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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was given 4 breeding pairs of homers and I built a loft from plans and now have 23 birds. I have been catching them and putting each through the bobs. Some have gone through the bobs over a dozen times and appear to know how to get into the loft. An hour before sundown and before feeding, I caught four young birds that were hatched in the loft. I put them in a cage where they could see the loft. After about ten minutes I opened the door and all birds flew around for a few minutes and 3 of them disappeared from sight. The remaining bird hung around until dark and in the morning I found the bird in the loft. I'm doing something wrong and do not want to loose anymore birds. I really need help getting the birds to home back after they fly. What are the steps to success?
 

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Please read the threads on training pigeons in the homing and racing forum.

How long did you train them, and how old were they?

I give my youngsters about 4 weeks training, beginning when they are completely weaned. They eat by either whistle or shaking seed can (2 weeks)and are released around 8 weeks of age. I will trap train for at least two to three weeks (continuing feeding them by sound of whistle or shaking can of seed) allowing the youngsters visibility to see outside the cage on the trap area during that time. Some babies are a little slower then others so give them 3 to 4 weeks at least of training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Treesa,
Thank you very much for the information. Re your question: "How long did you train them, and how old were they?" The quick answer is I don't know, but my guess for those hatched in the loft is that they range in age from 9 months to 1 year. I was told that the birds must first learn how to enter the loft through the bobs. My "training" initially consisted of capturing all of the birds, placing them in a wire cage and placing the cage on the landing platform. After a 1/2 hour or so, I raised and secured the bobs facing the loft allowing the birds to re-enter the loft from the cage. More recently I have captured 5-6 birds while they are in the screened porch/sun room and put them individually on the landing board so that they can enter the loft. I think that my loft is a serious handicap. The loft was made from plans that utilized two sheets of plywood which is an economical concept and had I known of the disadvantages of the design, I would have built another style. The main problems are access to clean the loft and access to the birds. I would prefer to capture them without causing injury and so far we have been lucky. In the beginning I stupidly thought that that keeping pigeons would be just a matter of feeding and caring for them and returning to the loft would be a natural consequence. The bottom line for me is that I know very little about keeping pigeons and hope that this forum will educate me.
 

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Well first mistake was you waited until the birds were 9 months old. They need to be out on the landing board at about 4 weeks, and usually released to fly around the loft at about 6 weeks. This prevents them from being over ambitious and taking off without really knowing what they are doing. Also, make sure they are hungry before letting them out, this will make sure they trap when you want them to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After reading the stickies and other referenced posts and not finding specifics dealing with my situation (older birds). Should I go through the training that one would normally do with 5 week old birds such as.........
1. Use a consistent whistle tone/cadence just before feeding them, and do this for about two weeks?
2. Don't feed on the evening of first flight?
3. Select younger birds (smaller)?
4. Use any birds except those on the nest?
5. How many at a time?
6. Release them an hour before sunset from a wire cage in an area about 20' away from the loft?
7. Release them an hour before sunset in another way/distance?
8. Just prior to releasing the birds blow the whistle as I did in the previous weeks?
9. Blow the whistle repeatedly until the birds go through the bobs?
10. Expect to loose a good percentage of birds?
 

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After reading the stickies and other referenced posts and not finding specifics dealing with my situation (older birds). Should I go through the training that one would normally do with 5 week old birds such as.........
1. Use a consistent whistle tone/cadence just before feeding them, and do this for about two weeks?
2. Don't feed on the evening of first flight?
3. Select younger birds (smaller)?
4. Use any birds except those on the nest?
5. How many at a time?
6. Release them an hour before sunset from a wire cage in an area about 20' away from the loft?
7. Release them an hour before sunset in another way/distance?
8. Just prior to releasing the birds blow the whistle as I did in the previous weeks?
9. Blow the whistle repeatedly until the birds go through the bobs?
10. Expect to loose a good percentage of birds?
My responses to your questions above:
1. Use the same tone, whistle, bell, yell, scream, dance, pretty much anything just consistently every time you feed the birds forever from here on out. The birds will get the idea that when you do your dance, whistle or whatever they are fed.
2. I would let them take that first flight in the evening. I think that they are a little less likely to fly off when they are hungry and looking to roost for the night. I would let them out a few hours before sunset and no feed that morning.
3. Yes it is easier to do so with younger birds. However, I have had birds hatch in January and not out of the loft until July. It could be done with older birds, especially do to the fact that they were hatched in your loft.
4. Flying birds off the nest is a way some people race old birds. I don't see that as a problem, that is more motivation for the bird to get back to your loft. The exception is if the cock is driving the hen or the hen is about to lay eggs.
5. I say all of them, except your eight breeders Anyway you can get them in their own loft?
6. You don't want to release them like that until after they are flying around the loft and routing, basically getting far away from the loft and then coming back. At that point, you could start to basket them up and drive down the road a little.
7. If you are talking about releasing them for the first time while road training away from the loft... What I would do is one evening let them loft fly for a while, then call them in, then go into the loft and basket the birds, they have flown and blown off some steam, drive them five miles away and let them fly home. Again only, do this after your birds are flying around the loft and routing at least 30 minutes or so.
8. I don't think you need to that while road training but you could.
9. While your teaching them what the signal is you do so repeatedly, after they learn it they should need it more then once or twice.
10. You should not expect to lose very many from around the loft.

You mentioned your loft is made from two sheets of plywood. It might be a little crowded in there for 23 birds.

I am sure others will have their own opinions.

How much are you feeding?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Flaqpdoodle wrote, "You mentioned your loft is made from two sheets of plywood. It might be a little crowded in there for 23 birds."

I was wrong when I said 2 sheets of plywood and should have said 3 sheets. The loft stands off of the ground about three feet supported on four 2"x4"x8' studs which are anchored to steel rods driven into the ground. The loft is approximately 4' square and has a screened in sun room on the outside of the loft that faces south and measures approximately 24"w x 18"h. There is one access door on the west side that is about 18"x18" and a 10"x10" landing platform directly below the bobs that folds up and is secured at night. The bobs are also 10"x10". The loft has a screen fixed about 1 3/4' from a hinged bottom that drops down, To effectively clean the loft I capture all of the birds and take the back of the loft off so I can reach the perches and scrape the screen.

Flapdoodle wrote, "How much are you feeding?"
From what I have read on this forum, way to much. I use a standard soup can and the birds get two scoop in the morning and the same in the evening. What would you suggest.

Flapdoodle I appreciate the time and effort that you put into your response, Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Someone told me that the best way to release my pigeons was to allow them to free flight by opening the screen room. The idea is to herd the birds into the screen room, close the access hatch which denies re-entry into the loft. The screen room has a hinged front that hangs down when the holding clips are released allowing the birds to fly. What say ye?
 

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For a loft that is 4x4 feet I would say you need to find homes for about half your birds. A good number I would say is around 10 to 12 birds. Some folks here will tell you that is even too many birds for your loft.

As far as the feed, I would give them all they want for five minutes am and pm, after five minutes remove the feed. Work on teaching them your signal every feeding.
 

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Someone told me that the best way to release my pigeons was to allow them to free flight by opening the screen room. The idea is to herd the birds into the screen room, close the access hatch which denies re-entry into the loft. The screen room has a hinged front that hangs down when the holding clips are released allowing the birds to fly. What say ye?
That could work, run them into the screen room every feeding close the door, put the feed in the loft, give the signal, open the entry door into the loft (how big is that entry from the screen room to the loft? That would be a good place for bobs) After a week or two of that, skip the am feeding, about an hour before you feed that pm open your screen room up and let the birds come or go if they want, after an hour give the signal, feed the birds, if you had bobs that would make it easier so the birds in the loft can not get out. You might have some that stay out all night, but something like that should work.

Before all this I would either build another loft or relocate half you birds...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Flapdoodle, Thanks again for the good suggestions. I live in he middle of nowhere and locating someone that wants pigeons is close to impossible. I'll put an add in some of the local papers in nearby towns and see what happens. Meanwhile, I'll build a better and bigger loft.
 

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Also replace any eggs with dummy eggs. You have enough pigeons for now.
 

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They would lay eggs again very soon, causing undue stress on the hens body as opposed to them sitting the ~3 weeks that they would on the nest with eggs.
 
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