Colour and colour patterns in domestic pigeons are hereditary. Breeding for solid-black pigeons requires mating a solid-coloured bird with a blue-patterned pigeon with a black tail band. The colour of the tail band on patterned pigeons identifies the colour that will "spread" to other colours and patterns in pigeons. The gene that produces solid colours in pigeons is called the "spread" gene. Black pigeons are bred from blue-patterned birds by introducing the "spread" gene that causes a solid colour to "spread" over patterns and lighter colours in offspring. Breeding solid-black pigeons without visible patterning can require multiple generations of selective breeding.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Domestic pigeons, any breed.
- Solid-colour pigeons (dark-grey, heavily checked-blue or dark-brown)
- Blue-patterned pigeons with black tail bands (blue-barred or blue-checked)
- Breeding cage for each pair of pigeons
- Food and water containers
- Pigeon feed
- Nesting bowls
- Nesting material
- Pigeon identification bands
- Pigeon colour genetics information
- Record-keeping mechanism
Study pigeon genetics to learn about colour inheritance in pigeons. Select pairs of pigeons from the darkest solid birds and blue-patterned birds with black tail bands. For example, pair a solid-dun pigeon and a blue-checker with a black tail band. Work with multiple pairs of pigeons, if possible. Keep a record sheet for each pair and each bird using the bird's leg band number, description and gender. Confine each pair of birds in a separate breeding cage. Supply each pair of pigeons with food, water, grit, a nesting bowl and nesting material. Check the birds daily and note the dates eggs are laid.
Follow the progress of each pair of birds. Note hatch dates and colours of babies produced by each pair. Band baby pigeons and keep records for each. Young pigeons feather within 4 to 5 weeks of birth. Compare each young bird's colour to its parents' colouration and to the colours of the other birds used for breeding black pigeons. Select young birds with the darkest colouration for future breeding.
Compare the colour intensity of each clutch of young birds. Change pairings for birds that do not produce young. When changing pairs, isolate former mates from each other. Pigeons mate for life and may not accept a new mate if they can see or hear a former mate. Monitor your breeding birds' health and supply the best-quality pigeon feed you can afford. This assists with producing superior young birds with smooth feathers and robust colour.
Plan pairings for the following year based on the colouration of the first generation of young pigeons. Update records to document new pairings. Track each bird's breeding performance and the colour results achieved from each pairing. Continue breeding successively darker pigeons to each other.
Tips and warnings
- Consult experienced pigeon breeders for advice on colour breeding and pigeon genetics.
- Join a pigeon club.
- Attend pigeon shows.
- Breeding pigeons for other traits including body confirmation or performance ability complicates a colour-breeding program.
- Don't over-breed your pigeons. Allow pairs no more than two to three clutches of eggs per year.
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