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FEEDING

Feeding is one of the hardest skills to master as a new pigeon flyer. If you cannot master the art of feeding your pigeon, you will be flying in the also-ran category. Many new fanciers have the tendency to overfeed their bird, and many races are lost through this improper feeding. If you overfeed, you can lose the best bird in the world if you send it to a race as a soft, plump bird ready for the table - not the race. You notice I said "bird". A pigeon is an individual and it is up to you to spend enough time to know it - how to feed it, train it, make it want to race home.

Now to the "birds". Many new fanciers overfeed their birds. Don't let your pigeons trick you into thinking they are still hungry. What they are really doing is checking to see if you are a pushover or the boss. Be strict with your feeding, but certainly not to the point of starvation, and they will know you are the boss. They will thank you for this through their race performance.

Start by measuring the amount of feed you give your birds. One ounce per bird per day is a good starting point. I hardly ever give a bird more than 1 1/2 ounces of feed per day, unless they are feeding babies. Give them 1/3 to 1/2 this amount in the morning and the remainder in the evening. Always have a little barley in the evening feed and if they are really hungry, they will eat the barley before drinking water. After a few of the birds have gone to drink, remove any remaining feed. Birds don't fly or race well with a full crop, so always feed after a fly, not before. When you call the birds into feed - those that don't come in don't get any feed until the next feeding time. Pigeons will soon learn who is in command at the loft. If only a few of the birds come when you call them then you are feeding too much. You also don't want them so hungry they won't fly around the loft, but rush into the loft for feed then you are not feeding enough. Too hungry or too fat - birds don't fly. Don't change the amount of feed in a hurry. Gradually work any change into their routine so you do not upset them.

Tame birds are easier to handle and more comfortable in the loft. It also makes working with them a pleasure. Scared pigeons are not fun to work with. I always have a little treat that I hand feed feed every bird when they are in their perches for the night. This shows them that I care for them and it helps make the birds tame. If you go into the loft and the birds are afraid of you, you have already lessened their performance on race day. The pigeons should trust you and be happy to see you. Love of home and the proper feed - this is a winning combination.