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:
THOUGHTS AND TIPS FOR YOUNG PIGEON FANCIERS
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
3. Once the babies have been broken in and are flying around the loft, you should consider the following:
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.