October: In this time (nov 6)
Although there are persistent rumours that it is fall I was sitting in the sun before the bay window in front of my loft. It was mid-October and October is a remarkable month. While in some regions in Belgium fanatic fanciers are still racing others prepare for the new breeding season that starts end of November. And you cannot believe how much money is pooled in fall in races no farther than 35 to 90 kilometers. While in full summer fanciers complain about the wind, the location and even the places of the baskets in the trucks in October nobody cares. Funny people pigeon fanciers.
To-day more and more fanciers have an aviary before there lofts. They are useful but not necessary.
Others, I am one of them, have a small bay window (see picture). Also very useful but again not necessary. Long way back I had no aviary or whatsoever before the loft and my results were also unprecedented. Those aviaries or Bay windows are good and very convenient when you want to give the birds a bath, but they are not necessary.
A regular bath however is an absolute must for pigeons in this time of year. Without a regular bath in moulting time you obstruct the outgrowth to a perfect plumage. Some give a mandatory bath after each race. It is admirable that they are so concerned about the welfare of the birds but it is meaningless. With a mandatory bath the pigeons do not spontaneously spread the feathers with the result that the water will not be there where it should be: On the skin.
There is no need to warm up the water in icy cold weather and special bath powder is useless as well. Some aggressively advertise this powder but it is only meant to rob you from your money. If you want to do something you can put just some salt and vinegar in the water. Cheap and easy. Some put a dash of chlorine in the water. Among them are very good racers, so it will certainly not be bad.
What is the best thing to do in winter, let the birds out regularly or have them locked up? In October I keep them locked up, then they moult heavily and do not fly anyway. And later on? In the winter months? Very good players keep them locked up for five months. Equally great champions give them a lot of freedom. Instinctively I would say, let them out.
Pigeons are sometimes compared to athletes. Well, athletes do not rest for five month off their season either. But unfortunately there is one serious thing, birds of prey. In many places they have become a nightmare and it is because of falcons and stuff that I give my birds not so much freedom as I would like to do. In case I let them out they are hungry so that they get in directly after training. Fanciers that have some experience with birds of prey will well know what I am talking about. How serious it is. For some it was even reason to quit the sport.
FOOD AND STUFF
Do pigeons need anything extra during the moult? Absolutely not. Moulting is a natural process. Healthy pigeons will moult naturally due to the influence of light and dark (shorter days). What might be of use is Sedochol, but numerous good players do without it. As for the food there are special ‘moulting mixtures’. As for me it is also B S.
It is little more than a label that is put on a mixture. And they are the companies themselves that show it is B S. Just compare all their ‘moulting mixtures’ and see how different they are.
October is also the month of the last ultimate selection.
Pigeons of three years of age or older which have not produced a good pigeon yet do not belong in the breeding loft, regardless the origin. ' Yes but maybe the grandchildren are good ', you sometimes hear. Come on. How many birds you should keep then if you have to find out?
How strict you should be with old racers depends on where you stand. Champions have other standards than average fanciers. My standard is 60% prizes in the first 10%, with exceptions. But two year old birds that are not good should go. Always! Such birds will not become better. Pigeon sport is a sport of selection. If anyone buys say 10 pigeons from me and he still has them all 10 three years later the good man will never make it.
As for me selecting breeders and old racers is real simple, selecting youngsters is another piece of cake. What to do if all your youngsters performed very poorly? This was not a matter of quality but lack of condition in most cases. Everybody breeds at least some reasonable birds.
There are also those years with such great results that it seems that you only bred good babies. In this case I would advise to get rid of some more old birds and keep some more babies. So ‘some’. Do not enlarge the loft, or even worse, build another loft. Some base their selection on the model, for others it is the pedigree that matters. My criterion is results and results only. By doing this I know I make mistakes. Sometimes you hear about good birds that were very poor racers as a baby. I myself cannot possibly ever have such birds, since youngsters that perform poorly will not survive the winter.
Furthermore I have bad experiences with youngsters that are never late, birds that win numerous prizes, but never real early prizes. ‘Real early prizes’ are prizes in the first 1%. I prefer youngsters that win a very early prize with strong tailwinds and with strong headwinds as well.
Some say: ‘When birds are moulting the medicine cabinet should be locked up. Cures against paratyphoid are the exception. Those medicine have no effect on the moult, but for the rest fanciers should stay away from medicine till after the moult. As far as I am concerned, this is B S as well.’ When pigeons are infected by whatever you should intervene, moulting time or not. Would pigeons moult better when you do not free them from worms, coccidiosis, canker or whatever? Come on. Wait till after the moult to cure sick birds is something that you better leave to your competitors.