Preparing for the racing season

Our South African racing season begins towards the end of May and many fanciers are counting the days, but being too hasty can ruin your season.
Issue Date 27 April 2007

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Pigeon lofts must be dry and well ventilated to ensure good form for the racing season.

Our South African racing season begins towards the end of May and many fanciers are counting the days, but being too hasty can ruin your season.
The last of the primary wing flight feathers are still developing, and training too early can be painful and can strain the flights, doing irreversible damage. Too much early training can also overtax the birds’ natural immunity and make them ill.

Allow your race team free flight around the loft every other day to orientate themselves, well before the moulting of the last two primary flights. Once training starts, an inexperienced youngster can easily be picked up by a passing pack and become lost, or fly into overhead wires.

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Start loft training near the end of April, for only a few minutes a day. Gradually allow the birds to fly out spontaneously for longer periods as they gain confidence.

Feeding and supplements
The birds need proper nutrition when they are still in moult. Do not cut down on feed too soon, but do not overfeed, as overweight birds will not exercise well and are caught more easily by predators. Feed slowly until the fourth to sixth birds aim for the water trough. a balanced commercial mixture that contains more protein than carbohydrates.
A supplement of equal portions of black rape seed, red rape seed, canary seed, linseed, safflower, barley, white rice and lentils can be given at lunchtime, but only about a cupful for 25 to 30 birds. If the birds are overweight, reduce the morning feed rather than the afternoon feed. Birds starved during the cold winter nights could become ill. A handful of mealies after the feed on a cold night can increase their body heat.

Natural supplements are brewer’s yeast, glucose, lemon juice, honey, aloe, garlic and green salad leaves (washed and sprinkled with a little salt – but remember, too much salt is poisonous). Alternate wheatgerm oil, cod liver oil and Plumeplus (a mixture), at least three times a week. Mix one teaspoon of the oil into 1kg of food. Medipet supplies many supplements such as Aminovit-H, Calcibird, Bloedstim, Lewerstim, Entero-plus, Medimune Plumeplus and Premoult 10. Choose a suitable one to give your birds adequate nutrition.

Vaccination for pigeon pox and paramyxo virus is required by law. Deworm the birds once in April and again two weeks before the first racing event. If possible, take some birds to the vet to check for any potential diseases. Treat for malaria, which is now found in the most unexpected areas. Remember to complete the course – Primaquin works well.

Your loft should be dry and well ventilated, with no draughts. In cold areas, close the loft fronts at night. Nothing steals form as quickly as a cold wind blowing into the lofts. – Thomas Smit Contact Thomas Smit on (011) 6804778. |fw