My Barcelona Dream Part 16
So we are now at the end of March. Easter is has been and gone and I have only paired up my Stock. With the stock birds I have decided to use 6 pairs as feeders and these will be removed at the end of the season. I have also 3 older cocks that have been infertile since introduction from a friend that provided them in the hope they would breed well at Safe Haven Lofts. Unfortunately this has not happened as yet and these will be used as feeders if the same happens this year. Also added to the prisoner stock for the line breeding program I have also added approx. 12 yearlings to these giving me all in all 38 pairs in the stock section. I myself think this is far too many and will be withering them out over this year. Hopefully with a view to only develop a family of those birds that are producing birds that are flying the distances I am aiming at, i.e. Barcelona at 870miles + but also when enough of a team is there to have a go at some of the other internationals. A long road ahead that always the overall goal must be kept to the front of my mind in order not to go astray of where I want to be and where the plans are set. And don’t forget although the overall plan is set out and where I want to get to is there I have always be flexible and change to different circumstances. You never know how your circumstances may change in any given time frame or indeed just being adaptable to changing and modifying your plans in order to suit the best available options.
So with eggs everywhere I floated up to 10 pairs as with the feeders and the mentioned cocks again having infertile eggs I could use them as feeders also. I then removed the hens form these couples that I floated eggs from in order to induce the cycle together for all at the same time.
Then to the business of getting so many pairs settled happily settled in the section that is definitely too small for the amount of birds. I went about this by allowing 2 couples out at a time in order that they could get used to where they are coming and going. I then let up to 5 couples out together. again with more birds free they can work out where they have to go back to. Always these where boxes on different rows and columns to each other. Up to this point I had no problems and then when opening more up and adding to the number of couples out this is where the problems started.
All in all I lost 8 pair of eggs. This was up to the point of getting all couples out. If this happened to a couple the hen was removed to the and the box was closed to half in order that the cocks could maintain their boxes as usual. Hopefully this will help all settle down. I waited for another few days in order for all to be settled and no more broken eggs and as all went well I repaired the hens that were removed at the start of April. At least 2 of these are feeders and have been removed permanently. So already reducing the amount of birds in the section.
With this all happening it is also now time to focus on the race birds. It is important remember that yes we focus on the breeding over the winter months but that the race birds must not be neglected. With the breeding under way and for the most part looking after itself now on we can give more fully to the racing side. For me it is just around the corner and starts on the14th of April. Myself I will not be sending to this as I have not even put the birds in a basket yet. There is in my lofts 30 odd cocks and 24 hens for racing. About 5 of these are very late youngsters and will be marked not to be raced early and will see a race or 2 in the end of the old bird season. The others are all fair game when it comes to racing. As mentioned in previous articles I have 13 two year olds. These along with 11 yearlings are for my main race I am aiming at which is Potiers. I have applied to the BICC for membership this year and along with a few others I am awaiting a reply as to acceptance or not. This will determine from the outset whether I can send to these races or not. So fingers crossed and hopefully in the next article I will have positive news in this regard. I have also fore planned the basketing of birds for these races. Alan Shinton and Co. of the Eclipse 650 Club newly started have kindly agreed that birds can be collected form us Irish fanciers from Holyhead port and brought to marking. Therefor reducing costs again for us fanciers that would like to have a go in the bigger races and maybe an international or 2. This will now mean that the only cost we may have will be to go as foot traffic on the ferry and to Holyhead to have birds sent to bigger races. Something I have certainly been dreaming of and hopefully now others may get involved. It’s all go from here.
So where am I now with the race birds. Well to date they have been alternately out cocks and hens on opposite days. This to suit my work times. They have been fed once a day when I do my birds in the evening again suiting my times. Now though with the mornings brighter they will get 1/3 in the morning and 2/3 evenings. This is a rough guide as I feed the birds to appetite not by the spoon. So where they get 3 cups in the evening they get now 1 in the morning and fed to appetite in the evening. I hope that is clear. What do we mean by feeding to appetite when this is talked about. Well for me in the evening the birds are fed for example the 2 cups of the 3 for the days feed.
If the birds finish all of this I add another ½ cup for them. This is usually enough and there is normally left over some pellets. The pellets or barley if you prefer are added to the feed about 20% make up. For me when the birds eat all including these they are still looking for more I add more. Then once some is left I will stop feeding. Normally there will be about 2oz left in the hopper if the birds have had enough. For me this is a good sign and is usually gone by morning feed at about 7am as its bright by 6am. This is where the birds are then let out and are operated on a roundabout system. So all in all it is going well. Birds will be started training this week ending the 14th of April. As they are flying extremely well they will go straight to 50ish miles and we will carry on from there. They will be trained hens and cocks on alternate days and hopefully come race day they will get home on time. Again I have no real interest in competition in the club and feel my methods would not stand me well in sprint competition so I will not worry about clocking to win and will clock the first to arrive for interest sake. Hopefully they will not be too far behind the winners and that will hopefully be a good indicator as to their level of fitness. They will not be trained once racing starts, as a rule, they will be raced for fitness purposes and exercised as normal around home and will be raced weekly. Those that are for the longer races will be stopped about 150 mile mark for racing and will be trained through the week up to 3 times to help with fitness and will then be paired in order to have specific nest conditions for the race aimed at I am hoping to have the older 2yr old cocks on 14 to 16 day babies and hens having laid again and hens going on 12 to 14 days on eggs and or 2 day old babies. So fingers crossed I get my dates right.
All in all that is where things stand at present. I will change and modify plans ongoing as I see fit and hopefully some success will come this year in the races I am aiming at. As always time will tell. I have included 2 photos. The first is what happens when you let the birds pair up naturally, the second is of a pair of youngsters heading to Tipperary soon. They were taken from their nest to take the photo.
Until next time
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