In this time of the year you have to try to do your best to get everything on track again for the new season. For a working guy like me this is not so easy because the days still are short in daylight. Two weekends were spent on the young cocks and all of them know their way into the old bird lofts now. One problem solved.
The hens seem to be more stubborn than in other years. The old hens still want to live in the youngbird loft. At dusk they scare off and start training again. I really hate this because these situations are designed for loosing birds. At the end of the week time is getting close for the youngsters to hatch. Then the nest will be more attractive for them. So they will have to wait for that, because I donít want the hens to become a headache. In addition, the weather with all the storms and rain is not good for a long stay outside in the garden.
When you have the birds out after they have been kept in for a while, you have to watch carefully not wanting too much of them right away. The cocks can especially be too heavy and stiff. If you start chasing them up right away there are chances for shoulder problems. And then you can forget about a good racing career of such a bird. You can notice this because of the fact they fly slightly out of balance and fail to train with the group. They land soon and you notice a wing hanging down a bit. Then evil is done. Especially the cocks can have this. I never had the problem with a hen. So leave them be in the beginning and donít force train. We have two months left before the start of the season. So let them do what they want. When the youngsters are rung, then all will go by itself. And when things go very well you want them to slow down.
So the first day out they did what they wanted to do. And they dived straight into the pool. The next day they took a long walk on the house top and I scared them up so they had to stretch the wings. What a mess it was seeing them fly unorganized all around the place. This weekend it was a lot better. On Sunday all were in the group and when the most lazy ones dived out of it, a large group go off into the sky again. It was lovely weather and they enjoyed it. The hens went for it right away, took a bath and lied down on the roof for the rest of the afternoon in the sun. When I opened the youngbird loft they awaked. When a loft still attracks even after a couple of years it is not a bad sign!
At this time of the year more and more work is coming up. The past weekend I started to make arrangements for the first group of youngsters. All cleaned extra. I had the intention to desinfect, but a few fancier calls cut my time off. Anyway it would be the first time I did it. A few years ago I bought a large wooden plate with a heating element in it. The youngsters really love this during the night. The whole bunch sleeps on it. A few handsfulls of pea-straw really makes it cosy. And a youngster loft should be cozy!
To get the youngsters used to everything I add three to four old hens to the group. They teach them the whole game: eating, drinking, flying up in the sputnik and finally out. Those old hens are good teachers and they have a feel for that job.
This year I will use the darkening system again. But slowly. On the breeding loft I give quite a bit of extra light. In the morning from 7-10 and in the evening from 5-9:30. The youngsters need extra light in order to develop well. And those extra hours of daylight have to be shortened bit by bit again. The extra light takes care for a few first flights to come out. To darken right away would create too much stress, next to the moving, not knowing how to eat, hunger, not knowing where to drink etc. And stress with youngsters will lead sooner or later to ecoli (youngbird sickness problems) outbreaks. We have to prevent this. When the first small feathers start coming off, the problem lessens.
Health problems with youngsters start in the beginning. Separate your breeders early to ensure a good molt. Top condition when they are mated up. Indicated with a lot of fertilized eggs. And here something went wrong in my loft this year. The year before a problem came up suddenly when I separated my breeding hens into the aiviary. And I thought this will not happen again. Ever. But something else will happen that you donít see coming. I was raided by an adeno virus that took a handfull of just my very best breeding hens. That hurts!
So I decided to let the hens stay in the attick like in the old days and reduce the number of pairs in order not to overcrowd. All went very well, but Ö. I do take care too much of the birds. And when I mated them I felt the problem: they were much too heavy! Laying took long but when the eggs came, they came all together. After a week I saw the score of a great deal of unfertilized eggs. I did not feel good about it. After all, it was my own fault.
This year I made some changes in order to have better breeding results. To get an even better natural vitality. After reading an article here in Winning written by Jan Hooimeijer on good grit I stumbled over it on our national exhibition. I tested a sample after a lot of nice stories from the salesman. I thought I would let the birds tell their own story. So they did and they almost ate it all. Not in a rush, but quietly bit by bit. That was different from the old kind of grit that the birds spoil half and of the rest you can throw away.
About a year ago I stumbled over another product. Wiebren van Stralen another Winning author had tested it and I had fanciers asking questions about it. I bought a bag and asked the birds what they thought of it. A couple of years ago I wrote positively about a product containing probiotics. I used it with excellent results untill the manufactorer decided to change the product. The birds did not like it anymore and went for a drink outside the loft. Then you start looking for something else. So I found Profi Solution and tried it on my third round of youngsters last year. The results were very good. They grew up fast and big. And no health problems. I was very delighted about the product. The breeders eat it very well. The droppings are firm and small. If you want to know more about Profi Solution visit the Garvo site (logo is to be found here in Winning) and you will find all information you need on the product. This yearís first round of youngsters were well developed, strongly built and well feathered. Can a fancier want more??
Cheap promotion?? I think differently about this. We pigeon fanciers are selfish people. All secrets are there for own use strictly. Donít tell anyone about it. Imagine you advise a guy and he beats you the next day by a second. Yes, imagine that! I have a different opinion about that habit of ours.
It is like a lot of other things in life:
Every generation has the obligation in this life to take care for the next generation.
This is what lacks in our sport. Everyone is flying birds on their own and we overfertilize the hedge around our garden in order to not let any fancier see what is happening behind it. For sure you keep the competition away. But worse: the competition is declining because of numbers going down. And no newcomers (they all complain of not getting any info from experienced flyers). With the final result: the sport will die out finally. Do we want this to happen??
The self interest also is strongly present in the top of our own Dutch organization. Everyone takes care for himself instead of taking care of all. In a couple of weeks an important meeting will take place in the Dutch pigeon organization. The reorganization a couple of years ago took care for the upcoming of 11 sections. Eleven sections totally on their own within one organization. Everyone will understand quickly this cannot work. The sections now want the organization just to sell rings and take care of the reported lost birds. Just that and nothing else. Thatís going back into history. I do hope common sense will prevail. Going back in time never was a wise decision in history.
What do I think of it personally? I think people with power want to keep power. Itís for them a kind of a hobby. Fanciers look up to fanciers with power. This is where things go wrong. A national organization is like the government and is not capable of making changes. It just seems it has to be this way. Letís hope not, but the last decade there has not been real good vision in the sport over here.
One more note: I promised to cure my racers for canker when sitting on eggs with Citromed. I cured during 4 days. The birds accepted the cure with no problem. After 2 days I had stopped with the cure I had 3 cured birds and 3 not-cured birds tested. The result was:
Cured group: 2 light; 1 medium infected with canker.
Not cured group: 2 light; 1 medium infected with canker.
Which indicates the product is not working at all properly.
The test was done by the NPO veterinairy advisor J. v.d. Sluis.