Thoughts on feeding by Les J Parkinson
When it comes to feeding racing pigeons there are many different views on what we should and should not give to our pigeons. Who is right, well if the feed you are using works for you then you are right? For many years we used Versele-Lage super widowhood all the year round and the only addition for the breeders was a few additional peas with a touch of pellets. All our birds were given natural supplements because we believed that they all need to be healthy.
Over the years we tried most of the supplements on the market and used to try the new ones that came out, but that stopped. I always felt I needed to try something new, I worked on the basis, that is the only way we will keep abreast of what is happening on the health front. However, in 2000 we moved on to the Bifs products of Dr Ferdinand Vandersanden and nothing else. As we all know, or should know is, anything to do with pigeons you must keep an open mind if you are going to take your pigeons forward. However, since we went on the Bifs range our pigeons have never ailed and always appeared to be in the best of health.
At this point I must add that prior to using the Bifs products we used the Interlabo range. What these two products have in common were the fact that at the time I only used the Interlabo products and nothing else. And that was the same when I moved onto the Bifs products, I stuck to the one range of products and used nothing else. You might ask, “If the Interlabo products were so good why did you change to the Bifs products” The answer to that is easy because the first time I went to the clinic of Bifs I had been out and had more than a few drinks the night before.
I was talking to Ferdi Vandersanden and asked if I could get a drink of water, I told him the reason why I needed the drink. He reached onto the shelf and gave me a small bottle of CCKur and said put a drop of that on your tongue. I looked at him and he could see that I was not keen on the idea not knowing what it was. He said all you do is this, he just dropped one spot onto his tongue, so I did the same. Within seconds my mouth was as fresh as if I had just cleaned my teeth and it remained like that for the rest of the day.
That began me thinking and I eventually moved onto those products and hardly ever saw an unhealthy pigeon in the loft. I have to say the best product I have ever used is Vior and I have dozens of communications from fanciers saying the same thing. If I could only use one product Vior is what it would be, without a doubt. I also think that every pigeon transporter on the road should put Vior in the water tank, protection for the pigeons. Needless to say, I stayed on these products until I finished racing in 2014. Taking into account that I always worked on the basis of looking for something better, they must have been good.
Do not be fooled by winning fanciers who say they use nothing; we have met such fanciers, but they prefer to keep what they are doing with their pigeons to themselves. Such fanciers may only be using a natural product, but they do use something that they have taken too over the years. I have not genuinely known anyone who just gives their pigeons corn and clean water and is at the top of their game, year after year.
To be honest there really are no secrets to winning with pigeons, it’s just common sense and hard work; anyone can win with pigeons if they try hard enough, and I mean that. If you are to keep your pigeons in perfect health, then you must keep them on a regular system with one brand of products and not use any other at all. When a company produces a range of products they are perfected to work together and bringing in any other defeats the object of getting the best out of the pigeons. There are several good ranges about, you choose the one that you prefer and stick to it for that year, and you may find another product for another year so you must keep an open mind.
The corn has also changed considerably over the years with mixes being based on what winning fanciers do with their own pigeons. Pigeon corn producers are always looking at top winning lofts and what they feed their pigeons on, a new mix can increase their profit margins. Pigeon fanciers do things from time to time and change for no reason whatsoever. The best season I had racing in the club was when I used the Gaby Vandenabeele mix, from the first to the last race. I also use Red Band every morning during the racing season. I did not break them down at any time of the year, I always gave the best of everything. That year they raced and flew very well from 68 to nearly 500mls. The Vandenabeele mix is not much different from Gerry Plus, I used it because I was talking to a highly successful fancier in Belgium who said, “You English fanciers use too many peas and beans, they are not good for racing pigeons” I am all for listening to anyone in pigeon racing, whether I take notice is another matter.
I have also felt that they need feeding just as well in winter as summer; pigeons need looking after 365 days of the year. It's surprising how many fanciers will have a good season and for no apparent reason will not be seen again on the prize list for a few years and they wonder why? I feel that it is generally down to the way they are being looked after. Any loft can have a good season but when it comes to keeping it up the birds need looking after all year round and they will respond year after year.
What you will find is that when the birds are in good condition they will eat less and that is why I fed the old bird racers in their own box, so that I knew what each pigeon was eating. I did notice that those that eat less were the ones who were competing week after week, to me it was always a sign of their fitness. We also took care with certain pigeons because some will require that little bit more than others, not because they are greedy but because their body make up needs it. Another point is that corn company’s make mixtures for a reason and that is not so that a particular pigeon can eat one grain alone, a balanced diet makes a difference.
The other thing is I used several types of grit and minerals in pots mainly because they were not allowed their freedom to pick around the garden anymore. The choice is there, and they can have what they want, they obviously need something otherwise they would not touch them in the first place. Give them a choice it is not going to harm them. What you must not do is leave grit and minerals for days on end in the loft, they sometimes go sour and then and no good for the pigeons.