The Bradburys’ race team numbers about 70 race birds per season, made up of about 50 yearlings and 20 older pigeons. The birds are raced in each of the first 14 weeks and stopped five weeks before the last race of the season.
There are not many short race distances on the programme, which means that the Bradburys may be described as middle-distance specialists. There are two separate race events every Saturday, one for yearlings and one for birds of any age. Scoring with a small team Bradbury Lofts does not enter a full team in most races (a limit of about 20 birds is allowed). It seldom enters more than eight pigeons into the Open races and 10 in the Yearling races. Pigeons that show good form are often raced again the following Saturday, as the Bradburys believe in the adage, “do not stop a winning bird”. No bird on the team is allowed to miss racing for more than two weeks, to prevent it from losing form.
Once the birds are fit they are trained in moderation to maintain a fitness curve for as long as possible. On Saturdays the birds not entered into the races are roadtrained for a distance of about 180km, and on Wednesdays for a distance of 100km. The team is not exercised again around the loft on road-training days, but given time to rest. Home training is restricted to 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon around the loft. Supplements (medication and vitamins) Buks mixes half a teaspoon of garlic powder and half a teaspoon of onion powder to 12 litres of water and allows the mixture to “rest” for 24 hours. It is given to the birds daily and all medication and vitamin supplements are added to it. The preseason routine includes treatment for paramyxo and pox virus (which is compulsory).
In addition, the Bradburys use the traditional three-in-one mixture: one teaspoon Tylan (against respiratory infections), two teaspoons Terramycin (against bacterial infections) and one teaspoon Emtryl (against crop cancer). This mixture is added to eight litres of water and given to the team on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the entire racing season. Vitamin B12 syrup is added to the three-in-one mixture at the rate of one tablespoon per litre. The race team is dewormed every third week using Mediworm. Bradbury mixes breadcrumbs made from crushed-wheat bread with Morvite powder. This mixture is given as part of the morning feed on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
On Tuesday mornings pepper is added to the mix and on Wednesday mornings spirulina is added. When they return from a race event the birds are given a tablespoon of Epsom salts and a tablespoon of glucose to two litres of water.
The Bradburys use a standard commercial racing mixture of grains, supplied by Kingco feeds. The birds are fed a pudding of dehusked sunflower seeds daily at midday. When they return from a race the birds are fed a standard depurative mixture. On the morning of basketing day the birds are let out to loft-train at will and then given a bath to relax and tone the muscles. The last meal on basketing days is scheduled at 3pm. Care is taken that the birds drink well. A motivational tip from Bradbury Lofts: replace the eggs of the pairs in your race team with plastic eggs. Real eggs should hatch after 17 to 18 days, but some keen pairs may sit for up to 25 days on the plastic eggs, which amounts to maximum motivation. Call Buks Bradbury on 082 724 8927. – Thomas Smit Contact Thomas Smit on (011) 680 4778, or e-mail thomassmit@ absamail.co.za.