Eggs are Hatching

Found the first egg shell, while cleaning the loft to-day. Caught me by surprise. Haven’t kept an eye on the calendar and got behind on my record keeping a bit. This time of year the days become routine for us retirees and the weeks slide right by. One minute it’s Monday and before you know it, it’s Saturday evening and we’re watching Hockey Night in Canada. Painful for us Leaf fans this year and likely will be for a few more years.

The pigeons were all paired on the 10th of January, both the breeders (12 pair) and racers (19 pair). It took the first ones 11 days to lay, the rest followed quickly, except for one young hen who didn’t lay till the first few days of February. As soon as the breeders were all on 2 eggs, the eggs were floated to the race loft. After only 8 days, 4 pair had already laid again, day 9 four more laid and the last ones on day 10. This allows me wean two rounds of youngsters, in only 10 days, off my breeders and it’s will be early enough in the season to take another round off them if needed. Today the first one hatched. Can’t believe how quick the time flew by. Winter rest is over for the birds and for the manager!

Two weeks before pairing up, the cocks had their daylight extended. The lights went on at 7 a.m in the morning and stayed on till 10 p.m in the evening, for a 15 hour day. The lights are on timers, no muss, no fuss. I found some Phillips true daylight (950’s) fluorescent tubes, T8’s. They are economical as they don’t us a lot of energy and give the birds a light spectrum that is very close to sunlight. Is it necessary to use the true light bulbs? I doubt it, I know others have success using regular light bulbs, but I’m a  detail type of person and in the end I think it’s the little things, the details, that make for a successful season.

The hens only went on extended daylight for 3 or 4 days before pairing. We had a mild winter and the hens were in excellent condition. Before I knew better, I would put the hens on extended day length for a week or more. It’s not necessary, the hens react to the longer days quicker than the cocks and providing they are in good condition only need a few days of extra light. Even so by the time they lay the have been on the longer day light for 2 weeks. It is important to turn of the lights on the race loft as soon as they are down on eggs. We don’t want to stimulate an early moult and ruin our racing season, another detail. The breeders can all moult to their hearts content, the breeding season will be over long before the old bird racing season ends.

There weren’t any problems pairing, even though this year the majority of my birds are  yearlings. Of course the yearling cocks were put 0n the flying loft right after the flying season was over at the end of September. The old cocks were moved to an aviary for a month and their boxes were closed. It didn’t take long for the young cocks to pick a box and by the time they were paired they had full ownership of a nest box, preventing fights and broken eggs when the hens were introduced, last month.

A successful breeding season is the foundation of successful old bird and young bird racing seasons. Health and nutrition are the building blocks for that foundation. There are steps we as fanciers can take to maximize both health and condition. More on that in the weeks to come.