LOFT DESIGN AND CARE
Jos Thoné's lofts are a model of creativity. You can see that everything has been thoroughly thought out. It is all super practical and functionel: nothing exaggerated, simply good. The philosophy behind the 60 m long building, and the fittings, is to produce as much as useful surface area with as little as possible unnescessary work.
Jos, "Yes of course you can waste a lot of time cleaning your loft but I think a pigeon fancier can spend his time far more profitably. By observing, for example, or by taming the birds to his hand. Cleaning the loft can give satisfaction when it's finished but, in fact, you've not spent a single second paying attention to the birds themselves; certainly not if the birds are out for a training session at the same.So my lofts are fitted with grids on the floor too. The droppings are carried away on conveyer belts - a perfect solution."
The lofts are arranged in such a way that one can walk along them to the various sections. The widow hens are housed behind the widowers section. Jos designed perches for these hens that prevent eye contact. In each of the stock lofts of the cocks there is a radiator. These are not to be found by the hens. Why? "Because in my experience, the cocks are more sensitive to humidity than the hens. The hens are much more equable than the cocks in that respect. Preventing eye contact also a very important factor in preventing the hens pairing up together."
There is a sliding door in each section through which the birds are let out. The birds come back in through the same door which is left wide open. In this way little time is lost when the birds arrive from a race. The birds can fly straight in to their nesting boxes. In the lofts there are various feeding pots and other dishes. For the stock loft there is a feeder which holds 25 kg feed, whereas the widowers have small pots on the nesting box and also a feeder in the loft itself. Feeding is one of the most important aspects of pigeon racing. How have you organized that Jos?
"That's right. Feed is very important and there's a lot to be won and lost by it. I think there's a more nonsense talked and written about it than anything else in pigeon racing. My stock birds are always given as much as they want. I'm often asked about this subject. Question's such as: should you ration out the food by the spoonful; how much should you give for a 200 km race and how much for one of 700 km. Let me put it this way : there is no hard and fast rule. That's utter rubbish. I do dish out the food with a spoon but only because it's easier to fill the small pots that way not to measure out the food. That's not possible. If it's a difficult 200 km race then you give heavier feed, if it's an easy 700 km then lighter food. It's the same in the winter. When it's really cold, a heavier diet; when it's milder a lighter diet. What I'm trying to say is that there are no fixed rules. You have to follow your instincts and keep your eyes peeled.
If your birds are swooping around your head, then you're doing something wrong. Similarly, if they don't listen to you, they're getting too much. The art is to strike a happy medium. If I see at evening training there's a few grains left in the box, then I know you've got it right. For those people who think they haven't got the hang of feding, or those who often have to leave it to someone else(their wife for example) because they're short of time, I have a piece of good adviece. Put a full feeding pot in the loft every day and remove it quarter of an hour later. Then you can be sure that they are not left short and will still listen to you. The variety and quantity of the feed is something I think very important. I don't have the experience to really judge the quality so I always buy in from big companies because I think they will sell wholesome grain because they have a greater turnover.
The stock birds are always given a full pot. The feeders in the stock lofts hold 25 kg. That's ideal and I only fill up when it's all gone. There are never squawking youngsters in the nests and the birds can eat as they please. You avoid the pigeons fattening up by preventing the 'Pavlov's dogs'effect.