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More than words Part 6

All kinds of everything.

This is the last of a series of articles, which are graced by photos. Photos may make things more clear than words can do. They may bring the news or may be interesting since they are old and historic. Hopefully you will enjoy both articles and photos.

One of the fascinating things about pigeon sport is that it can fancied by practically every one and practically every one can be successful.
How different this is from other sports.
Mostly you need to be young and have physical qualities to perform; in ‘our’ sport however you can let the birds do the job and it depends on you how well they do it.
And as I said ‘you’ may be nearly everybody.
You need not be young, you need not be an athlete, you need not be handsome, you need not be rich, you need not be educated and you need not be male to be good and therefore a winner may be a complete surprise.
Concerning age the younger generation is more energetic and fanatic in most cases, but they lack the experience and wisdom that the older guys have.
And the other way round of course.

It is generally known that we must avoid dust as much as possible.
Since all kinds of bacteria and viruses spread via tiny particles of dust it is bad for both humans and pigeons.
Doctor Lemahieu, a respected Belgian scientist, once said that dust may even spread eggs of hairworms.
In a loft that is very dry there is much dust, so we must avoid such a loft, but we should avoid a high humidity as well since that is also bad.
In class rooms there are cans filled with water on the radiators of the central heating to prevent the mucous membranes from drying.
It is the art of a champion to have the loft climate under control.
In Belgium and Holland many have the drinker in the so-called ‘sputnik’; thus there will be less dust in the water.
Another advantage is that the temperature of the water will soon be the same as in the outer world.
Cold water direct from the tap is bad, especially for birds that come from a race.
And another ‘pro’ is that pigeons will soon ‘know’ that nice water is waiting for them when they come from a race which may be a reason for them to trap faster.
As for the ‘sputnik’ it is advisable that the bottom is a kind of grate so that the water can seep away after a shower. .

If lofts consist of sections you mostly go from one into the other through a ‘regular’ door or a sliding door.
But there is another type and that is best of all: folding doors!
In case of a regular door one must be careful not to injure birds when opening or closing it, sliding doors are better but not ideal since one wall is not free to put nest boxes or perches against it, folding doors however do not have any of these drawbacks.

It is alarming how much the immune system of both humans and animals has decreased in the last decades.
Take E Coli and respiratory problems. Pigeons are far more vulnerable for these sicknesses than in the past and it is the abuse of medicine that is for a great part responsible.
Nowadays we have good medicine. But we should rather try to prevent birds from becoming sick than looking for the best medication.
Therefore many champions in Holland and Belgium put the birds in open aviaries in winter so that they are exposed to cold, wind and rain.
It will make them stronger and boost the immune system with the result that birds need less medication in summer.
Others let the birds fly out in winter, even when there is snow.
Naturally pigeons must be used to it, if not the white carpet that covers everything may scare them so that they get lost.
Unfortunately it has become very risky to give birds freedom in winter in order to harden them because of hawks and it is also the risk of being caught by a hungry hawk that makes people decide to sell a good bird.

Talking about winter and cold, every thoughtful fancier has noticed that pigeons eat far more in cold weather than they normally do.
Therefore it is wrong to give them a certain amount of food per day.
’30 Grams per day’ some claim but in hot weather pigeons need less, in cold weather it is not enough.
Furthermore there is a difference between racers and breeders.
Breeders that have to take care of their babies should be very well fed since it is real important that babies mature well .
Some wean them very young, at the age of about 16 days, and let the hens pump up food.
This is a good method. Foster hens will feed the babies very well since they have no cock running after them that wants to mate and build a new nest.
But you have to watch out.
a. Some hens are so caring that they feed any baby that begs for feed. Such hens should be taken away or they will finish themselves and that is not what we want.
b. The young birds will creep closely to one another and spread so much humidity that it endangers their health. Therefore they should be put on a warm underground.

‘Which was the best bird ever’ fanciers sometimes wonder.
People think different, that is normal, but in my opinion it was ‘Olieman’ from Jos van der Veken who lives nearby Arendonk.
He was raced in the era of Janssens ‘019’ but ‘Olieman’ was better.
He won about 15 firsts, sometimes minutes ahead, in perhaps the strongest competition of Belgium in those days.
Many fanciers mean that all pigeons develop the same speed; the winner is the bird that flies the straightest course home.
I agree but I believe that there are exceptions; some pigeons have the ability to fly faster than others indeed.
‘Sprint’ of the late Marcelis was such a bird; its loft mates could not even follow from a training toss from 20 kilometres, and ‘Olieman’ was an exception as well.
Once a race was on from Noyon (about 230 kilometres) in hot weather and with head winds. The entry was about 1,200 birds, the first arrived at 11.00 and at 11.20 the race was over, which meant that one third had got home in 20 minutes.
But the facts are a bit more complicated.
One bird of the 1,200 got home at 11.00 indeed but the bird that won the 2nd prize got home at 11.10, so 10 minutes later!
It was ‘Olieman’ that was 10 minutes ahead of the rest.
After its arrival Mr v d Veken feared ‘Olieman’ would fall dead on the spot.
He sat shivering in his box and did not even look at his hen.
This lasted for about 10 minutes, when… its first competitors got home.
‘Fieneke’ that was auctioned in 2003 as the most expensive Middle Distance bird ever was a descendant of ‘Olieman’ and… was also that type of bird.



C Boeckx is an older Sprint champion, but in this sport age does not count.


A drinker in the ‘sputnik’ has several advantages; one of them is trapping faster.


Folding doors are ideal in a pigeon loft.

Harden birds in winter may help to avoid sicknesses in summer.

1. Some fanciers are so caring that they feed by the spoon, which is wrong.
2. Sorry for this caring hen, but she is finishing herself.

Jos v d Veken with his ‘Olieman’ perhaps the best bird in history.

During the racing season pigeons must be vital. They must fly, fight or be IN the loft but never sit still ON the loft. That means no condition.