- Bruce Nykamp
This week we will wean the 1st round of young birds. We like to wean when the babies are about 25 days old or even a little older. It is important to remove the babies as soon as possible for a couple of reasons. First, it takes the work load of feeding large babies off the breeders. Second, it reduces the number of pigeons in the breeding loft which causes stress on both the breeders and the youngsters. The youngsters are more than capable of feeding themselves at this stage and really start developing rapidly when weaned. At weaning we will vaccinate for PMV and Paratyphoid and give each youngster a 5 in 1 tablet. We also dip the beak of each baby in the water so they know where to find fresh water. It i also important to watch the youngsters the first few days they are on there own. If any do not know how to drink they will get dehydrated and we need to again show them where the water is. We grade the youngsters as we vaccinate. If the quality or health level of the youngsters is not up to par we will break the parents up and remate them. A small percentage of the matings just do not click and we change them sooner than later. It is cold this time of year here in Idaho. But we raise outstanding youngsters in the cold. All pigeons have fresh clean water and feed available 24/7. The breeders are given nesting material often so the youngsters are warm. We live in cattle country and many of the ranchers prefer to calve in January. The colder temps keep diseases at bay. We have found it is easier to breed good youngsters in colder temps verses very hot temperatures. We mix our own feed for the breeders. We feed 2 types of pellets, safflower, corn,wheat, barley, grit, oyster shell etc. We are always trying to improve the mix and right new we have added a high protein pig pellet to see how we like the results. We also add vitamins to the water a couple times per week. At the end of the breeding season when we break up the pairs the breeders are still in excellent condition. They have had adequate nutrition to feed several rounds of babies and maintain excellent health themselves. We leave the lights on 24/7 for the entire breeding season. We used to turn off the lights when the days lengthened in the spring time. But we found that the breeders would immediately go into a heavy moult. Now we finish the breeding season with the lights on 24/7 and then turn them off. It works much better as moulting does take energy that the birds need to raise top quality babies.
A couple of thoughts on banding. The AU bands for 2019 are smaller. So it is critical to band the youngsters a day or two earlier than in the past. We use W-D 40 and a dental pick to make the banding process comfortable for the youngsters. It works great!