by P. Field [For PDF version Click Here]
First, fix a good weatherproof light so that it lights up the cage and top of the loft. This being the only place you wish your birds to drop. Try to get the light concentrated on this point so that your droppers, which you can use either in the cage or loose on the top, are clearly seen the whole time. With a pair of droppers, I should suggest keeping the hen in the cage and have the cock out on top, this should encourage him to flap about and so attract your kit. The main thing, first of all, is to give your birds confidence to be out in the dark.
This also applies to your droppers, as it is fatal in my opinion if your droppers are nervous. Try to avoid having to drive them to make them work as in doing so you may be scaring your fliers also as they will be watching these birds below. I suggest that you train your dropper cocks first of all as suggested previously. Put the hen in the cage and get the cock out on top, doing this before dark. When dusk, get him used to the light going on without scaring him off, meanwhile throw a bit of seed occasionally just to keep his attention. Next, you have to teach him to into the cage when required. After progressing this far and if the weather permits, even if you do not have him out each night, give the droppers feed in the cage after it is dark, for a week, they will become used to the light quicker.
I always feed my flyers by artificial light right through the year, as I think that this makes them realize that the lights mean feeding time. Do the same with the birds you wish to fly, let them into the cage when it is dusk and when dark put on your light and throw them a bit of corn feed or seed and get them confident enough to feed in the cage. Whenever you approach the loft especially when dark, talk to your birds, you will find that they start to coo knowing that it is you and are not frightened, having got your birds used to the light going on. Before it is dark, have them out one at a time letting them flap about and pitch back to the loft. Have the rest of the kit in the cage and your droppers out the whole time. This method allows them to get used to their surroundings again, leave them out but wtcah out for cats and when dark switch on your lifgts, make sure to take care and not scare the birds at all. After they get used to this get them back in to the cage wuth a little seed. After a wgile yoy will only need to open the cage door and your birds will automatically go in. After settling them in this manner turn them out for a spin making sure that the birds will be ready to come before dark, but remember when you have reached this stage put out your droppers and switch on the light even if it is not really dark, for preference when the street lights go on as the kit can see their surroundings and do not get confused. If you are patient enough and can spare the time to persevere on these lines and use a little common sense everything should be OK.
Some birds are different in temperament to others and react in a different way being more unreliable. If you get a bird acting awkward in training do not let it spoil the rest of your kit but persevere with those that give you satisfaction. You will find it will take a little time and patience to get the results you require but it is worth the effort.
Once trained, your kit will come easier in the dark. Once the lights and droppers are shown, they will respond more definitely and not as sometimes happens when it is still light. The birds show for the loft and then lift away again. Do not condemn a bird that makes a mistake whilst in training, as some fanciers suggest. If a bird pitches away, I never trust the bird again, as I consider this a serious mistake and could spoil a whole kit. A bird dropping before lights are shown can be entirely different, this could be caused through lack of condition, and the result of too low a diet or that it is falling sick. Also look to your self as you may upset the routine in some way. Always check before liberating your kit, handle each bird to see if the condition seems normal. Many birds have made the mistake through being flown when not in condition. This is a point I always stress when giving advice on my method. Youngsters can be successfully trained on the same lines.