Season Preparation and Season Maintenance
by: Dr. Steve Weir DVM,
As one reads the various
journals and books on pigeon racing it is easy to becomes very confused
as far as putting it all together to win. Subjects such as nutrition, training,
health care, motivation, ect. all seem to have as many opinions about them
as you have pigeons. Many of these opinions seem to contradict each other
- often between fanciers that both do exceptionally well. In short, there
are many ways to successfully fly pigeons, But most of the great flyers
do a lot of things in common. Over the years I have adjusted my protocol
in these various areas and have finally come to a "system" that really
works well for me. I will attempt in this article to tell you how I fly
young birds. It may disagree with others, but it has allowed me to win
3 times Texas Center Hall of Fame and All American Index in your bird performance.
I will try and do this by subject in a logical manner.
I try and raise 2 quick
rounds of the earliest youngsters I have. This is critical for 2 reasons.
First, you want them through the moult which is a big stress if they are
moulting heavy during the YB season, and second, older youngsters are easier
to motivate as we will mention later. I try to have a team of 40 to 50
youngsters as it is much easier for me to manage that number compared to
80 to 100 as some try to have. This is especially true when it comes to
training. I will always destroy any youngster that seems unthrifty or sickly
as I have yet to "nurse" one back to health that was a good racer.
Controlling the moult
in youngsters is a real "key" in winning today. Youngsters that are moulting
heavy in the body, head or neck just cannot come into good form during
the season. By raising early youngsters this is not a problem for me since
we start racing in September. Most of my youngsters are completely through
the moult by the time the race season starts. This is one of the main things
that all of the "light" systems do that you see advertised. They simply
control the moult. In Canada as early as you fly young birds, you probably
will have to use a darkening system like Mike Ganus does. I doubt you could
run them through the moult quickly like John Sampson does with no more
time than you have.
This is one of the main
reasons you want early youngsters. You want to motivate them, and the best
motivation is sex. I simply separate my youngsters by sex during training.
They never get together except shipping day at noon. As you would suspect
they go crazy. When I crate them that evening many of them are in the big
box perches calling to each other and obviously in love. During the race
the next day they come home with one thing on their mind and trap like
It is critical to train
your youngsters EARLY. Soon after they start to route you need to train
them out. If you raise very early youngsters and try and train them after
they have quit routing, you usually lose many of them and they do poorly.
The first few tosses I will let them out to exercise FIRST and then call
them in with a small amount of feed. I then crate them and take them on
their training toss. I do this to allow them to " get their fly out" before
I toss them. Now, however, they come straight to the house with no messing
around and my losses are minimal. I personally start at 5 miles and work
up to 70 or so. I always try to toss them in small groups of 5 to 10 and
work in a few single tosses during this time. They then are only loft flown
until 3 to 4 weeks before the season starts. I again quickly train them
out to 75 miles or so and try to have several 50 to 75 mile tosses before
the 1st race. We race on Saturday. My typical schedule is to loft fly the
Sunday after a race. I then try and get to 40 to 50 miles 2 of the 3 days
( Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday) depending on the weather. Thursday, I take
them to the clinic and single toss them out the back door as I evaluate
them for shipping the next night (Friday). They are not let out Friday
at all. The cocks and hens are allowed together at noon as outlined in
the motivation section.
As I am growing my youngsters
and they are moulting they need a lot of PROTEIN. They get a 16 to 18%
mix during this time. Once grown and through the moult they get a 14% mix.
The nutritional "trick" in my opinion in relationship to racing is to cycle
your birds during the week. You can't keep them in top form 7 days a week.
You want to build toward form on shipping day. I do this by using 3 bags
of grain, barley, safflower and my 14% mix. Essentially, early in the week
they get a lot of barley( which they hate) and late in the week they get
a lot of safflower ( which is full of fat and energy). We race on Saturday
morning and this is my daily schedule.
Saturday p.m. - barley
only upon return.
Sunday a.m. - barley
Sunday p.m./Monday a.m.-
½ barley and ½ 14% mix.
Monday p.m./Tuesday a.m.-14%
a.m.- ¾ 14% mix and ¼ safflower.
a.m.-- ½ 14% mix and ½ safflower.
Shipping day they are
fed about 9:00 a.m. for short races ( under 6 hours) and 12:00 noon for
races over 6 hours. I will give just a handful of safflower before basketing
to get them to take a big drink.
The following nutritional
supplements are used:
Garlic oil-on the feed
Tuesday and Wednesday. It seems to help but I have no idea why.
Dimethylglycine ( DMG)
- on the feed or in the water on Wednesday , Thursday and Friday. This
supplement promotes aerobic metabolism and decreases the buildup of lactic
acid in the system.
L-Carnitine - on the
feed or in the water Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This facilitates the
transport of fat (energy) into the mitochondria of the cell ( engine of
the cell) for the production of energy.
with Glucose-in the water on day of return from the race.
This is my schedule of
medication. Before the season my youngsters are vaccinated for PMV, Pox
Paratyphoid and E. coli. Three weeks before the season starts I worm them,
treat them for coccidia and canker, and treat them for respiratory infection
for 2 weeks. I use the following drugs.
Canker-Ridzol or Emtryl
and a tetracycline drug (doxycycline preferably)
Worms--- Ivermectin or
If you have malaria in
your area, you need to treat for 2 weeks prior to the season with atabrine.
Then one day a week during the race season.
Once the season starts,
I treat every Sunday p.m. Monday and Tuesday for respiratory infection.
Every other week I add canker medication to the respiratory drugs, and
the I don't treat for canker I am adding drugs for coccidia. This protocol
keeps all of the big performance killers under control and I never have
to deal with them during the season.
There you have it, one
of many ways to fly young birds. I you are unhappy with your results, give
it a try as it works for me. Good luck and good flying.