How to clip pigeons’ flights for maximum results

At the moment many a debate are being held on the correct way to clip a pigeons’ flights to assist the pigeon to complete its moult before racing starts in June in South Africa. There are definitaly a few very important points to take into consideration before the scissors are taken out.

  1. The main point to know before cutting any flight, is that pigeons do not all moult at the same speed.
  2. All youngsters that are weaned before 31 October will complete their moult on their own before the training starts on about 15th April.
  3. All the youngster that are weaned before 30 November will have approx a halve a feather left (No 10) to moult when training starts and the No 10 flight must be cut on the 15th February and pulled 3 weeks later when the dry flight has loosened sufficiantly to eliminate pain.
  4. All youngster that are weaned before 31 Decemder will have approx a feather and a halve left to moult before racing starts. Assist the pigeon with only the last flight ( No 10) as above.
  5. All youngsters that are weaned before 31 January will have 3 to 4 flights left ( No 8,9,10)when training starts. As we never help the pigeon with more than 2 flights only the 9 and 10 flight must receive attention as in 3 above.
  6. All youngsters weaned after the 31 January must not be cut and pulled.

Why do we help the pigeon with only two flights maximum on a side ( No 9 and 10)?.

Firstly you must rememder that we pull the biggest feathers of the pigeon and they need the most nutrition to regrow.

The more flights you pull the shorter they will grow out. Pull only one flight each side and they will grow out about 2 mm shorter with a rounder point. Pull two flights each side and they will grow up to 3 mm shorter with definate rounded points.

Now, how many square millimeter flights-thrust did you loose at the most important place. They are the most important speed flights

Pulling 1 flight on a side (No 10) you lost approx 6 sq mm on a side. Double that for 2 wings = 12 sq mm

Pulling 2 flights on a side ( No 9 and 10) you lost approx 12 sq mm. Double that for 2 wings = 24 sq mm

Pulling more the 3 flights you are slowing your pigeon down totally as the flights will grow out even shorter and with rounded points letting you loose a minimum of 36 sq mm. A pigeon flaps its wings between 9 and 11 times per second depending on the weather it flies in, as well as the lengths of upper wing bone and the other bones that make up the total wing meganism. The shorter these bones the faster the wing works ( approx 11 times per second) and the longer these bones the slower the wing works ( approx 9 to 10 times per second).

So, losing sq mm area on your main working flights, at 9 to 11 flaps per second, surely brings the pigeons home slower. Maybe not so much on the shorter distances, but surely on the longer races when fatique creeps in. It takes a very special pigeon to out perform such a shorter flight disadvantage..

I own a Geerinckx hen (0689/12) bred from a son of the world famous”Gladiator”  that would outfly a massive wing disadvantage of  approx 8 sq cm to become the 7th ace pigeon Federation 2014. She is a whiteflight hen. All the other white flight birds failed the test with their tattered flights. She is just a super pigeon. But are the Geerinckx pigeons in general not some of the best in the world today.

A very important point to remember when you pull any flights, your pigeon become an easy prey for hawks in areas that are hawk infested.

Many fanciers do not know why we first cut the flight before we pull it. The reason for cutting the flight first is for the flight to dry out and to loosen. It is then not so painfull for the pigeon when we pull it. You will also find that in some pigeons the flight fell out by itself. I recommend that the flights must be left to dry for 3 weeks after cutting.

Another error i see when flights are cut, is that the fanciers do not know where to cut the flight. The flight is hollow  where it comes out of the skin and solid towards the end. Many fanciers cut the flight in the solid part which is wrong. The flight cannot dry out in this case. The flight must be cut in the hollow part about 2-3 cm out of the skin. It can then be pulled after 3 weeks with a little pliers.

What is then the answer to the flight pulling dilemma. I am of the opinion the we must plan our breeding program better to wean most of our youngster before 31 october. Mating your breeders on the 20th July will give you 2 sets of youngsters weaned by the 31 October. Take the hens away 4 days after you rang the babies so that the hens do not become eggy again. This will enable them to complete their moult by the time we chase them up to start our training program. A late round can now be bred early the following year by mating the breeders shortly after new year (3rd January). It takes 55 days from mating to weaning, so these youngster will be weaned on approx 28th Febr and you do not need to cut and pull any flights. They can also be rung with the new rings.