Training will begin in Mid August, probably sometime around 8/12 to 8/18 since the first race doesn't start until the middle of October that gives us plenty of time. In the week or so before the first training toss the birds will be loaded into the hauler to get them used to the process. We also like to take them down to the mailboxes at the end of the street and release them from the hauler for loft flying.
The 2017 Gold Country Challenge is now closed to new entries and we ended up in the mid 400's which was our goal and a comfortable number for the loft. Thank You to everybody for supporting the race again or for the first time in 2017.
New entries continue to arrive steady every week and as I write this we have accepted just under 300 birds with more arriving over the next few days. We expect to take in around 400-425 young birds this year for the 2017 Gold Country Challenge. Low 400’s was our goal as that is a good manageable number that keeps the birds comfortable as well. The loft will hold over 500 birds.
If you have not sent your entries yet, you still have about 1 more month to do so. Our races do not start until October which gives even the May entries plenty of time to finish the body moult. Every year pigeons that arrive to the loft in May and sometimes even June perform great in the races, so if you still have not sent your entries don’t let the later arrival date discourage you as they have just as good a change as any due to the races being in the fall. Replacements will be accepted through early June.
The first section of about 100 birds has been loft flying regularly (when it’s not raining/windy) and some of them are flying in a flock already. Younger batches of birds continue to be settled and added into this group with a new group going out later this week after the last of a series of storms we have had. This has been a very wet and stormy winter/spring with the rainfall and snowfall totals way above average this year. We even had a dusting of snow here at the loft less than 2 weeks ago, but mostly just a lot of rain and wet ground that will seemingly never dry out.
There are 6 birds that are missing from loft flying and we will run the clock inventory one more time this week to confirm none of these came back. We know for sure one was killed by a cooper hawk and another was killed by an owl after it stayed out overnight. I suspect the hawk and owl are probably responsible for at least a couple of the other missing birds but will never know. The cooper hawk that was giving the GCC birds and my own youngsters problems over a week ago seems to have moved on from the area.
Overall health has been excellent so far despite all of the cold wet weather. As I write this no birds have been lost due to sickness yetbut there are a couple birds that we just had to take out of the loft and isolate that didn’t look so good. These may end up being the first birds lost to sickness but will see in the next few days if they. When you bring in hundreds of youngsters from all over the country it’s inevitable that you are going to end up with a handful of sick birds. We’ve been fortunate the last few years to keep that number in the 15-30 range which is a pretty low percentage. Quarantining them on arrival definitely helps as well as using multiple immune boosting and probiotic based products to help build and support their own immune system. Most of the birds stay strong and healthy from start to finish and I do believe as a general rule that pigeons who get sick were not going to be champions anyway.
The moult on the older birds is progressing very nicely and some of them that really moulted quick are starting to look like yearlings. In a couple of weeks we are going to pull the 10th flight on all of the birds that have been here a while and then a couple weeks later do another batch of birds. Right now the birds are on about 20 hours of late per day and at the end of May we will go back to natural amount of day light. This transition usually helps accelerate the body moult on some of the birds that were not moulting the body much.
When youngsters arrive here to the loft they are given a PMV-1 vaccine shot and a single dose canker treatment. They then go into quarantine cages (in small groups of 4 to 8) on the porch area where they get a good view of the property and can also see the loft. They remain in quarantine for about 7 to 12 days in most cases. The quarantine process is really more to make sure the youngsters are less stressed and eating/drinking well before going into the main loft. Quarantine is probably not going to prevent a seemingly healthy carrier of a virus from getting into the main loft…….but it will help ensure all of the birds are stronger immunity-wise when they do go into the main loft. We use about 4 or 5 different supplements that are immunity builders and while none of them are miracle cures, when combined together they do seem to help quite a bit.
To be continued……