Currently, most fanciers have eggs and perhaps youngsters in the nest. I hope that they were fully prepared before being paired. For only with healthy breeders in top condition can you expect healthy vital youngsters. If you have not paired up yet, then the following schedule might be useful.
We will begin 3 weeks before pairing.
Switch over to a winter/rest mix to clean the intestines and make sure the pigeons are slender. You can also take 1-part moulting mix and add 3 parts winter/rest mix. Preferably supplemented with 10% pointed oats and some flaxseed. We can occasionally add a purification tea to the water and add some Cod Liver Oil to the feed.
A good mineral powder in pots on the floor or possibly put on the feed. Provide a good quality grit.
Two weeks before pairing.
Extend the day length (12 to 14 days before pairing) from 6:00 am till it gets light and turn the lights back on before it gets dark till 21:00.
Twice a week put Wheat Germ Oil on the feed and dry it with brewer’s yeast or preferably Baker’s Yeast. Wheat Germ Oil contains a lot of Vit E. This vitamin promotes fertility. In addition to wheat germ oil, you can also put Cod Liver Oil on the feed to ensure an adequate supply of Vit Dᵌ. This vitamin is responsible, along with calcium, for good growth of the youngsters.
One week before pairing.
If the weather is pleasant and somewhat warmer, continue feeding the Winter/Rest mix.
If the weather turns cold change to: Two parts winter/rest mix with 1 part breeding mix.
Continue as above with the addition of Wheat Germ and Cod Liver oils and the brewer’s yeast/baker’s yeast.
Gradually add more breeding mix, as driving requires a lot of strength. You can put some pots with minerals and grit in the nest boxes, so the hens have access to the minerals and grit. You can also sprinkle grit on the bottom of the feeder and put the feed on top. Then all the pigeons will have a chance at them.
It is important to use a mineral mixture having a good calcium/phosphorous ratio. The calcium should always be higher than the phosphorous content. Pay attention to this ratio when purchasing because both Calcium and Vitamin Dᵌ are needed in the formation of the egg’s shell.
When the pigeons are down on eggs.
Back to Winter/Rest mix. The pigeons are in the loft and are not too active. So, it is wise to feed a high fiber with a low protein feed mixture.
In the loft: provide good quality minerals and grit, right up the time the eggs begin to chip.
From the 4th day after hatching.
- At this point, we can slowly switch over to a good breeding mix. A breeding mix has a highly digestible protein and a high fat content. I have written about this several times in the “Taubensport International.”
- Make sure all pigeons have access to minerals by placing mineral pots in various locations. For example: You can first moisten the feed with lemon juice, usnea barbate concentrate, Omega 3 oil, or cod liver oil. One or the other but not both or all at the same time, make your choice. After moistening the feed sprinkle some mineral powder.
- Once or twice a week you can add a vitamin and protein preparation. These could be a combination off the B vitamins, methionine, lysine, glutamine.
Glutamine? Yes, I will come back to it in a minute. The vitamins A and Dᵌ are given through the cod liver oil, the B vitamins from brewer’s/baker’s yeast, vitamin E from wheat germ oil. We have already covered most of this.
From weaning to racing
When the youngsters are weaned, it would be wise to keep them on a breeding mix for at least several weeks. To prevent the babies from overeating, we can add 10% barley or a purification mix. Once they leave the barley they have had enough. After all, we are not breeding show pigeons, we are breeding athletes.
Vaccinate the youngsters as quickly as possible. Preferably when they are 4 weeks old and repeat the shot against PMV, 3 to 4 later. This will give the best results in building up their immunity.
It is also important to continue with the by-products such as grit, minerals, and vitamins as we did pre-weaning.
Once the youngsters have been weaned for a few weeks, we can begin to feed lighter. My proposal is to gradually replace breeding mix with 50% race mix and 50% purification mix. They will exercise and train extremely well on this mix.
As the youngster begin to grow out and start flying, I recommend giving the “Heilaarde (healing earth)” with Usnea Barbate once every two weeks. Both contain the primordial minerals and supply their total requirements for micronutrients. The lack of micronutrients is one of the causes of fielding. These products also aide in removing toxins from the intestinal tract. Youngsters pick at and eat everything, still having to learn what’s better left alone.
From weaning for darkened youngsters.
Youngster weaned to a darkening system do not moult their flights but do moult the small feathers, such as head feathers. This is called the small moult. Because the stubble of the growing feathers can be somewhat painful, they are reluctant to fly. This often makes fanciers uncomfortable, as these youngsters are easy targets for birds of prey.
For the small feather moult to go smoothly and quickly, it would be wise to feed a breeding mix for the first 10 weeks. Once the pigeons are through the moult, they will begin flying in groups. That is the time to switch to a 50% Race mix and 50% Purification mix. The youngsters are now smooth and have come through the moult.
The University of Hohenheim Degussa has analyzed all the grains and seeds for their values such as, protein (all amino acids), fats, carbohydrates etc. For breeding, compounds such as amino acids, calcium, and vitamin Dᵌ are of great importance.
I entered all these values into an Excel workbook. This allows me to quickly see whether all the essential amino acids and fatty acids are contained in each individual grain. By and large, there are 10 amino acids that the pigeon cannot synthesize itself. The University has calculated how many of these amino acids should be in a breeding mix to ensure that the pigeons are provided with, what they require. It is also important that the values fed are not too high as the excess will have to excreted. It is important that all the pigeon’s requirements as to amino acids, are in the mixes we feed them.
I now work with the Excel workbook on a regular basis. What I noticed is that you can hardly make a mix, with almost all the essential amino acids except for methionine and sometimes lysine. And, it turns out, these are most important amino acids when breeding…In other words, only methionine and lysine are needed to complete the breeding mix in terms of protein.
Glutamine is an amino acid. Pigeons can synthesize it themselves. Therefore, it is not an essential amino acid and we do not have to supplement it. The pigeon’s immune system constantly must be provided with high-quality fuel during periods of performance for its system to work smoothly and properly. Glutamine plays an important role in ensuring the system does so. For example: the birds become ill, or they are under stress because of strenuous exertion such as racing or feeding their babies. Under circumstances such as these the concentration of glutamine in its system can decrease because it is used as fuel. In such cases, adding glutamine can be an excellent solution.
Let us say, that our municipality has decided to build a new road or improve an existing one. We will all be hung up in traffic. Building materials are required to build or repair the road. To get these building materials to its destination, we need trucks. Without those trucks it is not possible to get those building materials, sand , gravel, asphalt etc. to where they are needed, and construction will come to a grinding halt. If there is still a long way to go in the construction of that road, many more trucks will be needed.
This also applies to fats in the pigeon’s body. Fats have a task, among other tasks, they are required in transporting the proteins to the cells. Without fat, the proteins will not reach its destination, and nothing is built. This requires a balance between the amount of building materials supplied (amino acids) and the fats (transporters). A mixture high in protein, also needs a relatively high fat content. Which means, that if you have a mix with 18% protein and only 4% fat, you can not expect optimal results. Not having optimal results in rearing youngsters can lead to many problems down the road. Therefore, it is extremely important to opt for a good breeding mixes and not to decide to use the cheapest simple breeding mixes. You will regret it! It would be preferable to breed fewer youngsters but provide these with the utmost of care. You will have more fun flying your youngsters.
Animal protein and complete feed mixes.
Whey protein is a by-product of cow’s milk. It is a waste product of the cheese making industry. Egg protein is a product of eggs. Both products contain a lot of methionine and lysine and are therefore excellent as a supplement for these deficiencies. Whey protein contains approximately 2.5% methionine and 6.5% Lysine. Egg protein(powder) contains 2.1% Methionine and 4.5% Lysine. Egg powder has the right ration of (1:2)
The question I am often asked is: Are there no mixes that are complete, as to amino acids? The answer: Almost all breeding mixes have shortages of these two essential amino acids. That is why we must also provide by-products.
There are some mixes on the market, that are totally complete. I have developed one myself under the name “Super Breeding.” There are also some complete mixes on the market, these have a grain that has been added. Thus, these mixes contain the necessary amounts of 0.30% Methionine and 0.60% Lysine. At least on paper, and then you can assume that it is true.
Have fun breeding!