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Widowhood and its methods - Questions and answers (part 6)

It seems to us the best way, to inform you of widowhood methods, in the form of questions and answers which will give a comlete and detailed study about this subject. It will consequently become a dialogue between a novice and an expert who is prepared to instruct and pass on knowledge obtained by long experience.

36 - Don't you think that it is better to take the widowers that are not raced, away from the loft ?

We don't believe that this method is advisable. Supposing we take them away from the loft when we basket the widowers which are leaving on the Friday, one would be compelled to keep the resting birds in the basket from Friday to Sunday till after the hens are taken away again. Unless one likes to take them away on three different occasions : the first time, when the birds that have to race are prepared, the second time, when the hens are shown to the birds that are leaving on the Saturday for the race and the third time on the Sunday when the calmness in the loft is restored. One can be assured, that widowers, treated in this way, will be as ardent as widowers that are sent to a race and as they do not waste any stregth, will eat less.
In such cases, rest will have not much meaning.

37 - In other words, one can keep them in the loft while the hens are shown to those that are leaving for a race ?

The principle one has to observe in this case is the following : To make sure that they have rest, as much as possible, without disturbance. Widowers that stay in the loft, are allowed to hear but not to see anything. Placing the nest-boxes a certain way and some small material
arrangements, can easily be made. These will also limit the disturbance to the resting widowers to a minimum. It is best to have the nest-boxes in one line on one side of the loft so that they can see no other nest-boxes. Beside this, the nest-boxes must be fitted up in such a way, that they can be darkened, if required. The best method is, to use a plywood board hinged to the top which can, when neccessary, be lowered down to the front of the nest-box so that no daylight can come in. If this is not fitted, you can use a piece of cardboard and place that between the dowels of the nest-box front, which will give the same result.
It is evidently better when the widowers are, in some degree, conversant with those proceedings, because alterations made in their absence would upset them.

38 - So, one must keep the resting widowers in darkness ?

Yes, during the time the hens are shown to those that are sent to the race and also on the Sunday untill all hens are taken away.
You must wait untill the calmness is somewhat restored to raise the board or take the cardboard away.
You can obviate those difficulties by not showing the hens to widowers that are flown in races for which they are kept in the panniers for two or three days. One can prepare them by giving them their nestpan back or by turning it over a half hour before they are basketted for the race.
We will add to this, that the widowers that are used for this method, will always remember that on their return they will find their hen in the nest-box waiting for them. They will be much calmer in the race pannier and their output will be none the less.

39 - Is it not neccessary to show the hens on the Sunday to the widowers that have not raced that day ?

By no means, only when they have been rested for three or more weeks. Than you must give them their hens on the Sunday on arrival of the other widowers, but only for a quarter of an hour. This is also done when some of the birds have not been raced for at least a fortnight, to keep up their form and to prevent apathy. When a cock has not seen his hen for a long time, it is better to show the hen before it is sent to a race, more so when it concerns a long distance race. These are, only general rules. A skilful fancier makes a profound study of each of his favourites and always acts with knowledge. In some cases you may show the hen one or two days before for five minutes in the evening immediately before it gets dark. The preparation system can, as one can see, differ from one bird to the other. Personly, we pick up new experiences and are therefore qualified to confirm that also on this point as in many other fields in the pigeonsport, there are no hard and fast rules.

40 - Do you think it is better to rest the whole team on the same day ?

This is one of those things that in winter one is determined to do but either through lack of persistence or timing of the race program, is not carried out. When one has at his disposal two lofts of widowers it can easily be done. When it concerns races below three or four hundred Km., one can easily race them four or five consecutive Sundays and can rest them all on the same Sunday. One can use that Sunday to purge them after which one can put them on a diet for two days. The results that follow will surely be influenced by this.

41 - What kind of purge do you advice ?

A single purge, in the middle of the season, as we suggest, can be rather strong. We personly, are not afraid to give them a small soup-spoon of Carlsbadsalt or sodasulphate added to two litres of water. The two days following they are given a very light meal, 20 grammes per pigeon per day, consisting of : 25 % toasted bread, 25 % barley, 25 % wheat, 15 % dari and 10 % linseed. They must also be given some greens. One can also purge them with full cream milk, as explained before.

42 - Is there any danger that resting widowers lose some of their appetite ?

This will never happen after the two diet days, that we mentioned before, and after the complete cleaning out they have had through the purge. For the rest, the fancier must proceed very skilfully. It is needless to expect that widowers will show their full appetite during fourteen whole days. Resting widowers must be treated on equal terms as those that have been raced on the Sunday, for example : Those that are flying the short distances, don't get any feed on the Saturday and only small seeds on the Sunday morning. One must impose the same restrictions to those that are kept home, but must not lose sight of the following basketing. For example : When it concerns Angouleme, when the birds go into the basket on a Wednesday, one should give them their diet half way between the arrival of the proceeding race and the appointed date of the following race. In this way, the birds are normally fed for the last 5 or 6 days they spend in the loft.

43 - Can one exercise the birds that are kept home, while the other birds are away for a race ?

There is nothing to stop you doing this, but it is not at all necessary. They have been exercised enough and keeping them in for a few days will not harm them. One must, nevertheless remember that when a pigeon is exercised regularly, its appetite is better and more steady.

44 - What does one do when the widowers return from a race ?

First we will give the classic system, as practised by most widowhood flyers and which we have followed for many years. Afterwards we will give the reason why we brought in some variations.
The hens are in their reserved part of the nest-box, in which, they, as we' mentioned before, have had their corn and water. Immediately, after the widowers are clocked, the partition in the nest-box is opened and the pair can stay together. The duration differs according to the effort of the accomplished task and of the time between the past and the following race.

45 - Can you go into the subject more throughly ?

What we mean is that a short distance cock, which is less tired and more spirited when it returns from a race, must be allowed less time with its hen than one that returns overtired. So much more because a short distance widower is nearly always sent to a race again the following Friday or Saterday, while a long distance widower needs at least a fortnights rest before it sent to a race again.
When the home coming cocks are too spirited, it is better to prevent frequent treading. If neccessary, one must not allow the cock to go to its hen immediately after its arrival. The cock will find its drinking and feeding pot with some small seeds in its usual place. It will be less spirited if it has to wait for its meal till its hen is taken away.
For short distance birds the duration of this being together after their return may vary from a quarter to one hour.
When one wishes to prolong the form, one must be very strict on this point, especial during the racing season. Birds that are in the middle distance races and which are basketed the following Friday are treated in the same way. When it concerns long distance birds, cocks and hens can stay together until the evening without any supervision or restrictions.

46 - When and how are the widowers fed on their arrival from a race?

Here is what we do, after they have been home for one hour : We place a small pot containing small seeds in their reserved part of the nest-box and as soon as the cock starts to eat, we take its hen away. In opposition to the other days, we keep the cocks locked up on the Sunday until they are given their evening meal.
Shortly, after the hens are taken away, they receive in their nest-box, 10 grammes of a light mixture consisting of : bread, wheat, dari, barley and a small amount of linseed. After four hours we open the nest-boxes and feed them a small amount of barley on the floor of the loft. While they are eating, we turn the nest bowls upside down.

47- The widowers are therefore not given as much as they can eat on the Sunday ?

No they are not, and it is also best not to give them to much on the Monday. They are not let out on the Monday and on that day 20 % of barley is added to their normal mixture. To make sure that they eat all the grains of the mixture one must give them a hand full at a time. The other days they have their normal mixture. If you have followed up the advice we have given you for the Sunday and Monday, one does not have to be afraid that the widowers will lose their appetite before the are basketed for the following race. One must always try to keep the birds, whose digestive organs may have been upset, to some extent, in a good condition.
And remember that not all that is taken in becomes nutriment but only that which has been digested.

48 - You mentioned earlier something about a new system and what is the reason you like to alter this ?

Firstly, because we like to experiment and pass on the results to our readers. Next, because we have repeatedly noticed in the past seasons that, after four or five Sundays of ardency, the form comes to a standstill. We are trying therefore to find a remedy to preserve the established initial ardour of our widowers for as long as possible.