Young Birds Pt 2
What is the optimum feed mixture for youngsters?
Roger: I feed the youngsters exactly the same as my widowhood cocks once they are racing. When I wean my youngsters they never have any maize until I start training. Many years ago we all used to suffer with young bird flyaway and in my mind it was because they used to have maize, they do not need it if they are not racing. All you need youngsters to do is grow and it is best to give them a mixture without any maize included until you begin racing.
How many races do you give your youngsters before the major races?
Mark: I normally give them as many as I can. The fed begins the young bird programme in July and the more experience you can give them the better. I think it is an advantage to give them lots of experience, be it training, racing, being in the transporter etc.
Roger: As many as possible. Experience is the key with youngsters.
Are any held back for the following year?
Roger: I used to hold all the cocks back and only send the hens across the water as young birds. With me flying the widowhood system I did not need so many hens and if the channel racing took a bad turn, I would still have my cocks safe at home. But the problem is when you send them over as yearlings, the cocks have no experience of the water so now I send them over as young bird with the federation because they home to a smaller area and I find this works better for me.
Mark: I send all my youngsters to 4 channel races each year. I really do think it is a good way of learning, and that’s why I get my yearlings out of Argen International so well. It like I am trying to steal a year because they are bred early, they are educated a lot earlier than most and have had lots of experience racing so when they race as yearlings, they have the experience of two year olds. When you begin with this training programme you can really suffer with losses but as the years go by it gets better, so you either suffer it or give up and I decided to suffer it and its paid off for me. The first year I did this there was a north road club as well as a south road club and I would go alternate weeks with each club. My club results we terrible but when I sent them to the National I got 100% returns and was 20th open.
When I trained for the federation line I topped the fed several times and I remember I sent 16 of these to Guernsey. They were 2 and a half hours for the winners but I didn’t clock on the day! This was due to them being religiously trained on one line and they had not learned anything but that. If you have a bad toss from 50 miles, they are learning and they have a chance of getting home. That means you have to take them 50 mile one direction one day and 50 mile the next day in another direction to teach them how to get home if taken off line. You have to make them think.