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Double Widowhood (Part two of three)

This article is a follow up of the previous one, but this time I will go into more detail about ‘double widowhood’. 

I do not want to promote this method (‘double widowhood’) as the ONLY good one.

For many it works but other methods also do.

It stands to reason you can race ‘double widowhood’ both with young birds and old ones. This article deals with young birds.


For successful young bird racing 5 items are a ‘must’.


The birds should be 3 months old minimum when you start training them.

In Belgium and Holland new bands are handed out January 1st, fanciers want to race babies as old as can be so what do most of them do?

Mate up the breeders end of November so that babies can be rung first week of January.

I said ‘most’ since those who participate the 2-day races do not practise winter breeding.

They know they have a type of bird that does not perform in their year of birth; therefore ‘winter breeding’ is not relevant for them.

‘Winter breeding’ is the name of the game for ‘young bird specialists’ though, since training tosses can start sooner with babies that are older and early breeds will be

more motivated since they are sexually more matured. 

Naturally it does not make sense to race widowhood with birds that are not matured.


Birds that are not trained adequately will not perform.

As for tossing some say ‘the more the better’ but this is not so. I have often seen results going down due to over tossing.

Of course you can only start tossing when birds train spontaneously round the loft, since birds that do not lack condition. Training such birds will inevitably lead to many losses, regardless the quality (see previous articles about young bird racing).


You need a family that performs well in the year of birth.

Certain families do not, since they mature slowly. It is a matter of heredity and fanciers themselves know best what type of bird they have.


The loft (the environment) is very important as well. It is hard to describe how a good loft should be, since the weather conditions also play a role.

A loft that is good nearby the sea where it is often windy may be a bad one inland.

A loft that is good in Belgium need not be good in Taiwan.

A loft that is good in a yard between buildings may be a bad one in the open.

Anyway: A good loft is warm (not too warm), dry with fresh air and not draughty.


Nowadays more than ever you need birds that have much resistance against diseases that constantly threaten them.


Young birds can be raced natural (on the nest), on widowhood (the partners are not raced) or ‘double widowhood’ (both sexes are raced). 

In the past Orleans was THE race every body wanted to win in Holland. It was so popular that up to 200,000 birds were entered.

Fanciers tried to enter them on a baby of about one week old, which needed a lot of preparations and calculations but it was worth it.

The easiest way was to mate them with old birds.

It was mostly hens that won but it is well known that hens race better than cocks as a baby, especially when raced on the nest.

But racing natural has 2 disadvantages.

a. The birds do not train so you have to force them or go on the road with them.

b. You can exploit a good position for only 3 weeks maximum (from eggs that are about to hatch till on babies of about 12 days old), but nowadays the specialists require good results week after week and do not focus on one or two races.


So performing well the whole season is impossible with birds that are raced natural.

Therefore racing on double widowhood (‘on the door’ they say in Holland and Belgium) is what most young bird specialists practise nowadays.

Another advantage is that if birds are healthy you need not worry about loft training and you need not go on the road with them. Birds on the nest however will not train.


Till the birds are 3 months old, or a bit longer, they need to be fed well which implies a mixture that contains enough protein (peas).

This should change though before the racing season starts.

Then the feed should be lighter (no or very few peas) and a treatment against canker is also welcome.

When I start tossing the sexes are not separated yet since it is hard to race ‘doublewidowhood’ successfully for 10 weeks, the birds get used to it and tired of it.

Therefore I separate the sexes when there are only 6 or 7 races to go.

I found they are at their best a month after you had put cocks and hens apart.


Once cocks and hens are separated ‘double widowhood’ is simple.

The first two weeks I take them for a short toss on Thursday afternoon.

When coming home they find the door in between the sections that separated them open,as well as the nest boxes.

In the evening the birds are separated, on Friday evening they are basketed and when they come home from a race they may be together until dark.

Unlike others who let the sexes together on basketing day, I prefer the day before.

In this way they are basketed more calmly which is important in case of hot weather or when birds have to stay over.

After racing day, when the sexes are separated again, they may train once a day, cocks in the morning and hens in the evening and the opening to the loft is closed for at least one hour. Then I call them in.

I do not like to rotate. So hens have to go into their section and cocks into theirs.And what if hens get lesbian manners?

As for young birds no problem, it may even motivate others that get jealous.

For the same reason it is no problem either if after a race birds ‘take’ another partner.


The method described above is one of those that should work. If it does not, the birds lack health, quality or both.

I did not talk about the medical part, since that is not as important as many think. Medicine are developed to cure sick birds and not to turn them into winners.

Most specialists treat birds against canker for 5 days before they start tossing them, later on they treat them every 3 weeks for 2 days.

Giving birds electrolytes in hot weather won’t hurt either.

Normally that should do.

And what about respiratory problems?

It is often the birds of the same fanciers that face this problem.

The mistake they make is that they try to solve this by medicating whereas they should find the cause, which is often to be found in lofts that are over crowded or draughty.