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The long hot summer

Jos visited me.

He is not just someone; he is world-famous. Since it was a hot day, the conversation ended up in discussing the weather and pigeons.

'The birds must suffer from the heat' he said, looking at the lofts.

Although I did not feel like teaching a guy with so much experience I dared react.

'It is not that bad, you know. Even when it is 30 degrees Celsius outside, it is a lot cooler in the loft.'

Questioningly he looked at me.

You should know my loft is directed towards the south, but a whole length of tiles in the roof is replaced by plastic, to get in more light and warmth in spring.

In summer it can be real hot indeed but lack of oxygen worries me more than the heat then.

What I did?

I Installed a kind of sliding plank so that I can cover the plastic tiles from the inside. 



With Jos I went inside the loft.

When I drew aside a plank that covered the plastic, within a minute the heat was hardly bearable.

You can compare this with opening curtains of a window on a warm sunny day.

Only the effect is less because the sunlight doesn't fall in with an angle of 90 degrees, which is the case with a leaning roof facing south.

A lot of glass in the roof of a loft and a poor ventilation can be deadly for the condition in summer when it is bloody hot and the sky is clear.

You can compare this again with a closed up car parked in the sun, it is suffocating inside. 

One of my sayings is:

'The champions in our sport have the circle should' and part of the circle is the loft.

The temperature, oxygen, lighting, ventilation and the design must be optimal to make the pigeons feel comfortable and get in good shape easily.

A big problem in our country (Holland) is the changing weather conditions and one should find a way to deal with it.



My lofts are far from luxurious. I built  them up myself with old wood.

Throughout the years I kept on altering them though.

- More glass in the roof, less glass, no glass at all.

- More ventilation, less ventilation.

- And so on.

All these efforts were made to finally get a loft on which the weather conditions have not much influence.
Until the time came that I did not need a hammer any longer since the pigeons performed well. If one day their performances will get worse, I can't blame the lofts since they have proven to be good.

In that case I just have to try and get better birds.



So by now I have things under control.

- When it gets extremely hot, I cover the plastic tiles in the roof.

- When it is humid, I can heat up a bit.

- I can open the windows and put grates to allow the sun and oxygen to get in whenever I feel it 's necessary.

- I can also cover the front windows

Too much glass will not only turn the loft into an oven in summer, it is bad in spring as well. You should touch the glass at night and feel how cold it is.

These are all logical things that we take into consideration in daily life as well.

It doesn't have anything to do with luxury or cost.

In daily life we humans also open or close windows, we also ventilate or switch on the heating so that we feel better ourselves. 

Pigeons cannot open or close their lofts. They are literally prisoners of their environment. Therefore they need our help, if necessary.

One last thing about glass: If I had to choose between 'too much' or 'too little', I would prefer 'too little'.

The advantage of little glass is also that it will keep the daily warmth in the loft during the night



Furthermore a tender sunshine in spring is totally different from the burning sun on a tropical day. In spring the sun plays a major role to get the birds in good shape. Then I open the windows and let the sunshine in.

You can see the effect on the birds right away.

They will look for that tiny spot where the sunlight falls in and you can see they enjoy it.
It is important as well to recognise the effect of the angle of the incoming sun rays, which is totally different in spring compared to summer.

In summer the sun is 'higher' which causes the sunrays to get into the loft with an angle of 90 degrees. That is why I have those sliding planks.

'Other weather, other pigeons win' you hear people say.

You could ask yourself if it is not the weather on the days BEFORE the race that determines the winners, rather than the weather on racing day itself.

Simply because other pigeons get in good shape (or not) due to the changing climate on the loft.

Talking about sun and heat makes me think of the bath.



Some fanciers claim they never give their pigeons a bath.

So be it, why would they lie? But those pigeons get a chance to bathe for example when it is raining. 

You can be sure a regular bath is necessary, especially in the moulting period. In the past I didn't take this so serious.

Until an excellent vet who races pigeons himself told me about the importance of birds taking a bath regularly.

Personally l admire vets who race pigeons.

They stick out their necks.

If they perform well 'it is because they know what to give the birds'.

If their results are poor 'they don't know anything about pigeons either' fellow fanciers sneer.

I will never forget what that 'excellent vet' told d to me a long time ago.

'You should give your pigeons a bath' he said.

He didn't ask if I ever gave them a bath, he could just see I did not.

If you can see the pigeons never get a bath, there is only one conclusion:

A bath is part of the handling.

Birds may be so keen to jump into it that they are in line as soon as you start pouring out the water.

Sometimes they even flounder in front of the drinkers and would like to creep into them as well.

The stupid birds that don't have room are making the same floundering movements as the bathing birds next to the bath or drinker.

You often hear:

'The more powder on the water, the better.'

This might be true' but you are never sure!



Several times I doubted if I should basket pigeons, since they refused to bathe, while they performed well in the race that followed.

The opposite is also true.

If pigeons feel like bathing does not only depend on their condition but on the weather as well.

Especially in hot weather, when humans feel like bathing, the birds do not.
On the other hand, sometimes in winter you have to remove the ice from the bath because you can see the birds feel like bathing.

Some fanciers, even champions, oblige the birds to take a bath after the race.

I do not think this makes sense.


Apart from the feet and the flesh around the breastbone the water will not penetrate to the skin. This only happens when the birds put up their feathers, and they do this when they bathe spontaneously and not when you pull them into the water.


If you are convinced you owe your successes to the obligatory bath, please continue to do so. Even if it is just for your own peace of mind.
Personally I find it a waste of time.