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At the start


For us in Holland and Belgium another season is about to start with several thousands of fanciers less and some full pros richer.

What will the new season be?

We will know soon.

Because my experience is that you can venture a prediction already after a few weeks. Are the performances far below the norm? We fool ourselves that it is only the beginning, "Means little."

But the reality is different. Almost certainly a poor season will follow.



What you need to win flights is good pigeons, good fortune, good shape on the particular day and a good location. That is to say that the mass of the birds is in your favour as well as the wind.

Some fanciers complain their location is always bad.

Those complainers are usually people with bad pigeons.

Fanciers whose location is better than that of others are fanciers with better birds

On a day that your location is good the pigeons come straight from the racing point and pigeons of fellow sportsmen pass your lofts.

Some think it is just the wind that determines whether your location is good or bad.

They are wrong.

Quality also affects the migration of the birds, while the mass helps to determine the speed. A group of roughly 30 pigeons will indeed fly faster than a group of roughly 3 pigeons. A result is also that poor racers that live near mob fliers with good birds will benefit.



The luck factor, which I mentioned previously, barely plays a role for a whole racing season. For a whole season also the location is of less importance than on a single flight. On one single race the location may be extremely good (or bad).

To be good for a whole season the main thing you need is not a favourable location but good birds in good shape.

The champions know that good birds alone is not sufficient and will do everything to bring in optimal condition.

The way in which is different.

Some claim to have become better racers through reducing the medication,

(the minority?), for others intensive medication has become as normal as feeding.



In recent years, you hear more and more about purifying pigeons before the racing season. What they mean is give the birds a thorough cure against canker, or against respiratory problems or… both.

“Canker” is a special story. It seems that keeping pigeons healthy has become more difficult with new ailments showing up, while for canker the opposite seems true.



There was a time that it was hard to grow decent babies if the parents were not medicated when on eggs. Even from veterinarians you heard alarming noises. They talked about resistance which would no longer be manageable.

Some prescribed a double dose of the drug and that might be the quadruple in a near future, they feared.

But the opposite happened. My first encounter with that turnaround is now seven years ago. Vet Marien told me he had not medicated his birds for years.

I could hardly believe him.

Now, in 2016, I know that he spoke the truth. I have not cured my birds either for many years and other champions (some) say the same.

So whether "purifying” healthy birds before the season makes sense or not?

Hmm. Do not know. Have my doubts.



And what about respiratory problems then? Is it advisable to make the heads “clear” before the season with a cure of Soludox, doxycycline or something else?

Some good players do, many other equally good players, do not.

What, logically, seems the best method?

Avoid any medication with pigeons that are healthy.

Do the bodies feel weak? Do the little feathers round ears and in the necks show and do they not lay flat and tight?

Then indeed “purifying” before the season may make sense .

Pigeons that are not perfectly in order, you even push down more if you basket them,  especially in cold chilly windy weather.



With old birds you need not often go on the road, when they are in good shape.

Are they not in good condition every kilometer is one too many.

Yearlings that were not often raced as a baby is should be tossed more.  

In Belgium some enter their babies for 6 Nationals from 500 to 600 kilometers. Such birds need not be trained much either before the season.

Moreover, it seems less useful if you always simultaneously release all birds.  Especially youngsters.

Do you have, let”s say, 60 babies you better split them up in at least four groups.

Take a break of about 5 minutes before you release the following basket.

One or two is not enough, they will "regroup” and arrive together.

And release every birds one by one, as some do?

Apart from the patience that you have to have I am against it.

Not letting free the whole bunch together has another advantage.

They are less likely to hit the wires, especially, again, the youngsters.



Now that pigeon sport has been evaluated so much and has become a top priority for many, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand out for the hobbyist.

Some top players are committed so much, are so intensely busy with pigeons, that "the common men”, especially those with a job, have to make choices.

Without a son, father, neighbour, friend, wife, mother, mother in law or partner that stands by competing those pros has become almost impossible.

Unless you make a choice. Race short distance only, or young birds only or whatever. Having no results is depressing and may be reason to quit.

Racing well is fun and enjoy the game is very important.

MSN, the Barca stars, show weekly what joy can mean.



It is the task of all of us to make the sport as enjoyable as possible for everyone. The man who refused to take the babies of his elderly neighbour with him when he went tossing the birds "because he was scared he would be beaten”  has not understood.