Latebreds, are they worth breeding?   6 comments

This subject has been a hotly debated one at times and so I thought it was about time that I did a blog article on it. Last year in 2012, I deliberately bred the latest I have ever bred as I had decided not to fly Young Birds. I’d had a pretty stressful year, in fact the most stressful for 13 years. It was time to have a break from the sport for eight months, especially from the shit stirring and gee did I enjoy the needed break! I had got quite depressed over the winter, which is unusual for me as despite the chronic nature of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the restrictions it places on my body I am in general usually fairly buoyant in the emotional department.

Unfortunately some people use the system for political and personal means and it is my opinion, that particularly in the case of chronically ill people that these attacks should not be tolerated by pigeon racing administrations. However, it takes a strong, wise, resolute, forthright President to deflect them. I think that our current ARPF President, Mr Alan Flannigan is such a one and I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress he has made particularly in the areas of pigeon welfare and ARPF financial prudency and expertise. Nothing is ever perfect and I’d expect that Alan, like myself, would acknowledge as most of us would about ourselves, that he is ‘a work in progress.’ It is also very good to see him at basketing and strike offs whether he is racing or not, he is there!

Now let’s return to the interesting subject of breeding late breds. The advantages that I see in breeding youngsters from the first month of summer in the northern and southern hemispheres are firstly that the weather is settled and generally nice and warm. The days are also progressively getting longer until the Summer solstice, but even in the following two to three months the days are also of a good length and generally very pleasant. I will add that one should be careful the breeding loft doesn’t get too hot, is well ventilated and the cleaner the better in these warmer months to help keep the birds at minimum stress levels. Of course, you need to have room for these youngsters or you may end up with health problems in the race loft!

Youngsters bred at this time of year have the opportunity of having full crops for longer periods of time and thus grow at an optimum rate. The breeding pigeons are likely to be in tip top shape and although it is possible that some of the hens may’ve laid in a lesbian relationship with the separated stock hens prior to pairing, this won’t hurt them and even when new pairs are brought together they usually pair up and get to nest very quickly. The quality of the eggs may also be better. Incidentally, I would never pair a pair of pigeons if they were not in super health, making allowances of course for an older pigeon, say nine or older whose body condition and vigour may not be exactly the same as when they were more youthful.

Breeding ability can also depend on the strain/bloodlines of the pigeons e.g. some cocks are done and dusted for breeding by the age of 12, whereas others are still going strong as old as 17 to 20. I personally found that the pigeons imported into New Zealand in the 1990’s or their straight bred offspring when cocks were often not much good by 12 years of age. Not only would they go infertile or sub fertile but their joints would start going and they’d start hobbling around, whereas I’ve had hens from the old lines of Vandies which have still looked great and laid at fifteen and were still alive at 20!

One of the biggest advantages of breeding latebreds here in New Zealand is that by the time you race them in September they are eight months of age, haven’t had to be trained or raced during the body moult, are perfect in the feather, can be trained in cool conditions (unlike young birds) and on my system of just dosing for internal parasites they are in general fairly tough as far as the challenges of wet canker and respiratory diseases e.t.c. go. I had my summer breds out nearly every day as I live in the country, so they could be out all day until 3 or 4pm enjoying the fresh air and whatever nature served up to them as far as weather conditions went. They got very fit and developed very well in their musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems.

One does not get into problems with the primary wing flights i.e. the end ones being in the wrong positions, as these late bred pigeons do not finish the wing moult in their first year. Many years ago with Young Birds (which is a separate season here) I used to pull the tenth flight around Christmas. Some people pull both the ninth and the tenth. When you think about it, I guess there could be some pigeons that will be in an unfavourable flight position for a Classic race, but what are the odds of them being a winner even if the flights were pulled at Christmas? Is every pigeon a middle distance winner, obviously not!

In fact they say of random new pairings that only one in five bred are a good pigeon which perhaps might give you a good fly from a longer young bird race. However, unless that pigeon is in great form at the time it has favourable flight positions and luck is on its side too, it probably won’t do well. It might be instead that two or four weeks later that it is in better form, so there is some luck involved here. I guess if you’re going to pull the ninth and tenth flight then you might as well do the whole 30 or 40 which you may’ve bred which are old enough for young bird racing.

My philosophy is that rather than pull the flights, don’t send a pigeon if the flight position could affect its flying ability i.e. to a young bird middle distance race. Often you can tell by observing them flying around home i.e. is the pigeon flying freely. Of course, a pigeon can drop a flight once basketed for your classic race, but then again, they often hold them too, pretty hard to predict! I’m of the opinion that other pigeons can ‘put their hand up’ if one is kept back and the key here is to have quality breeders and if you haven’t got them, go and get some! Quality breeders will breed you more not only just good pigeons, but more very good pigeons and hopefully if you are lucky an extraordinary pigeon whose performances ‘paint the skies’ with brilliance!

I was pleased with the performances of my better summer breds in 2013 old birds. As a team they did very well, including that I sent four January hatch youngsters to our second longest racepoint Timaru, about 525 miles airline to me, not an easy race too (47 of 111 sent ARPF total birdage on the results sheet at 7pm the second day) and three homed in race time and the fourth after I had left for strike off. Only nine pigeons were home on the day for Auckland lofts including two in the hours of darkness. I clocked two pigeons on the day and the second was a Sumer bred cock which scored 7th Open Timaru ARPF. My 1st pigeon was a two year old hen which was 2nd despite having over flown a long way. The late bred cock had also shown up from Ward, our first South Island Federation race where I dropped six in the front bunch to score 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th, he was 3rd. I wasn’t set up for that race, I just had the clock on but no sections were open for birds to go in and I was lucky that I had just moments before walked down that way i.e. the pigeons did a super velocity.

Do you breed some summer bred late breds?

What tips do you have for their management?

How far do you send the better ones in their first year?

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6 responses to “Latebreds, are they worth breeding?

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  1. Hi,Fergie enjoyed your article, always breed a late round,from my race team a bit of family life after a job well done,they are jumping out of their skins this time of year, breed them as a back up in case the early round take a pasting,used to pull first and second flights at christmas,then leave them in the loft for three weeks while I went of camping with the family, stopped pulling flights found some of the birds just moulted them again after they dropped the 8th anyway,now I don’t race them if they are just dropping or dropped the 9-10th flight, will still train them in that condition, don’t start training until they are wearing there new suits, mid to late March depends on the prgramme like to start the late breds at about the same time depending on how forward they are, try to give the early breds five races, one long one either the National or Jack Longville, my late breds I try to get to one short race because I think it does them good to find out what life is all about at a early age, find the one that have the bottle for life. One thing I have found about late bred yearlings I watch out for, that wing, they start dropping those end flights half way through thr old bird especially if they are really fit, and you are back to the old 9-10 problem again.My theory on youngbird racing is you are finding out the duffers,its experiance for racing as yearlings, those yearlings are the back bone of my racing team,for racing in the North Island were more than 3/4 of our racing is.. Well Fergie here are a few of my theories, hope I have given you a little food for thought Hope you and all your family had a happy Christmas and a great New Year .Your friend in the sport Peter W. Witz End Lofts

    • I sincerely appreciate your input Peter, you have been in the sport a long time and we need to prick our ears up when the more senior folk have something to say! I think that I was lucky that none of my Summer breds got in trouble with their 9th and 10th flights, but I remember a few being well up! Thanx for the seasons greetings, bless you, fergie.

  2. Hi fergus, A very interesting read. It has certainly made me re-evaluate my own views on latebreds. Personally I have pretty much given up on latebreds, being unable to hold them after the winter on even the shortest training toss, let alone racing. I tend to just put them straight in the breeding/stock loft now-a-days as lets face it latebreds are normally off your best birds so why not. It is a shame that I can not get on better with them as yes I agree that it is a better time of year to bred them and they always look perfect at the start of the old bird season. Also I absolutely hate ybs from breeding through to racing them. I find them an inconvience but necessary. They get in the way of my real passion, old bird racing. I would much prefer to bred them at the end of the old bird season so then I can really give them the complete focus that they deserve.

    I once asked the son of Kipp and Son why they breed thier young after the old bird season rather than before and he simply said ‘I can only breed off what is left, all the rubbish is gone. This stuck with me and I like the reason behind it. But as I could not make it work then I simply gave up on the idea. As I now race celibate my interest in latebreds has now been rekindled by your article and I am wondering if the fault lies with me not giving them better opportunity to develop properally in the autum. So I will give it one more try and breed a round this year 2014 to race in 2015. Thanks again. Mike link

  3. Hi Mike, and thanks for your recent email too, appreciated, will reply in due course.

    You know my good friend Briab Batchelor of Elstead who has dual citizenship and writes for this blog the Brian’s Brit Blog is composing a new blog covering this topic from a U.K. perspective. It does seem that what with inclement weather, raptors and the multitude of both race libs and training libs resulting in clashing over there in England and other parts of the U.K. that you guys have your backs against the wall with racing Summer breds both inland and across the channel in their first year.

    It will be interesting to see what Brian comes up with in his next blog which will cover amongst other things this topic.

    The comments from the son of Kipp and Son are to be held in high stead and like you I don’t like young bird racing and Mac doesn’t even bother nowadays.

    I am writing a third blog on this subject with a long distance perspective including reiterating much of what Mac’s policies are with breeding and testing through the basket.

    I look forwards to your comments on the next blog and Brian’s upcoming one, it shouldn’t be too long, it’s nice having the break from racing although the young birds will probably need some training within 4 weeks or they’ll be starting too late!

    For me one of the reasons why the cream (~15%) of my summer breds fired last year was because early on in the season I watched the weather and after a pretty stiff 200 mile race where the pigeons must have panicked at liberation as they split into four bunches but no raptors were seen, perhaps just a bit gloomy weather affected orienatation of many in the lib. Well after this race I went through them pretty carefully, not many were sent back the following week and then fortuitously I sat out the next longer race scheduled for Raumati and there were only six on the day out of over 400 and three in the dark into Auckland. So many of these Summer breds had a 3 week spell, then a 150 miler followed by a 250 miler steady race where this time the pigeons were heldover till the Sunday and that set them up for the South Island races. 2 weeks off just loft flying and their first of two canker treatments and pow, six together from the 300 mile Ward, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th ,6th and 8th Fed and clock was on but loft not opened up and me not quite there, ha ha! teach me not to believe in my birds!

    Many of that lot had a Blenheim 2 weeks later, just short of the Ward. I feed pretty heavy and started peanuts after that Blenheim as I felt as a whole the team needed it. Probably helped those four Summer bred cocks of mine come home well from the Timaru (525 miles) as there were only 9 on the day from around 120 total birdage.

    I am in two minds about sending summer breds that far as I’ve had really good flies from two year olds that were summer breds and had only been as far as two to three hundred miles in year of birth, i.e. two year olds from the middle distance and the long distance including a hen that flew Timaru and Invercargill in 2012 in race time and was 6th in the later.

    I suppose there’s many ways to skin a cat. Kipps and sons would probably say, if they’re right, send em! and no doubt Mac would be similar.

    Cheers, fergie.

    • Thanks for the replay Fergie,
      Really look forward to reading the new stuff on the subject. Yes of late we are getting hammered with old and yb racing so we have to look for new methods and practises. Our weather systems are changing which not only the birds need to adapt to but also us fanciers. But that is easier said than done we fanciers are not good at changing.

      It has taken 10 years to get our fed to allow old birds to be raced with young birds during the young bird season. This has given me an extra 2 months of racing. Birds now race six months – rest six months, instead of the previous 8 months of no racing.. The old birds in my experience have really benefited from this extra period of racing in predominantly better weather. It has helped the yearlings that I have held back during the early season bad weather and given them good experience of racing over shorter distances. This has also helped the fed with increased bridage and money.

      Unfortunately the up take of this has thus far been poorly supported with many choosing the traditional way of flying old birds then stopping them to fly ybs. There is now three similar propositions by 3 separate clubs to go back to the separated old bird/yb program. This would not be so bad if their reason was to keep the birds separated but they are saying that old birds can still be sent as trainer’s but no result. So the only obvious reason is that because individually they choose not to take part in this extra racing they are trying to stop others taking part too. This is yet an other reason why distance racing is so enjoyable, there are less pigeon politics compared to sprint.

      All the best
      Mike Link

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