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Hi Chris,

I'm sure there are 1,001 different methods but I'll share mine.

I assume that you are talking about young bird training and not old birds.

I raise very early youngsters. I pair my breeders around Thanksgiving and plan my 1st round to hatch at Christmas. I then band (ring) my youngsters around New Year's day. I use the light system so that my youngsters will molt during June/July and have a brand new set of flights for the races.

I have a California type of aviary where the trap door is within the aviary. Weaned youngsters are placed in the young bird loft at 4 weeks of age and trained with a whistle and shaking the feed can to go through the traps. The aviary doors are opened just about an hour before feeding at 6 weeks of age so that they can take their first flights around the loft. Hawks are particularly worrisome at this point.

They are loft flown daily until mid May when I start road training. The youngsters are routing by then where they fly out of sight for 30 - 45 minutes. They are taken on about 10 training tosses. The first is within site of the loft a few hundred yards away. The second toss is at 1 mile. For this training I go in the direction of the race course but I don't think its all that important. Also, I don't work on speed trapping. They're tossed in small groups of 7 or 8 at 15 minutes apart. If you have a partner who can watch for their return and whistle them in, all the better. I don't so I just return after the last toss and usually find them sitting on the loft and then call them in. For this training I'm really interested in developing their homing skills. I will do another at 1 mile, twice at 5 miles, maybe 3 times at 10, then a couple each at 20 and then 30.

This 1st phase of their road training is finished around mid June. Then because my young pigeons were on the light system they begin to molt severely. I separate the boys from the girls. I feed a lot of oil seeds like hemp and safflower and other small seeds to help with feather growth. Give them pigeon tea with honey. Leave them very quiet. Loft fly only if they want alternating the boys one day and the girls the next.

By the first of August they have regrown most all their flights. A few will still have the 9th and 10th coming in. We then begin road training in earnest. I have a refresher where I take them once at 1,5,10,20, and 30. Now this is where it is very helpful to have another person at the loft to work them through the traps as fast as possible. I find it best to do this in the morning and have their feeding consistent with their training. You want them to trap as fast as possible now. If you have an electronic clock go ahead and enter your team and start watching their times. You'll begin to notice your sprinters now.

Now there are many methods used by as many racers on preparing your team a few weeks before the first race. I'm a big believer in having my youngsters an hour in the air daily. The best is on the road. If you loft fly, have them in air for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. You should however try to get them on the road at least 4 times a week from at least 30 to 40 miles.

Regarding direction... Train in the direction of the race course at first. Try to find the break point. Draw lines on a map from the lofts in your club to the release point. Look at the winning lofts last year and see their routes. Toss a few times along their routes about 40 miles from your loft. A GPS unit is pretty handy to help with all this. Personally, I like tossing my birds at times about 90 degrees off the race course as I thinks it helps with their homing skills.

Now this is very important... toss your birds with another club member or a few members birds at least once before the first race. Trust me if you don't do this most of your youngsters will follow other birds home on their first race. They will probably smarten up by the second race but it's best to sort this out before the season.

Another tip that I plan to do this season is train my youngsters against the wind. You can really strengthen them with this kind of training plus they then know how to handle a tricky windy day of racing which will happen.

I feed my youngsters during training 40% barley, 40% race mix, and 20% pellets.

I know this is a very long post and I apologize. One thing that is very important is to know when enough is enough. Don't over work your birds. When you come into the loft and they're picking themselves off their perches flapping their wings a 100 mph you will know that they're ready to fly. Keep them healthy and don't underfeed but don't overfeed. It's a zen thing and balance is the key as it is in all ways of life.

Hope this helps a little. Good luck with your pigeons.

birdy
 

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Way to go, PD.

8 youngsters - that's great. 5 weeks old is perfect for training. You need to start working them through the traps now.

I'm not sure of your trapping arrangement but get them on the landing board with a settling cage or however you can do it. Have them out there a few hours if possible so they can see they're surroundings and whistle and shake the feed so they can go through the trap to dinner. I would suggest that you do this for the next 7 days. I like to feed about an hour before sundown. At this time the youngsters know it's close to dark and won't get too adventuresome.

Then the day before you let them have their freedom, feed only 3/4 of their normal daily ration. This way on "freedom day" they will be a little peckish and won't wander too far. Just let them out about an 1/2 hour before chow time and watch for cats, dogs, hawks, etc. Don't let them leave your site so have your feed & whistle ready before hand. Keep your older birds in the loft. If they're out the youngsters may want to follow them and might get lost.

Most likely they will fly to the nearest tree or fence and then back to the landing board. They may make a lap around the loft. Let them do what they want for a 1/2 hour and then whistle them in.

The next day let them have their freedom for 3/4 hour and then the next day an hour. Just stick with an hour for three weeks then let them fly with your older birds.

PD, these youngsters are still growing so keep feeding a high protein mix around 17%. I like giving my youngsters barley when they're learning to fly - about 40% of their feed. Now you don't need to do this, it's just a suggestion. My mix is 40% high protein pigeon mix, 40% barley, and 20% pigeon pellets.

The amount of feed you give them is very critical. I would suggest that you feed only once a day. Measure out what you give them either with a scale, a scoop, or your hand. Let them eat until you see 2 birds go to drink water and then take up the un-eaten feed. Measure what was not eaten and the next day give them only what they ate the day before. Do this for the 1st week while you're working them through the trap. Now when they start flying give them a little more b/c they will be using more energy. But if there's feed left after they've drunk water take it up. Don't leave feed out ever. You'll get fat pigeons, cock roaches and rats if they can get in your loft.

I let my birds eat and then bring the waterers when I'm training them. Now that it's summer a few will come in from a tough flying exercise and will drink before eating. This is OK but until they start flying with your older birds let them start eating and then add the drinkers.

Drift, there's a 101 ways to do train youngsters. This is the way I do it. I know Treesa has had a lot of experience and I think she's posted on some other threads her methods. We have some white bird releasers and they surely have a system working for them. So after you gain some experience and get to know your birds you can personalize it your way. Remember it's more art than science.

Hope this helps...

birdy
 

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What a store house of knowledge, I have been studying your posts. I know we'll get there, I have training dogs and they can't be that different, I hope.
I'll keep you post on how things go along.
PD
 

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I've had them about 3 weeks now, I have an enclosed landing board, a flap door I can close. I have been shoeing them out on to it before feeding and leaving them out for about 15 - 45 minutes. They come in through the trap with the whistle great when I ring the bell. I have let them loft fly twice in this past week. They don't come in when called, is this normal?
The next several days after not returning when called they stay on the board and come in great when called. Shall I continue to keep them confined or fly one day, in for several?
PD
 

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Birdy
Thank you for the tip !!
I have found and can say for anyone new to pigeons, food is the KEY !!
If they don't come back in when you call, you are feeding to much.
Go two days without food and try again.
I found that, maybe this is a must do.
I have done this twice with these 8 young birds and I think they got it, when the bell rings, it's food time and look out cause they are coming in !
 

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Hi PD,

That's great!

Your pigeons will be healthier for having a controlled feeding. Over fed pigeons (and people) are prone to all kinds of diseases.

My racers are like that, too. You better get out of the way when it's chow time.

birdy
 

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Training

Years back I changed how I looked at tossing young birds. First say You get your first rounds on the floor in The end of January . Then go a total of three rounds. Last round hitting the floor in April. From the time the first round has been weaned trap trained and flown around the loft. Then the other two rounds the same. Then All three rounds flown together around the loft , and the birds tripping or routeing as you Know the birds disapear and can very well fly 25 to 5o miles out and a bout. I started letting them all do this for three months. Making the first round to be about 7 months old second second about 5 and third about four months some wher in that range. Then start the tosses at 25 miles. The birds that can not make it home at that distance Would get lost in the races . And not much have been lost starting at that distance . The birds are more mature stronger has a better homing abilty. And are not over trained befor the races.
 

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Hi Lee,

I only do two rounds where that latest is hatched around March 1. I loft fly until around late May and then do a few weeks road training before they start molting - see above post re light system. I then gear up with the road training after molting and about 6 weeks before racing.

You're right to watch for over training. I believe that there are only a few weeks that you can maintain racing form and timing is everything.

birdy
 

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The light system may be fine for young bird racing. At a better moult condition. But Arent the flights not moulted just dropped as normal. At this point the old bird season They break down faster the first year as yearlings. If the clubs would just change the race season to last week of sept. Then most young would be through or close to that of the moult. As a matter of fact. Oct and just one race station at each distance would be better for young bird season. And a better old bird develops. It got to the point that every one wants to be a winner. When we have to learn to breed winners. Its there where the top birds come from. A good sound breeding program. With A B and C races less Birds in each race. And three chances to win. Thats part of the reason Some people change there strain of birds so often. So I think to be a good young bird racer You have to raise a few late hatch to preserve a family of birds. And the left over young after race season Wont be expected to be the future breeders. That is left for the late hatch Trained then flown lightly as yearling. But Im just one person With my concept. But if we look back at what made the good familys of birds. They were not over worked and given a fare chance to mature.
 

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Power molt

Hi RE Lee,

You may be on to something. I used the light system - your Oklahoma neighbor's version, CBS - last year and this year. I didn't race old birds this spring and really didn't pay attention to how my yearlings molted. I've noted at various times when the flights have dropped on this year's YB team and I'm beginning to think that they would have molted the same time naturally. It does seem to have accelerated the body molt, though.

I read an article recently by Bob Rowland that he titled, Power Molting. This is where a pigeon's primary flights will be cut and pulled so that they grow back in time for YB training. So, if you're 1st race is Sep 1 and you want to start training Aug 1, you would work backwards 45 days (the time it takes the flight to grow back) to around mid June to pull the flights that have not dropped. Actually, you would want to cut them around June 1 so that the blood drains and drys the quill before you pull them. Of course the pigeons would need to be kept in the loft as they would have some difficulty in flying until their flights grew back.

I'm still mulling this one over. Has anyone tried this or have an opinion?

birdy
 

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That would hamper them in reduced loft training . But It would moult out the flights. And yes six weeks is about the full growth time for them to grow back. Youg birds drop there flights at age intervils. Then agin in full moult. So if ther are darkened. Body and tail moult will kick in but The baby flights will still be there. Until next years moult. So best would be not race the yearlings out past say 300 miles. Then as full old birds. They are now ready. Both in age and feather. It would just be so much easyer to put race season after the main moult time. Late sept to first october. . Less races. but better compition. And as most do these days. You would not have to raise as many birds. As the heat and the moult helps in the early losses. Then the rest is quality breeding. In the early heat races. Birds set down to drink. And if not in decent feather. Tire much faster. Then never make it home. Or home late. Not a true test . Now OLD bird there weeds out the less at a better test of abilty. What you migh do is say When the young bird comes out of the nest. pull number ten flight. Then when it strat to come in . Pull nine and down that line. The early hatch birds would be all dropped then in the darkening system Very well would drop and grow new flights. as a full moult. I think this could work. Might even pull ten and nine. and the rest two at a time.
 

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RE,

I like the way you think - it's outside the ol' box. I'm going to do a lot of mulling over what you posted on pulling flights and when to pull them. How do you handle the darkening in hot Oklahoma with covering all the windows? Thanks for your posts they're very thought provoking.

birdy
 

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birdy said:
Hi RE Lee,

You may be on to something. I used the light system - your Oklahoma neighbor's version, CBS - last year and this year. I didn't race old birds this spring and really didn't pay attention to how my yearlings molted. I've noted at various times when the flights have dropped on this year's YB team and I'm beginning to think that they would have molted the same time naturally. It does seem to have accelerated the body molt, though.

I read an article recently by Bob Rowland that he titled, Power Molting. This is where a pigeon's primary flights will be cut and pulled so that they grow back in time for YB training. So, if you're 1st race is Sep 1 and you want to start training Aug 1, you would work backwards 45 days (the time it takes the flight to grow back) to around mid June to pull the flights that have not dropped. Actually, you would want to cut them around June 1 so that the blood drains and drys the quill before you pull them. Of course the pigeons would need to be kept in the loft as they would have some difficulty in flying until their flights grew back.

I'm still mulling this one over. Has anyone tried this or have an opinion?

birdy
Hello Birdy,

I suggest that you procced with caution. When you attempt methods such as these, without a full knowledge and understanding of the details, you run the risk of needing to sit out a YB season. There are pros and cons to every "method", and the perfect method has yet to be invented.

I read with some amusement, what guys past and present, have done in the name of gaining an "edge". Some have over the years proven to be sound, many, if not most, have not.

For some reason, when someone writes an article, and manages to get it circulated, people will assign more creditability to it. I guess I am just one of those, that needs to be convinced. :rolleyes:
 

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Warren,

Birdy is/was a moderator here, who did excellent in young bird races last year in Texas, I don't know all the details because the hurricanes took care of my computer last year and I didn't get back on line until recently.

He made a life changing decision and moved to England and had to sell his birds. He was one of the few progressive voices in racing and had a wealth of knowledge not only in racing, but the importance of nutrition & prevention aspect of it. He also treated his birds with love and respect and I for one, miss his input here.

Treesa
 
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