Pigeon Reproductive System

In this article, we will talk about Pigeon Reproductive System in detail. Unlike other body systems, the
reproductive system of the male and female pigeon differ widely. It’s because we will review them separately
here.

Male Pigeon Reproductive System:

Male reproductive organs in pigeons consist of two testes or testicles. These are cream-colored, oval, and
attached with a membrane’s help to the abdominal cavity’s underside below the kidneys.

Testes vary in size greatly with age, season, etc. These get enlarged during the breeding season and shrink
when pigeons are not breeding. Testes produce male gametes called sperms in millions as a matter of necessity.
These also produce male hormones androgens such as androsterone, testosterone, etc. These hormones influence
the production of sperms and the development of other parts of the body and the male pigeon.

Sperms from each testis are conveyed through a sperm duct called vas deferens, the two vasa deferentia opening
in the cloaca. Sperms remain stored in each sperm duct’s enlarged end till the time of copulation when these
are discharged into the hen’s cloaca.

Male Sex Hormones:

Male sex hormones or the androgens regulate the testes’ functions, affect male sex organs, and help produce
sperms. It is interesting that testes also produce female hormone estrogen in tiny quantities. Estrogen, a
a hormone produced by the pituitary gland is essential for building up the incubation or the brood patch in
male pigeons.

Female Pigeon Reproductive System:

The female reproductive system’s main parts in pigeons consist of ovaries, oviducts and ova, and some necessary
organs. Females have only one functional ovary. The left one is attached to the body wall and the kidney’s
front lobe by a thin membrane. The right ovary is degenerated and not functional.

The functional ovary’s surface is studded with follicles containing ova or the female gametes of various sizes.
During the formation of eggs, usually, two follicles grow bigger and get filled with yolk until these acquire
full size. These eggs are grasped by the first part of the oviduct’s mouth called the infundibulum and are
passed down. In the oviduct, their enclosing sacs get ruptured, exposing the female germs cells to be
fertilized by the male sperms.

The egg is deposited in a muscular part of the female reproductive system called the vagina, stored for some
time. The movement of the egg within the oviduct is with the help of involuntary muscles. However, muscles in
the vagina that move the eggs onto the cloaca are voluntary.

Female Sex Hormones:

Some hormones are secreted by the female pigeons’ ovaries, like estrogens, progesterone, and androgen.
Estrogen hormones are responsible for the female appearance in hens, separating them from cocks. They increase
their appetite and food intake for building up their fat and glycogen reserves and material for crop milk.
Estrogens are also affecting and regulating the reproductive system and increase calcium in the blood or
withdrawing it from the bones.
Progesterone hormones consider to regulate the ovarian cycle and also molting. While Androgen hormones are
produced by the testes in cocks. It is available in tiny quantities in the hens as well. They are involved in
building up incubation or the brood patch.

Function Of Thyroid And Pituitary Glands:

Thyroid and pituitary glands play an essential role in developing and functioning both male and female
reproductive systems in pigeons. Without the help of secretions of the former glands, testes can’t produce nor
can their hormones function properly. Likewise, the pituitary glands secrete hormones that regulate the
production of male and female hormones and thus all functions that are influenced by these hormones.

Copulation:

Like other birds and animals, copulation is part and parcel of the reproduction process in pigeons. Without it
production of sperms and ova is fruitless. Copulation or mating in pigeons is fascinating in which generally
cock is very aggressive. The act starts with wooing by the cock, coos, and struts with tail sweeping the ground,
circling around and after the hen. The hen most often feigns nonchalance and appears to be interested in
feeding usually. However, it does respond for a moment when its wooer loses interest in her completely and thus
abandons her.

It then suddenly turns to its admirer, condescends to surrender to his advances, and, lowering her neck, puts
her beak in that of the cock and starts beaking. Whether anything is exchanged through this process, which
corresponds to kissing in man, is uncertain. The cock, now fully aroused, starts circling her and trying to
find a suitable angle to mount her. When it finally succeeds, mounts the crouched hen with raised tail and
performs the actual act by lowering its hinder part, its tail sweeping the ground.

The act of copulation or coitus lasts only a second and consists of physical contact between the cock and the
hen without penetration. There is no functional penis or phallus in the male pigeon. It is the anus of the
couple that unites and facilitates the passing of the sperms into the cloaca and then to the hen’s oviduct.

Nesting Egg-Laying and Hatching:

Placing nesting material on the floor in the corner of the coop appears to induce nest making. Such behavior
seems to be influenced by some hormones. Both male and female pigeon “hen and cock” take part in building the
nest. Nest building stops when the hen has laid its first or the second egg. Some pigeons continue building the
nest till the eggs hatch.

The female pigeon “Hen” usually lays two eggs per clutch. But sometimes hens do lay three eggs. Older hens may
lay only one egg. Most hens lay regular size eggs, some laying abnormally large eggs. Sometimes a hen lays eggs
smaller than the regular size that may or may not hatch. Some hens take only a week to lay eggs after pairing,
and others somewhat longer.

Egg-Laying

A hen lays its first egg around four o clock in the afternoon and second egg usually after 40 hours. Both hen
and cock take part in hatching. Usually, the hen sits on eggs from 4 PM to the next day at 10 AM. While cock
sit on eggs from 10 AM to 4 PM. But some cocks do not take an interest in performing this parental duty and
spend their time fighting with other cocks or chasing other hens. Although some hens are very possessive of
their eggs and would fight if someone tries to touch the eggs under them while some do not care. Some hens are
so high strung that they will abandon sitting on eggs if disturbed even once. It takes 18 to 20 days for the
eggs to hatch.

Hatching

Usually, there is no need for help for the young to get hatched, but sometimes one has to break a tough shell
to help a weaker chick. Struggle for existence starts as soon as the young get hatched. First to hatch, getting
the lion’s share at every feeding. It’s why one may have to remove the bigger nestling for a short time. It’s
because the late-born is fed by the parents properly. Both hen and cock feed the young. But again, like some
errant fathers, some cocks don’t bother. Against this, some cocks are imbued with so much parental care and
love that they even feed whichever young one comes their way to demand. Whereas some pairs prove to be perfect
parents while others do not.

Failure Of Fertilized Eggs To Hatch:

There are some reasons for the failure of properly fertilized eggs to hatch. Some of these reasons are listed
below.

  1. Young hens do not hatch eggs properly. The reason is that they are doing this for the first time, so they do
    not have experience.
  2. A few young cocks are very careless, and they roam about instead of performing their duty to hatch eggs.
  3. Some hens high strung that they won’t sit on eggs if disturbed, even only a couple of times.
  4. in some instances, one of the eggs may roll out from under the hen or the cock and may remain exposed for a
    few hours to get spoiled in severe winter.
  5. A chick may die within the shell under similar conditions.
  6. Sometimes, eggs get broken by an intruder in the nest and resultant scuffle.
  7. Eggs may get damaged during handling by the fancier himself.
  8. eggs may sometimes go bad if they wash with water for long. Embryos contracting disease inside the egg fail
    to hatch.
  9. Eggs may also go bad if handled repeatedly.

Fertilization Of Eggs And Causes Of Infertility:

The union of the nuclei of the ovum and the sperm after copulation by cock and hen termed fertilization. Chicks
hatched only from the fertilized eggs. However, the eggs laid by some hens may not be fertile on account of
some reasons. In the first instance, a cock might be otherwise healthy in all respects. It may not produce
viable sperms. Such infertility may be congenital or a result of some diseases damaging male reproductive
organs.
Fertility is also impaired with age, Older birds becoming useless as breeders. Some diseases may affect and
damage testes and ovaries or block the sperm ducts that convey sperms to hen’s cloaca. Paramyxo virus type-I
creates infertility in young cocks. Some defects in their ovary and oviduct cause eggs without the outer
calcareous shell in hens.

Egg-Laying By Hens And Abnormalities:

Here we describe eggs laying, hatching, and other related abnormalities in detail.

Maturity Of Hens:

Although some young pigeons, both male, and female, start mating prematurely. Hens become mature and start laying
when they are about five months old. However, that is too young an age for pairing. Hens put to breeding before
they are one-year-old stop laying eggs prematurely and develop some other such complications. Following are some
of the abnormalities that one might come across in breeding hens.

Fake Layer Hens:

Some hens sit in the nests very regularly for quite a long time but fail to lay eggs. Such condition is caused
by some disease, perhaps at a younger age, affecting the oviduct’s mouth that fails to receive the ovum.The
result that watery or jelly-like yellowish yolk gets deposited in the body cavity. The filled up “belly”
deceives the fancier and goes on expecting that the hen would soon lay an egg.

Egg-Bound:

The egg does get deposited in the cloaca but is too big to be laid in this condition. Sometimes its broadside
is towards the cloacal opening. Gentle inserting one’s small finger can maneuver delivery of such eggs in the cloaca.Be careful to avoid injuries.

Defective Shelled Eggs:

Sometimes old and sick hens lay eggs without the shell or shells with a very rough surface. Such eggs fail to
hatch. Causes of this abnormality are age, disease, and deficiency of calcium.

Male Infertility:

Male infertility is a major concern for pigeon fanciers all over the world. The main causes of infertility in
male pigeons are the following.

  1.  Infertility by birth is an inherent physiological defect in individual cocks. Its also happens for human.
    Science has failed to find any remedy so far.
  2. Infertility due to disease is again hopeless as the reproductive system of a cock may get damaged
    permanently by several pathogens including viruses, bacteria, and protozoa.
  3. Age is another factor that induces infertility. Some fanciers claim to possess prescriptions that help
    restore fertility in old cocks.
  4. Sometimes, temporary physical barriers rare cause of infertility. One such barrier creates the growth of
    fluff feathers around the cloaca of both cocks and hens. Clipping or plucking off these feathers removes
    such a barrier.

Restoration Of Male Fertility:

Pigeon fanciers suggest some remedies for restoring fertility in old cocks. Longevity in sexual potency depends
on the health and genes and gene combination. Almond seeds help a lot to keep an old and weaker cock healthy
and active. Gave almond seeds to breeding cocks at night to benefit and not transfer them to the nestlings they
feed. Now a day fertility medicines both for cock and hens are available. Some of them are listed below:

  1. Prowine’s cock fertility capsules are a highly effective treatment for the restoration of male fertility.
  2. Travipharma Cock fertility booster tablets also available in the market. It increases the desire to mate,
    improves fertility, and increases the libido of cock.
  3. Versele-Laga Ferti Oil also another cock fertility herbal product that improves fertility in cocks.Ferti
    Oil enriched with vitamins A, D3, and E, and all these three are fertility vitamins.

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