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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Put 2x4 blocks throughout your loft as mounting
stations, most pairs will use them. It helps the hen tip further for an easier
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Bring some baby wipes. They
work great for cleaning feet.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Get involved, show, learn
to get along, and do something for the hobby. Most of all, enjoy your fans!