Tips for Breeding Healthier Young Birds for One Loft Races

December 28, 2016


The 2017 One Loft Race (OLR) season is just around the corner and seasoned participants know that to ensure success.

the Loft Report reached out to several of the country’s top OLR participants and OLR managers and asked them for their advice on how best to prepare one’s entries for the season ahead.

Each were asked:

1. What age do you like to send ybs to OLRs?
2. Do you vaccinate ybs prior to sending them out? If so why, if not why?
3. What special treatment, if any, do you give your breeders prior to pairing up?
4. Any advice you’d recommend to a new fancier who is considering entering OLR(s)?

Don Rid

Don Riedels – Lone Tree Lofts

Don Riedels – Lone Tree Lofts

Two Time Winner of the Midwest National Young Bird Race
2016 1st Place Winner of the 48th Annual Grain Belt Classic
2015 1st ~ 325m Hoosier Classic One Loft Race
2015 Equal 1st 150m Hoosier Classic One Loft Race
2014 Two Birds Equal 1st ~ 325m Hoosier Classic One Loft Race
2013 1st 200m ~ Hoosier Classic One Loft Race

  • Vaccinate at 21 days old in the nest. When they arrive at the OLR they’ll receive a booster.
  • Before shipping, grind up pellets in a coffee bean grinder; mix with water & using a dropper feed the YB as full as reasonable.

Geert Kolvenbag

Geert Kolvenbag

Known for his consistence performances in the Million Dollar Pigeon Race and other renowned OLR’s

  • At 24 days, vaccination for PMV, a tablet of Coxiworm and put them on the floor in their bowls so they get fed by all the parents in that section of the loft.
  • Ship them out when they can fly into a perch of the floor.
  • Of course they get all the supplements / probiotics /vitamins etc., that the parents get too.
Carey Tilson

Carey Tilson

Carey Tilson

Along with his partner, Thomas Baldwin, are considered among the top OLR participants in the world, bar none.

  • Keep your breeders happy and healthy 365 and all else will fall in to place.
Carroll and Greg McKnight

Carroll and Greg McKnight

Greg McKnight

Winner of and breeder of countless 1st place winners from coast to coast in all levels of completion, especially in the big OLRs.

  • 35-40 days old eating/drinking on their own in a nursery section. I usually take them away from the parents when still just a little wet under the wing.
  • I do not vaccinate before shipping, knowing they will get a vaccination when arrived and most of the birds immune system hasn’t develop yet at an early age of 35 days old. The birds when arrived sometimes two days or more in transit, so the birds are already stressed when arrived at destination.
  • If all is well I treat for canker and treat with Amoxicillin with the hens for 10 days before pairing.
    Medium to small birds with not too much splash coloring and birds that seem to condition with little training.
The Gazaway family

The Gazaway family

Pat Gazaway – SkyLine Lofts

Pat is known for his many outstanding OLR performances through the USA.

  • I like to send my youngsters to one loft race 45-55 days old. I would rather send them older than younger. Another good question is do you send them early in the middle or at the end of the one loft race accepting them? I try and send them early to the middle. Brad Hoggan told me that this year 90% of his average speed and final race winners came in March-April and that is early to middle of when he accepted them. Birds that came in the last month didn’t do much.
  • I do not like to vaccinate my Yb’s before sending them out. I once asked a vet friend of mine what he thought about it and he said why would you have to double vaccinate your birds? Do they double vaccinate you as a baby? Makes sense to me! I am don’t like to medicate very often anyway because I believe you need pigeons with strong immune systems and if you are constantly medicating them they can’t have that. There is a flyer here that medicates very often and he always has sick pigeons. His lofts are clean and they have plenty of ventilation but he always has birds getting sick. I try to tell him let the weak ones go and stop medicating so much but it hasn’t happened yet.
  • 2-3 weeks before pairing the breeders give them 100% barley to make sure and flush out the intestines. (Barley not only cleans the intestines but also helps them not be overweight when you start breeding them.)
  • 1-2 weeks give them a lower protein feed 10-12%.
  • Week of pairing up start them on the breeding mix.
  • I give every bird I ship out a tricoli stop pill (gets rid of 98 % Cancer within 8 hours) down the throat when I put them in the box to ship them.
  • Make sure you ask around and find the most reputable races you can find. There is a lot of races to choose from but at least 1/2 are people just trying to make money and don’t spend much time with the birds. Look at past results so you know what pas loses, speeds, and conditions have been so you know what to expect. If you don’t have proven breeders ask a flyer whose name you see showing up all the time and maybe you might be able to work out a partnership and have him send some for you. It is a lot better knowing what you’re sending than just buying a pair and sending them. I have in the past been asked that and have agreed to send the birds for them and take a cut or the winnings or just send birds for them and I get the birds back at the after the race and they can keep any winnings for themselves.
The Michaels family

The Michaels family

Stephen Michaels

3 x Equal 1st in final Plymouth Pro Peak Challenge
1st, 150m Breeder’s Fall Classic
1st 200 Flying Aces

  • I send my young birds two weeks after they leave the nest. I like to give them time to figure out how to eat and drink well before I send them.
  • I vaccinate. I believe this helps boost immune system.
  • I make sure my breeders are as healthy as I can get them. I believe healthy parents breed good babies.
  • Test your birds at your own house before you spend that much money on sending them out.


Mark Mourton – Owner of the Pacific Northwest Challenge OLR

  • 40 to 45 days old.
  • Yes, it really helps if the breeder PMV’s there birds at 25-30 days it really helps there immune system and then I PMV them on arrival and have had no problems!
  • All breeders get PMV and Salmonella vaccine, 10 days of Baytril 2 days of probiotics and 7 days of canker.
  • Study the races they want to enter and make sure you have the birds to fly the speeds and terrain.


Brad Hoggan – Owner of the Plymouth Peak Pro Challenge OLR

  • 35-45 days old, make sure birds are drinking and eating on the own very well!
  • Yes, if they vaccinate them at about 21-24 days old the shot is already working some when I get them. Then I give them the booster shot. If I get them and give them their first shot it takes 3-4 week to start working.
  • I medicate all the breeders and vaccinate them, and put them on lights for two-three weeks before mating.
  • Make sure your birds are at the OLR in the first 40% of entry time!


Jimmy Mundy – Owner of the Mayberry Classic OLR

  • Ideally the birds would get to me between 35-40 days old, vaccinated at 28 days. I like to vaccinate on arrival, about 2 weeks apart. Ship on Monday or Tuesday to allow time to get the birds, and call ahead of shipping. Unreal how many times birds show up unannounced. To first timers; look at the birds not their pedigree. He may be out of your “Best Pair” but is he put together good, is he healthy, would you keep him on your race team if you knew nothing about him?

Dan Gregoruk


Dan Gregoruk

1st Midwest Convention Race
1st Gulf Coast Classic
1st I.F. Convention
5th Omaha AU Convention Race
2 xs 1st Milwaukee Classic
1st Overall All Canadian Young Bird Classic One Loft Race
2 xs 1st Chris Peeman’s One Loft Race, Canada
1st and 2nd FSI Challenge race in Spring Hill, Florida
Equal 1st GHC Classic, 3 birds on the drop

  • We send the birds around 30 -35 days and they seem to fight off stress better when a little older.
  • We vaccinate with a Salmonella vaccination a week or so before shipping. The breeders must be healthy before pairing up or forget about having success in the young bird specials.
  • We vaccinate for PMV and Paratyphoid /Salmonella in October and give a booster in November.
  • Treat for canker /cocci after meds are done we use Sedocol for around 2-3 weeks this is a great liver and blood cleanser and really makes them shine. I always handle my breeders to see condition and won’t breed from one that doesn’t feel right. I look for the oil spot on the ninth flight and a clean throat and very important to me a nice pink tongue. A bird with a black tongue has an internal problem and I refuse to breed from them that year. No exceptions.
  • Entering one loft races is a lot of fun but can be costly so test your birds and only send out of your birds that have won at the distance as young birds. All our best breeders have either been a winner from 400 mile young birds or come off the winners. Pedigrees don’t win races, young birds that have parents that have won races gives you your best chances.
Ryan and Ray Jones of the Jones Boys fame

Ryan and Ray Jones of the Jones Boys fame

Ryan Jones

Ryan and his dad Ray are known worldwide as the Jones Boys. They have won countless OLRs and have been one of the most competitive trios on the OLR circuit for over 60 years.

  • 42-50 days.
  • Yes, stimulate the immune system.
  • Canker & cocci regiment.
  • When you’ve found a pair of bird’s breeding you consistent birds, being 1st to the loft & than 1st in club comb etc. Send birds out of these mating’s. Why would you want to spend your hard earned dollar on a guess? Sway the odds in your favor by sending siblings to your winners.


Jim Milligan – Partner in the Flamingo International Challenge OLR

  • As young as possible. Before they get strong on the wing.
  • Yes. Shipping is very stressful on the birds and they need as much protection as possible. We will give a booster.
  • No special treatment; unless we can give it to all.
  • It’s a great way to test your birds. All are treated equal. Send healthy birds.
  • The most important time in their life is the first 3-4 months of the development stage.



2 Responses to Tips for Breeding Healthier Young Birds for One Loft Races

  1. Sone on February 7, 2018 at 1:05 am

    Good Morning, may I please ask who the author is of this article.

  2. Brandon Brashears on March 27, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    This is excellent information. It would have been nice to see more information from Mr. Carey Tilson.
    It sounds like basically send healthy month old birds in March or April from healthy proven pairs.

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