Good fanciers and good birds
Super fanciers and Super pigeons
One of the things that I cannot stand is pigeons that are not disciplined.
They should behave as I want, a good loft climate and my care should be enough to be perfectly healthy. If not, they can leave.
This does not mean I spend very much time on them, cleaning lofts every day is not my favourite pastime. A good loft is of the utmost importance. In a poor loft pigeons must defend themselves so much against unfavourable weather conditions that it is hard for them to get into good shape.
You also need to breed as many babies as you can handle and select them strongly. From the moment I wean them I search every time I enter the loft for pigeons to leave.
I look primarily for a perfect natural health, good manners, a reasonable build, soft feathers, flexible last flights. And of course performances later on.
Why a "reasonable build " is good enough?
I handled too many good birds with a 'normal' body.
If they have a good balance, leaning slightly forward when I handle them, it is enough for me. These types of the past with large heads and broad backs are out dated.
Modern racing pigeons are smaller and slimmer.
I do not care if the tail is slightly 'up' as long as the birds are not of "two pieces" and the tailbones are closed.
A very important quality is good plumes.
I have seen tall pigeons that were good, short pigeons that flew well and good birds with a deep keel. But I never saw a good bird with hard plumes.
Of course you cannot turn things around.
Pigeons are not good because they have soft feathers, they are however poor in case of hard plumes.
Soft feathers will last along with flexible flights, a prerequisite for pigeons that you fly at longer distances.
In Belgium you sometimes see good racers with stiff flights indeed, but these are without exception 'vitesse pigeons'.
For greater distances these are worthless. Just open the wing of a pigeon that has flown for many hours and you're amazed to see how much the outer flights are bent.
If they are not flexible it will make flying more difficult and fatigue the bird.
OF ALL TIMES
A thorough selection has always been the weapon of champions.
But I feel there is a difference with the past. In the past pigeons that were no good did not stay in the loft one day longer than necessary. Now some people have an aviary with the hope for them to relocate abroad.
There is nothing against selling pigeons, I do so myself, but if you knowingly sell junk you saw at the branch on which you sit.
A good criterion for the selection of youngsters are also the 'fond races'.
Many babies that won races from 500 kilometres and further became basic breeders for others and me.
THE MOST RIGOROUS
De Feyter, the almost legendary caretaker of the Havenith loft, was said to be the champion of the selection.
When on a hot day winds ahead there was a race from Dourdan., de Feyter said to the people who watched the homecoming of the birds: "Today I can teach you something. We have 30 babies in the race, they are in good condition and today it is THE day to select
When half of the birds were home the pigeon timer was removed and replaced by a basket.
In it they put latecomers. For them there was no place in the loft any more.
I would not recommend to follow him but it cannot be denied that Havenith was the man to beat for decades and he said he thanked his successes to his murderous selection. And if you perform so well for such a long time you do the right things.
Why I would not recommend to follow him l will I tell you by means of an example.
A few years back I had my '011 '.
In a real hard race, clear, warm and headwinds she was the fastest of 25,000 pigeons.
Then came the big race from Orleans and since the weather had not changed I pooled pretty much money on the bird. '011' failed hopelessly.
What many champions have in common is that they claim to know nothing about pigeons and... they select unusually severe.
The mistake many make is that they look for excuses not to remove a pigeon.
- "The brother was a good one."
- "The mother had cost a lot of money."
- "The grandfather I got from Champion X."
- "The pigeon was not in condition."
- "There were many lucky races.'
It may sound weird, but you can love pigeons too much
If you cannot race your young hens at long distance, try to race them as old birds, like many champions do today.If you only race cocks it is hard to know the (breeding) value of your hens. The best way to grade them is to race them.
And selection should be done the whole year round, as I said. Last year I got rid of some birds just before the racing season.
A young cock had no character, it was kicked out of his nest box every other day, a young hen ran from her eggs every time I entered the loft and another bird never had its feathers flat and shining.
Pigeons that already struggle to stay healthy BEFORE the racing season will certainly not get form during the racing season.
Finally something that I do not understand:
There are people who have not one good racer but in spite of that they have a loft with 15 breeding pairs or more. I always wonder what those birds are doing there, except from supporting the livelihood of manufacturers of pigeon feed.