Good to know part 3
Most fanciers darken from 6 pm until 9 am, but because not everyone is home at these times the question is asked if there is another method.
The pigeons shouldn"t be in the light for more than 10 hours but ... when precisely that period of 10 hours is during a day doesn"t matter very much.
You can let the day "start" at 6 am, but also at 12 noon. If you "start" at 6 am, you must darken the pigeons by 4 pm at the latest.
Some say that they should still be able to find the drinker, but I don"t dare to take that risk. I have known too many fanciers losing a whole season because of not darkening adequately. I make the lofts as dark as possible and I don"t want to hear the pigeons move about anymore.
For how long you must darken depends on the racing program.
If you are racing until mid August then you can stop at the end of May. If you are racing for a month longer then you"d best darken for a month longer also.
Winter young you"ll only have to start darkening from mid March, the young from the next rounds immediately after weaning.
Some fanciers who race until September darken until the longest day.
Then, around 6 pm the lights come on and extra light is given till about 10.30 pm. Others go even further and put the lights on at 5 am.
The latter is a little tricky because of possible problems with the moult later in the year.
With dark weather you"d best put the lights on during the day, because dark weather will suppress the form.
By manipulating light and dark you can influence form and moult enormously; something that the craftier have already known for a long time.
If you don"t darken you"ll have to be aware of artificial light that enters the loft from for instance street lamps.
"Swollen heads" is not an illness but a symptom. It is an indication of no form and that can have a number or causes.
Good lofts will prevent a lot of trouble.
And if there are real problems, the best you can do is take the advice of a vet. He can diagnose the problem better so that you can give a more direct treatment.
If it"s not possible for you to consult a vet, you could treat with doxycycline and Lincospectine for a week.
Pigeons have to know discipline, something which not everybody thinks obvious.
At one time a fancier asked me to come and look at his new loft, and it has to be said, it was a fantastic loft, and he was very pleased with it all.
I had my doubts if it was a good loft, but I kept quiet about it.
The man had spent a lot of money on it, was as proud as a 13 year old girl with her first bra, and I didn"t want to spoil his day.
Since I was there, he wanted to give me a few newly weaned youngsters in the hand, to check if they were healthy.
But that was completely unnecessary. To see if pigeons are healthy you don"t have to take them in your hands, one look into the loft is enough, and these pigeons werehealthy.
But it was a very dry period and then many lofts are good.
It is important that your loft is good for as many days a year as possible.
What struck me was that, when he opened the door, a number of pigeons stormed outside, and they couldn"t be enticed inside again no matter what he tried.
"If I had to keep pigeons like that I would stop," I thought.
You need not exaggerate
Of course it was his own fault that he had such fearful pigeons.
Without knowing it himself, he was doing a number of things completely wrong.
There are many (small) things that make someone a "fancier", or that are the cause that someone will never be a fancier.
Take something as simple as cleaning for instance.
The man in question always released his pigeons when he cleaned, in order not to frighten them.
You can release your pigeons while you are cleaning, but the reason should never be that you fear frightening the pigeons.
Every good fancier knows that it doesn"t work like that, but it does the other way round. If you leave the pigeons in the loft during cleaning, they will become more manageable and sometimes they will become so tame that they will get in your way.
Important for performance is also nest box stability, that is why many champions feed individually, that stimulates nest box stability and with that motivation.
I feed the widowers in the off season in a communal feeder, and during the racing season individually in pots. It would be even better if you could let them drink individually.
Then you would see which pigeons have less form (the ones that drink too much) and they will contaminate each other less quickly with for instance tricho or what is called "snot".
But that is too much work for me.
LOFTS AND WEANING
It"s is a well known fact that you get more frightened pigeons in larger lofts.
A corridor could be a solution, and in the widowers loft that would have the advantage that the pigeons will sit on the floor less quickly.
I don"t like to see widowers sitting on the floor.
Since we are mentioning tameness; many top performing fanciers wean their young very early. Albert Marcelis was such a fancier, and it has only benefits:
They will become independent and self-reliant sooner, they will grow more attached to you, the weaklings will be noticed more quickly and ... you spare the parents.
Older hens get more worn out by feeding the young then by laying eggs.