Continue achieving good results
It is specially novice fanciers that are often confused by the many contradictions that they read or hear.
Take for instance the showing of the hen before the departure of the widowers.
One champion never shows, another equally great champion never baskets a cock that hasn"t seen his hen beforehand.
One wonders what is best.
Does a cock really hasten home faster if he has seen his hen, with the thought that she is waiting longingly for him?
I have my doubts.
I"d sooner believe that they hurry home to take possession of their territory (box) again or to defend it.
They get into form by "being alone", it doesn"t happen from one moment to the next after having seen their partner.
That the cocks mustn"t be allowed to tread their hen because their sexual urge will be satisfied also seems too simply put.
Who hasn"t seen a yearling return early in the first races of the season, before he"d had any experience of being a widower?
If cocks indeed hurry home because of their hen, they will soon find out that she is in the box every time they come home. So why show them before basketing?
Since 2005 I have raced double widowhood, and before that I never showed the hen.
I didn"t even turn the bowl upside down but took the cock straight from the box.
One of the reasons is this:
At one time I had a yearling that won a first prize in the first two races that he was basketed for. Both times he returned to the young bird loft (where luckily an electronic timing pad was placed) where he had lived during the year before as a youngster.
And yet I had shown him his hen!
Why was he so very early?
Apparently not to be with his hen, his behaviour after returning home showed that he didn"t seem to want to know of her existence, he just wanted to be in the place where he thought he belonged.
But I"m not entirely certain, because ... as I said, I now race double widowhood and with this the partner does have a role.
If you usually show the hen and you have success, keep doing it, if only for your own peace of mind.
What I do believe wrong is to show the hen before every training flight to "learn widowhood" to yearlings. Such a candle HAS to burn out very quickly.
KEEPING IT GOING
The biggest concern of the "widowhood racer" is to "keep his pigeons going" for three months. He worries about the almost customary relapse in form after some six weeks of racing, and rightly so.
Only a very few can achieve an entire year without "downs".
And the higher the peaks, the more difficult it seems to prevent the relapse.
When a loft full of widowers goes berserk and they don"t know what to do with their energy and their joy of being alive, when they try to kill each other and roll off the roof fighting, and when races are "wrapped up quickly", you know that a relapse later is unavoidable.
An advantage of not showing the hens is undoubtedly that the cocks are quieter when entering the basket, which is especially important in warm weather.
And I feel that they are more consistent, retain form longer and that the almost traditional relapse is less strong.
Therefore you must try to prevent a short-lived "top form", and at the same time you have to be careful that the cocks don"t start to feel bored at being alone all the time, which will make them lose interest. They have to be happy bachelors, not grieving hermits.
To win good prizes for four months continuously, with the same ritual every week (being shown the hen, going in the basket, racing, being greeted by the hen) is almost impossible.
The best way to keep the fire burning is to provide variety.
That can be done by:
- Occasionally showing (for a longer period).
- Leaving the pigeons together (sometimes!) after the race for the whole day.
- Letting one hen loose in the loft before basketing.
- Sometimes (!) putting nesting material or even the basket in the loft.
- Sometimes putting a different cock or hen in the nest box.
- Installing or removing "V" perches.
- Opening an empty nest box.
- Something that can lead to a spectacular result is putting pigeons together the day before basketing and letting them fly together, obviously only at the end of the season.
I once found myself at the top of the list for the Provincial Championship with only ONE more race to go.
I"m not too interested in championships (anymore) but when the highest podium place is so close, you just have to go for it.
Because my lofts are in the "first drop" and the forecast said south-westerly wind, I was a little bit concerned about loosing it at the home end.
I wanted to enter motivated pigeons, but at the same time I didn"t want too MUCH "fire" and take the chance that they would overshoot the loft because of the forecasted wind direction.
So what did I do?
The day before basketing I let the hens into the loft, they were removed in the evening and the day of basketing the cocks didn"t see their hen anymore.
The result was above expectations.
Other fanciers who had a good placing with only one race to go sometimes asked my advice to triumph one last time.
What they meant was medication (naturally against "ornithosis") but I advised them to do what I had done.
And nobody has ever regretted it.
With regard to racing with youngsters people sometimes ask me "what kind of system do I use?"
Meaning "on the nest" or "with the sliding door".
"I don"t have a system', I always answer, after which they look at me confused.
What I mean is roughly the same as with the widowers.
I don"t believe that you can race successfully for three months at a stretch with young pigeons, one nest after the other, nor do I believe that you can race well "on the sliding door" for three months.
Achieving good results is foremost a question of form and for people and animals alike that comes in rising and falling waves.
The trick is to have the wave at its highest point, at the moment when it matters most.