29. How can one put pigeon that flew since April on the natural method, on widowhood in the middle of the racing season?
The most important thing is, that when you put them on widowhood, they must be in top condition. You cannot race pigeons on the widowhood method that are overtired and too far advanced in the moult. When you intend to sent some pigeons to the widowhood races in the middle of the flying season, you must breed from them very sparingly and timely. Breeding and racing at the same time will even ruin the strongest pigeon in a short time.
30. Are you against breeding from those pigeons?
With this end in vieuw, we don't advice any breeding from them. Nevertheless breeding is not harmful to them when they are in a good condition and are given the opportunity to recover themselves, by letting them sit on pot eggs for a certain time before they are put on widowhood.
The advantage of the widowhood method is, that one can send pigeons to a race, that have, at their disposal, all their physical ablilties.
31. Do you advice breeding at the beginning of January?
It is much better on one condition, it must be a mild winter. But suppose it becomes very cold, which is always possible, it could be a big handicap for our future race birds. In any case, this early breeding will advance the moult, so that all racing comes to a stop long before the end of the season. When it concerns realy good racing birds on which one counts to race the whole season, firstly on the natural and afterwards on the widowhood method, repeated breeding is not advisable.
32. What would you do in such case?
We would pair up early and regulate it in such a way, that we have them on eggs a few days before racing starts. Through locking up the hens in her reserved part of the nest-box, we would prevent the wasting of strength of the cock which nest driving brings along. After a few days on eggs, the cock will regain its strength and weight. We would race the cocks three consecutive Sundays on eggs. After they are on eggs for 4 or 5 days, we would reduce their corn and keep them a little hungry and especialy at the end of the breeding period because there is nothing worse than to feed pigeons that are sitting eggs and are not allowed to rear youngsters, too heavy. We would try to race it a fourth Sunday before it forsakes its eggs. As soon as the cock is away, for this last race, we would take the eggs away. On its return it will find its hen without a nest. One hour after its arrival, the hen is placed in her nest-box. On the Sunday evening, all hens are taken away. If one races the following Sunday, the hen must be brought back one hour before the cock is put in the basket for the race. It is allowed to move about freely with the cock but treading must be prevented.
This first race will give you valuable indications about the adaptation possibilities of your birds to the widowhood method.
33. Is widowhood continued after this?
Yes, if you like to do this. One should continue, as we explained above, but only as preparatory measures. The short flights, before basketing, are also not neccessary because it concerns sufficiently trained pigeons.
We are of the opinion, that for a fancier that likes to race his birds for a long time and often, the system, requires the least physically exertions and is one of the most neccessary requirements for a long continuous season.
We will add to this, that when a fancier is very patient, he may, rest assured, wait untill his pigeons are on their second round of eggs, before he puts them on widowhood, so that he can start the widowhood game at the beginning of June.
34. What do you think about forced exercise flights?
Regularly practised and well managed, they are excellent, but the opinions and proceedings differ a long away. Well know fanciers, such as the Cattrysse Bros in Moere (Belgium), remain true to them, while others are satisfied with free exercise flights.
Out of this, we may conclude that they are far from essential. If we could be home regularly, as we were in a past, we would start them again, even when it was only for the quick arrivals we had and we don't have any more.
Lack of time has forced us to leave them alone. Our helper, entrusted with the management of our birds, is appprehensive of them.
All our pre-war results were obtained by practising those forced flights. They had to fly, morning and evening, one full hour. Even the pigeons which we flew on the nest game, had to undergo these forced flights.
35. For what reason does one fancier try to convince the others that he is an opponent of forced flights?
Everybody makes his bed the way he wants to sleep. Nevertheless, everybody is of the same opinion that exercise is compelled for every athlete as a forerunner for the proper training. We don't have the time to deal with all objections that are put forward.
A few words will be sufficient to point out that, whereas training is neccessary, training flights are best used to increase the exercise gradually.
He who is afraid to over-train his pigeons can always wait till the last moment to start them and can stop them when the birds have reached the 200 to 300 Km. stage, and replace them with voluntary flights.
The main point is, that widowers that are not raced have a complete rest. This can only be obtained when one works skillfully and takes all neccessary precautions. The same problem will occur when some of the race birds, are flown on different distances and are housed in the same loft and one has to basket some birds every few days.