The Racing Pigeon - 5th April 2024



Winning Naturally by Alf Baker WINNING THE NATURAL WAY

their cheque books hoping to buy success and buy anything with a Belgian ring on. I repeat, let some of the crack fanciers this side of the Channel fly against them in their own country and I am sure they would tune them up and the Continentals would soon alter their views. But for every good fancier born in England, there are twice as many on the Continent. I have seen boys of seven to eight handle pigeons like experts. During the winter months fanciers tend to forget part of the main diet of the pigeon and that’s grit. Pigeons need this at all times to help digest the food, to get the full amount of vitamins etc from whatever corn you use. A little every day is far better than a potful left in the loft for a week. At this time of the year it will get damp, and dust from the birds and loft will stick to it and do more harm than good. Why buy the best corn you can afford only to leave one of the cheapest things we give our pigeons in the loft for days? The same applies to mineral salts. This I have stopped giving my birds during the winter months as it absorbs moisture. Rest in the Winter I have never been one for exercising my birds too frequently in the winter. My hens have been shut up since September and my cocks have only been let out once a fortnight. After Christmas my hens are put in the young bird loft and let out every nice day. They will be right when I want them for pairing. My system has never failed me yet, and I know they have not worn their new flights out flying around home. I remember a few years ago a fancier phoned me to say he looked like winning the London Section from Lerwick with one of my blue hens, velocity over 1600. We were at Fraserburgh the same day doing around 1300.1 asked him how he

Chapter 14 Is Widowhood Unbeatable?

Let’s start the chapter with Widowhood versus the Natural system. No doubt many fanciers like myself will try to do better than they did the previous year. This is the only new year resolution I make, as I have broken the others far too often. This is the only way to be successful, but novices who put their birds on the Widowhood system are trying to run before they can walk. If you cannot win with your birds sitting or on the Natural system you won’t get

them to win on any other. To hear fanciers talk you would think that the Widowhood system was unbeatable and essential to win races. Only the other week I was talking to a fancier who showed me some cocks he was going to try on the Widowhood system. If he was to pay more atten- tion to the way he looked after them – barley all over the floor among the droppings – I am sure he would do much better and would not need to worry about any other systems. I know some of the best fanciers in England hardly know what the word Widowhood means, they depend entirely on the Natural system. If they flew their pigeons against the crack pigeon men of Belgium like those in England they would know that it’s not as good as it’s made out to be, or of such importance, especially on this side of the Channel, where the glory comes from races of 400-500 miles. The Belgians get the same amount of glory or honour, call it what you like, from only half the above distances; where there is a lot of money to be won and where no doubt Widowhood comes into its own is as an aid to quick trapping. I have flown a semi- Widowhood system for years. The number of 1st prizes some of my cocks have won tells you that, but I have won just as many lsts with birds sitting the right time. I have had three or four cocks semi- Widowhood, only to be beaten with hens from my own loft which have been sitting eight days. Don’t think I am against the system. On the contrary, to be successful with pigeons you must try them all, but first get them to win Naturally. Only the skilled fanciers can get and prepare their

had got on from there. “No good”, he said, “blow home”. I was most confused. There he was doing 1600ypm from Lerwick, and he called it a blow home from Fraserburgh with a velocity far less, but that’s typical pigeon talk. I do know I have never timed in a “stumer” in this type of race. Getting back to the mild weather, I don’t think anyone likes the cold, but I am sure it does not hurt pigeons. They look better when the weather is dry and cold, and it helps them to settle down and become more content than the mild weather in the middle of winter. Birds get too excited and think of one thing, going to nest. One has to keep a watchful eye to prevent hens mating with one another. I have never cut my pigeons’ rations in winter, they are hopper fed all the year round, and when I see two hens that are always in a corner I part them for a week or so, but have always made a note, as in the past these have always been my best racers. I have never worried about them putting on that extra bit of weight which will be most beneficial to them when the cold weather starts. By hopper feeding I am sure they are all getting the same amount, as some birds are slow eaters, and nine times out of ten these are your best pigeons. I’m sure if I had fed my pigeons I would overfeed them in kindness. A fancier from Telford, Salop, once tpld me that my eyesign theory differed from others regarding the egg-shape or distorted pupil of my best breeders, but my writing deals with my methods and my birds. With all due respect to others’ ways and means of denoting eyesign I have not read one of them.

‘SILVER PRINCESS’ Winner four 1st prizes and 1st London Championship Club, 35th Open LNR Combine YB Northallerton (5,274 birds). Granddaughter ‘Red Admiral’ and ‘Scottish Lass’.

birds right for the Classic races on the Natural system, and I am sure, will always hold their own against the Widowhood cocks. I often wonder how the Continental fanciers would do on this side of the Channel. I still say 500 miles is 500 miles in any direction, but the country the birds fly over makes a big difference. The cold fronts and the English Channel are no help to them, and when you know the Belgians give a position for every four birds sent to a race, compared to one in approximately 40 birds sent in English races, the competition must be harder here to get cards, but nevertheless they are good pigeon men. I only wish they felt the same way about us. They always give me the impression we are a lot of novices compared to them, but I am sure it’s because too many fanciers, if you can call them fanciers, have gone there with

In fact, over the past 50 years and more I have not read much pigeon literature. When one is gifted with the full amount of stock sense, call it what you like, I find some other ideas hard to absorb. Over the years I have proved many times how wrong some of the articles that have been written have been. I have my own set ways with pigeons, and no one in the world will change them. I have learnt from my successes and not from mistakes. I have made many a mistake and have learned nothing. Money makes money, success makes success, and to do this one must be most observant and think like a pigeon. I can go back years and know how a pigeon won a big race, meaning the condition sent. I don’t have to look it up. If I did I would not find it as I never had to keep records on how they won.

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