Can the moult influence the yield of the widowers in the races?
Let’s just say that the moult usually takes place without haste or delay. Usually a primary will fall out when the previous one is half to three quarters renewed. Between the molting of the first and the second pen, there is sometimes a stationary period, ie the second is out, several days after the first is fully renewed. It is somewhat irregular, but not that bad, if the interval amounts to only a few days. But one must be careful with a widower who has been eight days without the next new pen dropping. Joining this anomaly, he is lighter than usual, then you must not basket, because you run the great risk of losing him. In this case, you must wait until the pen has fallen out and the weight is back to normal. In our opinion such a case there is only one chance that this pigeon is in good racing condition, against the nine chances that his health leaves something to be desired.
Is it however at the starting date of the moulting of the primaries, then we have to reply negatively to the question asked. It is possible , that a pigeon is in better form after moulting the first primaries. Numerous findings both here and elsewhere, concerning this point allow us to conclude that there is no fixed rule in this area. The performance of both a widower as a pigeon which is raced naturally depends on the condition and not the moult. Nevertheless one mustn’t forget that the moult is a good barometer, which allows us to judge the condition. Experience has caused us to wish that a pen falls out sooner than later.
Is a pigeon not severely disabled at the time of the loss of the first primary?
This question is often asked. It is also the opinion of many fanciers. This preconception is given more strength when more pigeons miss or classify poorly, so that fanciers can find refuge in this preconception to explain disappointments. Generally it is the changes in temperature at the time of moulting the first pen are very sudden and this is the cause of the changing form. If at this time some pigeons miss easier is it then the fault of the moult? We are convinced that we can answer this negatively. We have known many widowers which have achieved top prizes in such a condition.
How else is it possible that the loss of the first pen handicaps some pigeons whilst others are not affected at all. One year we achieved six prizes with our first six nominated and this in the same week that they moulted or renewed their first pen. We came to the same conclusion in several other lofts, even very recently by Mare Roosens in Leernes, as by the disappointed Guillaume Peeters in Biomont-Herve. When the pigeons are in good condition, and the proportions remain the same if the form is not very advanced, then the loss of the first pen has no influence on their performance.
What about the pigeons where the moulting of the one primary is not forthcoming, even though the others have moulted a while ago?
That’s not a problem. We have good widowers which have moulted irregularly until the third pen and yet still perform fully. Yet it is still an anomaly, and it is better that the two primaries fall out at the same time. The race cannot be adversely affected by this irregularity middle in the wing, yet we can’t explain this irregularity or suggest a remedy to prevent it. It usually happens at the beginning of the moult, the balance is restored by the second or third pen and the form of the pigeon is the same afterwards. This irregularity occurs more some years than others. We can’t explain it.
Wing where the 3rd pen is halfway grown, the fourth hasn’t yet fallen out
At what time during the moult are the pigeons in the best condition?
This largely depends on the loft. Is it warm, the location right or if it is above a warm building, then the pigeons will be in form soon, and even before the moult, which by the way will also occur early, but it is possible that, as the temperature warms up outside, the successes likewise diminish. If the loft is rather cold, east or northeast direction, then the good condition will come later, but will increase with the summer warmth. It is most important therefore that the fancier is fully aware of the condition in which his pigeons find themselves and chooses the distances for his racing programme accordingly. Our loft faced east. It is very cold in winter and usually until the 15th of May. During various consecutive years we noticed that during the moult of the third and fifth primary our pigeons gained their best condition. All this simply as an example to encourage the reader to determine any impingements. We have to say that we have not made it a fixed rule, or that we think that this view is the most common.
Can you basket pigeons which have lost their fifth primary?
Definitely and even the widowers, if the widowhood is entered into properly, can still be in full condition in this phase of the moult. But there is always a danger, especially if it is warm and the race entails a long stay in the lorries, that the pigeons become bald in the basket. The start of the big moult largely depends on the time at which the widowers lose their fifth primary. If it is early, that will say the beginning of July, then there is a great chance that not one cover feather falls before the falling of the sixth renewal. But if the fifth pen falls in Augustus, then it is high time to rest the widower, because it is almost certain that shortly afterwards the small feathers from the full wing will follow. On the other hand it is also a matter of not being too careful, because the racing pigeons gain new reserves before the start of the great moult, which immediately follows the racing period. We know a great champion, who in 1980 wanted to continue until the middle of August. His widowers had moulted their fifth pen and every morning a great amount of feathers could be found in their nest boxes. The result of this way of operating was simple: the five widowers were nowhere to be found in the results. The experiment of the above mentioned champion is more than enough to convince us not to do it.
Also in our sport is gluttony a shortfall which is sometimes paid for dearly
Note the ventilation between the last primaries