Manipulation of form in pigeon racing

The recipe for success in pigeon racing is entirely in the hands of man, writes Thomas Smit.

This is a conclusion to the series on training tips for pigeon racing. By implementing a pre-prepared racing program, we can safely conclude that the recipe for success in pigeon racing is entirely in human hands. Shape manipulation is an overlooked necessity that deserves special attention. It includes the following criteria:

Regular health checks – sick or slightly sick pigeons cannot be brought into full health. Regular visits to a vet are essential, but if there isn’t a vet near you, do your own checkup. Check individual pigeons for signs of illness and isolate them immediately. Don’t let stray arrivals stay with the race team, but isolate them in a separate section of the loft.

Genetic Training Requirements – we must study the complete training program of the pigeons we buy for breeding. Some families of pigeons take a short or long time to reach their peak form and must be trained for specific hours on the wing per day.

Some families maintain a constant weight, while others are gluttons if food is readily available and gain too much weight. Some families are genetically selected for fast races and others for marathons. If you don’t know the genetic requirements of the racers you own, strike a balance between soft and hard training until you know what training system your pigeons need to perform at their best – same.

A basic requirement is that the pigeons need daily exercise and proper road training – some champion fanciers train their pigeons for an hour around the house twice a day, others train once a day for an hour and others train three times a day for 30 minutes. Home training around the loft is alternated with road training at specific distances to keep the pigeons fit and experienced. A pre-planned training schedule should be compiled before the start of the season.

Targeted training programs – once we have learned that our pigeons are more capable on short sprints or over difficult long distances, it is wise to focus on racing conditions most suited to the flock. We cannot alter the genetic demand of the herd. If, for example, we have a longer distance type, we can use the shorter distances simply as part of the training program to gradually get the pigeon fit and experienced for the long run. You can find a casual all-rounder that works in all conditions. It’s not a bad idea to use more in the breeding stock.

Manage time constraints – time constraints due to work schedules can make it impossible for many of us to train our pigeons as we should, without help from family or staff. These helpers must be properly trained to care for the pigeons and maintain their level of fitness. The usual practice of many European businessmen is to employ part-time or full-time loft managers/trainers to do the job.

Shape manipulation – shape manipulation requires controlled wing hours, controlled nutrition, supportive supplementation and motivation. The basic requirement in handling form is discipline. No energy should be wasted unnecessarily. Intense training includes on-road training against the wind, in the heat, or both, to improve form or to shed excess weight.

If weight work is not the goal, feeding should be increased or supplemented after unexpected changes in weather. Feeding should also be supplemented during an unexpected cold snap. The key principle of form manipulation is – more work, more food, less work less food.

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