New Hope (07-04-22)
I have been racing pigeons for many years. And let it be a traditional sport, I have unlearned, learned, discovered and bumped my head. One example; I started weaning babies earlier and earlier. And again and again I am amazed at how young they are self-reliant.
Used to be an age of four weeks 'the standard’, (an almost fully grown tail and 'close' under the wing) this became almost a week shorter. And I only experience benefits.
- The parents are spared because pumping young demands a lot from them, assured the famous pigeon doctor Dr. Lemahieu me once.
- They soil the loft less.
- The weaklings, pigeons that lack vitality, fail prematurely.
- The young quickly become independent and get 'steadfast', they get more attached to the fancier. which makes a difference in later handling.
Of course I also had my problems. And believe me: Those "super champions" who never have problems are not super champions but super liars.
A serious problem was 'trichomoniasis ' and strangely enough only when breeding.
When the breeders were on eggs, the vet didn't find any trichomoniasis, but nevertheless I cured because I knew what else would happen. Believe it or not, the youngsters from those "trichomoniasis-free parents" were seriously infected.
The vet who did not notice trichomoniasis among breeding pigeons while the youngsters in the nest later perished got the full brunt. "A vet indeed, but one who doesn't know anything about pigeons."
That criticism was not justified. Trichomoniasis comes in many varieties. It can be hidden. So hidden that it cannot be seen even under a microscope.
A lot has changed though when it comes to 'trichomoniasis '. You hardly hear about it anymore, while you used to read about double doses of medicines and strains of trichomoniasis that could hardly be broken. But that was in the past.
To-day you do hear from more and more fanciers that they have not cured in years. And never has anyone been able to give me a conclusive explanation.
Yet in 2022 you should not let yourself be lulled to sleep.
Because the disease is still not completely 'gone'. It's still lurking. For example, you regularly hear about youngsters that do not want to train as they should, which improves after a cure against tricho.
What I heard from a fellow sportsman prompted this article. Breeding went well, except for two couples. Acid smelly manure, threads in the throat, so most likely trichomoniasis.
'Only those two couples?'' I asked.
That was the case indeed. Clean up those four, I said.
But they were from his best, he said.
'Not relevant. Get rid of them' I repeated. If a few pigeons are sick in the midst of a healthy colony, no excuse is good enough. Suckers must get out at all times.
What do I also pay attention to?
- Big pigeons. I do not like them. I may make mistakes, but squeakers that are so big, heavy and cumbersome that they are still on the floor when the rest have long found a shelf higher up can leave.
- There is also no room for screamers that keep begging for food.- When weaning I always check the beaks. If they are so weak that they threaten to break if you open them, they can go. They are guaranteed weaklings, pigeons without a future.
- Also be careful with pigeons with a large 'panting' throat. Although that may be temporary.
Repeatedly treating an entire loft in order to cure a few weaklings leads to a colony of pigeons that will be very difficult to get in good shape.
I used to have a good bookkeeping. I wrote down everything that was worth it. For example sick youngsters that I set aside and cured.
Never ever such a bird became a good one. The fancier who selects on health will make very few mistakes.A lot of misery starts by not (timely) removing that first pigeon that gets sick. It is better to reserve the places of selected pigeons for pigeons that are healthy. It's against theory, I know. It is often warned not to place youngsters of different ages together in one loft. But I pass for building another loft for another round.
It is best to feed plenty during the first months of life. Dressing 'on the hunger' can be done later. It is also better to put youngsters in lofts that are not too large. G v d Wouwer could, but we are not all such good handlers like him.
In large lofts where the birds can go in all directions if you want to grab them, you get scared pigeons.
And getting scared pigeons back into line, making them into tame manageable pigeons again is an almost impossible task.
You can reduce the freedom of movement by placing a trellis. In fact you are doing very well if you can grab your pigeons with one hand!If you have to grab pigeons unexpectedly, putting your hands behind your head and then suddenly, bang, strike, then you are doing it wrong. Such a pigeon loses all confidence and it is naive to assume that it will listen to your begging when coming from a race.
Talking ‘after a race’ there are those who have to crawl away because otherwise their pigeons will not enter. In other cases, the pigeons will enter quicker when they see the boss. Those are the real handlers.
When the youngsters get more mature a kind of dressage of about ten days follows. They should be sparsely fed, so they rush in on signal. When training even seeing you should be enough to 'go down'.
Disciplined pigeons are very important. The time when a pigeon could afford to lose time when it returned home and still win is behind us.
Most fanciers nowadays have 'racers' and 'breeders'.They are not more than just names we give to pigeons.'Breeding pigeons' sometimes have as only reference that a fore father or other related bird was a good racer or breeder or came from a famous loft.Racers have often proven something.
That's why I don't understand people who don't like youngsters of racers and I don't understand the differences in price between youngsters from the racers and from 'the breeders'.
'The real GOOD condition for old birds only comes after throwing the first flight', you often heard in the past.
And about youngsters: When they have thrown three flights they are old enough for road training. To-day we think different. You can start tossing youngsters when they are at least 100 days old and train well at home. If they don't, a cure against trichomoniasis may be helpful, as mentioned.