What is a late youngster and are they useful?

A late youngster is basically a youngster that was born after the racing season. We could say that any pigeon born after 15 July is considered a late or after season young bird.

In principle, a late youngster does not mould a single primary in its year of birth. However, a healthy youngster born around the end of July can continue the moult and possibly drops its tenth primary by the end of the winter. Some other youngsters will end the moult after having moulted several primaries, without it having any influence on the health of the pigeon.

We have already mentioned a few times that it is interesting to breed a few late youngsters from your best breeders and your most successful racing pigeons. However, we have also said that it would not be a good idea to breed a whole round of after season youngsters, especially if they are bred from two random pigeons who are not of great value to you, neither as a breeder, nor as a racer. So it be would be advisable to breed a few later youngsters from your trusted breeding pigeons; pairs that have already bred great racing cocks and hens or top quality youngsters. You can pair them again after the racing season.

Remember that the late bred youngster can only be basketed for a race eighteen months after its year of birth. In the second year, the first year after the year of birth, the bird will mature and it will have its first complete moult.

WHY? You probably wonder why you should raise and feed a youngster for two years if it can only be raced after that period of time?

In this article we will search for the answer to that question:

1) Fanciers breed late bred youngsters after the season to replace pigeons that were lost in training flights or races and pigeons that did not do very well as a breeder or a racer.

2) There are a large number of fanciers who have enough room in their loft to house several late youngsters. They breed them because they know that these youngsters have a good chance of having the qualities of their forefathers and becoming a champion. On top of that, the youngsters of proven breeding qualities have plenty of time to develop as a fully fledged racing pigeon in their first two years.

3) Youngsters that are born after July have favourable weather conditions after their birth, which allows them to fully develop their organs. These weather conditions include air, light, warmth and dryness. In fact the parents will benefit from the weather conditions as least as much as the youngsters themselves. The parents enjoy the pure air, additional ultraviolet light and the sunlight in the late summer.

As a result the parents have nutrient rich blood, which is very beneficial for the youngsters. Experience has shown that late youngsters usually look better than birds bred at the beginning of the year. However, this is not the case when the feeding pigeons are unhealthy or tired from an early breed. It is impossible to breed good youngsters from parents which have already had a tiring breeding period earlier that year. This would only result in weak and anaemic youngsters. So we want to make clear that breeding late youngsters can be very satisfactory for the fancier so long as they are bred from parents that are perfectly healthy. As long as your breeding pairs are healthy you can breed strong late youngsters that will be a great addition to your team of pigeons.

Although late youngsters are usually raised in good weather conditions there are factors that can disturb the bird’s development. One of the main factors is the feeding of the pigeon. When the racing season is over there are many fanciers who tend to lose their focus and who do not pay as much attention to their feed as during the racing season. Other fanciers leave the feeding to their breeding pigeons, which have to collect their feed in the fields. The problem is that most of the pigeons are underfed because the feeding pigeons can hardly find enough food for themselves. It is obvious that this loft can only raise weak youngsters. The parents are weakened right at the time when they need a lot of energy and resources to successfully raise their youngsters. The breeding hens will soon start to lose their energy, especially when they are preparing to complete their moult.  If the fancier is forced to breed a round of later youngsters and he prefers strong and sturdy pigeons he will have to make sure that the parents are well fed. 

The loft has to be dry; there should be no draught or a sudden drop in temperature. There should be a lot of light, sun, pure air and a healthy and nutritious feed, also a lot of vitamins and minerals. Good hygiene and regular exercise is important as well. As long as you stick to the basic principles you will breed great youngsters with a good plumage. If you are patient with them and if you watch them closely you might be able to breed a few champions once the latebreds have reached the age of two or more years. When you breed after the summer you have to keep in mind that your breeding pigeons will have to moult soon.

You should also wean the youngsters as soon as you can as then the breeding pigeons will start to lay eggs again. These eggs should be replaced with pot eggs to keep the birds calm and quiet. As soon as they leave the nest, the boxes should be closed or taken away. This way, the pairs will have to find themselves perches, of which there should be enough for every pigeon to rest comfortably. If your breeding pigeons are still fit after this late breeding round and well fed, they will then have a successful and complete moulting period themselves.