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My Barcelona Dream Part 3




by Michael Feeney of Ireland

Part 3

I have been thinking on this article for a couple of weeks now and have not been sure how to proceed. Given the birds I am using and the end goal in mind the lingering question always in the back of my mind is ‘are they the right building blocks?’ This is going to be the biggest question and hardest to answer when trying to attempt this task. You may ask at this point why this is so. The answer is simple it takes years, a minimum of 4 to get the birds ready for the job in mind for them. This patience can be misplaced and all the hard work for nothing if the starting blocks are not right to begin with. Unfortunately the only way to know this is to try the feat they are being bred for. I hope and I do believe my choices are the right ones and I believe with the right introductions when needed over the years they will succeed.

So with the building blocks in the loft the next thing is what system to operate. After months and months of research, and I mean this literally, I have decided to adopt the open-hole method. I have used this growing up with my dad and our birds with moderate success. For the task in mind, and after the research I have done and the conversations I have had, I think this will suit me and my circumstances the best. This system will be adopted for both cocks and hens which will be kept natural and also the young when they are ready to go out. This will ease my workload, I hope, and will keep the birds fit themselves with tossing when required. For those of you who do not like the open-hole system there is also one of my friends following traditional methods of flying, meaning the birds will exercise twice a day. I will keep you posted on his progress as we arrive at our ultimate destination.

I have had an interesting conversation in recent weeks about tossing and the need to and the over racing of candidates that are destined for marathon events. This conversation has seriously backed up my belief that with marathon racing pigeons less is certainly more. The less stress the birds have to deal with coming to the eventual event the better. And so I will be doing experiments with some of the race team in the coming years and comparing the results of what and how many races each has had and also which birds are successful and where.

Stock cocks settling nicely into their boxes

The feeding system I have adopted will be one I found online in published methods and that is of Jim Emerton’s. I will use this as my base starting block with tweaks for myself where necessary, if at all necessary. This system is available online so those of you wishing to look at it can. It is predominantly a hopper feeding method with importance on building the birds up weeks in advance of a proposed marathon event in which it will be involved. Again after all my research, a recent conversation backed this up as well, so much so that as my birds would not eat peanuts, and we all know how good theses are for the birds in the build-up, I changed my feeding method slightly to entice the birds to eat them. I did this simply by reducing their food so that when I arrive at the loft in the evening they are hungry. On arrival before their main feed they were given peanuts. Enough to make sure all got some. After about 4 days they were jumping at me looking for them on my arrival. I will go back to the hopper when I think that they are all in hand and can be controlled using the peanuts. This method has also settled some of the more unruly stock birds.

Next we have to plan the breeding. I have briefly mentioned how I intend to go about this in my last article. I have several birds related directly to or the same way bred as others I know of who are producing birds to do the job in hand, and lest we all forget, that is to get these birds to fly the paltry 854 miles from Barcelona to Dublin, Ireland within race time. I will start with the closest related birds to the original stud sire that has actually done the job. These will be paired together for three rounds, two of which will be floated to feeders. When this is done the birds will get a two to three week break from breeding to build back up again and then they will be re-paired to different mates, with the closest birds to the original cock being paired to those that are furthest from him. In this case these will be aunts and uncles paired to nephews and nieces. Again this will be for three rounds. All in all I foresee this taking about 6 months. This will be possible only because of the use of feeders. At this point we now have, if I am lucky, about 60 young. We all know what can happen to the best laid plans, they can go to shit. So fingers crossed that will not happen too much.

Young birds flying and hopefully all well, they will not be trained heavily or even trained at all. They will be basket trained though as I believe they need the experience of being in crates young and then every six months after to keep it in their minds. How I do this is by placing them in a large racing crate, home-made, for up to 5 days, giving feed and drink whilst in the basket. I think one of the biggest mistakes any fancier can make is not basket training the young at an early age. Then put them in training and racing baskets over night with no prior experience of where to find water and expecting them to do well. Once this is done properly I think you need never fear birds dehydrating whilst in the baskets. I think dehydration is one of the biggest issues for our birds whilst racing. I am really looking forward to the first generation of young to face the challenge of Barcelona to come along. I will not breed too early though, I’ll wait till the end of January, I think.

Another experiment I am doing is to do with the feeders that I have. These have had no training to date and I will expect these to also journey towards Barcelona. How far they get, again only time will tell but I am really interested to see how these progress or if they do at all. All I will tell you at the moment is that they are not of marathon origin and I am intrigued to see if being treated the same as the marathon birds they come through that test as well. More on this next time.

So until next time.



Elimar - December 2014