Roller Pigeon Information

Roller Pigeon Information

by Kelly Carter “KC Lofts

WELL HERE GOES, I HOPE IT IS OF SOME USE TO SOMEBODY, AS ALL I CAN DO IS PASS ON WHAT I HAVE LEARNT OFF AN OLD BOY WHO HAS KEPT ALL TYPES OF PIGEONS FOR OVER 70 YEARS. HE PUT ME RIGHT WITH MY BREEDING PROGRAM AND I TRIED ALL DIFFERENT WAYS OF FEEDING MY BIRDS BEFORE COMPETITION DAY. FROM WHAT I HAVE LEARNED SO FAR, ONE METHOD WILL WORK OK FOR SO LONG AND THEN YOU NEED TO CHANGE FOR A WHILE ONTO SOMETHING ELSE TO GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR KIT. I FIND IT IS BEST NOT TO DO THE SAME FEED PROGRAM ALL OF THE TIME BUT TO SWITCH IT ABOUT A BIT WHICH KEEPS THE BIRDS GUESSING AND ON THEIR TOES.

YOUNG BIRDS ARE FED IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAY TO YOUR ESTABLISHED OLD BIRD KIT  WHICH I WILL GO INTO DETAIL LATER ON IN THE LETTER.

START OF THE BREEDING SEASON

ONCE YOU HAVE DECIDED ON THE PAIRS YOU ARE GOING TO LAY DOWN TOGETHER, IT IS TIME TO PUT THE COCKS INTO THE BREEDING SECTIONS. MY BREEDING SECTIONS ARE EACH END OF MY LOFT AND ARE 8 FEET BY 6 FEET WITH 9 BREEDING BOXES IN EACH SECTION. ON THE FRONT OF THE BREEDING SECTION IS A FLIGHT TO ALLOW THE BIRDS TO GET OUT INTO THE FRESH AIR AND LIGHT WHICH IS A MUST IF YOU WANT TO KEEP GOOD HEALTHY BIRDS IN YOUR LOFT. THIS FLIGHT SECTION ALLOWS ME TO PUT A BATH OUT FOR THEM EVERY SO OFTEN WHICH KEEPS THEM HAPPY AND CONTENT.

I USUALLY PAIR MY BIRDS UP THE LAST WEEKEND IN NOVEMBER, WHICH IF ALL GOES WELL MEANS I AM RINGING MY FIRST YOUNG BIRDS THE FIRST WEEK IN JANUARY OF THE NEW YEAR.  THE FIRST THING I DO TO GET MY BIRDS READY IS ONE MONTH BEFORE MY PAIRING UP DATE I START MY MEDICATIONS.

FIRST MEDICATION :-

MY FIRST MEDICATION IS WORMING, WHICH I DO THROUGH THE WATER TROUGH, AS THIS WAY I KNOW ALL BIRDS HAVE DRANK AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRY AND CATCH  EACH BIRD AND PUT A TABLET DOWN THEIR THROATS WHICH THEY MAY THROW UP AND NOT GET THE FULL BENEFIT OF THE MEDICATION. I TAKE THEIR WATER AWAY FROM THE BIRDS 24 HOUR BEFORE I AM GOING TO USE THE MEDICATION ON THEM. I FEED THEM FIRST THEN LEAVE THEM A COUPLE OF HOURS BEFORE I NTRODUCE THE MEDICATED WATER WHICH IS A HAIR AND RING WORM KILLER.   DOING IT THIS WAY THE BIRDS ARE THIRSTY AND WILL DRINK THE WATER WITH NO PROBLEMS. FOR THE NEXT 6 DAYS I PUT A MULTI-VITAMIN SUPPLEMENT INTO THE DRINKING WATER CALLED AVIFORM.

SECOND MEDICATION :-

IS A COXOID MEDICATION WHICH IS ONCE AGAIN ADDED TO THE WATER SUPPLY FOR SEVEN DAYS.AFTER THIS A FURTHER SEVEN DAYS ON THE MULTI-VITAMIN, AS THE COXOID MEDICATION KNOCKS THE BIRDS RIGHT DOWN.
THIRD MEDICATION :-

THIS MEDICATION IS FOR THE CURE AND PREVENTION OF CANKER, WHICH IS ALSO A WATER ADDITIVE, WHICH MAKES TREATMENT THAT MUCH EASIER. THIS MEDICATION IS ALSO USED FOR A FURTHER SEVEN DAYS. ONCE AGAIN THE AVIFORM IS USED TO BRING THE BIRDS BACK INTO PEAK CONDITION. AVIFORM IS ALSO ADDED TO THE WATER AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK THROUGH THE BREEDING SEASON AS THIS REALLY BRINGS ON THE YOUNG BIRDS.

PRE -PAIRING PREPARATION:-

FOUR DAYS BEFORE PAIRING:-  ALL NEST BOXES HAVE A LAYER OF SAWDUST IN THEM AND A COCK HAS BEEN INTRODUCED AND LOCKED INTO ITS OWN BOX. VENT FEATHERS ON BOTH THE COCK AND HEN ARE CUT SHORT, AS I HAVE FOUND THIS HELPS PREVENT INFERTILE EGGS BEING LAID. THE COCKS ARE ONLY LET OUT OF THEIR NEST BOXES ONLY ONCE A DAY – FOR FEEDING AND WATERING.

TWO DAYS BEFORE PAIRING:- BREEDING LOFTS AND ALL BIRDS ARE SPRAYED WITH A WATERED DOWN SOLUTION OF DURAMITEX TO KILL ANY LICE, RED-SPIDER MITE AND ANY BUGS THAT MAY BE AROUND.  A BREEDING AREA FREE OF LICE AND RED-SPIDER MITE IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE HEALTH OF THE PARENTS AND YOUNG ALIKE.

THE DAY OF PAIRING UP HAS ARRIVED:

THE FIRST HEN IS INTRODUCED INTO THE BREEDING LOFT AND ITS CHOSEN MATE’S BOX IS OPENED TO ALLOW THE COCK OUT TO THE HEN THAT HAS BEEN PICKED FOR HIM. AFTER THEY HAVE PAIRED AND HAVE RETURNED TO THEIR NEST BOX THEY ARE LOCKED IN AND THE PROCEDURE STARTS ALL OVER   AGAIN FOR THE NEXT PAIR. THIS IS REPEATED UNTIL ALL BIRDS ARE PAIRED AS YOU PLANNED. THE OLD BOY TOLD ME NEVER TO JUST PUT THE HEN STRAIGHT INTO THE BOX WITH THE COCK AS THIS CAN CAUSE TROUBLE IF THE HEN DOESN’T TAKE TO THE COCK STRAIGHT AWAY. SOMETIMES THE COCK WILL GET TOO AGGRESSIVE AND BATTER THE HEN INTO SUBMISSION. THE OLD BOY TOLD ME THAT IT WOULD ONLY TAKE ABOUT 10 MINUTES FOR THEM TO PAIR UP AND GO BACK INTO THE BOX OF THEIR OWN ACCORD. THE LONGEST IT HAS TAKEN ANY OF MY BIRDS TO GO DOWN TOGETHER HAS BEEN 7 MINUTES AND THAT’S EVEN WITH BIRDS THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN PAIRED TOGETHER BEFORE. THE REASON THE OLD BOY SAID FOR PAIRING THIS WAY IS THAT THE BIRDS THINK THAT THEY HAVE PICKED THEIR OWN PARTNER AND GO DOWN QUICKER AND THEY MAKE A TIGHTER BOND AND ARE BETTER PARENTS. ALL BIRDS ARE LOCKED IN THEIR NEST BOXES UNTIL BOTH EGGS HAVE BEEN LAID, AND THEY ARE ONLY LET OUT TO FEED AND WATER ONCE A DAY. NEST PANS ARE PUT IN FOUR DAYS AFTER YOU HAVE PAIRED UP AS THIS WILL GET THEM EXCITED AGAIN AND START THEM OFF TREADING ONCE MORE. I PUT A LAYER OF SAWDUST IN THE BOTTOM OF THE NEST PAN AND FILL THE REST UP WITH STRAW.

FEEDING BREEDERS AND THEIR YOUNG:

THE EASIEST WAY TO FEED THE BIRDS SO THEY DON’T GO INTO THE WRONG BOXES IS AS FOLLOWS, ALLOW BOXES 1-3-5-7 AND 9 OUT TOGETHER WHICH ALLOWS GAPS BETWEEN BOXES SO IT IS EASIER FOR THE BIRDS NOT TO GET MIXED UP. THEN ALLOW 2-4-6 AND 8 OUT TO FEED AND WATER. BY THE TIME BOTH EGGS ARE LAID IN ABOUT 10 TO 12 DAYS TIME THE BIRDS ARE USED TO THEIR OWN BOX AND HOPEFULLY YOU WON’T GET ANY BROKEN EGGS WITH BIRDS GOING INTO THE WRONG BOXES AND FIGHTING. BOXES ARE NOW OPENED UP AND THE BIRDS HAVE THE RUN OF THE LOFT.  THE FIRST YEAR I STARTED WITH ROLLERS WHICH WAS 1987,1 HAD A PROBLEM WITH ONE SPANGLE COCK WHICH KNEW IT’S OWN BOX BUT WOULD KEEP GOING INTO ANOTHER BOX FIGHTING WITH THE BIRDS IN THAT BOX. THE FIRST ROUND OF EGGS WERE SMASHED SO I ASKED THE OLD BOY FOR A BIT OF ADVICE. HE CAME ROUND TO MY LOFT AND PICKED UP A GARDEN CANE AND WENT INTO MY LOFT AND ASKED ME TO POINT OUT THE BIRD THAT WAS CAUSING ME PROBLEMS. HE ASKED ME WHICH BOX WAS HIS AND WHICH WAS THE BOX HE KEPT INVADING. HE STOOD THERE AND AS SOON AS THE COCK LANDED ON THE WRONG NEST BOX HE WHACKED IT ON THE HEAD WITH THE CANE. THE COCK FELL TO THE FLOOR AND SHOOK ITS HEAD AND FLEW TO A BOX PERCH AND SAT THERE A COUPLE OF SECONDS THEN WENT BACK TO THE SAME BOX. ONCE AGAIN THE OLD BOY WHACKED IT WITH THE CANE AND DOWN HE WENT AGAIN. THIS TIME HE SHOOK HIS HEAD FLEW UP AND WENT STRAIGHT INTO HIS OWN BOX AND NEVER WENT NEAR THE OTHER BOX AGAIN. THE OLD BOY TOLD ME TO DO THE SAME TO ANY BIRD IN THE FUTURE I HAD ANY TROUBLE WITH. HE SAID TWO OR THREE TAPS ON THE HEAD USUALLY WAS ENOUGH TO DETER THE MOST AWKWARD OF BIRDS. I MUST SAY WHEN HE HIT THE BIRD THE FIRST TIME I THOUGHT HE HAD KILLED THE BLOODY THING. I OFTEN LAUGH WHEN I THINK ABOUT WHAT HE DID. I HAVE DONE THE SAME THING A FEW TIMES SINCE THEN AND I MUST SAY IT HAS WORKED EVERY TIME FOR ME.  ONE OTHER TIP THE OLD BOY PASSED ONTO ME WAS HOW TO TELL THE SEX OF YOUR BIRDS FROM THE DAY THEY ARE RUNG. HE TOLD ME HE HAD KEPT MOST TYPES OF PIGEON OVER THE YEARS AND THE ONLY BREED THIS METHOD DID NOT WORK WITH IS THE TIPPLER. WHILE OVER IN AMERICA VISITING A PIGEON FRIEND, BOB SIMPSON IN 1992. DURING A FLY I SHOWED THEM ALL THIS METHOD, AND I TOLD THEM THE SEX OF EVERY BIRD THAT WAS HANDED TO ME. THE OLD BOY SAID IT WORKED 99% OF THE TIME. BOB SIMPSON OF NORTH CAROLINA PASSED ME ALL HIS STOCK BIRDS TO SEE IF I COULD TELL THE SEX OF THEM AND OUT OF ALL THE BIRDS HE PASSED ME I ONLY GOT ONE WRONG. YOU CAN TELL THE SEX THE DAY YOU RING THEM BUT I USUALLY CHECK THEM WHEN I TAKE THEM OUT OF THE BREEDING LOFT AROUND 25 TO 28 DAYS OLD.  THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT, PLACE BOTH THE OUTER TOES TOGETHER SIDE BY SIDE, ON EITHER FOOT, AS IT WORKS ON BOTH. IF THE BIRD IS A COCK THE ENDS OFF THE TOES WILL BE DEAD LEVEL WITH EACH OTHER AND IF IT IS A HEN ONE TOE WILL BE SLIGHTLY LONGER THAN THE OTHER. TRY DOING THIS WITH A FEW BIRDS THAT YOU ALREADY KNOW THE SEX OF JUST TO GET THE HANG OF IT AND YOU WILL SEE HOW EASY IT IS TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE.

HOPE THE DIAGRAM BELOW HELPS YOU OUT A BIT.

WEANING AND TRAINING OF YOUNG BIRDS :-

I HAVE FOUND OVER THE NUMBER OF YEARS I HAVE BEEN IN ROLLERS THAT 25 TO 28 DAYS SEEMS TO BE THE RIGHT AGE TO TAKE THE BIRDS OUT OF THE BREEDING LOFT AND PUT THEM INTO THE KIT BOX.  IF YOU LEAVE THEM MUCH LONGER YOU TAKE THE CHANCE OF THEM GETTING OUT OF THEIR OWN NEST BOX AND GOING INTO THE WRONG ONE BY MISTAKE, IF THIS HAPPENS YOU END UP WITH A SCALPED YOUNGSTER THAT NEVER SEEMS TO AMOUNT TO MUCH AFTER SUCH AN ORDEAL.

I LEAVE FOOD IN FRONT OF THE YOUNG BIRDS ALL THE TIME FOR THE FIRST WEEK TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE GETTING ENOUGH AS THEY ALWAYS SEEM TO LOSE A BIT OF WEIGHT AFTER TAKING THEM AWAY FROM THEIR PARENTS. ALSO FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYS I DIP THEIR BEAKS INTO THE DRINKING BOWL TO SHOW THEM WERE THE WATER IS. IT IS ALSO A GOOD IDEA TO PUT A COUPLE OF OLD HENS IN WITH THEM TO SHOW THEM THE ROPES FOR A FEW DAYS.  AFTER A WEEK I WILL START TO PUT THE BIRDS OUT ON THE LOFT TOP IN A CAGE SO THE BIRDS GET USED TO THEIR SURROUNDING BEFORE I ALLOW THEM OUT ON TO THE LOFT TOP BY THEMSELVES.  AFTER A FEW MORE TIMES OUT ON THE LOFT TOP THEY WILL BE FLITTING ABOUT AROUND THE LOFT AND IT WON’T BE LONG BEFORE THEY TAKE TO THE SKY. ONE THING THE OLD BOY TOLD ME NEVER TO DO WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG BIRDS WAS TO DRIVE THEM OFF THE LOFT TOP YOURSELF AS THIS WOULD MAKE THEM SCARED OF YOU AND YOU WOULD HAVE TROUBLE GETTING THEM TO COME BACK DOWN TO THE LOFT TOP. HE SAID THE BEST WAY TO DRIVE THEM UP WAS TO HIDE NEAR THE LOFT AND THROUGH A CLUMP OF SOIL ONTO THE LOFT TOP AND DRIVE THEM UP THIS WAY. THEN GO OUT AND CALL THEM IN AFTER THEY HAVE FLOWN ROUND FOR A WHILE. HE SAID TO LET THEM LAND WHEN THEY FELT LIKE IT THE FIRST FEW TIMES UP, THEN AFTER A WHILE STOP THEM FROM LANDING UNTIL YOU WERE READY FOR THEM TO LAND. AFTER EVERY TIME OUT THEY SHOULD FLY THAT BIT LONGER THAN THE LAST. THE MORE TIMES YOU CAN FLY THEM A DAY THE BETTER WHILE YOU ARE TRAINING THEM. I TRY MYSELF TO FLY THEM AT LEAST ONCE A DAY, TWICE IF POSSIBLE DEPENDING ON WHAT SHIFTS I AM WORKING.  MY YOUNG BIRDS ARE FED ON YOUNG BIRD MIX RIGHT UP UNTIL TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE FIRST FLY OF THE YEAR, THEN THEY GO ONTO MY FLYING MIX WHICH IS 40% WHEAT, 40% DARRI, 10% CANADIAN MAPLES AND 10% BARLEY. MY OLD BIRDS ARE FED ON THIS MIX MOST OF THE YEAR ROUND, BUT ONCE A WEEK I WILL GIVE THEM YOUNG BIRD MIX AS A BOOSTER. DURING THE MOULT ALL THE BIRDS GET A SEED CALLED RED BAND WHICH IS A VERY RICH SEED MIXTURE, PLUS AVIFORM IS ADDED TO THE WATER A COUPLE OF TIMES A WEEK.  THE KIT OF 24 YOUNG BIRDS WILL HAVE BEEN FLYING IN THE REGION OF 1 HOUR EVERY TIME THEY WERE FLOWN WHILE BEING FED ON YOUNG BIRD MIX, SO IT IS TIME TO CUT DOWN ON THE FLYING TIME WITH THE FLYING MIX. THE FIRST WEEK I FEED A TEASPOON PER BIRD AND FLY THEM EVERY OTHER DAY. THE WEEK BEFORE THE FLY HALF RATIONS AND FLY THEM EVERY DAY FOR THREE DAYS AND GET THE FLY TIME DOWN TO 15 MINUTES, WATCHING THE KIT CLOSELY SO YOU CAN PICK THE FOUR BIRDS OUT TO DROP THE KIT TO TWENTY ON FLY DAY. REST THE BIRDS UP FOR A DAY FEEDING THEM HALF RATION OF FLYING MIX, THEN THE NEXT DAY FLY THEM THEN, REST THEM THE LAST TWO DAYS AND FEED FULL RATIONS OF YOUNG BIRD MIX TO BOOST THEM UP FOR THE FLY. WITH THE EXTRA BOOST THE BIRDS WILL HOPEFULLY FLY AROUND 45 MINUTES, WHICH WILL ALLOW YOU 10 MINUTES TO PUT THEM ON THE CLOCK, 20 MINUTES FLY TIME AND 10 MINUTES OFF THE CLOCK IF THEY GO OUT OF SIGHT OR TOO HIGH TO JUDGE. THE OTHER 5 MINUTES IS JUST A SAFE GUARD.  THIS MAY SOUND EASY AND STRAIGHT FORWARD, BUT THROUGH EXPERIENCE I HAVE FOUND IT FAR FROM BEING THAT SIMPLE. IT MAY WORK ONE TIME BUT NOT THE NEXT, SO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO TRY NEW THINGS OUT. THIS METHOD SEEMS TO WORK WELL WITH MY BIRDS BUT MAY NOT WITH ANOTHER STRAIN AS YOU HAVE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE SIZE OF THE BIRDS YOU ARE FLYING, SO YOU HAVE TO EXPERIMENT WITH FOOD RATIONS TO SUIT YOUR TYPE OF BIRDS. THERE SEEMS TO BE A FINE LINE BETWEEN BEING OVERFED AND UNDERFED AND YOUR BIRDS WILL LAND EARLY IF UNDERFED AND OVERFED. I HAVE TRIED ALL THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE LIKE WORMING, SALTING AND SUCH TO KNOCK THE BIRDS DOWN IN CONDITION THEN BOOSTING THEM BACK UP AND I MUST SAY IT DIDN’T SEEM TO MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO MY BIRDS, BUT IT’S WORTH A TRY AS YOUR STRAIN MAY REACT IN AN ALTOGETHER DIFFERENT WAY.  IT’S THE SAME WITH KITTING, SOME SAY KEEP YOUR BIRDS IN A DARK KIT BOX AND THEY WILL KIT TIGHTER. I HAVE TRIED THIS AND WITH THE STRAIN I FLY IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE LEAST, AS MINE HAVE ALWAYS KITTED WELL FROM BEING YOUNG BIRDS.

FLYING OLD BIRDS :

OLD BIRDS SHOULD NOT BE FLOWN AS REGULAR AS YOU WOULD FLY YOUR YOUNG BIRD KITS, IF YOU DID YOU WOULD SOON FLY THE ROLL RIGHT OUT OF THEM. MY OLD BIRDS SEEM TO PERFORM THE BEST WHEN THEY ARE FLOWN EVERY THREE DAYS, WEATHER PERMITTING. I WILL START TO GET MY BIRDS READY FOR A FLY TWO WEEKS BEFOREHAND, THE SAME AS THE YOUNG BIRDS. THE FIRST WEEK ON HALF RATIONS AND FLOWN TWICE THAT WEEK. THE NEXT WEEK FLY THEM ONE DAY REST THEM THE NEXT, BUT A FULL TWO DAYS REST BEFORE FLY DAY, FEEDING FULL RATIONS OF YOUNG BIRD MIX TO BOOST THEM. AS WITH THE YOUNG BIRDS IT’S STILL ALL TRIAL AND ERROR UNTIL YOU FIND SOMETHING THAT WORKS FOR YOUR STRAIN OF BIRDS.

STOCK BIRDS

SOME PEOPLE SAY DON’T PUT A BIRD INTO STOCK UNTIL IT IS AT LEAST TWO YEARS OLD, BUT I HAVE FOUND THAT THE BIRDS I AM WORKING WITH, THAT SOME OF MY BEST RESULTS HAVE BEEN FROM YOUNG BIRDS INTRODUCED INTO THE STOCK LOFT TO AN OLD BIRD THE NEXT YEAR. MOST YEARS I HAVE PUT BETWEEN 2 AND 4 BIRDS INTO STOCK THAT HAVE SHOWN REAL PROMISE IN THE AIR.  ONE OTHER THING I WILL NEVER DO IS TO PAIR MOTHER TO SON, FATHER TO DAUGHTER AND BROTHER TO SISTER. MY BEST RESULTS ON A VERY REGULAR BASIS IS HALF BROTHER, HALF SISTER MATTING.  THE TWO STRAINS I WORK WITH ARE GEORGE MASON AND MORTON STRAINS. THE MORTON STRAIN COMES FROM YEARS BACK THROUGH A ROLLER FANCIER CALLED FRED SEVERN. THESE TWO STRAINS CROSS REALLY WELL AND PRODUCE YOUNG BIRDS THAT COME INTO THE ROLL AT 3 TO 4 MONTHS, IN GOOD STYLE WITH FREQUENCY AND ARE AN EXCELLENT KITTING ROLLER.

HOPE THIS IS OF SOME USE ALL THE BEST WITH YOUR BIRDS AND KEEP ‘EM FLYING.