I have two young bird lofts adjoining each other, with a small sliding door between the two. I give my youngsters, as soon as they are strong on the wing, a toss of a few miles any time and in any direction. I generally start training seriously about three weeks before the first race and keep them at it whenever possible until they have reached the distance I want them to go. About a week before the first race, the sexes are separated and exercised separately for half-an-hour morning and evening.
At noon on the day of basketing for the first race I lift up the sliding door and allow both sexes to go together, and if so inclined, to make a fuss of each other. Separate them again the day following race (after a good bath) and carry on on same lines for second race. The third week I put in both lofts some small loose nest boxes and find that both sexes claim them. At noon on basketing day I again let them go together and find them very keen on getting a mate to the box they have claimed. Same method adopted for the fourth week.
The fifth week, nest bowls and nesting materials are given them two days before the race, but birds must not be allowed together until noon as in previous races. This will be found to again be an incentive and has suited me. I have not had a young hen lay for years.
I ought also to add that in the above races birds that have been to races are fed very lightly Saturday and Sunday; in fact, never get to real hard feeding until Tuesday evening's meal. Food generally being a good mixture of peas, tares, maize, and a little wheat at the evening meal. The morning meal being groats, rice, hemp, canary and rape. Only the morning meal on basketing days.
Teach your youngsters anything you think will be useful to them and you will find in after life they won't forget it. Get control of them and keep it. I find talking to them better than whistling or tin rattling. Pigeons have very often more sense than we who keep them, if given a fair chance to display it.
W. S. "Billy" Pearson
Widowhood Old and New
Edited by Colin Osman