Widowhood in all its aspects - part III

In this article the feeding of the widowers is explained.

Could you give us a good feeding method for the widowers?
Often and quite rightly it has been written many times that in practice the great difficulty with widowhood pigeons is the feed. By concentrating on the young widowers, many mistakes have been committed. Thinking they are doing the right thing, fanciers have not only overfed their widowers, but have also given all kinds of feed mixtures whose composition is the antithesis to common sense and rational nutrition concepts.

Racing cyclists, boxers, in short all athletes forced into tough exercise, wouldn’t remain in good condition for long if they only ate meat, even if was of the best quality. Certain organs couldn’t stand up to such a regime. Not everything you eat is nutritious, digested and used. Racing cyclists and boxers need more than just meat, just as widowhood pigeons need more than just protein substances. 

The widowers should still be lively during their daily training; a proper diet is essential 

Do you mean that an abundance of protein can prevent pigeons being in good condition?
I’m certain of it. They tolerate the regime for quite a long time, but then comes disappointment: the liver becomes sick and the flesh blue, then the muscles weaken.
Not long ago we visited the lofts of a fancier who couldn’t manage to get his pigeons into the prizes. The pigeons were not ill, their throats were clear, the plumage was fine, but the muscles were weakened by a third as a result of a bad working liver. The flesh was blue and completely covered in large white flakes, the winter down was almost entirely still present, all the pigeons appeared to have a bad back, weak at the back due to the shrinking of the liver, the general weight was enough, but the muscles were heavy and lifeless.

To what do you contribute the bad state of these birds to?
Solely the poor nutritional regime imposed on themWe asked which mixture was used and this was the answer: a bucket of beans, a bucket of peas, a bucket of vetch seed, half a bucket of wheat and a fourth of a bucket of corn, which equates to about 75% pulses. The fancier in question had done his best to give his pigeons as much strength as possible  but in the end they were completely poisoned by his regime. It’s no wonder these birds couldn’t keep up with their rivals. Great form doesn’t always come as we wish, but there has to be a good state of health in the loft at the time when the races begin; it is from this state of health that the form comes. In the instance of the pigeons we have just mentioned nothing could be expected of them until the feeding regime was radically changed and we are four to five weeks further on. There is also reason to fear that it won’t be until next season that a full return can be achieved. This is the responsibility of the fancier.

Which rational system do you recommend?
Many fanciers keep their pigeons in better condition during the winter than during the racing season because they are given a less substantial feed and in extreme cases the exact opposite in the summer. Very few organisms can put up with constant over feeding. On the other hand any change to the mixture given has to be introduced gradually. It is for example incomprehensible how, after a winter regime in which all protein has been excluded, in March or April a large percentage of beans, peas or vetch seeds are given. We are of the opinion that at the start of the season a dosage of 25%  pulses shouldn’t be exceeded. If the racing is tougher and it gets warmer, then this percentage can be increased to 35%, but no more than this whatever the case.

For anyone asking, we give a good mixture as below for natural or widowhood racing:

10% beans,
10% english peas,
5% vetch seeds,
5% lentils,
25% wheat,
30% corn,
5% dari,
5% sunflower and 5% small oily grains, served separately as treat after feeding.

Do you advise buying a composite trade mixture?
It is not compulsory, although advisable in two cases, namely when the fancier doesn’t want to learn about the attributes of the various grains which make a good mixture, or when he is not capable of judging the worth of the grains bought for the mixture. Any bad grain will indeed prevent the pigeons coming into a good condition. In these two cases it is better to buy a composite mixture, but it is absolutely necessary, even if the price is higher, to buy from an honest dealer who always buys high quality grain. In addition, this dealer must be competent in identifying the different types of grain, if you want to be sure that the grain mixture is mixed rationally. Where this danger is concerned, if you see too much protein in these mixtures, don’t worry. Even if the dealer is not competent, the fact that these grains are more expensive is enough to stop them putting more in your mixture. It is always possible to add corn or wheat to reduce the protein.

Is it preferable to feed the widowers on the floor instead of their nestboxes?
It all depends on what they are used to. Even fanciers who lock their widowers up in the nestbox all day could still achieve a good result with feeding on the floor of the loft. We are of the opinion that pigeons are better off eating all the grains in a mixture than when, by throwing a small amount on the floor they only eat the food close to them. If the food is mixed and served properly then it can play an important role in generating the appetite. Then it is easy to put a thimble full of dessert grains in all the boxes before locking the pigeons up, if they are locked up. Fanciers who feed in the nest boxes should avoid leaving the food in the nestbox for too long as this will adversely affect the following meal.

As the appetite of the widowers can change a great deal in just a few days it is advisable to always feed them the maximum dose in their box, but any leftovers should be removed after half an hour (this is not applicable if feeding on the floor). If you want to avoid the widowers picking out their favourite grain from the mixture served, then you have to ensure you serve the right ration. 

When feeding individually in the nestbox it is advisable to serve a mixture of grit, pickstone...etc... in the pot;
don’t forget to refresh it regularly.