Question & Answers (2)

Question 2
Jan 5, 2018

I fly natural, it’s the way my grandfather flew for the most part.
I guess my one question would be this, is it necessary to take a round of YBs off your race team for this system to be successful?

There are no fixed rules in the pigeon sport. I flew classical widowhood for most of my pigeon racing career. I switched to double widowhood for the first time, in 2008. My early years were not all that successful. It took a few attempts to learn how to handle the hens.

I have always taken a round of youngsters off my race team. They either raised a pair of their own, or they were used as feeders for the breeders. Whether raising a youngster or two helps to get them ready for the racing season, I think is very doubtful. The purpose of having them do so is supposed to tie the pair to a nest box and would give them the motivation to come home quickly, to defend their territory and develop “love of home.” Whether pigeons “love their home,” is an unknown. Many, people seem to assume animals have feelings, as we do. That’s a topic for a long debate. My personal thoughts are that they fly for their territory, loft and the box in it, their hen for the survival of the species, through procreation and food of course. Hungry pigeons come to the handler because they are hungry and see the fancier as an ATM machine dispensing goodies. Try feeding your pigeons all they want and let them out, wait till they land on the loft roof and try to call them in, call them till you are hoarse. How much do they love you now?

Feeding a round of youngsters just before racing, can be detrimental. Let me explain. When I raise youngsters off my race team, I time it so that the pairs are split up no later than 6 weeks before the first race. Why? They have just raised, pumped 2 babies. They processed a mix containing up to 40% legumes. Legumes are hard to digest. This next statement is controversial, yes peas are high protein addition to the mix and on face value should provide adequate amounts to help youngsters grow and develop, but not all that protein is digestible, pigeons can process around 28%  contained in legumes. This means their kidneys have to work overtime to rid themselves of all the waste products left in their bloodstream by the undigestible components left in their blood. To do so, they drink copious amounts of water. It certainly deters condition. Having them all done with the chore of raising babies six weeks before the first race gives time to get them back to normal and ready for their first contest.

We can get all the benefits of pairing and rearing young birds, without the detriments of most systems used today and avoiding feeding the copious amounts of peas in traditional breeding mixes.

Here’s how I would go about it:

I’ll use our first race date as an example: May 5. 2019
The pairs should be separated 10 to 14 days before the first race, so both sexes have a few days to get accustomed to the roundabout part of the system, that is trapping to the main loft and released for exercise from the hen’s section. I have tried trapping the hens to their own loft, and after a few days, it was difficult getting them to trap, in contrast, they trapped readily to the main loft, just like marriage I learned to accept the ladies wishes, and I adapted.
Now we know we need the birds separated for two weeks. From the time we pair to eggs in the bowl add another ten days. Switch the eggs with dummy eggs, they will sit at least 19 days, some will likely oversit a few more days. We can now calculate the date to pair our race team. We have a total of 43 days (pairing to laying eggs (10) sitting eggs (19) splitting the pairs (14) = 43 days. Pairing the racers in the middle of March will get you close, about 7 weeks to the first race.

My birds are locked up at the end of their previous race season. They will need a week or two to stretch their wings. I would let them out for an hour or so once the pairs are settled to their nest boxes. Put down some nesting material just outside the loft and let them go nuts.

Basket training for both sexes would begin just after the birds are down on eggs and weather permits. You have almost 5 weeks to get them ready for their first race.

The advantage of this system:

Pairing up when the days are longer, and the temperatures are warmer, very natural for the birds, a less artificial system, it is after all the time of year wild birds mate and lay eggs. We don’t have to extend daylight, and the waterers should only freeze lightly if at all, no heaters required.

We don’t have to feed the racers a heavy high protein breeding mix as you would if they raise babies. I would use a lighter (lower no legume) mix such as the Beyers Galaxy Sport Light through the entire period including the first few shorter races, they will perform up to 400 km on the Sport Light mix.

Has all the plusses of raising youngsters, that is they are settled to a box, with a cock. Motivation should not be a problem.

It will be the system I use in a few years as I put on a few more years. A few good producing pairs in the breeding loft along with a few pairs of pumpers and 10 to 15 pairs on the race team should give you all the pigeons you need to not only enjoy the birds but do your share of winning.


Question 3
Jan 6, 2018

So, I am assuming that your race team is now on normal daylight with no extended light.  Does that give the pair enough time to feed the youngsters?  Last feeding around 4:30 and first feeding the next day around 7:30 a.m.?  Do you hopper feed, or do they have to wait for you to feed the old birds before they can pump the babies?
This question comes from a part of the answer to Question 1:

“I left the lights on after pairing till 80% or so were on eggs. Turned them off in the race loft fearing exactly the question X asked, the moult. The extended day was left as is (14 hrs.) in the breeding loft, no worries if they moulted”.

Yes, as soon as most pairs are on eggs, they are back to normal daylight hours. I have found that the pairs do have adequate time to feed the youngsters. I have a covered feeder on the floor. I feed as soon as it’s light outdoors and again around noon and 3-4 in the afternoon. When the youngsters begin to leave the nest, I do have feed cups in the nest boxes and use them along with the floor feeder. I check the drinkers each time and top them up.