A healty loft is the basis of success.

I have visited many lofts in my pigeon and journalistic travels, and have thus gained a lot of experience. I have spent time in the most modern lofts, with all the conveniences, and also in the primitive ones where I risked breaking my neck.

Both types of lofts flew in style, and both types flew poorly, which proves that the secret to success is not luxury. The answer is healthy lofts stocked with good pigcons. During the winter months, I have culled bad pigeons and also bad lofts. And I have
classified as good, birds that were performing poorly ! These «good» birds had not flown well due to poor housing. Quite often when I visit a loft, I sec that the right conditions are lacking. Dull feathers and lots of old down. No wonder they did not fly in the summer. This is often caused by inadequate ventilation. When I find these dull feathers and old down, I recommend a better system of ventilation. So many fancicrs have spared no money in buying the best, and yet have never occupied a leading place
in our sport. Last winter, I visited sevcral such fanciers to help them, and they accepted my pointers. Sometimes, their failure was due to poor management, poor feeding, a shortage of patience, but often the cause was the loft itself. Some lofts were beautiful looking, but the necessary conditions towards the housing of the pigeons were not met.
A. Ventilation
B. Lighting
C. Temperature

These 3 main factors are influcnced by the available construction materials, the layout, and the conception of the loft. First, the layout. In Belgium, it is best to face South-East. Early in the morning, the sun is on the loft front, which is important for temperature and dryness. Lofts with their openings facing West or North (rain hole) are often damp lofts. Such establishments always rcquire special maneuvering to do away with the inconveniences caused by the bad position. In April and May, we
keep our loft warm. Also, during the last summer months. But, we are very carefül that the temperature does not get too high. The latter is always a problem in attic lofts. These lofts can be very healthy as long as it is not too hot outside. They tend to be rather warm; even in the wintertime. Given a little bit ofsunshine, they are comfortable to be in. Therefore the pigeons are in good shape and fly very well till the end of june.
From thcn on the unbearable heat takes the form away. During April and May, our lofts are never too warm. They enjoy naturc's warmth. This mayslow down their coming into form somewhat, but it will last longer. Better than great changes. During the spring with its cool and steady weather we keep our lofts closed. We keep the damp air outside. We do all we can to have early form and to maintain it. Even during the day in the middie of the season, I ncvcr open too many windows, except during really warm and dry weather. The secret of top performance is for the manager to keep all the windows closed during chilly windy weather. Especially those on the West and North sides. Has it ever occured to you how carefülly a good manager keeps his widowcrs in when the temperature outside is damp and cold, or there is too much wind ? He has good reasons. Chilly, damp winds may hamper their condition really fast, slowing down the arrival of form and bringing many problems that we don't need. During the real summer, you may venrilate a little more. Yet be carefül. As soon as the weather changes, close the windows and keep the form in. The temperature changes betwccn day and night, or a sudden change in the weather should absolutcly be avoided. Temperature changes are the biggest enemy ofacolony's super form. In our lofts, we try not to miss a thing in trying to have our birds come into form at the right time, to increase it, and to maintain it. If it is necessary to close everything at night due to a bad weather forecast, we do so. In the widowhood loft, there is always enough fresh air present; thcrc are not many birds in it. The kind of building matenal used is an important temperature factor.

Everybody knows that roofing riles and wood are relarively good conductors of heat. Those building a block building do best to build a doublé wall. Plywood with 5 cm (2 inches) between walls is probably the cheapest. Clay roofing riles are the best for the roof. Baked day heats up slowly and maintains this warmth for a long time, and cnables one to regulate the temperature inside. A wooden roof with rubber or steel shingles is very bad. Such shingles du nut breathe. Asbestos is not ideal either. Those who would use asbestos use the corrugated type only and cover the inside with cardboard. Between this cardboard and the roof is the ventilation. A loft directly under the roofing riles high in a barn with a lot of room around the loft and where the ventilation is cleverly handled, has the advantage that sudden temperature changes are done away with. There is a gradual change, the warm air stays inside longcr, it dissipates slowly through the riles, and the pigeons adapt to the change.

They store warm air in their feathers and cool off slowly. Also, sun light is important - the sun is the source of all lifc. It provides ultra-voilet rays to the loft which are indispensible for the taking-in and digesrion of vitamin D. Pigeons that enjoy sunlight may benefit from it. Vitaminesarion ofsteroles in the corium tissues rcquires sunshine. That is why the sun is indispensible for youngsters in full growth. In the book De Reisduif written by Dr. J. Lahaye and Dr. E. Cordiez is the following : «bone disease shows up in birds as a swelling, deformarion, and twisring of the legs. S-shaped deformarion of the brcastbone, nyphose, emaciarion, and dragging feet. In maturcd female animals, all the deficiencies of the eggshell are blamed on an insufficient supply of vitamin D». The two doctors are right. Is it any wonder that we advise against a dark loft ? A hot bed for all kinds of diseases. As I wrote bcforc, plenty of windows are needcd to let the sun in early in the morning. Don't exaggerate it,
though; glass is a fast heat conductor. It heats up a loft fast but allows it to cool offjust as fast. Last but not least important of factors : OXYGEN. Ventilation plays an important part in birds' health and in the bringing on of form. Upon entering a loft, one should not smell anything. That is why a constant flow of fresh air is needed. A pigcon uses a surprising amount of oxygen while breeding. As soon as the air in the loft is stale, pigeons suffer. The blood gets dirty and poisonous parricles fill up the
breathing organs. Too much ventilation is also harmfül to the brcathing organs. There are those who claim that you can leave your loft open day and night, even in the winter. These slavcs of ventilation hit the nail on the wrong end ! He who wishes to create tough pigeons with natural resistance should keep the weather conditions outside ! I rcpeat once more, fresh air is good when you regulatc it according to the temperature, but avoid extreme changes and avoid drafts. A slow change of air is dcsirable. In our loft, fresh air comes in through small holes which are locatcd in the front about 30 cm (a toot) off the floor. The bad air disappears slowly along the ceiling. Where the birds sit, they are protected by a false ceiling l m (40 inches) wide. The remaindcr of the ceiling is open. The birds never sit in a draft. Never forget that in our sport, and for that matter in any spon, top honours are reservcd for those fanciers who leave nothing to chance, who are always on their roes and consider
all factors carefully before accepting any method. The attentive fancier has long since noriced that this method borders on the fancier's Golden Rule.