Our method of breeding consists of two hens (female pigeons) mating with one cock-pigeon consecutively. The first female on Christmas day, the second has her go seven weeks later. The females which have bred on Christmas day will be housed together with “winter youngsters”, after they have raised their own children. Training also takes place together with these “winter youngsters”.
Starting mid April we begin training the pigeons. We move the hens away to further locations to learn to fly home, usually around midday. In this manner, they will encounter as little bad weather as possible. The hens learn quicker and stay longer in shape this way. Both females will develop a strong sense of jealousy, since they realize they have competition for the cock-pigeon. We encourage this jealousy since it is beneficial for flying results. One drawback however is that we spend a lot of time having both the females take turn in spending time with the males.
Feed ingredient is 50% paddy. Only their two last meals before shipment, the females will receive a different feed: flight feed “Versele Laga”.
Belgica de Weerd is our medical advisor.
Mating season starts beginning of December. These children, and those of the second round, are being used for the “young pigeon’s play”. In this manner we only start with those which have overcome all or most diseases. First part after weening, the youngsters eat breeding feed. So they will grow and moult. After 10 weeks, we change feed to half breeding, half “purification”. We also add some P40 and candy-seed. We vaccinate youngsters at six weeks against paramixo and at nine against pocks.
We black-out the sheds between weening and June 1st . We do not give extra light. At the age of five months, in May, we start the learning process. In 2009 this went extraordinarily well, because we did not lose any youngsters in the first learning stages. Before official flights, we take the youngsters out at least fifteen times. Stress avoidance is important in our opinion, because diseases might pop-up then. We try to avoid illnesses in general as well as the use of medicine.
In between the first couple of official flights, we occasionally take the youngsters out for training by taking them for a ride. After three official flights, we take them further away from home since it improves their training scores.
A tip from our side is this: if you see a little tension coming up in the group, due to segregation of sexes, you can reduce this by using rags. It works for us.