Once breeding is finished I leave all stock pairs together just sitting dummy eggs. Once old bird racing is over I let them go to nest and sit dummy eggs until young bird racing is over, then I split all the birds up. I usually leave all my hens, racing hens and stock hens in my young bird racing loft that has a full length aviary where they can sit in it all day until evening when they are locked inside. Cocks are kept in the boxes and young cocks transferred into the sections where they will be raced as old birds, they quickly take a box and I haven’t found that it slows their moult at all.
Once they are all split they receive a canker treatment for 5 days and wormed a fortnight later, apart from this there is no further medicating, I try keep that to a bare minimum.
Feed for the winter is 2 parts high protein mix 2 parts new wheat and 1 part new beans. I can honestly say I never have a bad dropping all winter feeding this way. The droppings are perfect the only downside is the birds will carry a bit of weight if over fed. I check this a few weeks before pairing.
The only supplements the birds get during the winter is Versel Laga pink pots. I empty one of these into a bucket and add 2 scoops of mixed grit with it. Each section gets a handful of this each day.
Every day fresh water is given daily. I let mine stand overnight in milk cartons, I don’t know if it makes any difference but I have done if for years. I’ve tried in the past giving all the teas/tonics and lowering the water ph levels etc, none of which do any good in my opinion. What I found when using them is the days you didn’t use them the droppings went sloppy so I felt like I was interfering with the birds normal gut function so I stopped.
Once the body moult is complete usually with just the odd flight for that years young birds to cast I vaccinate for Paramoxy using Colombovac. While on the subject of vaccinating I was using a well known vets programme for vaccinating. They recommend vaccinating for Salmonela/E Coli /Paramoxy/Herpes and Small Pox. While I never did the smallpox, I used the others to hopefully combat young bird sickness and fat eye in young birds. The result was I still got poorly young birds and still got fat eye. I know dozens and dozens of fanciers who vaccinated for para/herpes and most still got fat eye so on my next visit to the Kessel show in Germany I questioned the company. They said we realise now that the vaccination doesn’t stop the fat eye. This is probably 2 years after he told us it would work. I dread to think how much was spent worldwide for people like myself to realise it doesn’t. For the last 2 seasons 2018/2019 I have only vaccinated for Paramoxy using Colombovac and touch wood for the first time since 1999 I’ve not had any young bird sickness, although I still get fat eye with the young birds.
Moving on now to January (2020) and all birds are looking great and I’m getting ready to pair up after the Blackpool show. I take a week off work to do this (it’s the worse time of the year for me as I’m very impatient settling pairs to there boxes etc). My hens have had their corn cut down a bit but still what I would call overweight, but I don’t worry. They usually lay around 12/14 days, I’m happy enough with that as I don’t have time to exercise them to get them into condition as some do ( I work full time and I’m out of the house 50 hours a week). Once all birds have laid I treat all birds for canker for 5 days before eggs hatch out.
With the race birds I remove hens once the youngsters are about 14 days old and the cock starts to look at the hen again and starts to drive her to the nest. At this time she stops feeding the young birds anyway and the cock will make better of rearing because he’s only the young birds to concentrate on. I will speak more about the race birds on my racing system methods page. Youngsters are weaned from the stockbirds around 24 days old and put into the young bird loft.
Since the early 90s I have flown the widowhood system with moderate success. I went into this regarding loft ventilation etc on the ‘Beginnings’ page. In 2010 I visited a successful partnership that flew the roundabout system but a bit different to the conventional roundabout where hens outperform the cocks. Their system gets the best out of cocks as well, Happy days. I went there to purchase some birds for stock. They didn’t do me any good unfortunately, but the system was worth the price that I paid for the birds.
Since 2011 I have raced roundabout. It’s a bit more time consuming and as time is limited for me due to been out of the house 50 hours a week. I had to improvise, what I do is instead of flying the birds out for an hour on a morning, cocks and hens and same again in the evening, a total of 4 hours, I started exercising the birds for 40 mins each exercise period. This totals 2 hours 40 per day, so only an extra 40 mins a day and having twice as many birds to race and no prisoner hens which I didn’t like doing anyway. The 40 mins a day didn’t affect the birds at all they raced great.
The birds are paired in January after the Blackpool show, hens were taken away when the cock starts to look at the her again and thinking of driving her to the nest. Exercise starts when they are on eggs, cocks out on a morning while the hens are still sitting. The hens out on an evening when the cocks are sitting. This is just to blow the cobwebs off and get the yearlings used to going back to their new section. This continues on decent days until young birds are weaned away from the cocks. The birds are re paired not long after and are trained at this point. Hens first back to the loft and cocks trapping back to them. I do this until hens go eggy. The hens stop been trained but cocks carry on. The hens are back in training once on eggs. I try get as many chucks as I can in, weather permitting out to 20 miles. I split again about a week before first race and train back to each other up to first race. I am usually behind first race and they usually come much better from the second race on. You cannot compete with the lads that are at home all day and have all the time to get them ready for the first race. I accept this and usually catch them up on the second race.
I don’t put pairs together on a Friday due to lack of time. I just drive them straight into the baskets from their section. I have sliders on the internal doors on the bottom where I open and put the baskets behind. The birds are used to this as I do it with them as young birds. I find my birds go to the race calm. On a Saturday all nest boxes are opened up and it’s a free for all to be honest the birds are happy to get into their box. I have 24 pair. These are split into 2 feds and are sometimes at different race points so I have to make sure the cock and hen paired together go to the same fed hopefully arriving at similar time.
On arrival the birds are left together until 5pm when they are split and fed. Sunday is a day of rest for the birds and myself they are just fed and left to relax and recuperate.
Monday the exercise starts again, 40 mins am and pm this continues until Thursday, no exercise Friday just fed am and left quietly.
Young birds are raced on the darkness system. I don’t get home from work until around 6.30 pm so again I had to improvise. They are left darkened until 12 mid day, I can then exercise and train them and let them darken down naturally at night time.
Before racing the birds are cankered wormed and vaccinated for Paramoxy and once in training they are treated for respiratory.
They are trained usually tue/wed/thu from 20 miles. Time doesn’t allow me to put more work into them my main aim is to have a team for next year.
The lofts at Westgate are a 50 ft old bird loft which has 5 x 10ft sections 3 for inland birds and for 2019 I had 2 sections for channel racing which worked well as I can feed the two teams differently. It is difficult when all the birds are in the same section as sometimes 1 fed is on the land, and the other fed is at the channel and I feed in troughs.
For young birds I have a 32 x6ft loft with a 3/4 length aviary on the front. I also have a stock loft with a full length aviary on.