My old race loft was more like the lofts you commonly find in Australia, simple flat roof and a couple of sections that are open at the front, with the birds racing to just the perches. Although over the years I kept adding to it, I was always thinking of a new type of loft that would let me house and train the birds in a manner that had been playing on my mind for some time.
In 2000 I decided to build the new race loft, and this time rather different to most Australian pigeon lofts. I pulled the old loft down during the off season and built the new loft myself over a period of 7 weeks (long service leave).
It is 6m long by 4m wide, with 5 sections.
Two large sections 2.4 x 2.4m are at the front of the loft, separated by a corridor, and another two smaller sections behind these. Between these two rear sections I have a section with nest boxes that is 2.8m x 1.6m (see loft plan for more detail).
The loft is fully insulated both under the roofing and in-between the external and internal walls.
There are 7 doors in the loft plus two main front entrance doors, which allow me to move the pigeons around the sections as needed for motivation. It has a high gable roof with plenty of air space above the birds and a “whirly bird” fitted to the roof (wind driven air extractor).
The centre corridor, leading from the entrance doors, which the birds use to enter the loft, allows them to break to the left or right to enter their section.
The birds can move freely from the front sections into the back sections, via small openings in the doors, which I can close off as needed. I call the smaller back sections the “bedrooms”. Most of the birds will head for this section in the evening, and for a midday nap, it is their favourite place to relax, and from there they cannot see out, or anything else see in.
I can also allow them to move from their sections into the rear nest box section via the small openings in the bottom of the doors, which I allow them to do every Saturday and every time that they return from a toss or race. This is part of the reward I use to stimulate and motivate them to race home, I consider it a type of semi-widowhood.
The loft is a full 2.4m from floor to ceiling, but I have reduced this distance by installing a suspended floor about 500mm up from the main loft floor. There is a timber panel in the centre of each section floor, with wire mesh under all the perches. I only clean out under the wire mesh floor a couple of times per year, and firmly believe that the dry droppings, which accumulate under the mesh, helps to keep the loft nice and dry. While the timber panel in the middle, stops the feathers etc from flying up in the loft as the birds move around.
It took a couple of years after I built the loft to get the ventilation just right. At first there was insufficient air movement to keep the
birds healthy but the addition of the small chimneys under the floor with their electric fans, and also opening up a 200mm section along the back wall below floor level fixed the problem.
The system of electric fans under the loft floor can be set to automatically come on with a timer and I use these fans on the timer all through the long hot summer months here in Brisbane.
I have also fitted special lighting that is on a timer and I use this lighting during the race season to extend the daylight hours and to feed the birds after dark.
The Benzing M1 electronic timing pads are under the flooring just before the birds enter their sections, which is where I use to catch the birds to remove their rubber ring back in the days when I used a timing clock. The Benzing M1 is a wonderful invention for pigeon racing, particularly for someone like me who is getting older and my eye sight and memory isn’t what it use to be. The M1 records the arrival of every bird and their velocity, which I add to my electronic records.
I brought the new loft with us when we moved to Chandler in 2004, it weighs 5 tonnes and it was no mean feat to shift it but well worth it!