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Old or young?

My friend Peter Fox from England published 'the best of Ad Schaerlaeckens' late 2007. Encouraged by the success of this book Peter decided to publish another book in the fall of 2009 called 'De Duif Chronicles'. In it you will find articles of all sorts that no serious pigeon fancier should miss. They were published before in the leading pigeon magazine 'De Duif' edited by Jan and Rik Hermans. In it  you will also find some articles of mine like below.  
A S   

Youngsters or old pigeons?

You may not believe this, but almost before I could walk I was up to my ears in the pigeon sport.

That was not so strange.My parents kept pigeons, their friends, my uncles and almost all of my neighbours kept pigeons.

In "my" street it was actually an exception if there was no loft behind the house.

Those were the days, all week long I yearned for the weekend to come.

I looked forward to the weekly high mass (or even better after high mass when all the fanciers met in front of the church, making predictions) and for the races.

At the pigeon club, on the day that we basketed for the races, I can remember how the 'handlers' looked mistrusting at the rings, especially on the birds of fanciers who raced well with youngsters and sometimes they even squeezed the rings.

This was done to see if the rings were tampered with, to see if these fast flying youngsters were youngsters indeed.

One has to remember that back then the rings were the same colour each year, so you could not distinguish from the rings whether they were old or young pigeons and above all, these rings were easy to cut and paste.

But times changed.



Look at Gueret,September 2008.

Engels won the 1st National old pigeons, speed 1.506 meter per minute. This would not have been enough for a place in the first 10 in the young pigeons race.

Thone won the 2nd National old pigeons, speed 1.498 meter per minute. This would not even have given him a place in the first twenty-five in the young pigeons race.

What I mean is this:

Fifty years ago people feared that rogues would try to falsify young pigeons races using old ones, at present the young ones out perform the old ones in the autumn races!



I myself will not easily forget the early 90's.

The long distance races for youngsters (Orleans, Chateauroux and Bourges) were extremely popular and there was an immense amount of pooling.

To provide even more of a challenge a race from Chartres was added to the race program between the Orleans and Chateauroux races, and old pigeons could also compete, with a car included as a prize.

This new race was greeted enthusiastically and old pigeons were prepared on an immense scale.

To race young pigeons the week following Orleans "was impossible", they had to recuperate first. Or so men thought.

But I was not "men".


I raced my youngsters that had flown the National from Orleans the week before and clocked them the "Verkerk" way.

The first Chartres race, 2nd and 4th "Semi National" and the car prize.

That increased my appetite for more and the year after all the youngsters that had been outstanding from Orleans were raced from Chartres with even better results.

I had seven youngsters that finished almost at the same time.

"Semi National", I started off with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th prizes (three of these were my first nominated) and with seven pigeons in the first twenty prizes.

Because I had bet quite heavily I emptied the cash box containing the pool and prize money.

But my competitors saw the results and the following years they started racing youngsters just as well and that ended my supremacy.

"You have opened our eyes for us", I can still hear Zoontjes and Leuris saying.



I know two fanciers who had youngsters in the nesting bowls in the middle of December, which amazed me. How could these still get their ring?

Or would they get their rings sooner than normal?

It appeared to be neither.

These young ones already had rings on their legs. "Old rings" obviously.

They were meant to be used for National races for old pigeons in the autumn.

As mentioned before, these youngsters are stronger, so if they are used to compete against old pigeons they have a better opportunity to win.

Years ago I heard that in Flanders in the autumn there were "old" pigeons in front, pigeons that had never before been found on a result sheet, and heavily pooled.

"Young pigeons with old rings on as well" it was whispered.

Were they cheating?

The opposite seems to be true.

Photo taken on January the 15th. Maybe they
are babies, maybe not.


The ring is like a passport. Including year of birth. When people ring their youngsters in 2008 with rings dated 2008 they are operating according to the rules, even if this is done in December!

The others, THAT MEANS US, who ring their youngsters in the beginning of 2009, are not operating according to the rules if these youngsters are born in 2008.

This story occurred to me because of something that happened to myself.



On the 25th of November I was going on holiday for a week.

That was also the date of pairing but I expected no problems because I let them pair (more or less) by themselves.

ONE cock however, I wanted to pair with a specific hen and these two I put together earlier.

On my return they had eggs that were fertile.

They hatched on the 15th of December and therefore I had a problem.

The only option was putting on a 2008 ring.

An "old ring" indeed. Well, how "old"?

It is quite logical to put a 2008 ring on a pigeon that is born in 2008. Whether that means the middle of December, the beginning of December,the end of December or October. It doesn't really matter, 2008 is 2008.



I took into account that I sometimes manage to ring youngsters that are already 14 days old.

Therefore I intended to put a 2009 ring on their legs on the 1st of January and remove the old one.

Would I not succeed to put a ring on in 2009 they would still have a ring, albeit the old one.

With a 2008 ring I would not be able to use them for racing as young pigeons, but I could use them to race as old pigeons in the autumn.


Watering all your plants except for the African Marigolds, that's discrimination.



That it is TRUE that some fanciers put a 2008 ring on their young pigeons in the middle of December, hoping to strike gold at the National races in the autumn, racing them as old pigeons.

How I wish that a young pigeon like that would win a 1st National and furthermore that the fancier would admit that it was a young pigeon.

I can see it happening:

An Oriental wants to buy the winner of the National old pigeons, that means the young pigeon, but the fancier who came second in this race wants to sell as well, feels cheated and takes the case to court.

I think that every judge would agree with the "deceiver".

Where does it say that you are not allowed to use 2008 rings on pigeons that are born in 2008?

Even if it is in the middle of December?

And besides, the Dutch and the Belgian rings for this year are both yellow.

This makes you wonder what the NPO and the KBDB discuss at their meetings besides which hotel they will booking on the fanciers expenses at the next Olympiad.