Young Bird Racing Pt 1
How many youngsters do you breed for racing?
Mark: I breed 200 for myself each year and I work them hard to find the very best.
Roger: I breed 120 and race them over the channel in the hope of keeping 50%. If I do I have done well because the channel is a good test for youngsters.
Which system do you race them on?
Roger: I am reasonably good with young birds but I do not have a particular system, I do whatever I feel that season. Sometimes I will only private train and another I will send all the fed races. It just depends how thinks pan out over the season. I do separate the sexes on the sliding door system and if they are flying well around home I will not trains so much after the first fed race. I put them together for an hour before basketing as motivation.
Mark: I separate the sexes and show the night before they go to the race and let them play together. I train them hard and give them 4 channel races, as I want to find the best. Everything goes across for me and I know I am over wintering the cream of the crop. They are on the darkness system until the middle of June and I put lights on in the loft to extend the days. This helps them to keep their cover feathers for the September races. Even if you did not have them on the darkness in the beginning of the season, you can still hold the covers with the lights. Once they do begin to drop them the body is switching off for winter so I think extending the day is good for any youngster racing into September.
What age do you begin training youngsters?
Mark: I think they have to be trained by 4 months old and I try to get them into the sky as soon as possible. They are flying an hour by the first of April around home and by May I will have begun training. They have to have as much experience as possible.
Roger: We are breeding earlier each year and it gives me a problem of pigeons being too old before I get chance to train them. They are like yearlings because we are breeding two months earlier than we used to be.
How many training tosses do you consider the ideal before racing begins?
Mark: As many as you can give them I think. But you can over do it. By that I mean do not take them so far that they cannot get home in an hour. I feel that is far enough but as often as possible without over stretching them. You have to be sensible and not ruin them before racing begins. Mine go 40 miles twice per week.
Roger: It’s all about conditioning their minds and getting them mentally fit. If they are flying well at home I will leave them until a week before the first race. A lot of fanciers can ruin their birds by over training them. How far do you take them before the first race?
Once racing begins, do you continue training?
Roger: We have to use the Federation for training our National birds but the problem is the fed goes in a westerly direction and the Nationals fly south. So we are actually training our pigeons to fly west and then suddenly we have to turn them south, which in young bird racing becomes a huge obstacle. Personally I train my young birds south because I no longer concentrate on the federation race programme. I used to train west all the time but now I do not because you condition a pigeon to fly west to east but now I want my pigeons flying from south to north that’s my main criteria. I like to get them to the coast and double them up before the National, so they get to see the water, which is 45 miles to my loft.
Mark: I do give my birds a couple of fed races because I think it is important to get them used to drinking in the baskets before the National races. I used to train down to the west and take part in the inland races. I would do very well in them but when I sent to the National I was being beaten so now I forfeit the inland races and train them south along the coast to give them as much experience as possible. I am pleased because they come so much better from the channel races and I think it is important that the are given different lines so that they do not get used to just one. When you switch them about on different lines you can get some difficult tosses but they have already had to think it out before the National races where the pigeons could hit land almost anywhere along the coast. In fact I like a few hick-ups from training now and again. I train them 40 miles twice per week, Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes I will basket them on the Monday night if I have work commitments, and take them very early the next morning.