#1. How about racing on the “Dark System” with only half your pigeons? As you wean the youngsters place the young hens on the "Dark System” and the young cocks on natural light. The young cocks will be going through the motions anyway because their future is in the widowhood loft. The young hens can be pushed and raced hard because only the top ones will be bred from and the remaining hens will be used as widow hens.
#2. Want a secret ingredient for super feather, unlimited stamina and superb health. Mix flaxseed oil on the grain and add Brewers Yeast, Whey protein (never use chocolate it is poisonous to birds) and minerals. The flaxseed oil is loaded with Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and must be supplied to the pigeons from their diet. The brewers yeast and whey protein adds essential amino acids.
#3. Looking for youngsters to grow like weeds with the most amazing feather and muscle. A few times per week feed your breeders grain coated with flaxseed oil and mixed with Whey Protein ( never use chocolate is poisonous to birds). Whey Protein is the purest form of protein and comes from yogurt and cheese production. For years the manufacturers tossed it out. Now it is the craze in the athletic world for high performance.
#4. Young birds look sluggish and are not flying. Try adding 50% high quality barley. They will be flying around the loft with endless energy in about a week. Continue 50% barley right through training and early races.
#5. Are vitamins and minerals necessary? Soils are depleted of all the minerals, crops are not rotated, grains are harvested too early or too late, long storage, etc. Multivitamins and minerals are a must. Give several times per week. Let the birds have free choice by putting many types in small cups that are changed weekly on race return day.
#6. Salmonella is a problem that many pigeons battle. The healthy and less stressed the pigeon the less likely salmonella will be a problem. Here is the tip. Apple Cider Vinegar one ounce to the gallon lowers the pH in the gut, which makes the salmonella bacteria less likely to thrive. This vinegar also has many trace minerals in it. Use it everyday during the winter months and two to three days per week during racing and breeding.
#7. Ivermectin the wormer is not very effective against roundworms. Ivermectin is a great wormer but use another that will get the roundworms. Once the worms are eliminated the ivermectin may keep them worm free. Use Moxidectin for worming!
#8. Ivemectin Sheep Drench 3 cc’s to a gallon in the bath water will kill all parasites, lice, mites, flies, depluming mites etc. Give twice monthly and the birds will be pest free. It can be used as a spray, 10 cc’s to the gallon on the loft walls and nests to kill parasites and it is not harmful or will give off any fumes. Never get Ivermectin on your skin or it will penetrate into you. If you are spraying it wear protective gear like a mask and overall suit. Never inhale mist. We have not used anything but ivermectin for parasites in several years. One bath will totally eliminate the stubborn quill mite.
#9. To lengthen a pigeons racing career always give a minimum one day of rest for every two hours on the wing. Do not even let the bird out to fly, no road work. Your birds will all be very fresh come season’s end.
#10. If a pigeon is lost for a long period like a month to a year, treat it like gold. Anyone who has ever had a pigeon live wild and then return usually has a champion on his or her hands. Let the pigeon go through a normal molt before being raced hard and watch the vitality it has and the possessiveness it displays.
#11. Home attic fans that are thermostatically controlled are a super idea
for loft. My fans are set to go on when the under side of the roof reaches 95 degrees.
#12. Rabbit pellets can offer the birds the best greens possible in an easy to use form. Try a couple of handfuls per section per week. Your pigeons and your results will be glad you did.
#13. Remember that are squab grows so rapidly the first 25 days that one missed feeding will stunt it. Feed the breeders several times per day or place the feed in large feeders. It is so very important that the babies are being pumped by the parents at sun up and sun down.
#14. Have an old cock that you are afraid he will go sterile soon? Never take him away from a hen. Leave him mated all winter. Being around the hen will help keep his testosterone level a little higher then if he was separated from the hens. A couple more productive years may result.
#15. Do you have an old sterile and nearly crippled cock? Let this old boy live with your widow hens. He will keep the focus of the hens so they will not mate with other hens. He is also too old and blind to pick one hen and start a family. This works!
#16. Widowers look dull and tired? How about giving the hens on Thursday along with nest bowls and nesting material and leaving them with the girls until the Monday after the race. Now separate and see how invigorated the cocks are for the next several weeks.
#17. Adeno virus is a problem in most combines during young birds. When it is first heard that adeno has struck local lofts give 1 heaping teaspoon of Aureomycin concentrate to the gallon of water and continue this until adeno has passed. The aureomycin concentrate helps settle the gut and keeps everything in check and the birds will continue to digest their feed and not upchuck. This is a big secret I have used for several years with very little problems of adeno in my young bird team. If the birds are hit hard with adeno virus give amoxicillan. At first signs of upchucking the birds can be fed pellets which is easily digested and will not be consumed by healthy young if upchucked. See "Secrets" page about Virkon S.
#18. How about giving the young birds pepper leaves from the garden along with basil leaves, garlic chives and dandilion greens. They love it and your young birds health will improve.
#19. I purchase garlic bulbs and liquify them in the blender with a little water. I pour the mix into ice cube trays, freeze and throw a cube in each waterer. Take some time and make a big bag of garlic ice.
#20. All my waters are 5 gallon buckets with the tops cut down and a two inch drill hole punch is used to make three holes. I make a plywood cover with a 2 X 6 block fastened on the underside with screws, to keep the top in place. Each waterer is measured to hold slightly more than a gallon.
#21. Never use garden lime in the pigeon loft. It is high alkaline and that is exactly what salmonella needs to survive. There are plenty of Belgian loft whites on the market and they are not dusty. Rub them into the wood for a great white finish and nothing sticks to the wood.
#22. Grated floors are excellent except during the racing season. Many Belgians removed the grates in their racing lofts after a couple of years of trying. They claimed the birds did not come into proper form. If the Belgians are doing it I am doing it. If you do have grates place solid floors over them during the race season.
#23. Widowhood, double widowhood, widow hens, natural? What is the best? Here is the scoop. There is no better system than straight widowhood racing only cocks. This is the #1 system known and if one comes along that is better for racing old birds I will let everyone know about it. Every other system favors the hens.
#24. Do birds drink during a long or tough race? In the heat pigeons stop and drink or even land in the water to drink during a race. I would not be surprised if they drink several times during a long day. My cock “Dragon” that won the New England Open 600, in 95 degree heat on the day by a huge margin had sea weed on his band. So do not try to fool yourself. If they are hot and see water they will drink during the race.
#25. Why all the losses during young bird season? The biggest cause is the young birds are not trained young enough. Pigeons learn best when young. If you wean in January you better start training those young by old bird season or your losses will be great. Light and dark systems push the birds to maturity so they must be trained out to about 35 miles long before the molt is finished. Treat for respiratory an canker before you start training.
#26. You can feed your breeding pigeons any type of feed and raise beautiful youngsters as long as you have many types of minerals in front of the breeders. Vitamin deficiencies do not affect the pigeons nearly as much as mineral deficiencies. Brown, black and pink minerals, oyster shells, grit mix and magnesium blocks will lead to spectacular young.
#27. Need to save one of your champions that looks like he or she may die. Put a 500mg capsule of amoxicillan down the birds throat. You will have to wet the capsule so it will slide down as you push it with your little finger. This is a last resort but in many cases the bird will turn around. The 500 mg is a high dose and can be repeated a few days in a row. I have had super results doing this.