By Vin Blanden

If birds are to race well they must be fed a proper diet

The flyer must know what, and how much to feed them right from the day the youngsters hatch

It is essential that the correct mix is used at the outset as it is useless to feed the right racing mixrture to birds which have “missed out” in the nest

The first four weeks is the most vital stage in the life of a young racing pigeon – It just is not possible to put something needed to build a squeaker into it after its one month old.

Expensive grains and seeds are not necessary in the mixture required for the parent birds to raise sound squeakers, various rearing mixes are available and can be used

Once the squeakers leave the nest and are placed in the racing loft they do not require the same high protein diet that was essential in their first four weeks.

The rearing diet of almost all peas can be broken down to one part peas and three parts wheat once the youngsters have been weaned.

In fact a straight diet of all wheat is good enough to maintain a flock until just before the moult begins

At this stage, just prior to the moult, the addition of barley to the mix will assist the plumage, Peas can also be used to advantage

The flyer can feed his birds the proper diet at low cost without the addition of the more costly small seeds.

Lindseed fed as a tid-bit is perhaps the cheapest of the small seeds. Rich in protein and fat, it can be fed to advantage during the moult without making much difference to the food bill

Flyers must realize that it is vital to the welfare of his birds that sound grain is fed

Poor quality grain, no matter how cheaply it is acquired, should not be fed at all

Pigeons can be conditioned to win over all distances on the simple and reasonably cheap diet of peas and wheat, Equal parts by measure of weight (they both weight 60lb to the bushel) is a proven ideal mixture

The addition of a little maize, the large yellow corn is preferred, may help a little when the long distance races are held

However it is a good idea to make sure all bnirds are conversant with all grains before the racing mix is altered

To make sure this is the case, the new graoin should be fed on its own for atleast two days. This can be done in the early stages of the training toss program, or nearing the end of the moult

For instance , if it is decided that maize wil be added to the racing mix later in the year, it should be fed entirely on its own so that every bird in the loft will accept it

If this is not done it will be found that some birds will eat it and others will not, strange grains are not readily accepted when the normal feed is available

Pigeons need atleast 14 per cent in their racing mix but any diet of more than 20 per cent is suspect.

The mixture of 50-50 peas and wheat is safe despite the fact that it is not possible to assess the correct composition unless a proper analysis is made

To do this it would be essential that all peas and wheat used over the whole racing season were each of the same crop. The composition of grains varies in accordance with the areas in which they are grown

One of the greatest fallacies concerning grain is that the hard, dark wheat is better in quality than the softer, yellow varieties.

In many cases it has been found that the later is far superior after a proper analysis has been made

The main thing to remember ia to feed clean, sound grain, and not to vary the mixture too much as the racing season progresses