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Searching for better (oct 23rd)

Autumn is the time that fanciers look to buy pigeons to strengthen their loft, and that is understandable. At that time the strength of the loft is known, and there is a better chance to acquire 'quality'. People who sell young 'from their best pigeons' in spring you'd best not take seriously, even the greatest champion needs them himself at that time.

I won't quickly give out names when people ask for a good address to strengthen their loft. With a little research they should be able to find these for themselves. And advertisements or sales? You don't have to avoid these. But be careful!


I sometimes see advertisements of fanciers I know. Among them are men with good pigeons, where you can buy pigeons for little money. The adverts are often small and without any frills, but that doesn't mean anything.  

The size of the ad and the language that is used has as little to do with quality as the asking price.

For 30,000 Euros you can buy a better car than for 10,000 Euros, for 300,000 Euros a better house than for 150,000 Euros, but this logic doesn't apply to the pigeon sport. A pigeon that has cost a fortune is not by definition better than a pigeon that you got as a present or that you bought at Lier market in Belgium.

Money does therefore not destroy the sport, although it is said to do so and the fact that the merchandise is highly praised in adverts and sale programs is quite normal. As a buyer you'll have to pay attention, which not everybody can and that explains why one fancier has more success than others with the acquisition of pigeons. It does not seem very plausible that people who buy pigeons from all over and fail with all of them are constantly hoodwinked. These people make mistakes!

They go to the wrong people at the wrong time and buy the wrong pigeons.


Over the years I have bought many pigeons myself, pigeons from famous fanciers and pigeons from completely unknown people. That made me realize that name and breed mean very little when you are looking to strengthen your loft, and that you pay for the name. The problem with some buyers however is that they don't want cheaper pigeons.

German fanciers in particular have that very strongly. When you name the price they sometimes tell you "yes, but I want pigeons out of the good ones". On the other hand, pigeons with renowned names are important when you want to sell, because they are easier to market than the offspring of pigeons that you got from your late grandfather, who had bred them out of birds that had dropped in his loft.

If selling is the main objective then you have to give people what they ask for. When I 'buy to strengthen my loft' it is always from someone who is achieving tremendous results, the man should not have too many pigeons, just not enough space. That forces him to sell pigeons that other fanciers would keep and ... very important, such a fancier has to race against strong competition. Results say a lot, but not everything. You have to know where and against whom they have been achieved.


Do you buy young pigeons or eggs? Both have advantages and disadvantages. With eggs you can't see what will come out. It can be a young pigeon that you would never have bought, but it can also be such a splendid pigeon that the owner would have been tempted to keep it himself. For that reason some give rings beforehand when they buy young pigeons, so that the seller can't go back on his word. And the man who sells will have less difficulty emotionally to take away eggs from under his best pigeons than magnificent four week old youngsters. A drawback of 'eggs' is that you can be unlucky with them, but an advantage is that they are much cheaper.


I like to buy brothers, sisters or young from a 'super pigeon', but only provided that this pigeon has several good ones in the family. At one time I knew a loft with such a 'super'; that I tried to buy it. However, the owner was so honest (or naive?) to tell me that he had six brothers of this pigeon that didn't achieve anything at all, and that was the end of my interest. Later I heard that someone I knew had bought it.

"Congratulations," I said, "but you won't go far with it." He bred a compartment full of young out of it, but these were all as witless as the brothers. Many buyers differentiate between young from racers and young from breeders. I don't really see that difference. Racers have a 'service record', something that can't be said of many breeders.

In the breeding loft there are often pigeons that are only there because they have cost a lot of money, or because they have connections with a famous name, but the birds have yet to prove themselves. That explains why in some breeding lofts you see pigeons of 4 years or older that have not yet produced a single good one.

It beats me what these pigeons are doing there! Young out of (good) racers offer the same chances, provided that they have a partner with a good ancestry. Should newly acquired pigeons be released outside or not? First of all we have to realize that pigeons that are locked in are 'shorter lived'. How much shorter depends on the space in which they are shut. Small breeding boxes without an aviary and without much 'sun' are a direct attack on the vitality, but releasing the new pigeons means that you can lose them.


What the best way to couple the new acquisitions is depends on what kind of pigeons you have already got. If you already have good pigeons I wouldn't put the newly bought pigeons against each other. The quickest way to discover their worth is to couple them with your own, proven good ones. If you have bought a new cock then it would be best to pair it with several proven hens, and if the young are not up to scratch then you can dispose of the cock the following year.

If you give such a cock a permanent partner then you can't tell so easily. To couple bought pigeons with bought pigeons means searching longer, re-coupling more often.


From 'overnight racers' you often hear of bad experiences when they cross with one-day long-distance pigeons. 'Overnight pigeons' seem to be a breed on their own. You would be best to couple these with other overnight pigeons. Late youngsters, both your own as well as new acquisitions you'd best take away a few times down the road for training. That can be done even in the middle of winter.

Another disadvantage of (expensively) bought pigeons is they get too long and too much credit. The Janssen pigeons were always outrageously expensive. How many 'Janssens' will ever have been disposed of because they weren't any good? Only a few or none at all! And yet, even in the lofts in Arendonk, Belgium, more bad pigeons were born than good ones. Furthermore, don't believe that you have been hoodwinked too quickly.

In my time I have bought countless bad pigeons from great champions, but I have never felt cheated. I just didn't have any luck and that is what you need in the first place. You can help that luck a bit by not buying an expensive pigeon out of a 'top couple', but by buying several cheaper pigeons.

More lottery tickets, more chances!