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  News > Dominick Caruso and Mark Sadowski, Part II
  One of Long Island's Best

Dominick Caruso and Mark Sadowski, Part II
This is the continuation of the Caruso and Sadowski article that we posted at the end of June, 2001. Click here to go to Part I.


Beautiful Blue Hen


Breeder cocks
  in the avaiary

We pick up where we left off with Dominick Caruso and Mark Sadowski as they describe their pigeons and their methods.

I ask Dominick to describe what he looks for in a good pigeon as far as handling is concerned, and he replies that he likes a medium sized pigeon with a strong back and excellent balance. Dom is quick to emphasize the word "balance". He also describes what he calls a good pectoral muscle. He likes it to feel like a balloon, not too tight and not too loose or thin. Dom is suspicious of pigeons whose muscles are rock hard. They both describe a pigeon that they think is "right" for a race. When you pick it up, it is very light, almost weightless, the wattle is chalk white, the feathers are so powdery that the pigeon slips through your grip. Birds that are really in top form show an oil spot near the end of the 7th or 8th primary flight and have a clean breast, free of scales and pink in color.

When racing, they like hens on the nest for the longer races, especially hens sitting eggs of eight to ten days. For races up to 200 miles, driving cocks have proven to be very good. They've tried racing old birds to small youngsters but they don't especially like to send birds when they have milk in their crops. While they've had some success with birds feeding large (2 to 3 week old) youngsters, they really prefer hens on eggs. Dom explains that he isn't fond of sending birds on chipping eggs, especially if the weather is hot, because he thinks that the added milk in the crop could sour and cause the pigeon a problem. They are meticulous about observing their birds to see what condition the pigeons are in and what nest position seems to turn particular birds on the best. Dominick points to a hen that is sitting a nest between one of the feeders and a water stand. The nest is actually out in the aviary underneath the landing board. She and her mate made a rather large nest right on the wire and she is sitting the nest very tight. The added incentive Dominick will use to his advantage is that all the birds in the loft have to visit that drinker and feeder from time to time, and this will keep the pair on high alert. I can see that, mentally, Dom has already chalked up a top position in the coming weeks from this hen. Some fanciers would break up this nest because it is in the wrong place and try to make the pair lay in a designated nest box. Caruso will roll with it, and probably win a race because of it.

The tandem races about 30 pair of old birds. They pair up at the beginning of December and let them raise one youngster per pair. When they finish raising that youngster, the pairs are separated. This happens around the beginning of February. During this time, the racers will get a minimum of medication, only Ridzol for canker about once every couple of weeks, but the partnership is quick to point out that prior to pairing, all of the racers had been put through a full medication program. They explain that they follow the general guidelines of the late Joe Rotondo, as outlined in his book, Rotondo on Racing, regarding medication, although they use more modern medications. The usual treatment involves medicating for canker, coccidiosis, worms and respiratory disease. Of course they vaccinate their pigeons for PMV when they are babies of five to six weeks, so all birds in the loft have been vaccinated for this disease.


Breeder cocks take a look around 

At the beginning of February when the birds are separated again, each sex is loft flown separately. Dom reminds me that from the middle of November to the middle of February it is impossible to let the pigeons out because of the terrible problems they have with hawks. Therefore, the old birds are allowed to gradually build their wing strength until they will give Dom an hour or so every day around the loft. Dom admits that he sometimes has to force them to fly, but eventually all birds will exercise for about one hour every morning. About two weeks before the first race, the tandem starts training. They start the old birds at twenty miles and eventually work them up to about five or six 50-mile tosses before they are put onto the club training truck for two or three 70-mile tosses. That is all that they do prior to the first race. Dom explains that he doesn't believe in hard training, and Mark quickly points out that when they tell their competitors this, no one on Long Island believes them. The partnership likes to hear the competition talking like this, because they know that it will only keep them on the top that much longer.


Character pigeons are winners 

As the old bird season progresses they train less and less. They believe that the key to their success is observation, and using what nature gives them in the loft, such as the hen on eggs next to the water stand. Tricks are used as well. An example is that Dom likes to give a three to four day old youngster to a hen that has been sitting ten to twelve days. He likes to put the youngster in the nest just about thirty minutes before he takes her away to the club to basket her for the race. Dom says that he has won many races using this trick. Another trick that he likes to use on old birds is to add one egg per day for about three days prior to shipping the race. Any bird sitting a nest that has three added eggs is extremely keen, and this method has also produced some outstanding results. "It all adds up to observation and learning to take advantage of the natural situations that develop in the loft," says Dom.

Dom "medicates as observation dictates" during the season, only in a preventative manner, and "never after Wednesday." Dom says that he feels lucky to have Scott Dale as a friend who will swab the throats and do fecal exams on his pigeons periodically during the season. "This," he says, "really helps us keep on top of the health situation." Other than that it is just good pigeons, time-tested on their course.

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This hen is highly
sitting eggs near
the feeder


Caruso and Sadowski breed from about thirty pairs of breeders. They start in early December and have finished weaning their last youngsters by mid-May. They breed about 60 to 70 youngsters and put the babies on lights for about 20 hours per day just after weaning. Timers in the loft regulate the light until June 1st. From that point on, the lights are turned off and the young birds are on natural light. Young birds are loft exercised for about one hour each day while they are growing up. The partnership pulls the middle four tail feathers on each baby, then when those have grown out, they pull the next two on each end and then the following two. They plan to pull the two end flights this year, by cutting and pulling the 9th and after it has grown out, doing the same thing to the tenth. They want those two end flights to be completely grown out by the time they are ready to start training, which is July 1st. By this time, all young birds are well into the molt and nearly finished in the wing.

The like to fly their young birds mated. They like this system, as it is modeled after their very successful old bird system. They will fly the youngsters driving, and on eggs, but they never let the young birds hatch any eggs. They've found that just about any egg position is good for young birds and feel as though this system has really helped them win many of those 300-mile futurity races. Sometimes, at the end of the year the races can get really tough, as the weather can get very unpredictable. They've even clocked birds in the snow! Having the extra incentive of having a young bird coming to eggs, they feel, helps to keep those youngsters coming when many of their competitors' birds will quit. Last year they took 1st , 2nd and 3rd in one of the big futurities on a day when at dark, there were no birds reported on Long Island, and a light snow was falling. It was so dark that they decided to call it a day and they began to lock up the loft. Just as Dom came out from closing up the loft, he heard something and looked up as he saw a shadow. There were three birds trying to land. Dom called out to Mark to open the loft and they managed to clock all three birds. Neither of them could believe it. All three were sitting eggs, and won 1st, 2nd and 3rd -- the only day birds on Long Island. That was a race they will never forget, and that win certainly lends a great deal of credence to their methods. It didn't hurt their image as one of the top lofts on Long Island, either.

They use the same medication program for their young birds that they do for their old birds, basically following the advice of Joe Rotondo in his famous book. Of course, they use more modern medications, but they believe that the system is correct. They like to have a local fancier check the droppings and do throat smears every couple of weeks, just to make sure that all is right within the loft.

Mark and Dom work hard with their birds, but they don't think that they work any harder than many guys do. They try very hard to work smart and they and they feel that right now they've got a great combination of bloodlines working for them.

Sound loft methods, top birds, keen observation and shrewd tactics are the "secrets" that I found behind the success of this well-known partnership. Long Island should be proud that competitors of this caliber compete among them. They certainly raise the bar to a very high level. I think we'll be hearing about Caruso and Sadowski for a long time to come.


Mark and Dom have offered their assistance to anyone who wishes more information on their methods. Just give them a call at 516-433-4986. Tell them Ed sent you.

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