Article 6

THE ART OF RACING WIDOWHOOD COCKS.

By Jack Barkel

Introduction.
The art of racing widowhood has been practised by the Belgium fanciers for over 60 years, I myself started using this method in 1954, when there was but a few of us that flew this method in England. My brother and I had great success with this method, much to the astonishment and dismay of our rivals, who could not believe we were not up to some malpractice or other. We lived in the North East of England at that time, and widowhood was to arrive much later as common practice in that country. I can show you written articles from countries such as Australia and my land South Africa where well known fanciers say that widowhood will not work in these countries. I have developed a method of widowhood that will work in all countries and it has already been proved in the Southern Hemisphere since my revelations about acquiring form. There are several reasons for failure with people embarking on this method for the first time, which we must mention first or we will be doomed to mediocrity and give it up as a poor method.
The first requirement for widowhood is the right pigeons for the job. You need pigeons bred from those that have been flying widowhood successfully for several years. To try and convert your existing family that has been strangers to widowhood for generations, will prove very disappointing.
The widowhood cock must also be selected for his individuality, his calmness and fearless attitude to all around him, human or otherwise and a strong mental outlook that relieves him from stressful situations. This is a special individual with characteristics that set him apart from others of his species. The hen also must have these similar characteristics with an ardour for her returning mate that is indescribable, until you have seen and experienced it for yourself.

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Pic 1 Widowhood Loft doors closed During Racing Season

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Pic 2 Widowhood Loft Doors open After Racing Season.

The Loft.
The design that I prefer and find the easiest to control is a loft consisting of four compartments, with a corridor along the full length of the front. This enables you to have three compartments for cocks so that they can be brought into form at two or three separate times of the racing season, depending on how many weeks the old birds are flown in a particular area.

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Pic 3. Showing the widowhood hens section.

The other section I have separated by a store room, for I prefer the hens to have a space between them and the cocks, not so much for the voice sound, but the body odour. The first three compartments from left to right are for widowhood cocks (see pic's) the "v" shaped section in the centre of the loft is a store room, then two widowhood hen sections.

I have also proved for myself that widowers have become telepathic after spending a couple of seasons together. Some of you will say I am going senile, but my wife and visitors will bare me out that I know within 15 minutes when to prepare for my first bird to arrive. The tranquillity is shattered by a phenomenal performance from the cocks that have not been to the race. They know that the first arrivals are within a few minutes from home, it can be one -o- clock in the afternoon or 6-0-clock in the evening it will happen every week just at that short time before arrival. The know it all's have tried to come up with other answers, but it seems to be the only logical conclusion. I am convinced that our good birds have superior gifts to mankind, and if they do not show this superior gift I try to replace them with birds that do. Observance is one of the great keys to unravelling the hidden mysteries in our sport. This is another first that I have not seen in print by anyone else but I expect will soon be acclaimed as common knowledge as has happened with the explanation of condition and form and also some of my revelations on eyesign (another future article).

I have a method of using the smell of the hens without showing them to bring these athletes to the peak of expectation for things to come. This will be explained next week in the racing of cocks and hens on the widowhood system referred to as "The Round-a Bout".
The hens section must not have box perches or shelves where there is room for two birds, I have found that inverted "V" or single perches are the best to prevent the hens for mating with each other.
If you allow this to happen the magic will go out of the system and those hens will not be amorous on the return of their spouse from a race.

The cocks section must have nesting boxes made in such a design that the hen is able to rest inside and wait for her spouse while there is sufficient room or landing for the cock bird on his return. This will ensure a perfect trap every time as he comes to recognise this as his own apartment to which no other intruder must have access during his absence.
All compartments must be closed as you take out your widowhood cock for basketing, his mind must be clear that no other male will take over in his absence.

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Pic 4. Showing compartment door in forward position, while the bird is away from home.

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Pic 5. Showing compartment door in the halfway position on the Widowhood cocks return home.

I also believe he can detect that an intruder was in his compartment during his absence. Could it be his sense of smell ???

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Pic 6. Showing the widowhood cocks in there compartments in the off season, when you will notice, that the box fronts are slid up on top and hold no restriction to their whole compartment.



The cocks in the off season are fed communally from food trays on the floor, but in the racing season they are fed from small plastic pots, each in their separate compartment. This ensures that each cock gets one heaped desert spoon of food morning and evening, whereas if you feed them all together the fastest eater gets the most and the slowest eater gets the least, neither of which is a satisfactory situation.
It is imperative that each bird gets an equal measured amount of food, or you teach him to be a glutton. In the moulting season when the bird needs an abundance of protein at all times you can even hopper feed, but never for short to middle distance racing where the build up must be controlled at the right time. The hens are taken out of their communal section and put in separate semi darkened compartments from a Wednesday. This method increases the ardour of the widowhood hen and when she is place in the cock's compartment just before his return she virtually smothers him with love and affection. The hen that shows lack lustre for the cock on his return is a hopeless useless individual. Never ever allow the cock to return from a race or training toss, without that hen is waiting for him. Having said this however, if it should be a training toss, never let the cock into the inner chamber with the hen. Only and I mean only on a return from a race do you allow the pair to get together. Many widowhood flyers may and will disagree, but I can assure you, I have made all these mistakes, I also used to believe that there was such a thing as semi-widowhood, this is a fallacy. To be a widowhood flyer you either carry it out to the letter or not at all. There are many variations, but no half measures, you must be OBSERVANT, you must be STRICT, you must be DEDICATED.
Next week I will write about the Round-A- Bout widowhood system, more photos and many more notes and tips on flying widowhood. Remember once again, the only stupid question is the one not asked, so keep your questions coming and I will endeavour to keep the articles up to date. We would like your comments also, or suggestions for a particular subject, I do not profess to know it all, but I am prepared to give all what I have tried and proved for myself. The articles are from my book, the photo's are from my own set-up, I am a do it yourself person who is willing to share my experiences, even if I have waited a little late in life to do so. Let me say however, that I found that the older I became, the more people were prepared to listen.

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Jack Barkel

E-mail: jack@allpets.co.za