Introducing the stallion system

The stallion system gets the maximum amount of offspring from superior cocks, writes Thomas Smit.
Issue date : 05 December 2008

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The stallion system gets the maximum amount of offspring from superior cocks, writes Thomas Smit.

he Stallion System means using a choice male pigeon, or cock, in a similar way to a star bull in cattle farming. It’s given a number of top mates and the offspring are reared with feeders that act as foster parents. I n a natural racing pigeon breeding system both cocks and hens help during incubation. hen usually lays the first of two eggs about eight to 10 days after pairing and the second egg two days later. pair shares the incubation – the cock sits during the day and the hen at night for about 17 to 18 days, when the eggs hatch. The pair then helps each other feed the newborn squabs.

Hens may go down on a second round of eggs when the first youngsters are 14 to 18 days old. At this stage most hens stop helping the cock feed the young. Youngsters are weaned around 21 to 28 days old. t takes about 45 days from mating for the pair to wean the first round of youngsters, and another 38 days to wean the second. All this for just four youngsters. Most South African lofts raise three to four rounds, or six to eight youngsters per pair per season.

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Quantity versus quality
Most South African fanciers need at least 80 to 100 pigeons to see them through a season, if they want to give their top racers enough rest rather than “flying them into the ground”. Certain Clubs only allow a 10-bird limit in the races per fancier per week, but if two teams per race are allowed and there are 21 weeks of racing double races, 20 birds x 21 weeks = 420 race events. Divide this by 100 pigeons, and each will have been entered into a race event an average of 4,2 times for the season. A ccording to global statistics the success rate in breeding high-quality pigeons is about 1% to 3% in competitive lofts and 3% to 5% in champion lofts, in most cases thanks to one superior cock or hen and/or an immediate son. other pigeons are mediocre to good, but not superior.

To improve on the 3% to 5% hit rate you need to breed more youngsters from your superior pigeons. The only way to do this is the stallion system, where a super breeder is used repeatedly in the same season. competitive fancier from Durban took statistics on his successful racers and found one particular cock was either sire or grandsire of most of them. Many of this bird’s near kin are champion breeders in other lofts. It’s based on the famous long-distance strain of the late Mr Desire-Acke, from Belgium, so it “owns” a desirable gene pool. However, it was discovered at a late age and it is now infertile. n Spain the pigeon Mickey Mouse is being successfully used in the stallion system. In Europe it’s common practise to borrow or exchange the use of superior hens specifically to mate them to a stallion cock. The eggs or youngsters are then shared. Belgian champion fancier Silvere Toye founded a successful loft based on one pigeon called the Kleine. Its sons and some of its daughters were mated to the best pigeons in Europe.

How to practise the stallion system:
One can use a specially designed stallion box. The stallion is kept in the greater area in the middle and four to six hens are kept separately in little compartments attached to the main “arena”. If possible they should all be the same colour to prevent the cock becoming attracted to one and neglecting the others. he stallion is allowed to tread each hen twice daily until they go down on eggs. Hens are gently guided through a little door from their compartments into the stallion’s arena using a showman’s stick. Simultaneously, feeders are mated to receive and raise the youngsters. After a two-week rest the process can be repeated with a new set of hens.

This is the fastest method. he exchange system – the stallion is allowed with one hen until she lays, but the eggs are removed to feeders and the stallion is given a new hen. This system is slower. he stallion is allowed to breed on the natural system with one hen, but to tread other unmated hens. The eggs are placed under feeders. his is also a slow process and the timing with the foster pairs must be correct to allow the feeders to be on crop milk when the youngsters hatch. he stallion and its hens are to be fed a rationed mix to prevent them being overweight, but not starved. Allow for a good supply of mineral grit. E-mail [email protected] or call (011) 680 4778. |fw