15. What preparation has one to make for this first week ?
Starting on the Tuesday. All widowers are, in the morning and evening let out for an exercising flight. This exercise can be free or forced. The duration differs from one half to one hour and when they come into the loft, they have to go straight to their nest-boxes. To teach them this habit one must give them, as soon as they come into the loft, some small seeds in their nest-boxes. This reward, on arrival from a flight must be kept up the whole season. Obstinate birds are give nothing untill their next meal. On their arrival, one must leave them alone for about ten minutes before one feeds them. The feeding may be done either on the floor or in the nest-boxes. Personally, we have always kept to the first method for reason of the emulation, that is created. On the Friday, instead of their normal morning flight, they are sent for a liberation from a distance of two to three Km.
They depart without the hen being shown to them. On arrival, they will find only some small seeds in their nest-boxes. They are fed their meal, at the earliest, one half hour after they come into the loft. One repeats this on the Saterday morning but on their arrival they will find the hens in her reserved part of the nest-box. The cock is allowed to see her through the bars for about 5 minutes, after that time the hens are taken away and put back in the avary. When it is only a one day race, they are given in the morning a light meal. At the last moment, before basketting, one brings the hens back into the loft. One places each hen into het own compartment and immediately thereafter one must take the cock and put him into the basket. It is sufficient that the cock is left enough time to see that its hen is in the nest-box. Once again, one must send the cock for a short toss, as we mentioned before but this time one must liberate them in small groups of four up to six birds, depending on the size of the group that is to be liberated. From this last toss they will come back like rockets. At that moment the manager or owner must be in the loft at the time of their return. He must open two or three nest-boxes together so that the cocks can fly straight to their hens. When the pair is squatted down in the nest-bowl, one must take the cock away and put it into the basket for the journey to the club house. This all can be done in 5 to 6 minutes.
16. Do you allow the cock to tread its hen, before its departure to a race ?
In pinciple : No. A widower will never race when it has had its reward before it is sent away. It can be different for a temperamental and youthful element and treading may sometimes be neccessary. We have had many a young cock that won, in such circumstances, top prizes.
17. Is there any danger that the cocks will return late from this last toss ?
Not at all, provided one has followed the given instructions. One must, as soon as possible instill into the widower, that every time it is basketted it will find, on its return, the hen in the nest-box. The older ones, which are conversant with this method come immediately into action. When dealing with a whole team, that has never flown on widowhood, one must take more precautions. It is essential that the cocks have severel tosses in the first week, and that each time, on their return to the nest-box, their hens are there waiting to greet them, if only just for a minute. To help with this lesson, release them for their toss from the same place. The one object of this is to instill into them, that the hen is waiting at the end of the flight. It is the first stipulation to success.
18.Must one repeat those tosses during the following weeks ?
Yes, at the least during the first 2-3 weeks if it concerns a new team and especialy when they are intended for the speed races. But for all ather birds it is sufficient, except for the first week, to toss them on the Saterday, immediately before basketting. As the training takes effect and your confidence grows, replace those tosses with a short exercise flight. This is how one sets about it : One places a hen of one of the cocks into the loft. When the cocks become ardent, at sight of this hen, one takes her away and the widowers are let out for a flight. When they are out og sight, one must close the entrance of the loft and bring, as quickly as possible, all the hens into the loft and place them in their nest-boxes and one can let the birds come into the loft.
19. Is there any advantage in showing the hens to the cocks, when they are exercised during the first week ?
We don't believe there is any advantage in this action which will only give satifaction for a short period. Once the education is over, the widowers must be kept as quiet as possible. This is the great advantage of the widowhood method over all other racing methods. One cannot burn the candle at both ends. It is most important that they rest and recover during the week. Regarding exercising, the morning and evening flight are sufficient. For the rest, they must have a complete rest unitill the Saterday, just before the basketing.
20. Is it desirable to let the hens out of the loft for exercise while the cocks are away for a race ?
By all means. It is a good thing to make a habit of this. It is the only way to keep them in trim. The right time to do this is, immediately after the cocks are away from the race, because one can be sure that they will not stay too long. One must let them out with the entrance door closed. Once they are inside one must, by all means, not let them out again, because as soon they have noticed that the cocks are away the desire to return to the loft is gone. But never give the widowhood hens their liberty on the Sunday morning.
21. How does one prepare the hens on the arrival of the widowers?
When the cocks are away from the loft for several days, one must bring the hens after basketing or after the last toss, of which wa have talked about, back to the aviary. When it converns short distance birds one can leave the hen locked up in the nestbox. One must give them enough to eat, so that they are not hungry when the cock return. After the ordinary meal, one must give them some small seeds to make sure that they have enough. After a good meal, the hens will be more ardent and because they have had enough to eat, they will have nothing else to do than show up to their returning cocks. Unneccessarly to add to this, that the hens must have the opportunity to have a drink in the loft.