Using Pumper Pigeons

A Pumper Pigeon is a Foster Parent Pigeon


There are several reasons why a person may chose to use pumpers when breeding pigeons. I’m going to explain a couple of different situations where this technique comes in handy.

I’d like to start off with some basic information about pigeon breeding. That way if your new to the hobby and have never bred pigeons before you have an idea on what I will be explaining in this post.

First off, pigeons mate for life and are great parents for the most part. They lay two eggs. The first egg is generally laid in the evening between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm. The second egg is laid 2 days later. After the second egg is laid the incubation process begins and both parents share the duty of sitting on the eggs. The male pigeon or “cock” sits on the eggs from morning until about 5:00 pm. Then they switch and the female or “hen” sits on them through out the night.

2 week old baby pigeons

The eggs hatch after 18 days and 21-25 days later the young pigeons are weaned and on their own.

Two weeks after the young are born the parents are ready and looking to lay another set of eggs. At two weeks of age I place my babies on the floor in their nest bowl. They begin to venture around and learn to eat and drink out of the feeders. The mom and dad still feed them but really begin to taper off on the feeding as the week goes by.

Why I Use Pumper Pigeons

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I own a white dove release business and do releases at weddings and funerals. So my white homers are actually working birds. I need to have my birds available for releases and can’t afford to have them sitting on eggs during the wedding season.

That’s where the pumper pigeons come in to place. I currently have a english carrier cock and a saddle hen that fell in love with each other after losing their mates to a neighborhood sharp shinned hawk

.sharp shinned hawk

I don’t want mixed breed pigeons but this pair are such good parents that I decided to turn them into pumper pigeons.

The key to using foster parents is to make sure the foster parents lay their eggs at about the  same time as the pigeon you are taking the eggs away from.

The reason is the foster pigeon will start to develop the pigeon milk to feed the young once they lay their eggs. If you just place eggs under a pigeon that has not laid their own eggs they will not be able to feed the babies when they hatch.

You can actually hold pigeon eggs for up to 5 days without them beginning to develop. Just keep them at room temperature and make sure you turn them at least twice a day so the embryo does not stick to the side of the egg.

I discard the eggs from the pumpers and replace those with the eggs from my white pair. I then place two wooden eggs under the white pair of homers. If your in a pinch you can use white golf balls. I bought my wooden eggs at a craft store but you can also buy them online.

If all goes well you will have two youngsters that look nothing like their parents. But pigeons unlike humans do not judge on appearance. They just love them like their own.

Other people use pumpers when breeding different breeds of owl pigeons. Owl pigeons have real small beaks and have a difficult time feeding their young. Other people race their birds and don’t want to add the extra stress and work that rearing young takes on a bird. May as well just take the eggs and have proven good parents raise the young.

I would never recommend having your pigeons raise more then three rounds of young a year. It’s hard work for the parents and you soon run out of space.