It’s all about Chaos
Our system is called Chaos Widowhood and was brought to my attention by Stuart Fawcett after he visited the ultra-successful Belgian partnership of Arien Verreckt. We did our research by contacting Pascal directly and watching DVD’s and reading articles. We have of course adapted the system over the years to try and squeeze even more performance from our pigeons.
The principal of the system is you race both cocks and hens and as we only have one race loft, with restricted space we feel we have to race our cocks and hens to give ourselves a chance to compete in as many national and international as possible. This system allows us to race every bird in the loft.
The race team are mated around 21st January or just after Blackpool show. The nest boxes are opened and the nest bowls are placed into every box. We try to always have more boxes than we do cocks. Then we simply open the door between the cocks and the hens and let the hens in………….there is Total Chaos in the loft !!! It is this moment you are trying to create every week of the race season. The birds are delirious with delight.
When pairing day comes the birds are allowed to do as they please, the whole system works around the birds choosing their own love partners or not as the case may be.
Some will pair, some will not pair (particularly yearlings), it doesn’t matter, we don’t worry about them and neither should you if you chose to fly this system, it’s about what makes them happy. They are left to do as they please. The original system used to split the birds up after about 3 weeks and no youngsters were taken from the race birds. We have changed this and breed from our best racers if possible. Once the cocks start to drive their hens for a second nest, we remove the hens and leave the cocks to rear the youngsters alone if they are not already weaned. We also remove any hens which haven’t paired at this time. Some will be sitting eggs, some will be about to lay, some will still not have even paired up. This doesn’t matter, they are separated regardless. The birds that are not paired will be birds that will come into form and motivation at a later part of the season.
Our motto is “keep it simple.” Too many people try and make pigeon racing more complicated than it really is. It’s about finding good birds and then keeping them happy and healthy.
Exercise is normally once a day for both cocks and hens. We used to exercise twice daily but saw no real difference except we attracted more attention from the local peregrine falcons. So once daily is normally enough unless we feel they need some extra work. This exercise is built up gradually from 20 mins to an hour and half, this is principally because we want to bring the birds into fitness slowly for the later races of the summer and not have them revved right up in April. The cocks and hens are always exercised separately and the opposite sex is always shut away in their section whilst exercise is going on. We do use a flag if required. Our hens always fly better and longer at home than our cocks, but our cocks have a love of their loft. There is no difference in racing performance.
Road training used to be only one or two tosses in early April from about 25 miles but due to persistent falcon attacks these past two seasons we haven’t road trained at all and just used the local club and combine races to get the birds to peak fitness. That is not to say we wouldn’t road train in the future, its just a gut feeling you have to go with.
The old birds are exercised most days throughout the winter months when the weather is good, the loft is open and if any falcons do turn up the birds know where safety lies and are soon in the loft. Dad firmly believes that they stay healthier and are more streetwise to the persistent raptor problems in our area by going out regularly and maintaining a good body weight and fitness. We have found that we lost more birds to the hawks after shutting the loft up all winter. Both cocks and hens are brought close to race fitness by mid-January with exercise around the loft. We want them in good condition prior to pairing up.
We race the birds both cocks and hens every week inland until the channel racing starts, then once a fortnight, the hens will sometimes go every week, even over the water, especially if any have a tendency to turn lesbian. They are let together for a short time before basketing and again allowed to do as they please. We like to keep a couple of hens and cocks in the loft to welcome home the early arrivals, although I am not convinced this makes any difference at all. They are then left together until Sunday afternoon every week, even from the shortest race.
They do not fly out on a Sunday but are given a bath in the aviaries and left to rest. They are expected to train hard again on Monday around the loft and then the system repeats itself. We have found that the birds change partners multiple times through the course of a season, birds get lost and their partners then repair to a spare hen or cock, this is why we leave them together until the Sunday, new bonds are made each week. This offers birds fresh motivation each week which seems improve the teams performance. Not forgetting those birds that didn’t pair in the spring, suddenly they take a box or take a new partner and bingo, they are racing home first !!!
Shapway Star our cock who won 2nd West section 7th Open BICC Barcelona National had taken his fourth new hen of the season the weekend before Barcelona. He saw his new hen for a couple of hours before basketing and that was his fresh motivation to bust a gut from Barcelona.
In our lofts all feeding is carried out via hoppers as we like to see the birds competing for their food at the hopper. We feed in the same way as Mark Gilbert for racing. Versele Laga Superstar Plus with fats added before the 500/600 mile races.
The birds are always fed to appetite and the food is never measured. The more work they do, the more food they eat, the more food they eat, the more work they want to do. Youngsters are fed exactly the same mix as the old birds.
Again “Keep it simple”, is our watchword. Droppings and swab checks are regularly sent to a good avian vet, and the birds are then treated if necessary. We never treat as part of a routine or precaution only if there is a problem.
Once the loft hits form the vet checks are usually negative. The birds are obviously vaccinated and we do believe in vaccination as it helps to boost the pigeon’s natural immunity. All birds are vaccinated, including the stock and any new birds brought in are vaccinated/wormed/cankered before entering the lofts. We do treat for Salmonella/Paratyphoid in the autumn as a preventative and will consider vaccinating for this in the autumn of 2020.
No vitamins are fed unless an antibiotic or vaccination has been given. We don’t use electrolytes or glucose and think them a complete waste of money. The scientific facts suggest that pigeons do not need them so why waste your money. We stopped using these supplements years ago and the birds don’t appear to have missed them and our pockets are better off. We used to use Cider Vinegar & crushed garlic in the water but haven’t for 6 or 7 years now. Our pigeons have had clean water every day and fresh grit. The birds drink better this way and stay hydrated better in our opinion and thus come into better form. Every time you put an additive in the water you risk the pigeon drinking less and thus not hydrating correctly.
Our young birds are not separated but we do use the darkness system. As mentioned earlier they get an open loft every day and are given about 15 training tosses from any direction before racing begins. Once racing begins we train maybe once or twice per week. All youngsters are now asked to fly the English Channel. If they pair up and lay so be it, but our best results with youngsters are when they are just looking at each other. They are raced every week and if fit and well may tackle the channel three or four times as youngsters.
I think that just about covers it. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us