“Racing Pigeon School” Continued
Racing Pigeon School is a twelve month/365 day per year program. Racing Pigeon School begins each year on November 1st. Here are a few of the key dates each year for Racing Pigeon School:
(These dates are approximate.)
- November 1 – all of the pigeons, especially the breeders, are medicated during the first several months of November. Breeding pairs are pre-mated during the month of November.
- December 1 – breeding couples are coupled.
- December 10 – 14 – breeding couples lay eggs.
- January 1 – First round of young birds hatch.
- January 7 – 14 – First round youngsters banded or rung.
- February 1 – First round youngsters are weaned.
- February 10 – Second round hatches.
- March 1 – First round youngsters are training around the loft.
- March 10 – Second round youngsters are weaned.
- April 15 – First round begins road training from 1 to 5 miles.
- April 10 – Second round youngsters are training around the loft.
- May 15 – Second round begins road training from 1 to 5 miles.
- June 1 – First and second rounds are combined and continue to road train up to 50 miles.
- July 1 – Primary race teams (cocks/hens) are selected and coupled with older widowhood mates. Primary race team builds nests and lays eggs. Road training continues. Selected secondary team remains in training loft.
- August 1 – Race teams’ eggs and nests are removed. Widowhood road training begins. (Race team remains celibate during the week and train home to mates on Friday or Saturday mornings depending upon weather.
- September 10 – Young Bird Race Series begins from 100 miles.
- October 31 – Young Bird Race Series ends.
- November 1 – Pigeon School begins again.
Racing Pigeon School has no recess during the summer. It has no recess for Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Spring Break. Racing Pigeon School is a 365 day a year job. Having made this statement, I am not advocating that fanciers never take vacations or take breaks from the birds. What I am trying to demonstrate is that in theory, Racing Pigeon School is an annual program that never ceases. There is something important to do every day of the year. At a minimum, the pigeons require clean lofts, clean food, clean water, fresh supplements, and regular medication.
Racing Pigeon School is one of the primary reasons that I advocate playing the game with small race teams. Just as with people, class size is an issue in quality education. It is a general policy that one teacher cannot successfully manage and teach more than 20 to 25 students in a class. In graduate school where learning is supposed to be much more intense and rigorous, the number of students in one class drops to 10 to 12 students. I believe that the same ratios are true for pigeons. For the best in quality education, race teams should probably be capped at 20 to 25 pigeons unless fanciers have help from partners or other family members.
Racing Pigeon school is a system. Racing Pigeon school is goal oriented. Racing Pigeon school involves high quality education – education during which capable, caring, and informed fanciers teach wild yet domesticated pigeons the basic tenets of a humanly constructed game of which they know nothing about. Racing pigeons are not typically hatched in the wild on a building ledge or under a bridge. They are hatched in lofts whose design was constructed by fanciers that they do not know, understand or naturally relate. Although young birds instantly bond with their parents, everything else in their world is learned. They learn where the floor is relative to their nest. They learn where food and water are located. After they leave the nest, they look for another spot (box or perch) to claim for their own territory. If there is nothing available, pigeons will claim a spot on the floor for their own.
If young birds are weaned in a different loft from the loft in which they were hatched, they will once again seek to discover the food, water, supplements and a place to claim for their own territory. When they can use their wings, they will look for a place to escape the loft in order to stretch their wings and learn to fly.
Rather than let young birds randomly try to discover the basic elements of their new world strictly by modeling the behavior of their parents or by trial and error, Racing Pigeon School imposes an educational system that specifically teaches the young birds each of the critical tasks that they must learn during the first few weeks and months of their lives – and continues as long as the pigeon remains in the loft.
Racing Pigeon School is a basic component of the racing pigeon game. Racing Pigeon School requires teachers. Teachers posses certain personal attributes. Regretfully, many fanciers are not teachers nor do they have teaching skills. Many fanciers do not know how to teach nor do they want to learn how to teach. Even knowledgeable fanciers with years of experience playing the game often do not know how to teach their pigeons.
In addition, I often receive emails from new fanciers that lament that the established fanciers in their area will not teach them the fundamentals about the game. Sometimes they confide that they have developed an animosity between themselves and older fanciers over this problem. My answer to this problem is that many fanciers are not teachers and do not believe that education is important or even relevant to the racing pigeon game. If you have run into this problem with other fanciers, you might consider the possibility that older fanciers are not withholding information because they are trying to keep secrets and don’t want you to reveal their vast knowledge to you. Perhaps the problem is that these fanciers don’t know how to teach their pigeons the basic aspects of the racing pigeon game. Consequently, they can’t communicate this information to you because they don’t know it or understand its relevance in the game. Many fanciers do not know how to teach their young birds the fundamentals of the game because they do not have a system – they do not have goals – they do not have benchmarks for achieving their goals – they do not understand or appreciate the idea of Racing Pigeon School. Racing Pigeon School is a universal program in Belgium. Although fanciers have unique characteristics to each of their lofts, each fancier uses the same basic fundamental system to play the game. This system requires that fanciers teach a few well-bred racing pigeons how to compete in a game that is played according to the organization and rules of a national institution – the KBDB. Teaching is fundamental to the success of competitive Belgian fanciers. Did you know that Ad Schaerlaeckens and Filip Herbots are retired school teachers? Although he was a diamond cutter by trade, Antoine Jacops is one of the finest teachers that I have ever met. So is Mike Ganus.
Playing the game at the top of the race sheet involves teaching. Although I use the metaphor of Racing Pigeon School to describe the educational process, one of the primary components of racing at the top of the sheet involves teaching and education. For those of you who currently have three week old youngsters or weanlings in the breeding loft, it is time to teach. In fact, it is past time to teach. If you want to play the game well, start teaching your young birds now. Repeat the same lessons day after day until they respond correctly and quickly.
See also: “Racing Pigeon School”
“Racing Pigeon School” Continued by Dr. John Lamberton