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Better birds for the common people

People sometimes wonder which things in pigeon sport are the most important to be a successful racer. Herewith they compare the following criteria:
- The role of the fancier.
- The role of a good loft.
- The role of feeding and medication.
- The role of the pigeon.
Some people say: The quality of the birds is the most important thing to make you a successful racer, secondly the loft climate and finally the fancier.
Others say: A good loft is for 50 percent responsible for the successes, the quality of the birds for 20 percent and so on.
I myself think the role of the fancier is decisive. Champions 'have the sport in their fingers' as they say in Holland.
What they mean is that some people have a good feeling for pigeons, others however will never learn it despite their good intentions.
Why do I think that the role of the fancier is decisive?
A good fancier makes sure he has a good loft.
A good fancier will see to it that he gets good birds.
A good fancier knows how to handle the birds, he has things under control.
The loft or the pigeons however have nothing under control.
The loft cannot see to it that it is populated by good birds.
The pigeons are unable to make the loft climate better.
The fancier can do all these things though..
When he is a good fancier he knows how important the quality of the birds is and he knows how and where to get them. Many people wonder how come some fellow sportsmen are often so successful when importing birds whereas others so often fail.
How to act and where to go to get good birds? Food for thought for to-day.

Of course I am talking about the sport in Holland and Belgium. But the roots of this sport are in these 2 countries, still many fanciers are racing there in strong competition and it is unlikely they do the wrong thing.
So maybe from them everybody can learn.
Let's start with an important item first.
How to act when trying to improve the quality of your family of birds is something which differs from one fancier to another. It depends very much on what you are and who you are.
- Is money no problem for you or is it ?
- The following question that rises: what is your position in the sport? Are you already a champion or aren't you?

The loft of Ad Schaerlaeckens that has proven to be good

People for whom money is no problem buy the super birds themselves or their babies. Money places them in a privileged position, they have more chances to be successful but no more than that! So chances, no certainty. They are never sure, thanks God.
If it was so simple only the rich would be the champs within a couple of years.
But there are many examples of rich people who failed hopelessly. They did buy the super birds indeed but this alone did not make them super racers.
A nice example of that is what happened in Holland recently
There was this American guy who spent fortunes buying Provincial and National Aces and winners. For his business he wanted to show off with results in Holland. So he built a big and expensive loft in which he put the best birds which could be bought for money .
With their off-spring he would race.
Some fanciers in the small club were kind of nervous in the beginning. 'Racing against youngsters off of all those Aces? Would that make the competition not unfair? they wondered.
Some of them felt already beaten even before the racing season had started.
Then the moment came that this American indeed began to race with the children of his Aces which had cost him so much money.
You know what happened?
Apart from some incidental successes he did not make it, on the contrary: He was crushed by the club mates. Those club mates who never spent a penny on birds
humiliated him week after week, even more, that American became one big joke.
So for people with money it is easier to get the good birds but this does not make them automatically winners.

Apart from those rich there is another small category of fanciers who are special: Those who are champions already. A man who already is a champion also acts differently from average fanciers when trying to improve himself. He often has good contacts and trades birds with other champions. Or they let each other use a cock or hen for a year or so.
That's what happened with Houben and Verbruggen.
They traded just one bird and both were successful with the offspring .
The same story for Engels and Van Hove Uytterhoeven. They both were successful with pigeons they got from each other too, money was not involved.
So the champions who want to improve their family will only try very few imports as they have already good birds themselves.
The majority of the pigeon people however are not rich and are no champions either.
What is the advice for them, the common people, to get good birds?
Go to the big shots? Of course not.

The 'big shots' can be divided into 2 groups:
1. There are those people who are famous abroad because they are smart businessmen. They mean nothing in the races in their home country but they know how important pedigrees and strain are and they know how to manipulate the press.
To the surprise of their fellow sportsmen they can sell birds like hot cakes. It is often birds with impressing pedigrees but no more than that.
Why do those foreign buyers not study results instead of pedigrees the fellow sportsmen wonder.
To those buyers results do not seem to be important: pedigrees and strain however are. In Holland and Belgium they say:
'Those foreigners purchase a piece of paper (the pedigree) from those 'nobodies' and they get a bird to accompany it.'
People in Holland or Belgium with common sense realise these so called 'pedigree men' are not the right folks to contact in order to get good birds.
But I said there were 2 kinds of great names.
2. The other kind are the people who deserve their fame.
I am thinking about champions like Toye, Engels, Dobbelaere, De Vooght, Bolle, v d Wegen and many others.
They can show good results and consequently they must have good pigeons. They did not become big abroad by bribing press-men or sly propaganda.
The problem for the average man in Europe is that such people are too expensive as many foreign buyers are NOT naïve and know about them too.
So those guys (I mean the REAL big shots) get a great demand for birds and consequently the prices they charge are soaring sky-high.
With other words: those fanciers might be the right people to go to to get good birds if they were not too expensive for the common people.
The good news however is that they are not the only ones with good birds.


For the average man who has not much money to spend the first advice is:
Forget about the great names and forget much of the publicity in the press.
Both in Holland and Belgium many fake reports about fake champions appear and why should this not be so in other countries?

What 'the common man' should do is approach the fancier in his own area by whom he is beaten week after week.

He knows his results as he is confronted with them every race and he knows the man. The last thing is important. Being a champion in this sport is one thing but being honest when selling birds is another thing.
When I see potential buyers study the eyes of a pigeon my reaction is sometimes:
'You should not look the bird in the eyes but the fancier !'
Fortunately most people are honest and the cheaters form a minority.
And if this fellow fancier with good birds is a smart man he will treat his 'mate' well.

Because he realises that he can only be a champion as long as the losers compete against him. If the losers get sick of being beaten and quit the sport the champions will be like Emperors without an empire. Our sport is like other sports: Without losers no winners! It is so simple as that.

Another reason why you'd better get pigeons of that better fellow fancier in your own area is that the latter realises too well he will see you again and again after the deal. If the birds he delivered are no good he will be confronted with that for the rest of his life, maybe only by the look in your eyes.


Furthermore the timing is very important, not in the least for foreign buyers who want babies from a champion in Holland or Belgium. The best timing is summer or fall.
The reason is that European fanciers race their babies from June till august and every serious man takes care of himself first.
Which means that the first 2 rounds of his best pigeons are for his own use.
Many people make the mistake that they want youngsters early in the year.
That is a big mistake as you won't get them from the best then.
Those European Super champions who claim they sell babies of their best birds in February or March are not Super champions but Super liars!
So get your young birds (if from European fanciers !!) not until spring or even better later. I said the best way for the CHAMPIONS to improve their family is to import just a few birds yearly as they already have good birds.
If they would import many their own good birds might be neglected.
But if you do not have any good birds it is better to get more at a time.
So cheaper birds from that guy in your area who beats you!


Believe me, many people have become champions by acting the way I described.
Some even got a world name by this method.
a. William Geerts is one of them.
He used to live in an area where Fons Jacobs lived. Jacobs was an old man, unheard of before, who only raced short and middle distance. Geerts got married, moved to the place where he lives now (the town of Schilde) and meanwhile he got a round of eggs from his old comrade, as he knew how good they were.
The eggs were almost free of charge.
Two years later (1978) he was the terror of Union Antwerpen.
Geerts' name spread like wild fire all over the world, about good old Fonske Jacobs who supplied him with his good birds no one talked.
b. Gommaar Verbruggen got his famous 'Ás'. He paid good money for it indeed but the man from whom he got this 'As' (Maurice v d Velden) got the parents from an 80-year old unknown sportsman.
I myself live only 5 minutes from the town where the late Gust Hofkens used to live.
In the 70-ies he was uneatable but again unknown. Hofkens became famous shortly before he died and even more after his death.
Funnily enough then he did not have the good birds any more.
c. Jan Grondelaars, the smart fox, found out about Hofkens results when he was on top of his career and went there at the right time, when Hofkens was still unknown but very good and… very cheap.
It is mainly the off-spring of the Hofkensbirds that made Grondelaars famous.


Strain is bull.
Strain is an invention of brokers of castles in the air.
Strain is balloon.
Strain is the flag which must cover the worthless load.
Strain is the word that must compensate for the lack of quality.
Those many Americans, Japanese and Taiwanese who visited Holland and Belgium know about it. Their visits to champions here have made them realise that they were brainwashed too long. That was in those days that too few people had too much power. But times have changed.
So dear fancier, if you are not rich this is no reason to despair.
You can become a champion as well as the people with money.
It is a bit more difficult but you on your side should be a bit smarter. Your smartness must compensate the lack of money. There are too many examples of people without money who became champions by acting the way I described to take my advice serious.
In this sport you need not be young to win.
In this sport you need not be a man to win.
In this sport you need not be an athlete to win.
In this sport you need not be a scientist to win.
And in this sport you need not be rich to win.
You just have to face the plain truth, you just must not believe everything which is written or told you. You must have your eyes open and have the feeling for birds.
Does not this make pigeon sport so unique and so much fun?
Good luck!