Experienced pigeon keepers know this: if your pigeon is not in shape, you can forget winning that top prize. But how do you get your pigeon in shape? Don’t panic: every pigeon enthusiast - both champion and novice - has to deal with this problem at a certain point.
What exactly is being ‘in shape’? It’s more than ‘just’ good health (although we obviously don't underestimate this importance). We’re also talking about joie de vivre, feeling good, having the get up and go. All this is also important to get your pigeon in shape and ready for a great feat.
Being in shape isn’t something you can force, but you can create the optimal conditions for your pigeon to get in shape. You do this through providing a proper diet, for example, grains with easily digestible granules (the so-called Plus I.C. mixtures), fresh water, and sufficient oxygen and heat.
Provide solar heat and sufficient oxygen (albeit without drafts)
Try to avoid artificial heating with heating plates and the like. These tricks are only temporary solutions for listless pigeons. The pigeons will experience a short peak of increased physical conditioning due to artificial heating and then fall back to a lower level. You can’t keep your pigeon permanently in good shape through these sorts of quick fixes. Therefore, be patient and choose a long-term solution.
Nothing beats an even supply of natural solar heat. Unfortunately, this is not always easy to come by in the Low Countries. However, by orienting your pigeon loft or dovecote the right way you can already solve a lot. Ideally, your dovecote should face the east/southeast direction to receive the morning sun, with windows on the east or southeast side. Once the dovecote is warmed up in the morning, it’s a pleasant place to stay. You’ll want to keep out the afternoon and evening sun. Otherwise, the dovecote is sweltering in the evening and cold in the morning.
Also make sure your pigeon loft has adequate ventilation and fresh air. Ensure there is no draft, because pigeons are very sensitive to respiratory infections and this has a very adverse affect on performance.
Support liver function
Good health is also crucial if you want to get a pigeon in shape. The pigeon must be a well-oiled machine in order to complete its difficult task. The liver plays an important role in this. If this organ isn’t functioning properly, the pigeon can’t make optimal use of the food it absorbs. Indications of faulty liver function include irregular loss of down, blue flesh (due to chronic oxygen deficiency), frequent pecking at its feathers and being abnormally lazy during training.
You can stimulate smooth moulting and good liver function with B-Chol from Oropharma. This is not a medicine, but a dietary supplement based on sulfur-containing amino acids, biotin, sorbitol and vitamin B12. At the beginning of the racing season, a cure with B-Chol gives your pigeon a positive boost to get in shape. They will have an increased appetite, improved feed intake and, consequently, more desire to exercise. Give them a course of B-Chol (2 bottle caps per liter of water) for five days. This treatment will increase the general shape of your pigeons!
Get your pigeon in even better shape with vitamins
You can also improve the performance and condition of your pigeon with some extra vitamins. Provide vitamin preparations that are specially designed for pigeons. Use Omniform (2 bottle caps per liter of water) two days a week. With this kind of vitamin treatment, you can get your pigeons back in shape faster and recover better after a strenuous flight.
Finally, don't forget to give your pigeons grit with red stone every day. Grit is essential for good digestion and good feed intake. In the gizzard, the grit serves as teeth to grind the grains and make them more digestible. Ideally, this grit has already been washed and sterilized, such as the Colombine Grit + red stone or the Colombine All-in-one.