"Do some fanciers achieve such good results because they do everything so much better, and do others not achieve much because they make so many mistakes?"
Champions are definitely not some kind of magicians who know better how to feed, how to put couples together, how to train and how to give better medical care, although some like to give that impression.
That fact that other fanciers, despite a lot of effort, just have an occasional success is due to the fact that they regrettably don"t have "it" in their fingers.
They lack, what you could call, "the feeling".
Once someone said: "You don"t have to hide when the youngsters come back from exercise?"
I couldn"t believe what I was hearing.
Hiding when the pigeons come back from exercise so that they don"t see you?
Come on!, with me it is the opposite!
When they make no effort to rush into the loft, I take up my position right under the landing board, which is the sign to drop down for the pigeons.
I told the man that, if he has frightened pigeons, that isn"t the birds" fault but his or ... maybe it"s the loft.
"The loft?" he asked surprised.
"Yes," I said. "The loft plays an important part in the handling of the birds and handling is important in respect to discipline, and that includes coming in after an exercise flight."
He then explained how his youngster"s loft was constructed.
It was 5m by 2m and coincidence or not that was also the dimensions of where my own young pigeons were housed.
But there was one big difference, and that was where the problem lay.
By using laths, my loft is divided into four compartments, so that the pigeons don"t have much room to move.
They can hardly get out of my reach when I want to catch them, which makes them a lot more manageable.
His loft with the same dimensions on the other hand was one large space in which it is much more difficult to catch the birds.
He put some lath partitions in his loft and barely one week later his pigeons were a lot tamer.
Van Lancker. Tame pigeons is more fun and they even make you a better racer.
Another fancier complained that three weeks after he had coupled his breeders, not one was sitting on eggs. He hadn"t given them "extra light" and he asked if that could be the cause of the problem.
I said that I didn"t think it likely.
Giving pigeons "extra light" before coupling is good but not a must.
Pigeons that don"t receive "extra light" will be a few days behind laying, but not weeks.
He asked if I would come and have a look at his pigeons.
I know that he looks after his pigeons well and that he has the drive to do well, but I also know that he doesn"t see "it", and when you can help people like him, you do.
I visited him and once in the loft, even a child could sense that something was very wrong.
In the loft it was so uncomfortable and oppressively warm that I wanted to step outside again.
The warmth came from heating panels.
It was uncomfortably warm because the lofts were closed.
"Open the windows," I advised him.
These birds are not scared of the hands of the fancier.
But there was more not right in that loft!
All the pigeons seemed to have wet noses.
"Seemed" because it wasn"t the normal sight that we are familiar with.
The wattles looked as if they were soaked and the feathers around them were greasy. It was also strange that it affected ALL the pigeons; and you seldom see that if there is "ornithosis" or "snot".
They were also sitting around listlessly, and of course for pigeons that have to lay eggs this should never be.
I took a few in my hands.
The throats looked alright but that was about the only thing. They were light and there was no tension in the bodies, something I wouldn"t expect in pigeons with so little energy.
Next we went to the racing lofts and I got a shock.
These did sit tight in the hand and were full of tension; they also had chalk-white wattles. I looked them over closely, sighed deeply, farted silently and apologized: I didn"t have a clue either.
We went back to the breeders when something strange happened.
Just when we wanted to leave the loft, a pigeon started to drink but immediately retracted its head. I looked into the drinker and that made things much clearer. On the surface of the water was a thin oily layer.
"Have you given them vitamin E?" I asked.
"How do you know that?" was his reaction.
"You can tell by that oily layer on the water," I said.
He then started to explain.
He had given a treatment against paratyphoid and had often read that pigeons had to regain their fitness after being treated with antibiotics.
He had also heard that vitamin E is good for fertility, that"s why he had bought it and he showed me the bottle.
It was meant for human consumption and half empty.
"Have you also taken some of it yourself?" I asked him.
He had not.
He had given it to the pigeons three weeks in a row.
I advised him not only to open the windows and switch off the heating, but also to fill the drinkers with clean water.
He cared too much for his pigeons and with a much too high dose of vitamin E, he had almost poisoned them.
If you give vitamins, give a complex (combination), never A, D or E on its own.
Two weeks later he called me.
"You wouldn"t believe the difference in the pigeons." I said that I believed him.
You should not exagerrate.
It is my belief that pigeons don"t need vitamins.
It"s not certain if I"m right, but people who think that you can"t overdose because the surplus will be discarded are certainly wrong.
You can divide vitamins (popularly phrased) into two categories:
1. Vitamins that dissolve in fat.
2. Vitamins that dissolve in water.
Vitamins that dissolve in fat are A, D, E and K, also called "the breeding vitamins" because they all play a part in the growing process.
B1, B2, B6, B12, biotine and so on are vitamins that dissolve in water.
The vitamins of the first category are the ones that you have to be especially careful with.
When you believe in the benefits of vitamins, it is important to know that they (depending on the type) quickly lose their effectiveness in water.
Some vitamins are said to have lost their effectiveness after only a few hours, especially during warm weather. That"s why more and more fanciers have started to give them over the feed instead of in the water. Rosehip syrup and sugared water are good "glues".
Another method is to take away the drinker for a certain period. When you put it back with the vitamins in it, the pigeons will start drinking straight away.
In the loft of Henri van Doorn, one of the best young bird racers in Holland.
Some time later I was back at the loft of fancier two.
"Everything alright?" I asked.
"Super," he said. "I have a good round of youngsters that are eating me out of house and home."
"That is good," I said, 'pigeons have to have a good appetite."
We went into the loft.
"Look at this," he said, and he threw a handful of feed in the feeder. And indeed, the pigeons rushed to the feed. But to my surprise, half of the feed was candy seed.
I asked him why.
"These birds are still so young, you couldn"t give them large grains now could you," was his reaction.
"Don"t you think that with all these small seeds they have to work really hard to fill their crops?" I asked him and added: "Your problem is that you are too good to your pigeons."
"Can you be too good for them?" he asked.
"If you want to win consistently you can be," I said and shook his hand dispiritedly.