Many ways. In the weekly pigeon magazines from Holland and Belgium you read the latest news, race results, loft reports and of course there are the ads.
The loft reports about the champions are for many people the most interesting.
They want to race as well as the champions and knowing that there is more to it than just good birds they want to learn from the champions and they are tempted to imitate them. But imitate the champions, strange as it may sound, is a risky business. I will show you why.
DIRK VAN DEN BULCK
I read a report about Dirk van den Bulck. He is someone with not too many pigeons and very hard to beat in the sprint races. . The man loses few youngsters and that is remarkable in these days.
These mysterious losses have become a nightmare for almost every fancier in both Holland and Belgium. For some mysterious reason fanciers that do not lose many babies have become exceptions.
This report was published early April. The old bird season was about to start but it was delayed due to the extremely low temperature.
And what did I read about v d Bulck? While we even had not been able to train our old birds due to bitterly cold weather he had already been on the road with his youngsters!
I could not believe my eyes. Training birds that are hardly three months old in such cold weather?
The first tosses were hardly 400 meters from his house and the birds were released one by one I read. Coincidentally his friend Leo Heremans used to do exactly the same.
Was this the explanation for the fact that he, unlike so many others, hardly lost any babies? Hmmm.
Another guy who hardly loses any babies is Boeckx, another short distance Ace. "Have you an explanation for this?" I once asked him.
This was what he answered: "Others are too much in a hurry. They should let the babies mature before they start to train them.
I only start training the young birds shortly before the races; In July."
Both Boeckx and v d Bulck race super at long distance. Both of them hardly lose any babies.
But their methods are totally different!
. OLD BIRDS
In the past fanciers from Holland and Belgium hardly tossed their birds.
Pigeons need rest in between the races was the general opinion.
But times changed. Today people like Roziers, Stickers Donckers nearly toss their birds daily. Koopman says training is of vital importance. His birds train around the loft four hours daily! (two times two hours).
Boeckx, mentioned before, is known for his good result with hens. These hens are in an open aviary and' DO NOT TRAIN ONE MINUTE. A guy named Vandenabeele does not believe in training either.
Just before the racing season W de Bruijn and me visited Luc van Mechelen, a good racer in the north of Belgium. He showed us some birds and we were shocked.
Rarely or never seen pigeons in such a breathtaking condition.
Luc said he believed he had an explanation.
He had made the loft above the heads of the pigeons completely open. "Fresh air is what they need" he said.
So lofts should be open to get the birds in good shape? Please wait.
The lofts of v d Bulck, mentioned before have flat roofs; so no ventilation. Dirk van Dijck, the man who bred "Kannibaal", claims he owes his good results to the super condition of the birds, which seems logical. But' he thinks his birds get these good condition because they are housed in a warm loft with a flat roof.
Gaby Vandenabeele, Rik Cools, Joost de Smeyter, Willem de Bruijn and me had a dinner together. Guess what we talked about.
- The discussion was about pox. Some vets say inject is the best thing to do, Dr. H de Weerd disagrees. He believes that the brush is still the best.
- The discussion was about tea. Champion Andre Roodhooft was always a great advocate of tea for pigeons. But he changed his mind and does not believe in it any more. Gaby Vandenabeele though strongly believes in tea.
- We discussed PMV. Several vets believe that vaccination against paramyxovirus only makes sense if youngsters are old enough; at least two months. Dr. H de Weerd thinks different. The vaccination should preferably be done immediately after weaning he claims.
- We discussed paratyphoid. The vets Schroeder , Herbots and others advocate injecting the birds. Dr. de Weerd finds it pointless.
If some birds have paratyphoid remove those most vets say. They are a constant threat. Both Dr. de Weerd and dr. Schroeder do not agree and believe that birds can completely recover provided vital parts are not "hit".
- We discussed garlic. Many fanciers found that after they had garlic in the drinker they did not have problem with canker any more.
Dr. de Weerd thinks that no canker due to acids is BS.
ANTWERP VS FLANDERS.
The bands of birds from the province of Antwerp start with "6".
There are pretty many foreigners that only want to buy Belgian birds if the bandnumber starts with "6".
Their idea is that these birds are better.
The Flemish guys Vandenabeele and Cools reacted that pigeons from Antwerp may be better for middle distance indeed but for races further than 600 kilometers and a speed of less than 1200 mpm Flemish pigeons would be superior.
Vandenabeele believes that competition in the Netherlands and even more in Germany is less strong since fanciers basket too many birds there and the Belgians only race their best. Most Dutch and Germans think otherwise because of very few birds competing in Belgium. "Many roads lead to Rome" de Weerd concluded.
It is a clich' but the dinner proved how right this is.
Different methods and systems may pave the road to successes, but one method is definitely wrong: Changing your method again and again.
Are you happy with your results?
Never change a winning team the English say.
Are you NOT happy with your results?
It is probably not because of a wrong system but of birds that are no good.
But seldom did I hear fanciers say "My results are poor because my birds lack quality." They blame it on the location, the loft or whatever.
But while others were looking for better methods, better medicine, better vets I was always looking for better birds.
And I never regretted it!!!