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Every man has his own truth (May 9th 2018)


Listening to a large number of fanciers, among which some are top champions, there are two subjects that no one can be certain about.

- The first is: will your pigeons race better if you give them training flights in between the races (especially with youngsters).

- The other subject is as old as the pigeon sport itself: questions about medical care.

Years ago, Piet de Weerd already classified some fanciers as 'grain and water men', others as medicine-men. Many ask themselves the question who will perform best in the races, fanciers that have the best vet (medication), or fanciers with the best pigeons?

It's a fact that more and more fanciers, vets also, turn away from medication, while a small number of them tend to use more medication.


First, let's talk (again) about training by car. In the border area you can see countless Dutch pigeons flying over on racing days. I remember that day in 2010.

I saw numerous young pigeons from Overijssel that were released in Strombeek every 10 minutes. They flew in large groups and in very large groups. Sometimes side by side, but mainly behind each other.

What they didn't do however, was overtake each other, apart from a few small groups, flying at a different height. No pigeons broke away from the group, and no pigeons fell behind. They all appeared to be flying at the same speed.

Now one could ask yourself, how can these birds, after having flown barely 60 kilometers, come to fly BEHIND each other? It couldn't be true, that after such a short distance, so many pigeons already were unable to follow?


I think that the difference begins right at the start. I have been present at many releases. Sometimes they were inexperienced young pigeons. Other times they were old birds. And what was noticeable with the youngsters?

They all assembled in an enormous cloud over the release area, and then they separated into groups, and started flying north.

One group after the other, and it took several minutes before almost all of them had flown off.

I say 'almost all of them', because some pigeons don't start flying at all. They have to be chased out of the trucks, only to descend onto the roof of cars or nearby buildings.

How different do the old pigeons behave! They seem to be ‘fired out of a canon’, and start flying their way home immediately in all directions, and after a few seconds there isn't a single pigeon in the area anymore.


Experience, or the lack of it, is the only explanation for this immense difference. Especially for the first few races of the season. The answer to the question, ‘Can you do something to make your pigeons perform better?’, is therefore amazingly simple: Give them more experience, or in other words, take them out for training flights as often as you can. That way they get used to the basket, leave the basket quicker, develop more self-confidence and have less stress.

And how much stress inexperienced youngsters feel, you'll notice the first couple of times that you put them in a basket. They are nervous, they foul each other, and they often won't come out of the opened basket, but they just sit in the road or even on the car.

You will also notice this nervousness, when you transport them on the back seat of your car. With youngsters, very soon the windows will mist up with condensation. With old pigeons it's not nearly as much. Take it from me, all those speed racers who perform magnificently from the very start of the season, have trained their young pigeons well.

And these supermen who perform with, as they say, 'barely trained pigeons', are not super champions, but super liars.


Is it worth driving in between races with EXPERIENCED pigeons that have already flown some middle-distance races? Some champions claim that it's worth it. Others, equally great champions, don't believe in the merit of it.

And I?

I don't know what to believe. It seems unnecessary if the pigeons exercise well around home, but worth it when they sit on a nest. When you exercise pigeons that are on a nest only in the morning, the hens won't fly for a whole week. And that can't be good for them. These birds will benefit from extra training flights for sure.


If you want to be a successful article writer, all you have to write about are medical subjects, and your articles will be read. But that is a mammoth task, when you realize that every vet and every champion has his own truths.

- There are the 'grain and water' men, who want to keep it purely natural.

- There are fanciers, who treat their pigeons (mostly against head illnesses and canker) often, sometimes even every week.

- Others only give a treatment a few times a year. These fanciers perform well in races that are of much consequence, like Bourges. Then they fall back, and after a couple of weeks, they perform well again.

- Others again, give a five-day treatment against head illnesses (usually with Soludox) before the start of the season, and after that nothing else throughout the whole season. And all methods seem to work.

Take Michel Vanlint for instance. At a certain time, he raced so well that people just did not understand. Michel always freely admitted that he gave his pigeons lots of medicines. Nowadays however, he seems to have renounced the use of medication altogether. But he continues to perform well. As he says, “Now it’s without the use of antibiotics”. And why would he lie about it?


Although you hear ever more alarming reports about increasing resistance against especially canker, I'm one of those fanciers who stopped treating against it years ago. At least, I don't treat the breeders against it anymore. I still treat my racing pigeons, but only after a race in high temperatures and with two nights in the basket.

In my opinion, “Quievrain racers”, so sprint men” don't have to treat at all during the season. Their pigeons only stay in the basket for one night, and there is barely a chance of contamination.

I'm only a modest countryman, and not a vet like Ally, van Rompaey, Peters, Hoekstra, de Weerd, Herbots or Marien, but I still think that it does more harm than good to give numerous short treatments. Most fanciers, who complain about problems with head illnesses, give the same answer when I ask them what they have given their pigeons: "Sir, if only you knew. I have tried absolutely everything there is to try."

Fanciers, who never treated their pigeons against head illnesses, seem to have fewer problems. My advice is, if you perform well, keep on doing what you did. If you don't get results, try to get better quality pigeons instead of using medicines. How else can you explain, that vets who are serious about racing, are also constantly looking out for a better quality pigeons?


Braad-de Joode, the former long-distance champions in the Netherlands, have never made a secret of the fact that they give their pigeon’s intensive medical care.

"There will come a time, when they will get problems," I used to think, but they keep on performing well.

That it is possible to be a champion without the use of medication, is proven by J. van Gisbergen (Smedje) from Hooge Mierde, Holland. He must be about 88 years old now and was already a great champion decades ago. And Smedje has never heard of head illnesses, let alone of medication against it. Like I said, every man his own truth. But personally, I will always go for better quality pigeons, and avoid the use of medication as much as possible.