Tips of the Trade  **

     By.. Scott Berg

I'm sure everyone has some things they have discovered that have helped them be successful in the breeding loft as well as the show hall.

Some fanciers share this information rather freely while others keep it to themselves. Part of the fun in the fancy has been being able to help new fanciers, as well as others that appreciate a good tip or two. Let me share a few tips that have helped me through the year.


 I.) Be careful at the birds you bring into your loft. Take the time to build a strain, rather than buying a half dozen pair a year from all over the place. Isolate new birds, I'm convinced a lot of problems in our birds may be a new bug that is introduced. 1 have not brought many birds in since 1994, but the few 1 have, 1 have kept isolated for up to six months with just their mate. Running them through a full scale of medications is not always the answer.

2.) Take the time, effort and expense to vaccinate your birds for both PMV and Paratyphoid. The PMV will help you from an outbreak at the shows and the Para will help your own breeding season.

3.) Do not over medicate! A healthy flock will get a sick bird from time to time. Don't treat the whole flock, treat the individual bird. The only thing 1 have flock treated for in the past three years has been canker, for prevention, before the breeding season.

4.) Make sure all birds are getting feed and water. 1 have heard the word horizontal domination, when a bird or birds controls the feed or water. 1 have cleared this problem up by putting a spare feed container in the loft, available at all times.


1.)                 Give your cocks up to 18 hours of light a month before the breeding season; use artificial light to insure this. 1 was surprised at the increases of fertility my first year 1 did this.

2.)                 Let your young hens lay their first round of eggs in the hen house and let them sit on them for awhile. All five young hens I'm using this year laid in the hen house, and then proceeded to fertile on their cock birds the first round

3.)            Put 2x4 blocks throughout your loft as mounting stations, most pairs will use them. It helps the hen tip further for an easier hit.

4.)              Get yourself a used honey squeeze container for feeding young the parents fall behind on. Get a small piece of clear tubing and heat the end and snugly fit over the squeeze bottle opening. Use pellets and hot water and make a mush right in the bottle. 1 walk around and check the youngsters on a daily basis and syringe a full crop full on the youngsters that may have missed a feeding. You'll help and save quite a few.

5.) Make a weaning pen just for young birds. 1 have a 2'x6'x2' pen mounted at chest height. 1 try to wean my birds at 21-24 days, helping them swallow their first bites of feed and dip their beaks in the water. It always helps to have some other young birds to show them how. We call it the teenager loft at our house. And it helps the birds get used to you too. They hit the real young bird loft with their tails almost grown out. 1 like to get the babies away from the parents as soon as possible so they get busy with the next batch.


1.)                  Use the squeeze bottle you made to feed the youngsters to feed the adults. 1 syringe them before they hit their travel box. 1 travel long distances to the major shows and 1 want them to be well fed and watered. The mixture does both.

2.)               Plan your pigeon trip with your birds in mind first, you second. Have them spend the least amount of time in the box as you can.

3.)               Syringe them at the show! 1 do mine in the morning and the evening. 1 put out feed at the show, but not water. 1 syringe that. If they are not eating 1 will give them some watered pellets. I just don't like all the stuff floating through the air that ends up in my water. Obviously a well-fed and watered bird will perform better.

4.)              Lace and pen train your birds. This is sometimes easier said than done. Get them used to all sorts of lighting and conditions. Each show seems to be different. 1 use no light, bulb light, and fluorescent light in my training. Mix cocks with hens, someone always sneaks a hen in that cock class it seems.

5)                 Bring some baby wipes. They work great for cleaning feet.

6)              Wash and blow-dry those softer tails before the show. Your wife may think your crazy, but it really helps. Simple dish washing liquid has worked best for me.


I.)                 More is not better. 1 heard early in my fantail days: quantity from quality. Overcrowding causes so many troubles. It is amazing how much more comfortable and non combative the birds are when they have ample room to breed. Cull hard. Sell those extra useful birds. 1 am down to 10 pair in four colors and have bred just as many good birds out of the few as 1 did with the many. This opens a huge discussion 1 know.

II.)               Go to the show to win, know how to loose, and have fun. There is nothing worse than a sore loser, which can be quite discouraging for a new, winning, up and corner.

III.)              Realize that a winning strain has had a lot of work put into it. Don't be offended when the breeder asks a little bit for his work.

IV.)            When buying birds, one good bird is better than 3 marginal pairs. If you can buy a pair and put those birds together first and get some f I's,, then cross to your strain. That way you have two lines to work with, the original birds and the f I's. My winning reds have all sorts of combos and are not one major outcross. 1 had one nice yellow hen that ended up with her style and type in all my colors.

V.)                Get involved, show, learn to get along, and do something for the hobby. Most of all, enjoy your fans!


 **Pigeon Debut August2000