Methods of competition ...
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Having spoken previously how to get start with the sport of pigeon race, now we must think about the different methods to fly during a racing season. I will give you some basic guidelines as well as my reasoning behind it, however I must iterate that this is merely guidelines and not binding. Obviously that all this information is only for the new fanciers and not for those who knows almost everything. There are practically two methods to fly our pigeons: the “natural” and the “widowhood”.

- The natural one, as the word says is the oldest method and still practiced by many fanciers, where they used to have mixed sexes in the same loft and where the pigeons look for a fast returning home with the objective to see the female, the eggs or the youngsters. The pigeons in this method are pure fans in the sport.
- The widowhood is different. In a general way and in a large percentage only the males are used to fly, even so there are some fanciers that they practise the widowhood also with females. These males live their life in isolated bays or nests, daily training always at a precise hour, are fed and rest till we put them on the basket. They live only for the sport and therefore we can consider them as professional.

This is basically the difference between the two methods. Advantages and inconveniences of each method?
I tried both during sufficient years; even I had been quite satisfied with the natural one, today my preference goes to the widowhood. Why? When we do fly natural, we have the advantage to use at the same time males and females. One of the great advantages is the most rigorous selection in the females, the inconvenience of the method: - much more work and oblige us to have a bigger colony. The only advantage of the widowhood is to compete with great colonies with few pigeons and automatically spend less time to treat them. I am convinced that one team of 12-15 widowers makes front to a colonies of 40-50 pigeons in the natural method. My advise to the new fanciers is to practise the natural at least 2-3 years. Then they used to deal better with the pigeons; they can remain in the loft more time and obtain a better-selected colony in the two sexes. In our life we get almost everything with our own experience and this sport is not exception. Like much other thing to we should start from the basic method, the natural one. After knowing the so called ABC of this sport, then you will be able to try the widowhood and afterwards to choose the best one for you.

Method of natural - the way to handle the pigeons ...
In my opinion this is the most advisable method for those we begins in this sport. In this method we use both sexes (cocks and hens). As I have already mentioned before, we only separate the sexes during the
moulting season and in the winter. And the fact to have separated sexes until the moment to cross facilitates the acceptance of the male from the female and vice versa. On this good acceptance depends sometimes the pigeon’s performance.
How to
crossbreed regarding competition purposes? First I put each male in its nests giving preference of the previous year’s nest to the males with more than one year of age. Then I release the females and let them fly for a while till the moment to open the lofts entrance. They land and enter in as fast as possible to seek its male predilection. Then its time to put the splitting bays on every nest and leave them cooing to each other. Proceeding this way it becomes quite easy and prevents injuries that sometimes happened when the male does not accept the female.
As a precaution, I advise to keep the splitting bays separating the male of the female within the next 2 days. Then we remove the bay and watch if everything runs according our desires. After we are sure that the acceptance is done we put the earthen bowls destined to the eggs. It’s convenient to put a little bit of fine sand in the bowls to prevent broken eggs. And because the pigeon likes also add a bit of straw of pine. The first egg usually appears after 10 days. At that time I do not free the pigeons, as the males will be exhausted pursuing the female and it will become difficult to put them in its place. In these first times we have to be careful to close all the nests to avoid any pigeon’s fight due to an entrance into the wrong nest. From my experience I have noticed that pigeon that has any fight usually is unusable for a racing season. The nests must be well cleaned twice a day when the pigeons are on their daily trainings.

Trainings - The trainings should be done in the morning as early as possible and in the afternoon as later as possible. The period of flight depends on the pigeon’s physical conditions; when we notice that the pigeons show fatigue we should not force it. Normally in the beginning of the week the pigeon flies badly; and it will become better as long as the week advances and the training period is bigger. I am opposed to forced flight. PedradoI never used the clock to keep the pigeons training for a specific period. The best training we can give to our pigeons is releasing them once a week in a distance of 30 to 50 km far away. These liberations should be done as a flock in the beginning and one pigeon at a time after 3-4 trainings. Every time we released the pigeons we must close the loft’s window. After a while the pigeon noticed that as long as the window is closed he will continues to fly and try to land as soon as the window is opened. This is as we call entrance education. I used to call my pigeons with a whistle. So, they know that every time I open the window whistling it is lunchtime and all start landing. However, to complete this education its convenient to release the pigeons one by one and compel him to enter while whistling, at least once or twice a week. By system the pigeon flies in flock in the daily trainings, and when it is called, normally all of them enter at the same time. But the great problem is when he returns home from a race; normally he comes alone or with another pigeon and it happens quite often that they refuse to enter or spend a lot of time to do it. I have heard many lamentations from fellow fanciers who say that its pigeons always enter very well during the week and on the Sundays the first ones do not enter! It is the flock missing and they usually give one more turn around in the same way as they do it in the daily exercise seeking their friends. I can regret for bad results because the pigeons had not arrived; but never due to a bad entrance.

After speaking about crossbreeding, daily trainings and entrance education, it is now time to speak about food and drinks. This does not have secrets; it has only one rule to follow and a method to use. Since we follow the method we have large probabilities to be successful in this sport.

I always have three batches of seeds that I use during the racing period:
First - strongest and that I called “combat food” its composed by: maize, 6 kg; wheat, 2; small broad been, 2; pea 1; small peas, 2; dári, 1; rice w/rind, 1; barley w/rind, 0.5; garroba, 0.5.
Second - compound to be given at arrival and on the next day morning from a race - considered as a balance diet and composed by wheat, 2 kg; rice w/rind, 2; linhaça, 1; barley w/rind, 0.5; colza, 0.25; white maize, 0.1; bird seeds, 0.1.
Third – to be given as dessert and considered as exciting food, formed by hemp, 1 kg; colza, 0.5; dari, 1; bird seeds, 0.25; white maize, 0.25; rice without rind, 0.25; seed of turnip, 0.1.

The method I followed about feeding my athletes is the following one: on Sunday after the pigeons arrival and soon that they have rested a little bit, I give to each one only 10 grams of the diet food; as a drink I serve lukewarm water mixed with milk and honey (l/2 litre of fresh water, 1/2 litre of milk and 1 soupspoon of honey); in the afternoon I give 15 grs of the same food and as drunk water with “barlabad” salts (1 teaspoon by litre of water). On Monday morning 15 grs of the Sunday’s food and tea “Colmaré” as a drink and that I keep all day; in the afternoon I start with the “combat food” giving only 15 grs to each pigeon. From Tuesday to Friday I give in the morning 15 grs and in the afternoon 20 grs to each pigeon. On Friday afternoon I leave the pigeons to eat till they want to. As drink I give on Tuesdays all day a complex B in the water, in the amount of 1 soupspoon for litre of water. On Wednesdays and Fridays all day I add 3 drops of dye of iodine for litre of water. On Thursdays I mix honey in the water, the amount of 1 soupspoon for litre. On Tuesdays and Fridays after the afternoon meal and before the pigeons having drunk, I give Vita-Blu to each pigeon. On Monday night 1 hour after the meal I use the Rinex as nostrils disinfector (1 drop in each nostril). On Tuesday and before release the pigeons I give a garlic tooth to each one. When we fly natural and since the racing season starts, I do not give bath to the pigeons (I followed this advice from a great fancier and I evidenced to be advantageous). When the first egg appears I replace the true for plastic eggs and keep it till the pigeons abandon it, I find convenience not having all the couples in the same position. It prevents the pigeons to travel with youngsters, and only do it on rare exceptions. All I tried is to send them in a good " form ".

Method of the Widowhood

What is the widowhood? - For many people who is aware from the pigeon’s sport, the word widowhood could be interpreted as being a method followed by the fliers where they use a pigeon (male or female) for the fact to have died the other. But... no! They had given the “widowhood” name to the method because the male or the female lives isolated and the purpose of this is to lead the pigeon to a fast return home to find its rank or its spouse. The difficult is to conduct the Blue Female Eloymale (or female) to understand the ends that we have in sight.
We can fly widowhood only with males closed on its nests or freely in the loft. In the first case, we can do it over the eggs or with youngsters. In the second case we can do it with opened or closed nests. For me and even because I have tried all these variants, any method is good since it has good pigeons and a handling method. However I suggest the classic method followed by mostly of the fanciers i.e. pigeons closed in the nests as it is the easy and safest method to dominate the pigeons.

How to prepare a pigeon for the widowhood?
Normally I cross the pigeons about 15th of February. After 10 days they are on the first egg. More 14 days counted since the date where the first female put the eggs, then I take out all the eggs. Generally I do it when the males are out for any training. Again for the second time will appear the first egg , but now almost always the females put at the same time. Passed others 14 days, the females leave, and properly start the called widowhood. From now on we have to follow the method carefully. Thus I present the method I follow after the withdrawal of the females and what I do everyday during the week, since the feed, drink, daily banns, trainings and way to regulate the light in the loft

We start for the feed, which I consider the base of treating pigeons; I always have in my loft three kinds of pellets (compound of ration) that I refute indispensable for the feed of the widower.

The first one – a balance diet that I serve on Sundays all day and on Monday morning and it is composed by wheat, 2 kg; rice w/rind, 2 kg; linhaça, 1 kg; barley w/rind, 0.5 kg; dári, 0.5 kg; colza, 0.250 kg; white maize, 0.250 kg.

The second - the normal and combat food that I serve from Mondays afternoon till Friday and it is composed by maize, 8 kg; wheat, 2 kg; small broad been, 2 kg; pea, 1 kg; small peas, 2 kg; cubes, 1 kg; e dári, 1 kg.

The third - that I serve as dessert on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (late) and also on Saturday morning and it is composed by hemp, 1 kg; colza, 0.750 kg; dári, 1 kg; white maize, 0.5 kg; bird seeds, 0.5 kg; turnip seed, 0.200 kg.

On Sundays after the pigeon’s arrival from the race I give about 15 grs of balance diet for pigeon; at the night and on the next day morning, the same quantity. On Monday afternoon I give 15 grs of the normal food. Tuesday morning - 15 grams and in the afternoon - 20 grs. On Wednesday morning - 15 grams and in the afternoon 20 grs plus an exciting substance. On Thursday and Friday morning I give 20 grs by pigeon and in the afternoon they can eat as much as they want (in the end, a thimble of exciting substance to each pigeon). On Saturday morning, 15 grs. of exciting substance to each pigeon, and nothing more. Usually I have the grit everyday at disposal (with exception of Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays).

As a drink I give on Sundays and on the race’s arrival lukewarm water, 1 litre; milk, 1/2 litre; honey, 1 soupspoon. In the afternoon I leave them Colman’s salts, 1 coffee spoon for litre of water. On Monday I give them all the Colman tea all day. On Tuesday I give the complex B all the day, a soupspoon for litre of water. On Wednesday and Friday I serve dye of iodine in the water, 4 drops for litre of water. Thursday morning only simple water and lately 1soupspoon of honey in the water, and on Saturdays I give the simple water.

Banns – if the pigeons arrive from the race before 2 p.m., when removing the females I give them a hot bath adding Colman bath salts to the water. If they arrive later then this bath will be given on Monday morning. In the basket’s day eve I give them a cold bath adding to the water a lot of sufficient kitchens salt.

Daily trainings - I am contrary to flight forced in the widowhood. Usually I do not release the pigeons on Mondays and only the necessary time to clean the loft on Tuesday. Once the pigeon is re-establish from the race, therefore on Wednesday, the pigeon starts to want to fly so I gives more freedom, preventing them to land in the roofs, but never exceeding the 30-40 minutes of flight. I do never release them in the day they will be carried to the race.

Light in the loft - although most of the fanciers make the widowhood with the pigeons in a full blackout, I understand that the pigeon was not born to live in the darkness. So, I proceed with the following method to regulate the light for the widower: on Sunday and after removed the females, I put the pigeons in a complete darkness, keeping them in this blackout during Monday all day. I use for this two curtains - a white and a black one. The white I always keep leaned to the glass to prevent that the pigeons see for the outside. From Tuesday until Saturday I go slowly regulating the black curtain in way to increase the light until in the day of I put them in the basket when at that time it has the maximum of clarity in the loft. It is with this system that I handle my pigeons.

Evidently that the method is not infallible and the proof is in the result that I get. Sometimes well, other reasonable and many quite badly, but competition is competition and we need to prepare our pigeons on the best possible way.

To finish, I hope these statements and my experiences will help the new fanciers to give the first steps and to wish them the biggest happiness’s for the future, for good of a better sport.


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