At this time of the year ... time for a break

Most of the pigeons have finished the moult by now. Some pigeons that have bred later in the year have some bald spots and some of the older pigeons are still dropping their primaries. It is important to keep them as calm as possible.

Up to now we have not yet given them our four quarters mixture, because a good moult has been the priority. Their feed contains quite a lot of corn and we gradually change to a mixture of 25% beans, 25% corn, 25% wheat and 25% barley.  In the morning they are given only a small portion, if needed you give them some linseed.

There is quite a difference in price between corn, wheat and barley; that is why we feed them a bigger portion of corn throughout the winter (more than 25%). After all, this is the most inexpensive type of grain available. There is an increased chance that your pigeons grow fat but you can avoid that by giving smaller portions. It is especially on cold days with a lot of mist or snow that we have to prevent the pigeons from growing fat. We can do this by giving them a bit more barley, just like when we feed them our four quarters mixture. As long as your loft is open your pigeons are not likely to grow fat, unless they are fed with a breeding mixture.

If you do not have an open loft, you can feed your pigeons a four quarters mixture but make sure that there are no leftovers in the feeding tray. A full tray is a good idea if you have an open loft but it is not advisable when your pigeons can only fly out in the morning and in the evening. The drinker gives a good indication of whether the pigeons have enough feed: if most of the pigeons start drinking we stop feeding them. The pigeons that have not yet finished eating by then will remember to eat a bit faster next time.

The widowers enjoy a quiet time, the nest bowls are closed,
The platforms have been replaced with triangles.

All nest boxes are now closed off, except for a few hens that still have to lay their eggs. The cock and the hen sit together on a platform and they are generally quite calm. It is not extraordinary that some couples are still active, especially on a sunny day. There is no need for worry; the hen is usually not fertilized now. If the pigeons do become too active and start pairing up you can always lock them out. You put your pigeons outside and you close all entrances to the loft. Of course you have to  keep an eye on the weather. Do not use this method on a rainy or misty day. This is in fact not a good method for fanciers who are out of the house during the day, unless someone else can open the traps of the loft in the afternoon to allow the pigeons to go back inside. When you lock out your pigeons it is important to provide a water tray outside. Some pigeons will not be thirsty after their meal; others will try and find water in the near environment, often a dirty pond nearby. That is why you should have a water tray.

By mid November the hens are no longer likely to lay their eggs. The reason is that the days are shorter in winter. The cocks and the hens spend their days together quietly. That is why it is unnecessary to separate your pigeons at this time of the year (that does not apply to the winter breeders of course). You need not separate them before Christmas or New Year, unless you want to breed pigeons in December to be able to ring your birds before 1 January. We think this is inadvisable but we have decided to no longer fight against it: over the years many fanciers have started to focus on the young bird races. If you do separate your pigeons we would advise you to add less pod fruit such as peas and beans and protein-rich seeds to their mixture, at least for a few weeks. An increased portion of barley can act as purifier and it makes them a bit calmer.

Keep in mind that if you separate your birds early they will be in a good shape early in the season as well. This is not recommended if you want to race them in the long and longer distance as it is possible that they are a bit out of shape by then, as the other birds have only just started the season.