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English Pouter Pigeon

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Jim Gifford

Is the English Pouter Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names:

Scientific name: Columba livia domestica

The basics:
All true English Pouters will show a huge globe that they love to inflate to attract attention to themselves. They have been described as vain, and they seem to know that they're worth looking at, making them a rewarding choice for would-be exhibitors.

As an older variety, the English Pouter Pigeon has lost some of its history, and there is some debate about how it was developed. The Dutch Cropper was almost certainly one of its ancestors, and the Runt may have been crossed into the breed to add some size. One claim to fame is that Charles Darwin, who was very interested in the history of domestic pigeon breeds, singled out the English Pouter Pigeon as “perhaps the most distinct of all domesticated pigeons.”

Appearance:
One of the tallest pigeon varieties, the splendid English Pouter Pigeon is an erect pouter with a slim body and long legs. Its huge round globe should be marked with a showy white crescent, with each end of the crescent extending to just beneath the eyes. They come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Weight:
600 grams (21 oz.)

Average size:
40 - 41 centimeters (16 in.)

Lifespan:
7 - 10 years

Behavior / temperament:
Like other pouter pigeons, the English Pouter Pigeon appears to be a proud bird well aware of its distinctive looks. These birds seem to possess an inborn desire to strut and show off, which makes them easy to train for the show bench. They can be challenging to breed because they are often too busy trying to win attention to settle down to raising their young, so you might be wise to consider attempting to raise this variety only after you have succeeded with breeding reliable birds that can work as foster parents, such as the Racing Homer Pigeons.

Housing:
The majority of English Pouter Pigeon keepers are breeders and exhibitors who keep their birds in a large outdoor loft. Talk to another breeder before you design your loft, and make sure that it is easy to clean and secure from mosquitoes, thieves, raccoons, and other predators that would like nothing better than to feast on a nice tasty pigeon. Have a minimum of 4 square feet of floor space for each pair. Yes, that does mean that an aviary 4 feet wide by 6 feet long houses a maximum of 12 birds. Pigeons are messy, and their droppings and feathers can accumulate, so don't take on a bigger job than you are sure you can manage.

It is worth noting that the trusting, sweet English Pouter can enjoy living as a single pet. However, they want to be around you and show off for you, so don't isolate or neglect these social animals.

Pouter Pigeons do bathe in water, so they should be allowed access to a shallow dog dish or similar bathing bowl to splash around in. Since pigeons lower the head to drink, they will need a deeper bowl for the drinking water.

Diet:
The English Pouter Pigeon can thrive on a relatively simple diet. Most people start with a high-quality pigeon mix from a well-regarded source. You may also mix in quality grains such as millet, barley, wheat, whole corn, dry peas, buckwheat, oats, and so on, either from a good feed store with fast turn-over or from a health food store. Because of the size of their globe, English Pouter Pigeons sometimes suffer from sour crop, so it's better to offer them several small feedings a day, instead of one or two large feeds. Some breeders advise against pellets for pigeons at risk of sour crop. In a busy loft with multiple birds, you should have multiple food and water stations, so that the less aggressive pigeons can always get to food without feeling a need to gorge themselves when they do, since gorging can also lead to crop problems.

If you're hand-taming a special pet, you may want to hold back special high-fat treats like sunflower or safflower seed, to give to your English Pouter by hand during the training and bonding process. Chopped greens like kale, dandelion greens, spinach, or fresh sprouts should be offered each day. Some people offer high beta carotene foods like finely chopped carrot or papaya. Hard or sprouted beans seem to be well-liked.

English Pouter Pigeons need access to a high quality pigeon grit to help them digest the tough, uncooked grains they like to eat. A cuttlebone or another calcium source is also valuable. However, calcium may not be properly absorbed without sufficient vitamin D3 if your pigeon is an indoor pet. Therefore, it is important to choose a good avian supplement that includes D3.

Written by Elaine Radford

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