Champion Fanciers featuring Mark Gilbert, Windsor & Roger Lowe, Reading.
What makes an ideal loft environment?
Mark: I think for me the most important thing is to make sure there is no draught, pigeons do not do well in a draughty loft. I do not have any ventilation in the front of the loft only a 15cm gap in the eves.
The air then comes in and because it is cooler than the loft environment, it is heavier and drops down thereby pushing out the warmer stale air. Too many pigeons in the loft can also have a detrimental effect; I have 12 boxes in a 2.8 deep loft with a 60cm corridor
Roger: My lofts are very similar to Marks but I would add that I have got 2 or 3 lofts that face southwest which does not get the sun on them until the afternoon. I also have a loft that faces north and I have Velux windows in the roof to allow sunlight. I do breed good youngsters out of that loft. My loft is 10 meters long and I have 48 widowhood cocks in that 4 sections. I have got air vents in the lower half of the loft, which I open up when I am breeding because there are twice as man pigeons in the loft. When I am racing, I have polycarbonate on the front too. My young bird loft has aviaries on the front and they do get closed up at night but I am not so particular with my young birds as I am with the widowhood cocks. I have found that in the summer the heat is so hot because of the design of my loft I had to put opening window lights in the roof to let more air out when needed. The loft should be both dry and warm but I do not use any heating in the winter and it is not very often, because of the design of the loft, which the drinkers in there freeze. They do in the young bird loft but I am not too concerned about that.
Do you think humidity is a problem
Roger: I have got a humidistat in there to keep an eye on humidity but I do not take too much notice because of the design of the ridge tiles on the loft, which are not cemented on, I do not seem to suffer with high humidity. It is very important that there is not any damp in the loft at all.
Mark: To be honest I do not have any issues with high humidity because my loft is dry. The only thing I will add is the importance of a tiled roof. I did have some intermittent glass tiles in the loft but it got too hot inside and I removed them. In one loft that I used to own I had the ridges laying loose to allow for ventilation but the position of the loft meant that when the wind w
as in a particular direction, it would push the foul air back in the loft, so I cemented them on and replaced them with purpose made vent tiles instead. The pigeons in there would not perform the same as my others and I had watched a video of a loft in Belgium with the same problem and their solution, which is when I realised what was wrong. The pigeons looked in great condition but were lacking something. You have to play arund with things over a couple of seasons until you get it right. If you see cigarette smoke coming back down on te pigeons and not disappearing out through the ceiling wire, you know there is something wrong. You can have the best pigeons in the world but if you loft is wrong they will never reach the real top form that is required to win a National. No two lofts are the same!
How would you know if a loft is overcrowded?
Mark: You will see problems with health in an old bird loft. In my young bird loft I have more issues purely because I keep more pigeons in the same area. It can lead to respiratory problems and a little bit of young bird sickness. In the old bird loft I have 12 pigeons in a 2.4m section plus the corridor and do not get the same problems. In the young bird loft I would have 35 pigeons in the same kind of area and there are always issues.
Roger: I have 12 pigeons in a 2.4 section where I could keep more because I have 16 nest boxes in there but I closed the bottom boxes because pigeons like to be as high as possible. Going on to the difference between the young bird loft, I have aviaries on the front which Mark has not and I do not find that I get too much respiratory in my young birds, only when I put them on the darkness system, and close them up a little. Overcrowding with young birds is a problem. I have two young bird lofts, one with 80 perches in it and another with 70 perches BUT I always leave about 10 perches spare in each section.