There will be heaps of feathers everywhere. To help the moult, we take the nestbowls away after 10 days on eggs. No more «milk» is formed and the moult continues normally. At the same time, we also take out our nestboxes and put them in the barn, and replace them with wall perches, where the nestboxes were. Although they stay paired, the tremendous, frightening change in the loft can stop them from laying again. If they do lay again, we remove the eggs. If the boxes are irremovable, the owner has to close them and hang perches in front of the nestboxes.
This will avoid fighting which might damage some flights. If they keep trying to get in to their nestboxes, the unrest will stop the moulting and it may take a long time before they renew the moult. To avoid this, you should put a piece of carton in front of an obstinate bird's nestbox. It will forget it after 2 or 3 days, and then you can take the carton off. This rest will influence the moult favourably. As long as they are not separated, each pair will sit in front of their nestbox on these perches. It will not hurt them if they are still laying eggs in corners or behind water drinkers, which is still possible around that time. It will not have any adverse effect on the next season. The nestbox is then opened again and they are allowed to sit for 10 days. It does not hamper the moult. If they still want to lay after that, we separate them immediately. To have them laying eggs repeatedly would be a mistake. It can not help the moult or be a good preparation for the next breeding or flying season.
The birds should go through a good and complete moult and enjoy a long rest to perform well. I like to see them finish the moult early, at least before the cold weather starts. It is not right when they are still breeding in November and even December. When you get caught with an early winter, it will not improve this important happening. Although an old flight or an old tailflight is not synonymous with bad flying or breeding.
But the down moult should happen in time -- everything depends on it ! Some say that when they look beautiful too soon, next year they won't last long. «The candle will soon be finished» ! These boys don't know what they are talking about. I have never heard this from the real champions; they know better.
These fanciers know how to keep their birds quiet, how to bring on the form, and to increase and maintain it for a long time. I have written about that many times. For our readers, it is no secret. I have never experienced that their beautiful looks may counteract their purpose. In 1956, De 66 was in our loft without a hen from the 12th of August on. This is what happened : when we basketed his hen after being a widower for 3 months, we lost her. After a few days. De 66 left the eggs and remained alone because we had no extra hen for him. De 66 took this situation very quietly. He was the first one to finish the moult (in mid October) and he shone like a mirror. In 1957, he flew steadily as far as Chateauroux. Fanciers who are fortunate to have good lofts where their hens can exercise daily should separate them after the 2nd nest. Thereby, the moult will be normal and will be executed with the least interruption. Other fanciers like to keep them together for as long as possible. They let them set until they leave their eggs. I don't like that system, it goes against nature. When they set too long, «milk» may form and this nutritious matter finds no way out and will cause problems in the digestive system. It can create a detrimental aftermath.
One little mistake in the mechanism of the body and you forfeit a good moult, «specially the down ». I like to have them sit twice and for 10 days each time, till they leave the nest. It has happened too many times that the following year the pigeons weren't up to themselves. The previous form never showed up. Only at the end of the season did they regain some of it, though the owner no longer took advantage of it. Quite rightly, they had stopped them very early, never to make the same mistake again. Better separated than that. Better to separate than to leave all the windows open, with the well-known drafts and damp air. This way, you avoid laying and don't have to feed too much barley or too little food when their last flights have yet to grow. To separate early or late has always been a real problem, and is still more than ever before, because the fanciers have become smarter over the years. They want a perfect moult, because they know that next year's succcss hinges on it. The battle for supremacy becomes continually more and more difficult. More and more good flyers and good pigeons enter the arena, making competition very tough. No wonder all fanciers look for the best methods and study them carefully. Standstill today means decline. Which is the best method — separate early or late ? I believe the best is somewhcre in between.
In our lofts, the nest boxes are removed after the second round of eggs and then the birds are separated. It has worked well for us. They go through an excellent moult. Once they are healthy, the condition is preserved longer. They perform beautifülly : a maximum output with a minimum of wear on the tissues. Such is our goal. Fanciers who do not pay careful attention during the moult period will never get far.
They need to give sufficient and complete food.
Here are the mixtures that we use in September, October and November :
In September 5 beans, 7.5 green peas, 7.5 English peas, 5 lentels, 15 wheat, 37.5 corn, 12.5 barley, 5 milo, 5 sunflower seed.
Also a daily sniff of linseed per pigeon. The latter is given all winter long.
From October till the last flights are fülly grown, we give them : 5 beans,7.5 green peas, 7.5 English peas, 5 lintels and 25 corn.