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 the dark system explained

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IANYOUNG
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PostSubject: the dark system explained   Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:11 pm

THE DARK SYSTEM EXPLAINED


The Dark System manipulates the length of the day artificially to cause the young birds to moult their body feathers very rapidly while not moulting the flight or wing feathers. This system tricks the pigeon’s biological clock to think winter is coming.

When a pigeon is on a short day length it will only drop the body feathers, which includes the head, neck and shield and not the wing flight primary and secondary feathers. This gives the pigeon the best possible chance of surviving through a harsh winter with a full wing and a fully feathered mature body. The pigeon grows and matures during the body moult. This big burst in size, strength and maturity is nature’s way to best protect the pigeon. Like reptiles that grow during shedding of skin, pigeons grow very rapidly during the body moult.

Here are a few reasons that make the Dark System such an advantage for racing young birds.

1. The young birds are sexually mature.
2. The young are adults in every way except they do not have the adult flight feathers.
3. The young birds have adult pigeon immunity and are not effected as readily by respiratory, Adeno virus etc.
4. The young can be raced on a double widowhood system.
5. The young have a full wing and are not stressed by racing during the body moult.
6. The young pigeons are ready every week unless the race is a real disaster.

Here are the disadvantages to racing young birds on the Dark System.

1. The young will reach maturity so fast; they may be too old physically and mentally when training begins. Losses could be great.
2. Lack of ventilation during the darkness period could lead to many health problems.
3. Problems with pigeons going into the old bird season with several baby flights still on the wing.
4. The young tend to begin to moult the body and wing feathers six to eight weeks into the young bird season.

Here are the misconceptions about the dark system.

1. You do not have to mate right after Halloween. The pigeons finish the moult in 9 weeks, so if a round is weaned in April and then another in May there is still time to finish the body moult before the young bird season.
2. The pigeons fly terrible as old birds. Some fanciers report this others have no problems. This could be due to the young being pushed too hard or not finishing the wing moult before the spring old bird season. My suggestion would be, to only race the hens as young birds on the dark system and let the cocks remain on natural light. Use the cocks as widowers during old birds.
3. The pigeons can suffer health problems during the darkened stage if the birds are crowded and the ventilation is poor. Install exhaust fans in the roof of the loft that run at all times to draw stale air out. Cut some openings in the floor for the airflow to come from the bottom of the loft without light coming in.
4. The loft does not have to be totally dark. As long as it gets dark at the same time every day the birds will moult fine. My pigeons can still go down and drink when the loft is closed up.

I will explain how the system works followed by how to prevent the problems that may come about.


Dark System Procedures


Wean the young into a section that has been designed to allow ventilation but can be darkened to somewhat darker than dusk.

1. Let the sun come up in the morning and darken the loft 9.5 hours later. By doing this the pigeons have the sunrise to adjust their biological clock. Remember you must open the loft at night for it to get light in the morning. If this is not possible you must adapt the system to your schedule. In this case open the loft up and close it up leaving the light for 9.5 hours. You must do this at the same time every day. The strict timing is very important for the pigeons to adjust to the dark system. Letting the sunrise naturally for the babies is the best system but I have used both with success.
2. Feed a high protein grain and give vitamins, mineral and grit regularly. Feed very heavy because the moult will be rapid.
3. Use garlic in the water four or five days per week as a natural antibiotic.
4. Let the pigeons out as much as possible and start them flying young.
5. Start short tosses as soon as they are flocking. Begin across the yard and down the street and go in very short increments. The young must be trained very young for them to be able to learn. Once they are trained out to 25 miles you do not have to worry but losing them very easily. The dark system pushes the young bird through its learning phase very quickly. On the dark the young become adults at 13 weeks of age instead of five to six months when not darkened.
6. Once the young are trained out to 25 miles several times, stop them until training restarts again for young bird racing.
7. Two weeks before you begin the second phase of training for the young bird season, put the pigeons on natural day length. After two weeks start your training the same as you start for every young bird season. The pigeons were already trained out 25 miles earlier in the year, but start slow again unless the pigeons are routing real well.
8. If possible separate the sexes. You must determine if you want to excel early or late. Leave the sexes together for the first couple weeks of racing if there are many young bird specials at the end of the season. If you want to dominate early separate the sexes two weeks before the first race.
9. If you do not have the space leave the sexes together the entire season.


What to do during the Race Season?


1. If the sexes are separated allow them to spend 30 minutes together before shipping.
2. After returning from the race leave the sexes together for two hours.
3. The separated sexes must be trained and exercised separately during the week.
4. After week two of the race season add three hours of day length (by turning on the lights) everyday for the rest of the season. This causes the young to believe it is mid summer when the wing moult is so very slow. The young will begin to drop the first few flights but the season will be over before the young reach the third or fourth flight.
5. Race and win!


What to do After the Race season?


1. After the race season return to normal day length for one month. This will cause the pigeons to begin the moult really fast. The pigeons will start another body moult followed by the completion of the wing moult.
2. When the month is complete run the lights 24 hours per day until the wing moult is finished.
3. If you did not race the young cocks on the system there is no need to run lights after the month. The young hens will finish the moult the following year. This does not matter if they are not raced as old birds.
4. Feed high protein with plenty of vitamins and minerals until the body moult is finished.
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:15 pm

thanks ian, interesting reading........will have a better look through later on. this is top info ian and just the sort i need, thanks. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:17 pm

no problem david
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:27 pm

excellent ian, this is great reading......its just what i need for next season for my ybs. do you have any info on the w/hood system which gives same sort of info please ? Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:00 pm

Widowhood is a method of racing pigeons that has frightened many for quite some time. Many think that there are secrets to the system and there are those that felt it was a very time consuming method of racing our pigeons.

I have been racing pigeons on the widowhood method since 1976 so at the time of this writing, that is 30 years. During this time I have found that most of the wife's tales that others believe to be true are completely wrong. It is NOT NECESSARY to only race on a strict guideline of doing it the same as every one else. Whether you race just the boys, or you use a double sex system or even a same sex system where some only mate hens to each other, all have had some remarkable results over the years.

I prefer racing only the boys and I do what is referred to in Europe as a dry system. This means that you do not allow the boys to raise a youngster until after the season has finished. Many believe that for a male to lock onto his box and be very defensive of his territory, he must have brought up a young one in that nest. In past years I did not force my boys to mate with any specific hen as I felt that the natural love attraction may make the boys happier but there is really no way of knowing whether this is correct or not. Some of my boys would have eggs right away and I would allow them to raise up a young one in their nest and hopefully they would still be feeding that big baby on the day of the first race of the season. Many times this gave me a special performance from that male as I would take the hens away anywhere from a week to 2 weeks before the 1st race. This way the male would think that he was totally responsible for the feeding of that baby. Little did he know that while I had him out exercising or road training, the hen was allowed to feed the baby without the male knowing she had been in there. However, most of the time it was only an old male that had been on the system before and he had a special hen that he races well to. For my yearlings, the sun is not long enough to prompt them to want to mate early and if you attempt to increase the daylight hours to get them mated, you could suffer with problems of them moulting too quickly.

I preferred to begin by starting 75 days before my first race. However, here in Florida, there is not enough time between our last young bird race and our first old bird race. By allowing the pigeons to be together and to begin to nest, even if they were slow to go down on eggs, time was in my favor. If they mated immediately no eggs were laid until 10 days after the introduction and then taking another 17 days after the second egg is laid means that almost 1 month has gone by. Now if they were to raise a baby, that would give me another month and then I still had about 15 days to road train them.

I developed a method where I did not allow the hens and males to be out together as the local hawks in winter were deadly hunters so I began my conditioning by taking the boys about a mile away and releasing them to fly straight home. This I did when they were supposed to be on the eggs so they had some purpose in returning home quickly and running in. I quit allowing them to just loft fly until after the races began. This method worked wonderfully for me in Wisconsin but then again, I moved to Florida and there is not enough time between the end of young bird races and the beginning of the old birds. Therefore, I am still trying to find a method that will work well for me here in Florida. Perhaps I will need to start 2 different teams at different times so I can complete the entire series of races.

Many people feel threatened by not being able to race their hens and each of us must do what we feel comfortable with but I found for myself that trying to race a double widowhood system required about twice as much work and one did not get twice as many good positions. My advice is always the same and that is to only fly one sex or the other. I have found that if the boys see the girls too much, then they will not race at their best and yet for the girls to race well, they need to see the boys quite a bit. In my mind, these are two totally opposite systems.

I have also found that the boys race well as they establish their territory and by being observant, you will notice when little things take place within your loft. When my guys start acting like mountain men that have just come down from the mountains after a long winter, then I know that the fun is soon to begin. These guys will be battling with each other and chasing each other around and in general terms, they are full of fire. Until that happens, they are merely going through their paces without the motivation or attitude to come out in front.

As I already mentioned, I do not race the hens so trying to give you good information on how to do this or how to race a double widowhood system, I would only be guessing and if I thought those systems are superior, I would be doing them. My conclusion is that racing any system other than widowhood boys is a lot more work and the results are rarely that much better. Naturally, any pigeon on just the right day can give a spectacular performance but I try to use what I feel is the easiest and gives the most success. We had our first old bird race for the 2006 series on January 23 and since that time my boys have only left home when they are going to a race. Their entire training regime NOW is exercising for 45 minutes per day around the loft. They are beginning to show signs of catching on to what we are doing and that is promising as our season ends April 29. With 2 - 400 mile races, 2 - 500 mile races, and a 600 mile race in our schedule, it makes for a long season so coming out of the basket in a red hot condition for the first race will make it virtually impossible for you to fly all the races.

In conclusion, for me racing only the boys is my joy and while everyone else is busy working their birds down the road every day, I go to breakfast and then come home and allow my guys to exercise around the loft. Now, if they are not capable of giving me some very good races with this method, then I believe I will need better pigeons.

Hope this helps,
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:54 pm

yes, thanks ian. for when i race next season i need to get organised re. treatments, pairing up, when to put ybs on to darkness.....plus vacinations, letting w/hoods rear one round of young, then putting them onto w/hood etc etc. all these things will be a problem unless i find these things out and either remember them or make notes.... santa
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:15 pm

hello trying darkness system this year when do you start darkening them as soon as weaned and would it be better to lighten loft say about 2 pm and let sunset naturally or lighten say 9 am and darken about 5 pm is it 8 hours of sunlight for 8 weeks solid then lighten natural all this is puzzling for me thanks tony
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:35 pm

Excellent info!
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Mon Apr 03, 2017 6:25 am

we started to darken ours yesterday...we darken at 4pm shutters come off at 11pm so they wake to natural daylight I will darken for 10 weeks then take them off gradually adding extra daylight hours over a 1 week period so 11 weeks in all atb
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:35 pm

Sorry tony I forgot to text you back...we open our doors windows at 9 then shut them at 5..ours are not on dark yet but will be next week..don't feed them late in the afternoon as it will cause problems believe me.we feed once a day about 11.30 and that's it
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PostSubject: Re: the dark system explained   Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:25 am

tonyrow wrote:
hello trying darkness system this year when do you start darkening them as soon as weaned and would it be better to lighten loft say about 2 pm and let sunset naturally or lighten say 9 am and darken about 5 pm is it 8 hours of sunlight for 8 weeks solid then lighten natural all this is puzzling for me thanks tony
Well done Tony Smile Smile "The archives trick" Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes found a little pot of gold there I suspect Wink Wink.  cheers
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