Trapping is a big part of the race. If the bird comes home, but does not go in, the race is not over. To win races you have to have birds that will trap on command. This takes conditioning. You have to train over and over when the birds are young, so that it becomes a natural habit for the birds. They don’t even think about it, they just do it.
I start this training soon after the birds are weaned. I put them on the landing board with the front closed. I let them look around for a while, then I begin pushing them into the loft. I use a push stick that I made. It is just a long pole with a square piece of plywood attached. The corners are rounded and I made it smooth so it wouldnt’ hurt the birds. I use this push stick to maneuver the birds to the trap. They soon learn to go through easily.
I will push them inside, then put them back out on the landing board again and repeat the procedure. I do it several times the first day and repeat it several times each day for a week or two. I want the birds to know what is expected and I want the birds to get accustomed to me pushing them in, so that they don’t fly off the landing board on a race day.
All the time I am pushing them in, I whistle and talk to the birds. I use the same command words, “Inside. Come on, inside.” The birds learn to associate these words and the whistling with the behavior of going inside the loft. They are rewarded when they get there because their food is waiting for them. Soon the birds know that if I whitstle they are going to get fed. They rush to the trap and enter the coop. Then they get to eat.
When I let the birds out for the first time and everytime I train them, the birds are hungry. I only feed once a day and I do all my training before I feed. Because they are hungry, the birds are anxious to trap and get inside the coop. The birds that don’t trap on command, find that the food is all gone when they finally do go inside. Next time I let them out, these birds will be the first into the loft because they are really hungry. They will learn the lesson that to eat they have to trap when I give the command.
On race days, I rarely have a problem with birds that won’t trap. About the only time my birds don’t rush into the loft is when another flyer’s bird comes to the loft. The strange bird is not used to the routine and it will sometimes throw my birds off and confuse them. This happens only once or twice a season, and isn’t a great problem.
Another thing that I feel helps me, is that the only place for my birds to land is on the landing boards. I don’t have any power lines for the birds to land on. On top of my lofts, I have run pickets with string back and forth to prevent the birds from landing on top of the lofts. I never allow them to stay there if they do it as young birds. After conditioning them for this, they are good to land and trap immediately on race day making it a breeze for me. I don’t lose the race because the birds wouldn’t trap.
Trapping By Craig Goode