How to successfully breed homing racing pigeons

How to successfully breed pigeons

We are often asked by experienced and inexperienced pigeon fancier how we go about the breeding season and specifically leading up to pairing up. They want to know who we successfully breed pigeons. Obviously prior to this point you will have cared for your pigeons and got them in the best of health and through the moult in readiness for this time of year. First off let’s start with what you need, here is the shopping list, you don’t need a lot.

  • Straight barley
  • Chicken layers pellets
  • Pigeon conditioning seed
  • Hormoform
  • Plan of action:

    This is for cocks and hens alike. We pair up on the 1st December so that is what I’m working to here, obviously change this as needed to suit your pairing up date.

    I don’t know what mix you are using at the moment but that doesn’t really matter, you are probably not on a high barley mix so you will probably need to start this process from around the 1st November. We are on a resting/stock mix that is already about 50% barley by the 1st November.

    Mix some barley with the food you have to make the mix 25% barley, feed this mix for 5 days then increase it to 50% barley, feed this mix for 5 days then increase it again to 75% barley and feed this for another 5 days after that increase the barley content daily until you get to about 90+% barley by the 24th November. Keep them on this mix until 7 days before the 1st egg is due to hatch then move them all onto your breeding mix. When you are feeding this 75+% barley mix feed them as much as they can eat so when they have all finished eating there should be a scattering of barley left in the bottom on the feeder but near enough all gone by the following morning.

    5 days before pairing I put 20oz (500g) of chicken layers pellets to a builders bucket of food which is about 17lb (8kg), so you’ll need to work out how much you need in your feed (this amount is not critical and the same with below). Continue putting the chicken layers pellets in your mix until you finish breeding.

    I also add 20oz (500g) of Hormoform to the builders bucket of food, 2 days prior to pairing up and feed through to and including the day of pairing, then I give it once a week but you can feed more readily.

    Hens only:

    With the hens feed I add 20oz (500g) of conditioning seed to the builders bucket of food, 2 -3 days prior to pairing up and feed through to and including the day of pairing. At this time the cocks and hens both have the conditioning seed in their food mix until the hen lays her 1st egg.

    The day before pairing (if you can). Put the nest bowls in the nest boxes, his will get the cocks motivated. It doesn’t take a lot to motivate them and we find you can get them too keen and this is where you have problems with them going at the hen too much and causing her damage but also this is quite often due to the hen not being ready to pair.

    The morning of pairing up:

    Make sure you give them a good feed 25%-50% more than normal. You want the birds to be concentrating on each other not thinking they are hungry. Also they won’t eat properly for at least 24 hours as they should be too interested in each other.

    Once you’ve paired the birds up (2nd December) start feeding them in their boxes, not in the feeder on the floor, do this until they are all flying in and out of their boxes then you can start feeding them in the feeder again. Still only once per day feeding and again 99% of food should be gone by the time you feed again the following day. Once the first egg hatches start feeding twice per day as much as they can eat. I don’t like too much food left in the tray even when breeding but I continually adjust the feed morning and night so that there is just a thin layer left in the feeder when I next come to feed.

    Doing this system we get 95% lay within 15 days and 95% fertility, remembering we have yearlings through to 10 – 11 year old birds paired up. We do have artificial lights on to extend the day light hour to 16 hours but this is more to make sure our older pigeons are in condition to pair, 7+ years old and maybe not even necessary to encourage the older ones, although in our case if it isn’t broke don’t fix it!


    Throught this period from November to the first eggs hatching we don’t put anything special other that what we normally have in our water or on our feed, we don’t see the need to give the pigeons extra at this time as they are all healthy and should not need anyother suppliments than they already get to produce good eggs and strong babies. Below is our daily feed and water regime.

    MondayGarlic, parsley & linseed oil
    TuesdayAviform 11 in 1
    WednesdayGarlic, parsley & linseed oil
    ThursdayAviform 11 in 1
    FridayBrewers yeast & lemon juice
    SundayCod liver oil

    Below are some videos of past breeding seasons which you may find usefull, seeing how we do things and I have probably covered other useful stuff on the videos that I haven’t covered here in the text, enjoy.

    Pairing up
    6 days on from pairing up, continued

    6 days on from pairing up
    11th December, 10 nights after pairing