Feeding For Performance

Proper feeding is very important for top performance. Your birds will kit and roll better when hungry. When your birds are mature you should cut back their food and only feed once a day. Some fanciers will even give separate measured rations to each bird, adjusting the quantity according to the way the bird flew. I just measure feed in a coffee can. Figure out how much feed your birds will quickly eat at one feeding, and adjust from there. If the birds fly too long and are seldom rolling I will cut the rations for the whole kit. If the birds don’t fly for at least 45 minutes, I will give them a little more food. Each family requires a different amount of food to be at peak performance and if you fly several different families together adjusting feed will be difficult. Feed requirements will also vary depending on the weather and several other factors. Your birds may also perform better with different mixes of grain. Most fanciers cut back on protein, and some will feed only wheat or milo before a competition. I feed a pigeon mix with 10% protein. In the winter I add popcorn to the mixture. – Jon Lahman

Feed Prepping For Competition

A young bird kit should be flown every day if possible. Train them to fly not more than 45 minutes, and make sure they don’t fly too high. Thirty minutes is preferable. If they start flying too high, or for more than 45 minutes, then cut back on their feed, until they are flying the way you want them to. The young birds should be flown this way until they start rolling hard and deep. Some families of birds will start rolling with style and depth as early as 3 or 4 months. I have found these early developers to be as stable as later developers in my family. If a young bird can show me that it can remain stable for a few weeks, then I pull it out, and promote it to a kit of more active birds that are working harder than the others.

These hard working birds seem to do better when they are together as a kit.
I will continue to fly these faster developing birds daily, as well as the less active birds. Each time another bird can demonstrate that it has developed the roll, and can control it, then it is moved up to the “N’ team. Occasionally a bird can’t keep up, and so it is returned to the “B” team. if it still can’t make it, then it is eliminated. These more active birds can be flown daily for a short while, but soon they are only flown every other day, and I start varying their feed quantity each day. The day the birds are flown, they are given a very ample quantity of feed when they come in. 1.3/4 to 2 cups of pigeon mix for 20 birds is a good starting point.

The next day, the birds are rested, and given about I cup of wheat or milo. This is the amount they are fed during the cold winter months. The feed quantity will have to be varied slightly depending on the temperature. The colder the weather, the more feed they need to keep their body heat up. The warmer the weather, the less feed they will need to keep in good condition. I feed my birds twice as much in the cold winter months, than in the hot summer months. The key to knowing how much feed to give the birds is to watch how long and how high they fly. It is important, that you watch the kit every time you fly them to ascertain the amount of feed they should be given. Remember that as the weather gets hotter, then the feed amounts must be decreased. Feed quantities and type of feed must to be adjusted daily depending on how long, and how high the kit flies, and by how cold or hot the weather is.

Older kit birds training starts when the birds are eight months to a year old. They should start being flown on a 3 day rotation. This schedule is for a mature competition kit only. A group of birds that works hard for the few minutes they are flying does not need to be flown every day.

On the day the birds are flown they are given 2.1/2 to 3 cups of pigeon mix when they come in. The next day they are rested, and only given 1.1/4 cups of wheat. The next day, they are again rested, and given 3/4 to I cup of wheat. The quantities will need to be adjusted slightly based on how long and how high they flew the previous time out. I have found that by using this 3 day “yo-yo” feeding system, the birds seem to be much more consistent when they fly. Every time I flew my competition kit last spring, they put on a pretty decent show. Sometimes they were better than others, but they were always fun to watch. Monty Neibel has used this method for his competition kits for years, and has had tremendous success with it. A mature, active kit of rollers needs to be rested in between training sessions. Another advantage to flying the competition kit only every third day, is that there are fewer chances that the birds will have an accident, or have a run in with a bird of prey.

I realize that this may sound fairly complicated, and it will require you to spend some time with your birds, watching and analysing them each time you fly them. But, it gets easier as you learn how to do it and the rewards of being able to put up a nice kit of rollers every time you fly them is well worth the effort. – Guil Rand

Prepping For Competition

Fourteen days before competition I select my best 22 to 26 rollers and put them together in a kit box and do not fly them for seven days.  I feed them one level measuring cup for every ten birds of a maintenance mix that I am confident with.  Do not give them any salts and allow them to drink all the water they want.

On the 8th day I release the kit at the same time of day I am scheduled to fly in competition and I continue with the same feed amounts and mix and continue this for the 9th and 10th days.  On the 11th day I continue the same schedule of flying, but I darken their kit box and change their feed to 50% hard winter wheat and 50% brown rice continuing with the one level measuring cup per 10 birds.  This schedule continue for the 12th day.

On the 13th day do not fly, but feed them 22 hours before their fly time on the 14th day.  Also, reduce the kit down to match the event requirements.  It is always better to remove from the kit then to add to it – Unknown (from notes I took over 20 years ago).

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