Old Bird Racing System
Brian races his old pigeons on the roundabout system. One team was paired at Christmas time and allowed to rear one youngster. Once the youngster is fourteen days old he removes the hen and lets the cock finish off rearing on his own. Brian says this is most important to allow the cock to bond with his box.
The second old bird team were coupled in February because the old bird races in Belgium go right through until the end of September. It is not good to have these pigeons fit in April, and then try to keep them going, he does not want to reach form too early.
A lot of fanciers in Belgium remove the hens and youngsters together. The youngsters are put on the floor of the hens loft and they finish rearing them, but it does not help to bond the cocks to the box and Brian places a lot of importance in this.
In comparison to most in Belgium, the Christmas paring is late and he likes them to rear only one youngster so it does not take too much out of them. When they have finished they never look as if they are stressed at all. They are then allowed loft exercise once per day to reach fitness and he will re-couple them for three or four days before training for racing begins.
Brian races the roundabout system because he has had many good results with hens.
But once you start the hens they should go each week. A couple of years ago, when he was in Merksplas, the hens had fourteen weeks solid racing from 320 miles up to 450 miles and every week they were winning good prizes and when he raced in Bridlington, there were 14 old bird races and his partnership won eleven of them, and nine of those were with hens!
Hens are so proud when they are back with the cock, its like electric in the loft, and when they come back there is always something close by for them to play with. They will chase anything and he likes that. Even if the cock is not home before the hen, she will be happy with her nest box because she has been denied it all week.
There are many National races during the season and they will go to them all, out to 500 miles.
He likes to leave the nest boxes open so the cocks can have all the space but after a few weeks he may close half of it off, just to give them something different. Also the pigeons are never locked in their boxes, as he likes them to be loose in the loft so they do not get bored. He likes it to be erratic so there is always something different going on.
He had observed in the past when a widowhood cock comes back to his hen, who is locked in the box waiting for him, he goes to her straight away but after 10 minutes he wants to be out again to play around the loft. So he lets them do as they wish upon return from a race for a while.
If, later in the season, the hens begin to pair together he uses the aviary. It can be a problem so he has two sections for hens, each with an aviary plus the passageway between. If he notices two nodding at each other he can split them. They still get plenty of food because he likes them to fly well at home. They would never see the cock during the week.
He would vary the procedure for basketing too.
Yearlings he will put together for a while before shipping for them to learn the system but the older cocks will just get the nest pan, or sometimes the hen and sometimes nothing. They know the partner is waiting for them once they get home so no real motivation is needed. He has watched the pigeons during the week so decides then what he will do, he likes them keen but calm.
Brian races two teams each week, one in Belgium, which is in the partnership of Brian, Ronny Van Tilburg and Premier UK . The other team is raced in Holland, which is in the name of Ronny Van Tilburg with Premier UK as the sponsors. Before the real racing begins they will be entered in the early midweek races to Quiverain with the club, which is 85 miles to the loft.
As the loft is the direct line of flight of pigeons going further on into Holland and Germany, this helps them to learn to pull out of the thousands of pigeons raced there each week. Brian says you can see hundreds of kits going over on race days, some going as far as Poland.
They are then given weekend racing out to 180 miles before being jumped into the first Bourges National, which is 320 miles.
The feed Brian uses is from Ronny Van Tilburg who sells his own mixtures, and they are very popular in the area. The pigeons are all fed in a communal trough twice per day, but this is taken away after they have had enough, and never left in front of them all day.
The birds trap to an open door into the corridor and the ETS pads are under the entrance at the bottom of the door into the loft sections. Brian does not use a sputnik trap, he likes them to have a large entrance to the loft by way of double doors so the pigeons have a bigger area to land on.
If he does manage to get a few come as a batch together, it allows for faster clocking instead of some going on the roof waiting for their turn to enter on the small sputnik landing board. With the sprint racing in Belgium being so competitive, the prizes can be gone in seconds and he needs a very fast trapping system indeed.