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Raising Pigeons for dog training


Hammertime

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I am seriously giving thought to building a SMALL pigeon coop and raising some homers for off season dog training for my pup. I dont really want to spend $100 or more everytime I want to get her on birds this off season, so I have been looking into the idea of getting some homing pigeons to work her on in the fields near my house. I walk her out there all of the time but there are no wild birds unfortunatley, so this would at least get her going a bit and build more prey drive etc for her, making it more fun for both of us in the off season. She is a GSP. I have had her out hunting 5-6 weekends already this year (she is 9 mos old), and had her professionally trained for 8 weeks. I am thinking of no more than 4-8 birds, but I am looking for any imput on this from people who do it. How difficult is it in the MN winters to keep them watered, etc. How about plans for a small coop? I have found some online but I really dont want anything larger than 4 x 4 in my yard somewhere. Any input is appreciated, including where I can find a good plan for a small coop. thanks.

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Pigeons are pretty easy to care for and you can get some homers $5-10 bucks a piece. Your biggest investment will be their housing. They can withstand the cold as long as they are out of drafts so it doesn't take a lot to build something. You also need to buy young unflown birds so they can be trained to your loft. If you buy adult birds they will try to return to their original loft, they have to be kept in pens and then you can use their babies.

I water mine twice a day. You could buy a heated water dish too. For feed I use a grain mix and game-bird pellets.

You could build something like this. My advise build bigger then you think you need.

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I would make sure your dog retrieves with pigeons first. I have heard that some dogs don't like to retrieve them. My short hair pup will wimper when pointing on a pigeon and doesn't like to pick them and hold them. She has no problem with chuckars, but the pigeons are dirty or something??

If your going to build something to house the birds, you can get juvenile chuckar for maybe 6-7$ a piece from the Oakwood game farm and keep them in the pen. Adults are like $9 or $10 i believe.

Just a thought.

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IMHO pigeons are only good for intro to gun and retriever training. I wouldn't use them for a pointer especially if you can get them for the same price. just my 2c

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Quote:
I would make sure your dog retrieves with pigeons first. I have heard that some dogs don't like to retrieve them. My short hair pup will wimper when pointing on a pigeon and doesn't like to pick them and hold them. She has no problem with chuckars, but the pigeons are dirty or something??

First off I don't have pointers, have retrievers, but hommers are nice because they can be flushed or pointed and alot of times and not shot, for either teaching the whoa command, backing ect. on pointers and steady to the flush and shot even if it's an intended miss for retrievers and flushers, I had them for a while but there alot of work in the winter time.

As far as retrieving them, or Should I say Not retrieving them wouldn't be an option. I would guess alot of pointer people FF there dogs, probably not as many as retriever people but if my dog wasn't picking up birds of any kind that would be my first plan..

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Most pro pointer trainers use homers for a variety of training. They are strong fliers, give off a lot of scent and return to the coop. Plus they are a fairly hardy bird and relatively easy to keep. If you have a pointer and the wherewithal to raise and maintain homers they are a great investment and excellent training tool. Many a dog have been steadied and green broke on homers and regular pigeons.

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I would make sure your dog retrieves with pigeons first. I have heard that some dogs don't like to retrieve them. My short hair pup will wimper when pointing on a pigeon and doesn't like to pick them and hold them. She has no problem with chuckars, but the pigeons are dirty or something??

If your going to build something to house the birds, you can get juvenile chuckar for maybe 6-7$ a piece from the Oakwood game farm and keep them in the pen. Adults are like $9 or $10 i believe.

Just a thought.

Pigeons produce power down, which game birds do not. It has a oily feeling to it and maybe that's what your dog doesn't like. Whatever the case, I wouldn't let it be an excuse for not retrieving if that is what your using the birds for.

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Pigeons produce power down, which game birds do not. It has a oily feeling to it and maybe that's what your dog doesn't like. Whatever the case, I wouldn't let it be an excuse for not retrieving if that is what your using the birds for.

Good information,

The observation was from when I took my 4 Month old out for intro to guns with pigeons (which was after she had already pointed chuckars solid on another outing with no guns).

Yes I will probably have to do force fetch on my now 5 month old GSP, but still working on it the old fashioned way with dead chuckars.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yep JayinMN, that is my intention, with the bird launchers. I ordered some plans and am going to start building one here soon. Where do you get the cages that go off of the front, did you just make your own or did you buy one?

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I bought some homing pigeons from a guy and tried to use them for training. I didn't have a coop, just put them in a dog kennel. Fed and watered properly. After about a week in there the birds couldn't fly very well. i couldn't use them as homers because they would fly back to the original owner, who charged another $10 per bird to get them back. It got to be too expensive. I ended up sending the dog to Willow Creek Kennels and let someone who knew what they were doing get the dog squared away.

A friend went with the whole setup and found out a lot about what it takes. I may have some of this wrong, but he learned for instance that you needed some sort of bird that didn't leave the roost. I don't know what the reasoning was but that was a fancier bird that just sat around and apparently for some reason the homers needed that to get them to come back. There was stuff about doors that had to be set up to let the birds back in but not let them out. He had this setup for maybe a year and then something got into the coop and ended up killing off the entire crew. It was a fairly expensive and time consuming effort. I think it sort of smelled in the summer so you don't want it real close to the house.

It might be easier to buy regular pigeons - rollers I think they're called - and not deal with all the homing stuff. My friend found guys that brought them up from Iowa or something and I think he got them for $4-5 a bird.

Keep doing research before you get started and maybe you can avoid some of the hassles.

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I made my own cage. You will want a trap door though so the birds can get in but not back out and that's usually located above the aviary or settling cage. Google foy's pigeon supplies for pigeon supplies.

Tom, not trying to pick on you but you did just about everything possibly wrong. Taking a pigeon and throwing it in a dog kennel for a week them releasing it is setting up for failure. Even the highest quality homer would have not came back. Its like taking a champion bred dog that has never hunted or trained and getting mad because it can't do a blind 200 yard retrieve. I actually think the guy who sold you those birds new exactly what he was doing and ripping you off. If the birds were returning to him, they had already been flown and should not have been sold to be released.

Homing pigeons are the ONLY way to go if you are going to take the birds away from the loft and release them. Rollers will not find their way home from any distance of more then a mile or two. Before you can use your homers for dog training they need to be settled to your loft and trained. If you want to get going right away you need to get young unflown birds so they can settle into your loft. Settling basically means they are calling the new loft home and are bonded to it. If you buy adult birds they will probably never settle to your loft so they need to be kept as prisoners. They are called homers for a reason because they make ever attempt possible to return to their original loft. The young from prisoners can be flown from your loft but when your keeping a small flock I would just start with young birds and not worry about breeding.

Once you have your birds settled and they back and forth between the loft and settling cage you can let them out to free fly. They have to get up and fly around the loft a few times before you can start road training them and tossing them at farther and farther distances. Before you use them for dog training I would release them from the field you are using a time or two. You don't need any fancy pigeons to get them to return. Racers use "droppers" which are fancy pigeons to get the homers to enter the loft faster on race day. You don't need to worry about winning a race so no droppers are needed.

A pigeon loft is like a dog kennel, you let droppings accumulate it will stink. In actuality dog [PoorWordUsage] smells more to me. Pigeon droppings don't stink until they get wet and you let them start to decompose.

I would see if there are any racers in your area that will help you get started with young birds.

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