A good fancier plans ahead and thinks about the goals he wants to achieve. As soon as his goals are set he becomes serious about his pigeons. He tries to think about every single aspect that can influence his game as early as possible.
All possible difficulties that can arise when you pair your birds can be attributed to the physical health of the birds that will be paired. It is okay to plan ahead when you are going to pair your birds but that does not mean you have to stick to that plan at all costs. It is important to consider the fitness of your cocks and hens; they should be ready for it. Only then will the couples (even the new ones) breed youngsters without a problem. Ten days after the pairing there will be eggs in each nest bowl.
Some fanciers do not follow this advice and they end up with couples that were difficult to pair or hens that do not lay their eggs soon enough. It is in fact the fancier himself who is to blame for that: you should never pair your pigeons when they are not physically ready for it. You should be more patient with your pigeons. If you pair them too soon it might disturb your racing season and the breeding season. You should not pair your pigeons because your fellow fanciers have paired theirs. It is possible that your neighbour can pair his birds already on 1 February, whereas you have to wait until April. If you wait long enough for your pigeons to be paired you can be confident that your racing pigeons will be fit for the racing season and that your young birds will perform well in their first races.
The pigeons must have a complete moult before being paired
Every proficient and experienced fancier will agree that you can only have a successful racing season if everything goes well before the season, especially in the moulting period. A good and complete moult indicates that the pigeon is in perfect health, even after a long and demanding racing season. It also means that the pigeon is very healthy and ready to withstand the cold winter temperatures. We know that there have been pigeons that performed very well, even though they had a few bad feathers. This is in fact the exception that proves the rule. The bad feathers are the result of (physical) problems in the past or overtiredness. As soon as the cause for these problems is gone there is no reason to believe that the moult will not continue until it is completed.
It does not happen very often that pigeons have good results if they have one or more poor feathers. It often occurs with pigeons that have had difficult races or an exhausting breeding period. In general, a pigeon that has had troubles during the moult will not be able to perform well during the season. A pigeon with a complete moult is usually healthier and has less health issues. As a result it will be a lot fitter than its opponents with an incomplete moult. Your pigeon will glide through the air with low resistance; it will save a lot of energy. Thanks to a good plumage it will not suffer from rain, mist and other weather conditions. It is often said that the weather resistance of a pigeon depends on its origins and on its bloodlines. In fact it is mainly its plumage that decides whether it can cope with hard weather. We have always given our readers the advice to train their young cocks and hens. If you train them well you will eventually have a small team of great hens that can be successfully raced in the future. These pigeons are not very demanding: all they need is a basic loft with a simple entrance. You can pair them with your best young cocks that can have some training during the season in that same loft. You can train these hens and try to prepare them for the longer distances; you can eventually enter them for their first long distance flight. Some of these hens might be able to follow the best widowers.
We advise you to add your best young birds to your existing team of racing birds every year. After a few seasons you will have a team of great hens from which you can select a few breeding hens. Their advantage is that they have not been raced as widowers, which in fact tends to weaken the pigeon after a while.