lays her second egg he will be ready to continue playing papa for your special cocks babies.

    Now you can concentrate on the other 4 pair.

    If you repeat the procedure once more you can have 16 babies from the original cocks and 32 from your “poly cock.” A great way to prove out a Special Cock while insuring yourself of 16 young from your stock pairs.

    SYSTEM 2
    This system requires 4 identical individuals + 1 for your Poly Cock.

    You start by putting 4 hens (same color if possible) into the compartments, place nest bowls and shavings or whatever nesting material they are used to in each compartment.

    On the 2nd day you bring the “poly cock” to hen #1 from 7: am to 9: am then to # 2 from 9: am to 12 noon, 4 3 noon till 4: pm and #4 from 4 pm till dusk.

    Remove the cock to his own compartment for the night — repeat the procedure for the next 8 to 10 days — or until each hen lays her first egg.

    When the 2nd egg is laid place under foster parents to hatch and raise.

    Now — leave the cock in his compartment for 5 days and the hens in theirs — start the same routine and in about 3 weeks from the time you started you should have 16 eggs

    You also need 8 pair of foster parents by week 3

    Remove the original 4 hens and bring in 4 new ones, again try to match colors — go through the same procedure as before within 6 weeks you will have 32 eggs IF all goes well.
    8 pair of foster parents will be needed.

    After 2 rounds from set #2 bring back the first set of 4 and continue as before A total of 64 eggs in about 3 1/2 months or less.

    January 1st to April 10th

    I have found that about 25 pair of foster parents are needed to get through the pro-gram. Due to slow or fast laying etc.

    SYSTEM 3
    This is the system we use most of the time for our racing pigeons:

    We have 55 identical compartments in our main breeding loft. Which is important to get the very most from our special cocks.

    If we put hens into the compartments in early spring that have raised babies there last breeding season — Even with no cocks 8 out of 10 will start to lay within 2 weeks (unless the weather is very bad). The ones that show no interest in their nest we put their last years mate with them for 1 or 2 days — This usually works to wake them up — If not we replace them.

    If you check each hen daily you are able to tell by their looks and actions when they are getting eggy.

    When they are 4 or 5 days from their 1st egg we start putting the poly cock with them only long enough for treading — Remove him and put with him another hen. Again only long
    enough to do his job.

    I have had a few cocks that would go to as many as 5 hens in a row — most will go with 2 and some only one — wait an hour and more often than not you can get the 2nd hen bred etc.

    If you have the right “Poly Cock” one that does not fall in love easily and one that does not fight the hen, you can get lots of babies with this system.

    So if you have 10 or 15 hens and 15 pairs of foster parents its possible to get 20 to 30 eggs in two weeks from one cock. 85 to 95% will be fertile.

    If the cock fights a hen take him out and put him in his own compartment until he settles down usually 1 hour will be enough.

    Give him a spoonful of hemp/flax/safflower and he will be back to normal and ready for another hen.

    If I have 15 hens — I try to line up the same colors in a row — today I take him to 6 or 8 blue bars and the next day to BCs.

    One time every other day will usually be enough — If you screw up and don’t get him to a hen within 48 hours of her 1st egg you will miss the 1st but will have the 2nd fertile. Even when she is bred the day of the laying of the 1st egg.

    The surest way and easiest way is to let the hens raise one round with another cock. When the babies are 12 to 14 days old remove the cocks and babies to another loft. The hen will continue to lay every 10 to 12 days.

    Put the Poly cock with them 2 or 3 times prior to 48 hours before their 1st egg and you can get 6 from each in a 6 week period.

    A total of 8 eggs will not hurt a healthy hen — as long as Calcium/Minerals! Vitamins are available to them.

    IF wavy eggs appear — take the hen away and put in fly pen for 2 or 3 weeks or even for the rest of the year.

    It is important to keep Calcium and minerals in front of the hens at all times and vita-mins 2 times each week along with 16/17% protein feed.

    The cock is given a spoonful of hemp-flax— safflower, a few drops of Avitron twice weekly — we did this with the “Red Poot” 20 years old — the “Iron Horse” who is 20 and still fertiles every egg. His grandfather bred winners with 15 hens over a 21-year period. (His son in the yb races of this year won a 250 mi. combine race out front by 80 ypm for Tony Vandenberg).

    When the breeding season is over and all birds are in the break-up fly pens and before the moult starts we medicate as follows:

    1. 5 days with de Weerd’s B.S. for cocci/canker followed with 2 days vitamins, de Weerd or natural or Vitapreen. Most are pretty much the same. Garlic oil on the feed with brewers yeast is good once or twice weekly for feather quality — Also works with Sulmet/Emtryl. B.S. Same as Ridzol, Sulfamiazine, Vitamin and Dextrose.

    2. 8 days with paratyphoid. De Weerd’s parastop — Baytril is the only known medi-cation to cure Carriers of Paratyphoid. But is very hard on the system and only to be used in severe cases) We have found when used on YBs we get 1 very good race and then they lose form and slow down very quickly. We always give vitamins or aci-dophilus or both. Acidophilus 1st, one day vitamins one day after medication

    3. We treat days for any respiratory problems. De Weerd’s W.N. which is approximately 2 parts Aureomycin 1 part Terrimycin with dextrose and vitamins. C. T. C. is good — Tylan and garlic is good — other medicines?? 4 in 1 is also good. Again we follow up with 2 days of vitamins

    4. Two days on de Weerd’s worm medicine (Wormco). Or 3 drops of Ivomec to each bird. (DeWeerd also sells bottles of 50 worm caps for individual treatment which can be used during race season with NO ill effects, given 4 or 5 days before the race) follow the treatment with 2 days vitamins. Best is to take droppings to a vet. NO WORMS NO MEDICATION

  4. hi Chris ? I have posted and asked questions regarding fostering many times
    I did read an old artical about the results of fostering ? could you enlighten me
    as to the results of your trials
    as I have been led to believe if you leave the first eggs say for 5 days before
    letting them incubate then this will result in the clutch beign hens
    and if eggs are incubated straight away this will result in both cocks
    my question in your trials that you have carried out ? have you ever noticed
    how the sexes compaired
    also would the pair that were fostered ?say from a top producing pair ?/ when fostered
    would they still be as good as if reared by there own parents
    I hope I have not confused you with all the ??????

  5. Chris,Chris,Chris … Its Like You were here with me today or something I Joined a Local association here in Minnesota Today and when I was there I couldn’t quit looking at This Bluebar White Flight Pied Roller – as i am trying To keep a few of my Homers but get into rollers also — I wouldn’t have never guessed that you can get eggs and have other birds foster them — and I only heard of this oh i don’t know about ten minutes before i got this email from you — The Gentleman at that Meeting called me and said That he is going to start pulling eggs from that same bird and I can have them and let my homers foster them — I was Amazed when he told me i could do this — and he said i can have as many eggs as i want – i guess he seen me eyeing that bird — and then i said my goodbyes after he called , sat down at the computer and started reading this — How Fitting and also very helping as I would have no clue on how to do the fostercare project , I am sure this guy would have told me — But now when i get them I’ll look like i know what i am talking about when i speak to him and this has taught me so much – Today has just been an amazing – awesome day and this subject was the Topping to the ice cream ! Thank You so Much , You seem to always post something that is so fitting to what i am thinking about – are you watching me ? lol ! Again thank You , Mike

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