Racing Pigeons on The Natural System
The Natural System is a pigeon racing system that uses both cocks and hens racing from a natural nest position. It requires one section for old birds as hens and cocks do not need to be separated. Breeding is possible on the natural system as each pair will be allowed to raise at least one round of youngsters. By altering the next positions of various pairs, different pairs can come into form at different times and fly from different nest positions. Some lighting techniques can be employed to alter the molt if desired.
The advantages of the natural system are that various racing pigeons can be put into different next conditions. All birds are motivated more strongly to some conditions than others. On the natural system we call these “motivators”. Think of a motivator as a specific nest condition. In other systems, such as widowhood, the opposite sex and the desire to mate are used as the motivator. In the natural system it is the nest box, the mate, the eggs, the young and some other motivators that are used.
Breeding is done under the natural system. The cocks and hens are allowed to copulate and to lay and brood eggs. The danger in this is that hens when going into a laying cycle should not be raced and attention needs to be paid to their condition. When it is said that breeding is done under the natural system, this does not necessarily mean that the parentage of the young hatched necessarily is that of the race team. If one does things right, you can have your eggs laid by the breeders and the eggs and young fostered by the natural system race team. This can be a huge advantage towards getting more out of your breeders.
In the natural system the hen and cock racing pigeons are put together usually around the middle of February. This allows time for them to choose a mate, select and fight for a nest box and to go into a natural breeding cycle. To do this correctly, the hens and cocks should have been separated during the winter or right after old bird season to allow for a good molt. If you plan on using the race team as fosters, then put your breeders together 3-5 days later than the old bird team. Also a good idea for the breeders is to pre-mate them in October/November so that when you put them together in February they will take quickly.
10-15 days later, we should be down on eggs. This should place our calendar at March 1st. Depending on when your race schedule begins and what type of training you intend on using, take a calendar and plan backwards on the breeding cycle. In our area, racing starts between the middle and end of April. 18 days later the eggs should be hatching, this places us in the middle of March. The round bred out of the race team should then be weaned by the middle of April, which is when racing is to begin.
It doesn’t really matter if you train the hens and cocks separately. One consideration is if they are on youngsters during training. If so, then training them separately might be a good idea. Here in the Midwest, we often have very cold weather or changing weather into April and even May. A young racing pigeon without a parent when it’s cold is a very bad idea.
Now is when nesting decision are made. If you do not want to hatch any more youngster racing pigeons, then you will be flying on nesting conditions that only involve driving or brooding. If you want youngsters, you have some alternatives. If you are still raising out of the breeder loft, you can substitute a youngster when the eggs of a racing pair are about to hatch. You have to keep track of when eggs are laid and when they are due. If you want a bird on a certain nest condition for a certain race, you have to plan backwards and pull their eggs prematurely so that they will go into their laying cycle on your schedule. As stated before, accurate record keeping is essential to successfully fly the natural system. Also, you need to have your pairs in different breeding conditions from each other. If you do not, you could find yourself with a very short list for the race sheet on a given week.
Here are the different nesting conditions that should be recorded.
- Cock driving hen
- Hen being driven by cock (pay attention, if the cock is driving really hard, do not ship the hen. It also means the hen is going to lay within 5-10 days, so this should be carefully observed as you do not want to ship a hen that is going to lay with 5 days or has laid in the last three days. Some fanciers will not ship a hen until after she has laid and is brooding.
- Sitting on eggs 1-6 days old
- Sitting on eggs 7-12 days old
- Sitting on eggs 13-18 days old
- Eggs pipping on day of shipping
- Youngsters 1-7 days old
- Youngsters 8-14 days old
- Youngsters 15-21 days old
- Youngsters 22+ days old
These are not the only motivators available to you. There are also motivators that can be “created” in the loft.
Here are some examples.
- Take one parent away for 1-3 days. Place them back in the loft for 1 hour the day of shipping. Then ship the parent.
- Take one parent away 1-3 days before shipping. On shipping night, ship the bird that was left in the nest condition and place the removed parent back on the nest. The bird shipped will think it is a single parent and will be motivated to get back.
- Jealousy: In darkness, place another racing pigeon between your pair. In the morning the cock or hen will discover the intruder and throw them out. Do this for a few days. On the day of shipping, do the same thing, but in the early morning, remove the bird for the race. It will fly home motivated to get back to defend it’s mate and nest box.
There are other “motivators” if you are creative. The one advantage you have on this system over the others is that you can create various motivators. Accurate record keeping can determine what motivators are extremely valuable for specific pigeons at specific distances. If you are a very creative person, you can manipulate this system quite well.
Depending upon the nest condition, at times you can only ship either the cock or the hen. You must plan your nesting conditions around your race schedule. If you lose a mate, you loose the nesting condition and you loose your motivators. If you have a miss-match of hens to cocks, the system is not equally effective. If a pair is on youngsters and one parent is lost, you are handicapped to ship the sole parent until the youngsters are weaned or they are fostered out. Remember!!!!!!!!!!! Parenting is physically exhausting and taxes a pigeon. If you expect that same parent to race, but it is doing the work of two parent racing pigeons then you are not going to be able to ship that pigeon and expect a 100% performance.
This system to be used effectively against your competition requires a lot of observation, record keeping and planning to create the desired nesting conditions. It is flexible for your needs, but not unless you are paying attention and planning as you progress through your season.
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