Doves are very easy to look after once they have been homed to your dovecote but they will need daily attention for them to settle in, this is a good time for you to get to know your new birds.
Once you receive your doves they will need to become accustomed to their new home and surroundings, and to establish themselves as a new colony in your dovecote. This usually takes 6-8 weeks and is called the "homing period". This involves confining the doves to the dovecote and there are two methods in which this can be achieved.
The Homing Net
This is a large net that you drape over the dovecote and then stretch out as far as possible, and held down around the edges with planks or lengths of wood. It allows the doves access to all bays of the dovecote and acts like an aviary allowing the doves to fly up and down from the ground and use the dovecote more or less as they would when free. You would need to supply a shallow dish of water and feed the birds on the ground.
The Homing Box
This is a steel cage that you attach to the dovecote. It allows access to one bay of the dovecote and has a hinged door for feeding and watering the birds during homing. Cups for food and water are required as well as a pickstone grit. Grit is required by the birds for digestion and it is important that they have access to this while they are confined above the ground. The homing run is provided flat packed with full instructions for assembly. It is suitable for one pair of doves. A second pair can be homed in the same run at a later date if required. Homing runs can be purchased directly from us, please ask for details.
Preferred Homing Method?
Our preferred method is The Homing Net, this allows more freedom for the doves and is necessary if you are trying to home more than one pair of doves at a time. We would only suggest using The Homing Box if the area around your dovecote isn't suitable to lay a net or if you have persistent cats or foxes that may pose a threat whilst the birds are unable to flee.
Once your birds have been released, all that is required is a handful of food per pair, per day and access to a reliable water supply nearby. Hoppers are best kept for holidays or when you are not able to feed the doves daily.
Cleaning out of the dovecote can easily be done with a trowel and bucket and is only required about once or twice a year. Your dovecote will fill naturally over time with young doves being reared inside the cote by their parents. They need no special attention from you.
To keep your doves safe it's best (if possible) to position the dovecote away from trees, walls, fences and generally anything that could be climbed by other animals giving easy access to the dovecote and doves.