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Q and A (questions and answers)


Writing in several pigeon-magazines has consequenses.
It is not thinking about an article, writing an article, then sending it to the publisher and that's it. Readers suspect you from knowing a lot about pigeons and the sport and they come up with questions.
Though this sport is full of mysteries for me too I do not consider 'readers questions' as a problem or a burden, on the contrary.

In the National Dutch pigeonmagazine NPO I deal with 'readers questions' every 2 months and I do the same in the German magazine 'Die Brieftaube'.
That means if I have an answer to the questions (which is not always the case) and if they are interesting for more readers.
There was a time I answered all those questions personally till it drove me crazy.
A positive thing is also that these questions give me stuff to write about, so inspiration for an article. Moreover they teach me what many fanciers have on their mind. Especially those who are new in sport. And those who are new in sport we have to cherish as too many quit already.
Moreover keeping people in this sport and encourage others to start is a moral responsibility of a pigeonmagazine and people who write in it.

Since I have been writing for this magazine I also get letters, faxes and mails from Taiwan. Especially E-mails. It surprised me a bit because the gap between the English language and Chinese is enormous.
I think it is often the children of the fanciers who do the writing as also in Taiwan the younger generation seems to be more acquainted to the English language than their parents.
Just as it was in Holland and Belgium some years ago.
I decided to do the same as I do for Dutch and Belgian magazines: collect the questions and deal with them in articles. At least if they are interesting and educational. So here we go.

'Our first man' had actually more questions. The first one was, I quote:
'How to select the best pigeon from a famous loft in Europe and what is the price of such a bird?' The answer is simple.
Nobody in the world can see for sure if a bird is good.
Good pigeon-men can see if a bird is bad but that is not the same.
Plato taught his students:
All horses are animals but all animals are not horses. Some birds simply cannot be any good as they have too many shortcomings. Shortcominghs such as no balance, feathers which are not soft, poor skeleton and so on.
And if you can see if a bird is bad that is already something.
As mentioned before to see if a bird is good is a different story.
Numourous birds have everything to be good; fine body, good muscles and balance, soft feathers but the most important things that make a bird a good bird cannot be seen from the outside. That means important characteristics such as good orientering, stamina, the will te be home and defend their territory.
If there would be one person in the whole world who could see for sure if a bird was good this would be the end of pigeonsport as the good birds would soon fall into the hands of the rich.
In Holland there is a saying: 'The best grader is the basket!'
What is meant by this is clear:
The race-results and nothing else will show you if a bird has the qualities mentioned before that make it a good one.
Concerning the price the man asked me about one should realise that most champions would not sell their birds if they were sure they were good breeders.
When birds are sold the owner mostly does not know if they are good breeders or not.
Because you cannot see that from the appearance of a bird.
When the results of a superbird are described in reports in European magazines one can often read something like this:
'Unfortunately I do not have the father (or mother) any more. It was sold and that was a big mistake I made.'
This however does not mean that the European champions consciously sell bad pigeons.
This would be very stupid too, something like digging their own grave because there is also such a thing as reputation.
Selling bad pigeons is thinking about to-day and not about the future.
Two other questions of the same Taiwanese fellow-sportsman were:
- 'How to match a good pair sothat I can breed superpigeons too?'
The answer is simple: 'I do not know!'
The following question was.
- 'Could you buy a pair for me that gives superbirds?'
I answered him I could not.
I advised him to mate the best hens with the best cocks and then hope and pray.
In many cases the birth of a superpigeon is a metter of luck. Of course you need good basicbirds to start with: Pigeons of good origine and the more good racers which are related to them the better. But once more: You are never sure!
The best breeding cock I ever had was born in 1988 and gave superbirds with different hens.
The best breeding hen I ever had was of the same age. She had given supers with different cocks too.
So what I did after I discovered how good breeders these pigeons were is what everybody with common sense would do. I mated them.
'What can go wrong?' one would say.
Well everything went wrong. The Golden Pair (in theory) did not give one good baby. Not even a decent one. You may understand these pigeons were never mated again.
The year after the hen gave again a real good racer and so did the cock. Mated with other partners though!
What often happens is also the following thing.
A couple gives a superbird but later on never another good one!
The same man also asked me if I could give him the names of champions where he could buy good pigeons at reasonable price and he asked what a reasonable price was.
Of course it would not be a problem for me to give him such names but that is something I never do in my position as a writer. And what is a reasonable price?
A price of only one USD is not reasonable but far too high if the bird is no good at all.
A price of 10,000 USD is not reasonable but cheap if a bird is a superbreeder!
That means for people with money of course. 10,000 USD is real much for the greater part of people both in Taiwan and Europe.

Another reader had a question about vitamins. He was wondering how the European Champions dealt with it.
The answer is that they handle differently.
Some never administer vitamins at all but that is a minority. Most fanciers give them one day a week, some fanciers 2 days a week. According to scientists from the University at Gent (Belgium) one day will do.
In case vitamins are given this should always be a complex. That means never vitamin A, B, C, D, E and so on alone. Some vitamins may even be toxic when they are given seperately and in too high quantities.
I myself never give vitamins during the racing season. I guess like human beings healthy birds get the vitamins out of good food.
In the past I made tests. A group of birds which I raced got vitamins, others did not get them. I did not notice any difference in the race results. So I stopped.
Now I only give vitamins:
a. To birds which are moulting.
b. In winter. The winters in Western Europe are hard. The days are very short sothat
vitamins compensate for the lack of sunshine.
c. And finally I give vitamins in case birds are weakened by medicine (antibiotics) and to birds which are recovering from a disease or in other abnormal circumstances.
As for human beings scientist think differently about the use of vitamins and this is also the case for animals such as pigeons. Though it must be said that the Japanese Dr. Professor Namikawa, who is far from stupid and a pigeon-lover, is strongly in favour of vitamins.
Anyway it is 100 procent sure that vitamins will not bring the birds in a good condition in some days' time. Vitamines will not make birds winners. What they do is strengthen weakened pigeons and protect them from attacks by bacteria and stuff.

Concerning vitamins I must say there is a new trend in Holland and Belgium. In the past they were admistered via the drinker, so in the water.
Nowadays more and more people give vitamins via the food. In case the vitamins are in powder the food is moistened by 'sugared water' or something like that to make the food sticky sothat the powder will stick on it.
They do that for several reasons.
a. Anything you put in the water, even innocent stuff such as pigeon-tea will give the water a taste. Because of this the birds might drink less as they do not like it. This is something which should absolutely be avoided. The so-called 'water household' inside the body may be upset. The changing acidity (pH) may cause problems such as E-coli. And E-Coli is a serious young bird disease in Europes these days. It is also wrong to put something in the water the day the birds arrive from a race. The birds don't like it, they will soon 'know' that they will be welcomed home by water which they don't like which will 'invite' them to make a stop on their way home from a race to have a drink when they see water.
b. The day of basketing the water should be pure too as the birds might drink less which should be avoided as well. Birds which will be entered for a race must have a chance to drink as much as they like. Water with something in it they often do not like.
c. Some vitamins will give water a sweet taste which might make them less hungry. Less hungry means less food and less food may result in less energy.
d. Another reason to administer vitamins via the food is that some vitamins (that's different from one to another) expire soon in water. They lose their activity especially when exposed to (sun)light and heat. Of some liquid vitamins it is known they only last for a couple of hours, others last for a day.
So if you believe vitamins are good it is a good method to give it via moistened food. Of course it is also possible to put them in the beak of each bird by means of a tablet.

Also medicine are more and more administered via the food.
Then you are sure the required quantity will be absorbed.
The manufacturers of course are not stupid. They made tests and know how much of the medicine should be put in the water.
But they have one problem: They do not know how much the pigeons drink.
Take Ronidazole 10 procent. That is the most popular medication in Europe against trichomoniase (canker) which of course does not mean it is the best. Two grams Ronidazole 10 procent per liter water is the rule. But in cold weather the birds will drink very little. In Europe the weather may be so cold that they hardly drink at all. The result is that in case of canker the birds will not get enough of the medicine and will not recover for the simple reason they were not medicated the proper way.
In summer when the weather may be hot it is the opposite way. Then the birds will drink very much. Two grams per liter water will mean that they are medicated too hard which will hurt the condition. That's why many people choose for the alternative: Ronidazole via the (moistened) food. 4 Grams per kilo thouroughly mixed of course.
Putting up tablets like Spartrix in the beak is also a way but it is a lot of work to grab all the birds individually. Moreover in serieous cases one tablet is not enough to heal the bird. So it is worth considering it to give medicine via the food too if possible.
Then you will have more control about the required quantity.
Of course all birds should be medicated at the same time. If some are mecidated and others are not the latter may infect the first immediately after the medication!

A Taiwanese pigeon-man is also subscribed to European pigeon-magazines. He cannot read the Dutch language but he likes the photos and pedigrees of winners and he is able to read the results. Now he wonders why so few photos of red coloured birds or splashes are published.
The reason is simple.
It is not because we do not like the colour but there are not so many red or white birds which are good. At least not in the present and not in Holland and Belgium.
Some decades ago there were more red birds indeed but it looks like they did not pass the selection based on results.
Of course one should not think in extremes. There ARE superbirds which are red. And a red pigeon does not mean that such a bird is no good just because of the colour.
I am talking about averages.

A final question was asked by a man who saw my results on the Internet. Now he wonders how often I (and other champions) medicate against coccidioses and worms.
The answer can be summarised in one word: never!
This is a bit exaggarated though. Coccidioses is an 'environmental disease' in the first place and also secundary infection. By 'environment disease' I mean that birds are vulnerable to it when they are kept in a humid environment. In a dry loft it is seldom a problem. Moreover pigeons can recover from coccidioses spontaneously. This is quite different from canker. When a bird has canker it will never recover without medicating.
'Secundary infection' means that pigeons may suffer from it when another disease has weakened them. It is well-known that salmonella often goes together with coccidiosis.
And worms?
You should medicate against worms when birds do have worms. It is so simple as that. Why make pigeonsport more complicated than it is?

How readers got my address I do not know but I got some more questions about pigeons and pigeonsport. They will be dealt with in another issue.
Hopefully they will make them better pigeon-men. Good enlightenment is in the benefit of this sport in general. The champions should not be scared about stronger competition. If people keep on losing they will quit the sport. And if many quite the sport the champions will be like Kings without a Kingdom or Generals without an army.