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Sampson Brothers Light
System Up-date

Although we have been successful in the past following the video as is, we have made a few changes that we feel improves the system. These changes are based on feedback from others and our own experimenting.

It is very important to incorporate these changes from the original video.

Time of day:

By centering the day around 12:00 noon, we have found a big improvement in reducing losses. If you want 20 hours you must use 12:00 as the center of the day and, lights will go on 10 hours before noon and go off 10 hours after 12:00 noon. The same applies when you shorten (darken) the day.


Early training is a must for “early youngsters”  Start training as soon as possible after birds are ranging well. Start with short tosses, 2 to 5 miles, work your way out to 50 miles. At this point it is good to start “one at a time training” from about 20/25 miles. Let them go one at a time every minute or so, they will bunch up at first but soon will be coming home in 2’s and 3’s. You must stay at the same spot when doing this otherwise they will always circle too much..An occasional group toss from the same spot is OK at this time to teach them to break out without hesitation.

We have found the most critical time for losses when training are when the temperatures are high and the youngsters are going through a heavy body molt. If this happens stop training until molt is better and stick with very early cool morning tosses. Remember, a high dew point is  harder on them than high temperatures alone. Never train in the heat of the day under any circumstances. The biggest killer is high a UV index, stay under 5 or 6 when training YB’s, or train early morning and late afternoon when the Sun is not so high in the sky and the UV index is low.

Cutting Flights:

If you pair up later, say January 1st. you may want to pull the 9th and 10th flights to insure complete molt before races start, if you start in September it may not a be a problem. If cutting flights, cut 3/4 to1“ off the tip of the 9th and 10th, the day you wean them. Pull the 9th when the 1st is growing in, or at least 30 days from weaning. When ready to pull cut another 1”off the 9th, wait a week then pull. Pull the 10th when the 9th is completely in, do the same as you did with the 9th. cut another 1”off, wait a week, pull.  The quill must be dry when it is pulled otherwise you may have a deformed feather grow in, it is also important to pull it “straight” when removing.

Very Important: If cutting and pulling flights, it must be done early, and we don’t recommend going to a short day at all  later in the summer. If timing is late and you go to a drastic short day later to speed up the body molt, they can and will drop the 9th and/or maybe the 10th a second time when up around the 8th flight, this will leave a big hole in the wing, combined with a  heavy body molt, your in trouble. They will still molt the body without going to a short day, only slower, not heavy at all but complete, this is probably easier on them anyhow,  you hardly notice but the body is completed.

A major optional change:

When the days are getting longer and the molt is making good progress, you can go to a normal day and the wing will continue to molt.  Or you can stay at 20 hours, if you go to a normal day, they will start to molt the body very fast. Either way, June 23rd,  Summer Solstice, they should be stay at 20 hours a day, we no longer go to a short day when  racing and we have had no problems with a second molt.

We have found by staying at 20 hours the birds go through a slower body molt and have more feathers when hot weather and training start. If day is shortened, they will drop body very fas and have difficulty flying.

By leaving the day at 20 hours we have found the birds do just as well racing, no second molt, no shades to pull, etc. In short it is allot easier with the same results. We no longer pull the tail in July, we do it after the season is over now.

Do’s and Don’ts:

Discourage mating as much as possible until just prior to race season if you did not separate earlier. It will effect your results later in the season when you want them at their best, they will be flat.

Never let your youngsters' pair up and lay eggs or feed babies during the summer, this will cause a second molt when separated later.

Make sure breeder lights are on 14 hours, no more, no less, youngsters must see a change in the length of day to get the wing started.

Hawk Hints:

There are two migration periods, Early Spring and Early Fall; these are the worst times of the year. There is no way to get around it, but there are several things we can do to lessen the problems.

In the spring, watch the weather closely, if there is a storm brewing south of you 150/200 miles. You will have a bad Hawk day tomorrow or before the storm hits your area. They will migrate ahead of the weather and when get to your area go in to a feeding frenzy before the storm hits at which time they will sit it out, when it clears they move on. A good thing to watch is the Barometric pressure, when it’s dropping keep your youngsters in. The opposite applies in the fall, if weather is bad north of you, be extra careful the next day.

If Hawks are bothering you during the dead of winter, they are either residents or wintering Hawks. If only wintering and you are able to catch them, you will not have in so bad, others will not move in so fast or at all until spring. Goshawks do not migrate much or at all so they are always a threat, find a way to get rid of them. Coopers and Sharp Shin’s are big migrators; these will be your biggest problem during the migrations. Cooper’s numbers are much less than Sharp Shins by about 10 to 1, but the Sharp Shins are not quite so deadly.

In the spring, they love to migrate on days with strong South winds, the more wind, the more Hawks. Same applies to Fall except it’s North winds.

We have found by putting a strobe light on top of the loft and/or another near the aviary so youngsters can  see it well during the day when being settled, we have reduced our Spring losses from Hawks scaring youngsters away. They see this light from miles away and are able to get back home. Before they know where home is, they are lost very easy from only a mile or two away when Hawks scare them off.  Try it, it works.

If Hawks are impossible in your area, try mating up 5 or 6 weeks later, 3 or 4 weeks of migration trouble are better than 9 or 10. The year we won the first 9 places in the New England Open Vs 4869 birds we did not pair up until January 1st.  so it’s no problem to wait.

Hard to mate youngsters:

If your youngsters do not want to mate, separate then again for a week, they will go together much better after being separated, if left together all the time they will pair up very slowly.

If a particular good one refuse to mate, put her/him in a section all alone with one of the opposite sex for 2 hours a day until mated, they will come like crazy that week.

When team is paired up well, lessen the time you show before and after the race separate sooner.

It’s OK to let them see each other once during the week from training, but separate after they get home.

Final thought:

Remember, “Light or Dark”  systems do not mean races by itself alone, it helps, but you need the complete system to win more than your share. All these systems do is insure your pigeons are not molting while racing, both systems accomplish this. However, the Dark System can be very unpredictable mid-September on, they can and will by design, go into a heavy body molt again and will drop wing flights two and three at a time, when you want them at their best they will be a at their worst. My Light System is designed to kick in about the 3rd race and get better as the season progresses if followed to the letter. Let the Dark birds win the first few weeks, then you can take over.

A few more changes:

We are tired of standing around outside in the dead of winter freezing our buns off. For many years we have heard of people that wait as late as the end of June to settle and let out their Youngbirds.

We feel this is a little much but we did decide to try Mid-April as that’s when the Hawk migrations about over in my area, one of the main reasons we do not like settling in winter. We did not pair up the birds until January 1st and kept in the aviary (settling cage) until mid April.

A few losses 1st time out for the 1st group, but it was a nice day and we had Old Birds out, big mistake. Next group we waited until we had a drizzle type day, no problems, no losses. Others who practice this system also recommend a cloudy, overcast, drizzly type of day for the 1st time out..

We did not want to report on this until the season was over so we could better evaluate the change. We had a very relaxing Winter, just kept weaning the babies and throwing food and water in, no problems at all with Hawks or bad weather, took a couple of nice vacations, etc.. The training went good, a little change here also, no more babying them or teaching the dumb ones. We went to each distance starting at 4 miles, two times, of course they never beat me home, but they had to think every time out, we never let them get too comfortable about knowing where they were. No more losses than normal and when we gave them the first good 50 miler they beat us home for the first time.

Our results were every bit as good as other years and we had a few of our big weeks like taking the first 11 positions out of 15 shipped, etc. we hammered the Concourse pretty good several times. (Check out our web site for more results,

So all in all I would say that’s the way we will be going in the future except now we will go back to Thanksgiving day for putting the breeders birds together, if were are holding them in it’s no problem to breed early. We will still pull 9th and 10th flight feathers, with no loft flying until mid-April we can cut and pull both 9 and 10 together, they will be fully grown in before they are let out in mid-April. It may not be necessary to pull the 9th and 10th, as we may be able to get them through the wing and body molt before the first race by breeding early again and lack of stress until let out, but we feel “why not” ?

If you don’t have problems with Hawks or Snow you may not want to try holding them back, but you still could if you wanted, without worrying too much and concentrate more on your Old Birds..

Good luck

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