The body temperature of racing pigeons lies between 41 and 42 degrees Celsius(106F). Experience teaches us that the ideal temperature for pigeon racing is between 10/20C (50/70F). When the temperatures reach 30C (83F) the birds come under stress. Wind conditions at this temperature play an important role in determining the outcome of the race. These conditions can spell disaster for pigeons that are not in good condition. When the temperature goes beyond the 30C (83F) the birds are exposed to numerous problems.
One of the biggest problems faced by the majority of the birds is the lack of experience in drinking and feeding in the race baskets. It is the birds that suffer when fanciers do not basket train the birds properly. When these birds are released at the race point their first desire is water. They land at the first watering hole and drink whatever is available. Many pigeons pick up contaminants or disease carrying agents. It would be very beneficial if racing pigeons were watered right away when the baskets are loaded on the transporter. The sound of the running water will attract them towards it. We must make use of every occasion to teach the birds how to drink. An increasing number of pigeon clubs already have started to do this from the moment the birds are basketed at the clubs. In the case of youngsters it is wise to change the water every now and then. It will also help if the baskets are not overcrowded, this allows all young birds an opportunity to get to the water. Youngsters are often, especially during the first weeks, very stressed and don't move inside the basket. The only birds that get to drink are the ones closest to the water. So try to allow them lots of room in the baskets during the first couple of weeks. Lateron if they are thirsty they will go straight to the drinker when they are basketed.
A clear blue sky with temperatures around 30C and no wind(or headwind) in combination with dry air is not very favourable for old or young birds. When we meet these conditions during the early series of training tosses many lofts are ruined for the season. Heavy losses occur. When conditions such as these occur, a holdover should be the first priority or postpone the toss until weather conditions improve. At the beginning of the old bird season temperatures are inclined to be lower and more suitable for racing. Care must be taken prior to liberation in order to allow the birds to acclimatize to the temperature outside of the transporter. This can be done by gradually opening the release doors one hour before liberation. This will also allow the birds to acquaint themselves with the surrounding area. During early spring and late autumn(fall) we must give careful consideration to early morning mist or dew. This early morning moisture can block out the navigational elements. It is best to wait until this moisture has cleared up before liberating the race birds.
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