Racing period: getting to the starting line with top athletes. Some tips from Dr Wim Boddaert

Make sure that your pigeons are well prepared for the racing season. We’ve prepared some brief tips to turn up fit at the start.

Make sure that your pigeons are well prepared for the racing season. We’ve prepared some brief tips to turn up fit at the start.

Restart training in good time

Many pigeons will have spent the whole winter in the loft and will need to find their rhythm again before they’re ready to go. Many will also emerge from their "winter break" overweight and will therefore have little enthusiasm for training. In February and March, give your birds a light diet. This is for example 50% Plus I.C.+ Gerry (low protein mixture) and 50% Plus I.C.+ Depure (depurative mixture) or 100% Plus I.C.+ Winter, in appropriate quantities.

By the end of March, older pigeons and yearlings should be able to manage training flights lasting a full hour. It’s only at this stage when they will be ready to start the racing season. These pigeons will have little left to learn, and should be able to cover 100 km over two flights.

Arrive at the starting gate with healthy birds!!

To start with healthy pigeons, you should start your health plan in February. Make sure that all widowhood cocks are vaccinated against paramyxovirus and smallpox, and do not forget that your widowhood hens (or stay-at-home mates) will also need paramyxovirus vaccinations. The racers come into weekly contact with pigeons from other lofts and, even if they don't show any symptoms, they can pick up germs and bring them back home. When they come into contact with their hen, she then becomes infected with the paramyxovirus, with all the consequences this entails.

It is particularly important to make sure that your pigeons are free from worms and coccidiosis before the start of the season. Have them therefore examined by a vet.

At the beginning of March each year, you need to plan for a ten-day course of antibiotic treatment against paratyphus. Afterwards, give the pigeons B-Chol for about five days to relieve the liver of all the waste and give all the pigeons in the loft at the end of March a treatment against trichomonasmixed with the feed. Preferably administer the medication in the feed, as the birds usually don't drink very much at this point because of the colder temperatures. Giving feed-based medication means that you can be sure that the correct dose is ingested, which is essential in terms of building resistance and effectiveness. At this point, give a treatment against trichomoniasis for a full week.

With racing pigeons, it is also important that their airways are in good shape at the start of the training. For this purpose, try to work in a natural way, with Respi-Top. This mix of essential oils ensures a good resistance when they are administered regularly, best at least three times a week.

Use heating plates, but not excessively

The first few flights at the start of the season can be cold and wet, and you will need to be extra vigilant. Begin recuperation and preparation for the next race as soon as your birds return. Flights which take place during the cold days of spring can be problematic for building up their condition. When the weather is cold and wet, a heating plate used just after arrival can be worth its weight in gold. Please note: overuse often does more harm than good and it may be needed for only a very short period. Keeping a close eye on your birds during training the day after the race should let you assess the situation. If anything is not quite right, then reacting quickly is the solution, and speedy intervention, possibly involving medication, can avoid many problems. But only if necessary!

Optimal recuperation is by no means luxurious

When the widowhood cocks are back home and their hens have been removed: that’s when the real work begins. The best fanciers will immediately begin their preparations for next week. The birds are fed and given a grit supplement, and some treat mix if desired. Half an hour or so later, each bird should be handled and disinfected with Forma Drops. At the same time, they should be given a compulsory bath in tepid water with a little Ideal Bathsalt mixed in. Give them a little muscle massage and clean their feet. Then switch on the heating plate and ensure that the loft is dimmed and calm. You’ll notice the difference in their appearance after just a few hours.

Muscle Power and Hemolyt 40: crucial for a fast recovery

For an optimal recuperation of the pigeons upon their return home, you should count on Muscle Power in combination with Hemolyt 40.

Muscle Power Caps are capsules with BCAAs (short-chain amino acids) that ensure a faster recovery and better muscle building. Give one Muscle Power capsule per pigeon immediately after the flight and another one the next morning. The morning after the flight and the day after also give Hemolyt 40 in the drinking water, a unique mixture of electrolytes, quickly available animal proteins, minerals and vitamin B6.

Hemolyt 40 comprises 40% haemoglobin-containing proteins which, among other benefits, promote the creation of the body’s own haemoglobin, stimulating the production of red blood cells. Animal proteins are absorbed by the body very quickly, as opposed to vegetable proteins. So be careful when you give Hemolyt 40 via their drinking water immediately after they arrive home. If the birds drink too much treated water at this point, they will also ingest an excessive amount of protein, which can lead to vomiting. It is therefore advisable to give Hemolyt 40 on their return home only the next morning and the day after, to recharge their batteries for the next task.

Warming up your pigeons for the next race

To build up again for the next flight, start from Tuesday for three days with Boost X5 over the feed (in combination with Form-Oil Plus). Boost X5 provides maximum support to the muscles during flight. Towards the end of the week, give two more days of Dextrotonic (15 ml per 1 l) in the drinking water. This way, the pigeons can be basketed in tip-top shape.

One last tip. If the pigeons are in good condition, but still don’t achieve the results you want, then there's only one thing left: selection!

The finest fanciers are those who make the fewest mistakes!

Best of luck!

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