Pigeon racing during the corona crisis: Tom Van Gaver

Today we are interviewing Tom Van Gaver, he lives in Moortsele, Belgium. Let’s see what is Tom’s vision on pigeon sports during the lockdown.

1, What is your opinion about COVID-19, how do you feel now?

I think we will have to live with this virus and also change our life in an other way. But quiting things is not the right way, we'd better reorganize things so we can do it safe. Same for our sport. I hear a lot of people being negative. It's not the time to be negative and we should work our way up again and we'll have to be ready for the racing season in very short time. People of the KBDB are doing a great job to make it possible for the fanciers to play with pigeons when it's possible again. I hope we can race soon  and if we change the way of basketting our pigeons, nothing is in the way to race pigeons again very soon. The lockdown and the Covid-19 also have positive influence on the environment and the traffic, these where the 2 biggest problems in Belgium/ world and this situation is now getting better very fast, so we also have to notice the positive things and learn from it.

Since the start of the lockdown, 13th of March, I calculated on the end of April for individual pigeon training. The old racing pigeons cocks and hens had a nest of youngsters this winter and where paired up around 15th of December. Normally I put the pairs together on the 5th of December but because of the darkening of the youngsters in 2019 I thought they where only ready for breeding around 15 December. These 10 days are useful now because of the delay of the racing season. Pigeons were separated after breeding by the end of February. During the month of March, the training of the pigeons started again and they also got all vaccinations they needed like pox, pmv and salmonella. By the end of March the pigeons started to train well and I kept training them daily till I paired them up again on 23th of April. In the period when they where on widowhood in April they saw their partner 1 time in 2 weeks, so we keep the minds focused on the loft. So now I paired them up and they will stay together for like 16 days. So they can breed on the eggs for about 6 or 7 days. During the 16 days they are together I started with road training (every day when the weather is good). After these 16 days they will be separated again and le'ts hope we can start to race them on widowhood. The pigeons will stay on widowhood till the end of the racing season, I think that will be end of August.

2,Is there any influence on your plans with the young birds, like the breeding & training plan during COVID-19

The young birds are very healthy at this moment, they got the special vaccinations against rota virus and also adeno virus. They also got the vaccination against pox. The're  now starting to train well and I hope we can start training them on the road by the end of May. We got like 120 young birds for the national races. And the planning stays the same as usual.

3, How do you manage you're lofts, I mean if racing sport is postponed because of the epidemic; Do you have any informations when it will restart.

I darken the loft a bit and cut the 3 first feathers of each wing of the old birds. Normally I should win 2 weeks with these measures. So normally I can keep the pigeons in good condition till the middle of Augustus and now I hope I can do the same till the end of August. We darken the young birds as usual from 18 PM till 8 AM. I think we will have our first national race with the old birds on +/- 12 June. That would be Bourges for me 450 km. The program of the youngsters will stay the same I think. Unless a new corona peak will take off. Then it all will be difficult. But let's hope things get normal again and the virus keeps slowing down.

4, What do you feed your pigeons now? Is it like usual? Or do you choose a different mixture because of COVID-19);

The pigeons get a light food mixture for the moment. They get supplement probiotics and also get minerals every day.

5, The last question is about one loft racing: does the epidemic influence your young birds to participate in OLR?

The plans for one loft racing can continue as planned. Normally all youngsters for the one loft races will be shipped end of May. They are weened for 2 weeks now and get vaccinations against rota and adeno. So they will be strong to make the shipment to Pattaya international one loft race and Algarve Golden race.