Darkening and its influence on youngsters

How does a longer night influence the moulting process of young birds? We did the test.

The influence of darkening is often voiced and discussed among fanciers. For the first time we have bred a round of youngsters in winter in our loft. As most fanciers do, we have darkened them, not to improve their fitness but to find out what influence this has on the pigeons.
We started our experiment with 57 youngsters.

Only the hens were darkened!!
We started to darken them from the end of February until 10th May, each time from 17h30 to 8h30-9h00. This depended on how long the training flights for the widowers lasted.

We have brought the youngsters to Quiévrain (64 km) by car seven times to be released there. After that we had 40 birds left.

After that they raced:
Once Quiévrain with the club: 64 km
Once St-Quentin: 138 km
Twice Noyon: 174 km
Twice Angerville 332 km

On 21 July 2012 the remaining birds were inspected and we checked the number of primaries that had fallen out.

For the 12 youngsters that had NOT been darkened we noticed a total of 42 primaries that had fallen out, which makes for an average of 3.5 per pigeon.
For the 12 remaining birds that have been darkened 27 primaries had fallen out, or an average of 2.25 per pigeon.
We noticed that the number of primaries for the cocks fluctuated between 2 and 5 and for the hens between zero and four.

We are not claiming that we have used the best system, because we have no experience in this field, but it is clear that darkening has a certain influence on the moulting of the primaries. We cannot draw any conclusions on the performance of the pigeons: one week we had more hens arriving home, the next week more cocks.

Are these satisfying results? Would it be possible to slow down the moulting process even more or is that not necessary? These are questions for the fanciers specialised in young birds.

If you would like to add any additional information you can use the box below. Thank you!
Degrave - Gyselbrecht - Wemmel