In general, most organisations have 20 to 24 race events on their calendar, with the racing distances varying between 180km and 1 100km.
Slow down the training pace
The race team needs to learn to enter the loft through the trapping post before training starts. Just one pigeon that can’t enter the loft properly could teach the entire flock bad manners. The race team should be disciplined as a group, but remember to allow more time for younger pigeons to catch up with their older teammates.
If bonding was not sufficient during weaning, you could slow down the pace of the pre-training period to build a relationship with the birds on an individual basis. Take the time to make your pigeons feel content, happy and settled, so they can react well to the training system. Unhappy and unsettled birds do not win races – in fact, most flyaways fall within this category.
Only once the birds are airborne and have mastered flying around the house every afternoon, should you teach them to fly as a pack. Forming a kit comes naturally as racing pigeons are insecure when young and prefer company when in the air.
The muscles should be well trained to endure the strain of flying. When pigeons are trained on the road too quickly, it could harm their muscles. If a good youngster fails to orientate but returns a few days later, give it time to recover by gradually bringing it back into the training programme.
The training programme
Most training programmes consist of interchangeable home and road training. Home training starts six to eight weeks before the races. Only once the birds kit well and are able to fly for at least an hour around the loft, are they taken on the road to fly back home.
Some fanciers release the birds 100km from home for their first road training experience. While this system may work well for some fanciers whose birds orientate better from an early age, many losses are still reported. Other fanciers nurse their birds when it comes to training and may only release them a few kilometres away from home for their first road experience.
Some fanciers fly their birds for half an hour twice a day, while others push for an hour a day in one session, be it in the morning or the afternoon. Then there are those who allow for a lunch-time exercise of 20 to 30 minutes each day. Road training is undertaken one to three times a week with another release on a Saturday before a race starts. The birds that are not entered into a Saturday race might get some road training. The Saturday distance is normally further than the mid-week road training distances. – Thomas Smit
Contact Thomas Smit on (011) 680 4778 or e-mail [email protected]