Not during the breeding before and after the season, neither during the moult nor in the winter.
Then they all eat and drink together. But, once the season arrives, the cocks are locked up in their boxes during the day. Not during the evening and at night-time, then they are loose in the loft. This is how I think you should treat a widower. Widowers have to have a choice of food. Overeating doesn’t exist. Both before and after the race. What they don’t eat, or what they leave, is given to the other pigeons; youngsters or hens. The hens sit on the terrace of the furniture business in an aviary which is almost completely protected by plastic. Only on the top is there a 40 cm opening for ventilation. In the old days, says André, I used to make up my mixture myself. Now I buy it from a local dealer. I want to make things easier or myself. I buy the richest mixture. And then during the season there is always a plate of horse beans in every loft.
They can help themselves. I have no measures. The pigeons always have food. In the winter they also have barley available. If they leave the barley, then they are not given much else. And during the moulting I give them quite a lot of rape seed and some iron sulphate in the drinking water. I have always believed that this improves the quality of the plumage. Now and again a bit of Carls bath salts in the drinking water and when moulting and also in the winter, I sprinkle some sulphur powder of the food. I am not saying whether all the products available in the shops now are good or bad. But I find it unnecessary. I feed them well and I use the old things as they were to be found in the green book. I used to bake my tablets myself with dough and sulphur powder to put into the pigeons’ mouths. Now I just add a scoop of sulphur powder to the feed. It always sticks to the food. I used to give them a tablet after the race. Now I just ad sulphur powder to their food to purify them. I have many lofts in which I could keep many more pigeons. My principle is that with the number of pigeons I have, it is easy to take part in all the races. Only my breeding loft has 24 boxes and 22 couples .
In my lofts there is always a plate with grit and a pickstone with salt. As you see, everyone has their own principles. Some people also race well with other remedies. I never say that this or that is the best. I do admit that nowadays a lot of fanciers treat too softly. I always see myself as someone who can take a few knocks. Many youngsters are spoiled as children. It is just the same with the pigeons. Some sorts can’t take anything because they have been given too much, all of which affects their natural resistance. You can’t order nature about. Nature is stronger than the rest. Of course I visit the vet before the season. Not a so-called pigeon specialist though. And I also consult him as soon as I see something is wrong with the pigeons, or even one pigeon. I always go when I see something isn’t right with my loft. Even with just one pigeon which I don’t like the look of. I go with the times. But I don’t go overboard. My pigeons stay together until the New Year. There is a plank to stand on hanging from every box. After the season, after the moult, and also now in November, the pigeons fly lose all day. Depending on the mist, or bad weather conditions. The lofts are cleaned every morning. I always couple the yearlings and the breeders around the middle of February. The old birds in the week of the 1st of March. That is something which I never stray from. The old birds also breed a couple of young and after ten days of the second brooding they are raced. I have never been tempted to breed early, not even to sell them. But somebody who wants to race the youngsters has to have early youngsters to be able to race them with a nest and in widowhood .
After the season all the pigeons breed a couple of youngsters again and we remove the second nest after two weeks of brooding. One pigeon broods longer than another. Then the boxes are closed and it’s finished. I don’t take hold of a single pigeon until they are fully moulted. With the nice autumn that we have had, another egg was laid yesterday (17.11.86). It’s not harmful. It is a sign that they are healthy. And to keep the pigeons healthy you have to have lofts that aid the health. It is just like the living environment for people. That is topical. Why do people restore old houses? A pigeon loft shouldn’t be endowed with luxuries. The floor of the attic is concrete with a wooden floor on it. The lofts in the furniture store are just like garden fences, made with normal materials. These lofts are even covered with corrugated sheets, but there is plenty of room for the sun to come in. There are new corrugated sheets made with clear plastic everywhere. To ensure enough oxygen in the summer there are hinged windows covered with wire messing. Everything has been kept simple. But I don’t have a large entrance. There are small entrances in the sliding windows with just enough room for one pigeon, just two triangles about 12 to 15 cm wide. I don’t like all those big holes, he says. You always have to try to avoid drafts by your pigeons. The lofts are not deep. Two metres maximum. And there is electricity in the lofts. There are no lamps on by him when it is dark. He doesn’t go into the pigeon loft either. The pigeon lives in nature. During the season he has to light a match to be able to see anything. Luxury is definitely not a synonym for a good loft. There are101 things which are ‘good’, but I have my ideas and another has his.
You have to keep to a fixed rule. Giving everything, trying everything, is messing with the pigeons. There are a.o. many blood purifying mixtures for sale. I don’t give tea, but do give sulphur powder. I don’t give depurative, I don’t know it, and yet in the middle of winter I give up to 50% barley. I clean the lofts every day and during the season twice a day by the widowers. I don’t give the pigeons much, but another thinks that you have to give the pigeons everything. You can talk to me about vitamin c, mister, but I’m not educated and I don’t know anything about it. So I give lemons and you give what you give. That’s why I use a rich mixture so that I know that my pigeons receive enough nutrients. I use bleach and chalk, which has been proven not to improve the plumage. You see, mister, you can’t get me to change my principles. The fault of many is that they believe everything and give it to their pigeons. They don’t have a regular system. Pigeons like regularity, exactness, clean water. My drinking dish is not washed out every day. Once a week is enough. I read the paper every week and so do the boys. We read it without prejudicing our system .
Raced in 1961 - 4 times more than 600 km with 11th, 28th, 4th and 13th prize
In 1964 - 7 races, 2nd, 6th, 18th, 19th, 29th and 48th
The "Jonge Bolle"