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Help, the food is too cheap

I do not know the situation in Poland, Portugal, The UK, the USA and so on.

But what I do know is that pigeon sport in Holland and Belgium is afflicted by mysterious losses of young birds today.

Now that I am writing this it is end of July 2015.

In Holland the young bird season has just started.

And it is the same old song again: Fanciers that have half of their pigeons left are the lucky ones. But there are also fanciers that have 15 birds left from 90, or 32 from 170, 7 birds left from  35. And so on and so on. It is just depressing.



And as I said, the sad thing is it is the same story year after year. Some fanciers even dare not race young birds any more. They just race them in fall at some short distance races when losses are minimal indeed.

But too bad; this is only a "reprieve of execution". Many of those birds will get lost the year after as yearlings, due to lack of experience.

Even the greatest champions are among the victims and no one has an explanation.

In the 50-ies and 60-ies young birds were hardly trained, many fanciers did not even have a car, but no birds got lost. Today in most provinces birds can be trained at least once a week with the club.

Why did we not lose young birds in the past?

And what is the reason we lose so many now?

These are questions that are on every bodies" lips.

When in the old days people wanted to race 20 babies they ordered 20 rings.

When people want to race 20 babies to-day they order 75 rings.

It stands to reason that there are fanciers, especially novices, that cannot handle it any more and quit.



And  the strangest things happen.


- It is often on the same day that people complain that many young birds got lost just from the loft. The birds behave also strangely then. When you let them out they make circles and circles, fly higher and higher and then oeps, they are gone forever. "There is something in the air" people say. They may be right, but WHAT is in the air?


- Another mysterious thing is the following. Fanciers always toss their birds at the same place, say 10 miles from home. The first five training tosses no problem, then the sixth time, most of the birds do not make it home from the same place.


- The following also happened to me several times. The young birds are released all together, say 10 miles from home, only hours later the first bird gets home and then the others follow, but' one by one. What is the reason they split up. How can it be that 50 birds that were released together get home individually from a ridiculous little distance?


- Also take the first young bird race this year in the province of Oost Brabant, Holland.


It was a race from 100 kilometers, about 60 miles, only. Nicer weather was impossible. Bright, some clouds in the sky, little wind from behind.

But the race was far from nice. In some clubs one day later still prizes were to be won. In other words only one third of the birds was home then.



Much has been written about the phenomenon of losses. Why "today" and not in the past is the key question.

Radar, mobile phones, the Internet? Hmm. Sounds reasonable. We did not have those things in the past. But why then do we not lose youngsters any more in fall? Then there is also radar and so on.

And why do we not lose youngsters from Middle Distance and Long Distance?

"They have to overcome something", is what vet Dr. Marien says.

This makes sense. But what is it that they have to overcome?



When so many birds get lost it stands to reason that it is not strange that there are days that I find five stray birds in my loft. There are nice birds among them but also a lot of junk and even more birds that lack basic health. This made me conclude that I know ONE reason of those losses: The food is too cheap!!!



When I was seven I already was a fancier. This was not real strange. Nearly all the neighbours were fanciers but also my uncles and the friends of my parents. In my little town (4,000 inhabitants) were 65 fanciers (today only 6) and there were 4 places where we could get pigeon food. It was my job to get that food and armed with a bucket I went to get it two houses from ours (50 meters). The price was 50 cents for one kilo I remember.

In those days my dad earned 70 guilders a week and a week meant 45 working hours. So he earned about 1,50 per hour for which he could buy 3 kilos of food.

Today people earn 14 euros per hour average. For 14 euros we can buy a bag of 25 kilos of pigeon food. So in the old days people had to work one hour for 3 kilos of food. Today they can buy 25 kilos for one working hour. A great difference.

Such baskets did not exist in my childhood.


Because the price of food was a problem for nearly every one in the old days fanciers did not breed many babies. Only from the best. Big training basket like we have now did not exist then. How different is this today. The price of food is no issue any more and fanciers breed "their lofts full".

Furthermore you must take into account that in the past we did not have the medicine that we have today. Thus some decades of medication resulted in pigeons that lack basic health. Personally I am sure that cheaper feed that resulted in breeding at random is ONE of the reasons of those losses.

Why I am so sure about this? There are very few fanciers that do not lose babies. But they exist and Boeckx is one of them. But you should see how healthy his birds are the whole year round. Just breath taking.

And when you ask Mr Boeckx what he thinks about Adeno or respiratory problems or other inconveniences with young birds he may just shrug. He does not know what you are talking about.

Boeckx and son


Do not take me wrong. I said I am convinced that breeding too many birds is ONE of the reasons of the losses and not THE reason. There must be more for sure.

Because young birds that get lost from a place 10 miles from home where they were released many times before?

Or 50 young birds that you release together and get home one by one?

It is just weird!