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Smooth mating

November 29th 2016

It is bitterly cold outside but nevertheless the majority of the fanciers here, especially in Belgium, have mated up their pigeons. That means of course the breeders but also many racers are mated. Only yearlings (2016 birds) that were still raced in September may not be ready yet. When fanciers race youngsters so late in the year they lengthen the days in August and September by switching the lights on with the result that the moult is drastically delayed. But, as I said, for the other birds November 26th is ‘mating day’ for the majority of both the fanciers and the pigeons , regardless the weather.

To-day it is exactly 2 years ago that I was at Gaston van de Wouwers’. We stood in the breeding loft and I was surprised. Only two days before he had mated up the birds and now they all had their own nest box. Not one pair was locked up, not one pigeon showed signs of fighting. It seemed as if they had been there the whole year. It shows how good a handler Gaston is. Only real pigeon men have so much control.

Pigeons that will not mate and refuse to accept a partner, pigeons that do not stop fighting, several broken eggs and so on are characteristic for fanciers that are NOT good handlers. The best thing to prepare the breeders is to go step by step.

I am sure that a man like Gaston had practised what we here call ‘voorparen’. That means that about 10 days before ‘mating day’ they get to know each other for 2 or three days. Just to see who is who. Concerning this it is very important to give them the right place. When a cock used to breed in the top left hand corner of the loft then you should give him again a place in the top left hand corner. If a bird was breeding ‘right below’ in the loft in previous years then their new place should also be ‘right below’. Thus you will prevent a lot of headaches later on, as the birds will accept their box much easier. Birds that will not mate nor accept their new nest box is a headache indeed.

Gaston v d Wouwer

So the first step to make breeding a success is to make the days longer. You should start about 10 to 14 days before the birds will be mated. Thus birds get the idea that spring will come. Remember birds in the wild. When temperatures rise in December or January they do not feel like mating, but they DO when the days get longer in the middle February or later, no matter how cold it is.  

Mating pigeons does not work if you do it the natural way with those short days that we have in Holland and Belgium in the heart of winter.

When you give the birds their partners it is no use to give them their nest bowls right away, since they will only befoul them. It is better to give them the bowl two or three days later. Again two or three days later this bowl is replaced by the final one. This bowl is wrapped in paper but still I throw some straw on the floor. The paper round the bowl is good enough to protect the eggs but flying into and out of the nestbox tens tens of times can only be good. Once on eggs such birds will not easily fly into the wrong box any more.

Going back to v d Wouwer: I noticed he was a perfectionist. Each nestbox had a number and a special colour. The pigeons had a clip ring with a number and a special colour as well and ‘they were a match’ with the nest box. To make it clear: In the green nestbox with number 1 belonged the cock and the hen that wore a green clipring with number one.  

In the red painted nestbox with number 8 belong the cock and the hen that wear a red clip ring with the number 8. Real convenient for people like me whose birds are nearly all blue.

Pretty many fanciers want to put the FIRST eggs off their favourite breeders under the racers or foster pigeons so that they can breed more babies off them, eventually with another partner. If you want to do so you have to take care that the breeders will lay eggs at the same time as the forster pigeons or... BEFORE ! If breeders lay eggs first you can take them away. This should be done within 3 hours after the 2nd egg was laid. Those eggs that you have taken away to undersit them under other another couple will stay good for at least a week, provided you turn them twice a day and temperatures are not too high nor too low. In between 6 and 16 Celsius is ideal.

And what about artificial insemination? For business reasons it is fine to have many babies of the same super cock in a short time. But... for the rest I have my doubts. Too many fanciers that had a super did not find themselves better racers later on with many children of that super cock in their lofts by means of artificial insemination. This also counts for the so-called ‘bull system’. It is no problem to take eggs away, but… once is enough. For too many fanciers this ‘bull system’ was an enormous disappointment. Therefore they prefer the natural way. Like in the old days.