Will he do it, or not?
Whatever kind of sport you practice, for the man, the team (or the animal!) it"s the form on the day plus a dose of luck that determines the result.
Obviously, quality is a basic requirement, but quality alone is not enough.
Think of that kick of the ball against the crossbar that can be conclusive in a very important football game, or of that tennis ball that is or isn"t on the line.
In the pigeon sport it is no different.
We all know the examples of fanciers achieving tremendous results and then suddenly:
It"s finished, not a single decent prize anymore. With the same pigeons.
The opposite also happens.
Someone"s pigeons don"t do well at all, and then suddenly they start achieving top results like there is no stopping them.
Such a reversal has of course nothing to do with quality, after all they are the same pigeons, it is the form (or the lack of it) that is the reason.
And because we know how important the form is, we are anxious every time we enter the loft. That is the reason why we make alterations in the loft and why we seek the advice of the vet.
An experienced fancier will notice immediately if his pigeons are in form or not, but even so I have learned to be cautious.
I have basketed pigeons of which I didn"t expect much that achieved enormously well, and also pigeons that I thought were in form that disappointed.
Pooled big and raced badly?
Raced well but you didn"t risk pooling?
It can happen to the greatest champions.
But that doesn"t mean there are no signs that give an indication.
The point is that we don"t see them or don"t want to see them.
The shedding of down is a sign of health, even a child knows this.
Yet these small feathers have fooled many.
When entering the loft, it"s a welcome surprise if you see an abundant amount of down on the floor, and eagerly you anticipate the weekend, because...
"Down is an indication of form and a lot of down is an indication of great form."
But the reality is different.
Suddenly shedding an abundance of down indicates that pigeons weren"t healthy but are now recovering.
The form can build up, but isn"t there yet!
MONDAY AND TUESDAY
Another thing that is not good?
Fantastic form at the beginning of the week, often after a good race.
The pigeons are so active, cheerful and playful that you can hear angels singing.
"The last race was good, the next one will be even better."
I know that by now, such pigeons don"t make me happy anymore, on the contrary, I start to feel uneasy.
But you can do little about it, if it"s so bad that they are out of control you can try to make the lofts darker.
DROPPINGS, THROAT AND FLESH
- You can tell a lot from the droppings, especially in the morning; we all know how it is supposed to look.
Concentrated, dry, not sticky (think of the scraper) and with a lot of white. Such droppings indicate that they don"t drink much, and not drinking much is a sign of a good functioning organism.
But this is not written in stone.
If all the pigeons have bad droppings then presumably something is wrong, but there are other pigeons that wet droppings indicates good form.
An example from years ago is the "Schijtert" (the "Shitter") from van Dulmen from Tilburg, Holland.
That was a good pigeon, and when he produced wet droppings he was in super shape.
It was believed to be caused by healthy stress.
That"s possible. Some fanciers also "have to go" more often before the pigeons return home.
You"d better not enter pigeons of which you have to scrape the droppings off the ring.
Rings and legs have to be clean. I always pay attention to the underside of the toes. If flakes are sticking to the underside then something is wrong.
- An experienced fancier doesn"t need to look at the throat to see if a pigeon is in form. When someone tries very hard to open the beak of one of my pigeons I won"t say anything, but he will not get another pigeon in his hands.
I do sometimes look into the beak when I"m not sure. Throat too red? Slime threads at the back of the throat? That all points to canker, in any case don"t enter the bird in a race but act accordingly.
- Nice red flesh without scales is good, we all know that.
You don"t have to blow like mad to see that, when "the flesh is good" the feathers around the keel will automatically fall apart when you take a pigeon in the hand. But here too you won"t have 100 percent certainty.
Nice clean "breast flesh" indicates form, but the opposite isn"t always so.
There are many examples of pigeons that are never "nice of flesh" but who achieve well nevertheless.
Pigeons that exercise without being forced to is always a good sign.
But once again, it doesn"t say everything.
The pigeons of one fancier exercise for a whole hour, those of another fancier only 15 minutes, and both do well.
The length of exercising time is less important than the way they exercise.
When they are out of the loft (pigeons in form go so fast that it seems they will hurt themselves on the release trap) you ought not to see them anymore when you turn around.
They should not turn back but take a direct line towards distant horizons. And if they return with such a speed that you can hear them swishing, to scatter in a fan shape over the lofts, in all directions that you ask yourself "are all these pigeons mine", if they start fighting hard immediately after falling on of the loft, and if the smallest thing scares them, then you know that all is well.
Years ago I knew someone who released his widowers as early as 4.00 pm.
When I asked him "why so early," he said:
"Then I have the time afterwards to get my bicycle and have a look at how the widowers of my competition are shaping up."
He liked to pool against competitors whose widowers exercised without much enthusiasm.
Don"t trust pigeons too much that only dutifully fly their rounds.
And if they come back into the loft with their beak open and sit still afterwards, then you know that you have a problem.
Widowers can stay out for a long time or come back fairly quickly, but they should absolutely never sit still, not even for half a minute.
Sitting still often goes together with dry feathers, huddled bodies and loose necks.
They also shouldn"t mess around in the garden, pluck at plants, peck sand or throw themselves at vita mineral powder or picking stone as though they are starving and lack something essential.
It is all right when:
Pigeons look sleek, seem smaller, feathers smooth, wattles white, necks thin, appear gleaming, eyes dry, a tense look and are nervous and active.
You don"t need to look in the throat of such pigeons.
We all have pigeons with the ability to fly prizes.
But having pigeons in form is another story altogether.