It doesn’t matter whether you’re a new starter or an old hand at pigeon racing, without well-defined goals and proper preparation you’re not going to be a competitive fancier, says Thomas Smit.
Many pigeon fanciers in SA are wealthy, with seemingly unlimited funds to buy the best quality pigeons and build the best lofts. But you don’t have to be rich to beat the competition, just smarter. Some factors to consider when deciding on your pigeon racing goals:
The ideal pigeon loft is one with stable day and night temperatures. If these are extreme in your area, you may need adjustable window louvres and ceiling boards that can be closed to keep the cold winds out during winter nights.
The loft front should be north-facing, although some say 25° east of north is better, as the loft will catch a little more of the morning sun this way. There must be no leaks and enough space for the number of pigeons kept.
The agriculture department specifies that it’s compulsory to annually inoculate your young pigeons against pigeon pox and all your birds against paramyxovirus disease. One champion fancier says he never inoculates and his pigeons never get paramyxovirus disease. Consequently, two pigeons he recently sold infected the buyer’s entire loft and necessitated the destroying of an entire round of youngsters.
Pigeons are basketed together for race events and so are exposed to the neglect of other fanciers. Therefore general routine treatment for basic pigeon diseases is essential. If you live in a malaria area, for example, you have to inoculate against pigeon malaria.
Racing pigeons require a 365-day commitment. Winning in the race season starts in the off-season. Fanciers who get a late wake up call in May and try to arrange super hygiene, loft discipline, fitness and other factors in one month, after nine months of neglect, are easy to beat.
Finally, remember you have to be a member of a pigeon club that is affiliated with the South African National Pigeon Organisation. If this isn’t the case, any results you score with your pigeons will be null and void.
Contact Thomas Smit at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state “Pigeons” in the subject line of your email. •FW
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