By Vin Blanden

Performance is the best guide to cutting down the number of pigeons in a loft

Each year, at the end of the breeding season, many owners find they have overbred and in consequence the loft is overcrowded

The urge to do something about it is strong and it often occurs that the breeder begins reducing his young birds to cut down the numbers

In show or fancy varieties this can be done with some measure of safety as the owner has a standard to guide him in his selection

He knows by means of color, size and type what is required of his birds if they are to win in the show pen and as these essential are apparent he can separate the god from the bad with comparative safety.

On the other hand the qualities of the racer are hidden

In most cases the good winner looks no better than the poor racer

The difference, or what goes to make the difference is tucked away inside and out of sight

The vital factors needed in a good racer are courage, vitality and the demanding urge to get home as fast as it can despite the weather or the distance

Its great love for home, together with a balanced mental outlook. and physical powers of endurance, combine to the make it superior to its loftmates

It is doubtful if there is any owner in the world, no mater how successfully he performs in races, good enough to nick these essential traits in an unraced youngster

Poorly reared, undernourished youngsters will never make the grade for they have been denied the chance to prove their potential value by poor management

The “weeds” can be seperated from the sound well grown youngsters with ease, they should never have been allowed to survive in any case and there is no excuse for anyone who permits these to fill perches while healthy birds sleep on the floor.

However one the novice has removed the weeds he must be content to stop at that

If he attempts to cutback further for no other reason than a dislike for sex, color or size, he may destroy the best racer in his loft

So far as sex is concerned it is quite true that more races are won by hens than cocks in Australia, but it is also a fact that when the good racing cock eventuates he will beat most of the hens and is usually a valuable breeder

In Belgium, where the Widowhood System is widely used, thre cocks do most of the racing while the hens play the role of the lure to make the males give of their best

Many successful continental owners employ loft managers to carry out the work required by the widowhood method, and as this is a full time job, most Australian owners do not have the time or the wealth needed to operate the system

Consequently they enjoy their sport to suit their means and the natural system, sexes housed together, or semi celibacy system, the sexes housed apart for the majority of the racing season, are the most widely used systems

Results have proved that hens, in the main, race better than cocks under these conditions and this is the reason why most lofts house more hens than cocks

However the novice is advised to let his birds prove themselves in the races ahead irrrespective of their sex

If he realizes at the outset that this is the only safe way to asses quality, and that he will never live long enough to become so efficient to grade his birds by other means, he wil be well along the road to success