by Ken Groves

February 2016

Ken Groves needs no introduction to most South African pigeon fanciers as a highly successful competitor and a gentleman of the game.  For more of an introduction about him you can visit our News and Testimonials section and scroll down to look for the section on Ken.  He was kind enough to share the following through MEDPET:

By Ken Groves

I was asked to write a few words regarding pigeon keeping to assist young and struggling fanciers. Here are my thoughts and beliefs that one should consider when first starting up with pigeons:

1.    Build or buy a loft that will be considered conducive to the promotion of good health, with safe and secure surroundings for the pigeons. Find the spot in your garden to accommodate the loft, also allowing free access and movement for the pigeons. If at all possible the loft should be north facing offering the loft and the pigeons benefit from the sun during the winter months for warmth and other beneficial reasons such as maintaining a dry comfortable environment with plenty of fresh air. Ventilation; - The air should enter at the bottom of the loft and exit at the top of the roof. There are lots of types of designs for pigeon lofts, however all have to conform to certain basic principles regarding ventilation. Avoid a drafty uncomfortable loft that does not circulate enough fresh air. The loft should have one and a half time more perches available than pigeons being accommodated in the loft. A suggested space standard is plus minus 50cm x 50cm x 50cm per bird. See: - Dr Wim Peters book Ė Fit to win. Ask the local fanciers for advice, look at the other successful loft designs. Do it correct the first time, as material is expensive and time is short.

2.    When acquiring your first pigeons go to a few of the more successful fanciers, ask for their advice and study their performance and racing records. My suggestion would be to buy babies from a number of different fanciers and if at all possible out of their best performing pairs. Apply these youngsters for your first year of racing.

3.    Once the babies have been broken in and are flying around the loft, you should consider the following:

1.    Treat for crop canker and coccidiosis two weeks apart. This treatment is followed up on a four weekly cycle throughout the year. My products of choice are, Medizole and Cankerex for crop Ė canker, and Medicox and Embazin for cocci. These products are applied on a rotation basis.
2.    After the first round of treatment I deworm the bird using Mediworm pills.
3.    In December or early January I vaccinate for paramyxo Ė virus using a dead vaccine then repeat with the same type of vaccine two weeks later.
4.    Toward the middle of February one should vaccinate against pigeon pox using Medipox vaccine. It is a legal requirement that both must be done according to law, supervised and witnessed by two participation members of your club. However I do not vaccinate for paratyphoid sickness. During this period you can give the pigeons Premolt 100 three times a week. The birds are kept quiet during the moulting season. Apply the Medpet moulting program as published in their products catalogue for excellent results.

4.    Starting the birds up in preparation for the forthcoming races around the middle March, the pigeons are given open loft for a few days. Some will start circling on their own whilst others are not as keen to exercise. At the beginning of April they are forced into the air for a few minutesí morning and evening. You will see that they soon start exercising with the other pigeons. It is now time to start with the pre Ė races program. I follow the Medpet pre Ė race program also available in their catalogue.

5.    Four weeks before the first race the pigeons are fed on commercial racing food mixture. I now follow the Medpet racing program published in their book. Road training now starts in all urgency. Monday 80kmís, Tuesday 100kmís, Wednesday 50kmís and Saturday 150kmís. This pattern is maintained up and till the first race, thereafter all the pigeons not entered into the race, receive a 150km toss on Friday. As from the week after the first race the pigeons are tossed 50kmís on Monday, 80kmís on Tuesday and 50kmís on Wednesday. Feed the birds Ī 16 grams per bird in the morning and the same in the evening. Adjust the measure according to the pigeons needs and be aware that you do not over feed them. On the Sunday two weeks before the first race I take the pigeonís Ī 35kmís on the road and each bird receives a Medpet dicestal pill direct down their throats and are allowed to fly home single up. Two hours after the last bird arrives home they all get Epsom salts, honey and bicarbonate of soda water to drink. Only allow them to drink once from this mixture. Then you provide them with Intestum for the rest of the day Ė feed as above.  Maintain the Medpet program as prescribed. I hope that this will assist some fanciers to succeed in the sport.

Here are a few tips to remember:

1.    Use your common sense whilst observing your pigeons.
2.    Take note of their behaviour directly after exercise Ė they should still be vigorous and interested in the opposite sex.
3.    The appearance of their feathers must be clean, tight, bright, soft and silky to the touch.
4.    Their eyes should be dry and shiny, their throats must be a light pink colour and free of slime Ė I like the tongue to lay flat in the mouth.
5.    The breast muscles must be full with a soft rubbery feeling in your hand. The colour of the breast muscle should be a pinkish blue colour. Some birds' breast muscles become very clear and free of scales whilst other do not Ė however I have seen either type win great races.
6.    An important point to keep in mind is that when medicating the pigeons, stick to the prescribed dosage and duration of the treatment. This will promote good health whilst an overdose will poison your pigeons.
7.    I use Medpet products because they are effective, freely available and honest products. If compared to many other products on the market they are more affordable. Therefore I can freely recommend the use of Medpet products to achieve excellent results.

I have been fortunate to have been crowned union champion seven times competing in three different unions using Medpet products and programs. Healthy pigeons win races. If in doubt seek advice from an avian vet or from a reliable pigeon fancier in your area. Donít start listening to every Tom, Dick and Harry because this can at times lead to confusion. Lastly I would like to point out that there is no substitute for hard work, good pigeons and a little bit of good luck.
In conclusion donít become a mister know all, listen and take advice when necessary. There is a lot of knowledge out there that you will not find in book learning. Remain humble and respectful and always remember that we are only as good as our pigeons. I know many top pigeon fanciers who are never proud to seek advice from lesser fanciers.
Best wishes to all for a happy and successful racing season.

My kind regards, Ken Groves. 


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