October and November (October 19th)
October and November At this time birds are moulting heavily. Many fanciers, amongst whom great champions, keep the pigeons locked up all winter. From September to March. Others, amongst whom great champions as well, let them fly out as much as possible, even with temperatures far below zero. It does not make much difference, as it seems. I let my pigeons out once a week or so. If there were not such a thing as hawks I would let them out more often. Being locked up for half a year is not my choice, but I must admit; for many it works.
Then there are those fanciers whose lofts are empty. They have their pigeons in an open aviary all winter long. Meanwhile they disinfect their lofts. This is a waste for pigeons that are in perfect health. And it is a waste as well when they suffer from some disease.
Some refer to the ‘homes’ of pigs, cows, chickens etc. which are also disinfected. But that is a totally different story. Unlike pigeons those animals are removed and do not come back in the lofts.
Suppose the birds are infected by worms, paratyphoid or whatever. You neatly disinfect the lofts but if you put back the pigeons they will contaminate the loft again with the eggs of worms or bacteria or whatever. And later on the loft will infect the pigeons. As a kind of cycle.
When you know your birds are infected by some disease you need to take appropriate measures. Clean the loft thoroughly is not good enough. Or do you really think that you can remove worm eggs or bacteria by means of a scraper? When there are health problems you should cure the birds and disinfect the lofts at the same time, so during the cure.
The following steps should be taken:
First clean the lofts thoroughly, then use a vacuum cleaner and since you cannot get everywhere use a sprayer afterwards. Scientists claim Dettol and especially Virkon S are superior disinfectors for pigeon lofts. Dettol is best known in Belgium, Virkon S in the Netherlands. The final step is use a burner.
This all is a waste of course if you will put infected birds in the loft afterwards. As I said appropriate measures should be taken at the same time. As for medicating you sometimes read about pigeons that build up resistance. This is B. S. Bacteria (!) may become resistant.
The theme "losing babies" has been hot for several years now. People guess why. Lack of quality is definitely not the reason. Even the greatest champions suffer gigantic losses. John van Wanrooy is one of the best racers in Holland. This year (2016) he started with over 300 babies. After the season about 35 were left. Adri de Dooy is also a man with good birds. From one race he lost several babies. They were reported, he got them back and later on the same birds would win! If, from the same race, one fancier loses many birds while the others get their birds home, the explanation is simple: poor health. But both in Holland and Belgium the losses are so gigantic today that there must be more.
Because of those losses many changed their training method. Champion v d Bulck starts training when his babies are 10 weeks old. He loses few birds. There are others who wait as long as possible and they do not lose many birds either. Others imitated them but kept losing birds.
De Bruijn is one of the very few who does not lose many babies. What he does is train them 20 times or so from 10 kilometers only. It is good for their confidence when pigeons always get home smoothly, he claims. ‘They will not give up easily in case they have problems finding their way home later on.’
All living beings want to survive and take on habits. Therefore a pigeon that was lost and entered the loft of another fancier will easily continue to do so. Such a bird was exhausted, hungry, gave up, entered a loft that was not his and there it got food and drink. Thus it was, as it were, rewarded for bad behavior. And pigeons have a good memory. When it is in trouble again it will easily do the same; enter another loft.
The method of de Bruijn seems to make sense. Every time the birds return home safely this will be experienced as a kind of victory and increase their self-confidence.
IN SMALL GROUPS.
When tossing it is better not to release the whole bunch together. When they fly with many they will more easily hit a wire, furthermore releasing them in small groups may help to overcome the instinct to stay together (draft fly). Pigeons are herd animals and are inclined by nature to stay together. For that reason, I sometimes let my old birds out in the evening when young birds are missing. It happens that they are "picked up" from surrounding buildings. Pigeons attract pigeons. Therefore droppers are so handy after a race.
Winter is also the time of vouchers for young birds. I have pointed out to several foreigners on what sites vouchers are offered. They found it a much cheaper way to get in touch with a champion or get his birds.
Believe it, there are numerous ‘champions’ that charge 500 euros or more for a baby, while no one offers even 100 euros for a voucher for a young bird.
‘How can I support birds that are moulting’ fanciers sometimes ask. They are confused by all the ads they read. Well, forget those ads. Healthy pigeons do not need help. Moulting is something natural which is going to take place when the days become shorter.
And what about a special so-called moulting mixture? That's no more than just a slogan to give the fanciers what they ask for. Rest, no stress and a weekly bath is what moulting birds need. It is certainly not wrong to occasionally skip feeding for a day. It seems more effective than anything else. If you absolutely want to give your birds something extra Sedochol may be a good idea. ‘May be’ indeed.