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Pass or fail (06-07-21)

There are people who, when they buy pigeons somewhere, only have 'bad luck'. They fail with every bird that they import. Others however seem successful with just about all the pigeons they import. Is it a matter of 'being treated well', 'luck' or even ‘quality?’ I can tell you, quality alone is not good enough. Even with better birds you may be the man with the poorest results.


I remember well the two men (friends) who regularly came here to get pigeons in the 90's. From the first time that I saw them I had to struggle not to hate Jan, the younger of the two. Perhaps because he threw a pack of result sheets on the table at the first meeting to show how good he was. I felt like saying 'if you have such good birds yourself, what then are you doing here?', but I held back. I did see from the results that the competition in the region where he played was poor. The competitions were just open way too long and I saw names of famous long distance players who helped to make prizes. Because their birds are slow by nature. His friend Piet was much more modest.

Every visit they brought the pedigrees from pigeons that they had obtained earlier. I myself did not remember which birds they had bought, but when I looked at the pedigrees, I was a bit ashamed. Unconsciously I had given Piet, the man I liked best the better pigeons. That was putting it mildly, he had them of my very best. In theory then. I realized I had not been fair and promised myself to make up for it later.

Some years passed by and I had almost forgotten them. Until I had someone from the same area visit me. He asked if I could remember Jan and Piet. They had once bought pigeons from me. I still remembered them. ‘Jan has been very successful with your birds’ the man told me. And Piet? Hmm. It still had to come out, it sounded very diplomatic.

This could not be true. "You mean the other way around, It was PIET who was successful with my pigeons", I said. But it turned out to be Jan indeed who raced so well now, the 'bragger' that I had unconsciously given the poorer pigeons. How could that be? Later I found out.

Jan may have come across as much more unsympathetic than his friend, he was apparently the better fancier. Because what turned out? After a few years Piet, the nice guy, still had all the pigeons he had bought from me. He hadn't cleared a single one. Jan had treated them like his own pigeons. That means: No good? Then move.

Half of the birds, if it wasn't more, he'd have cleaned up. If a breeder, import or not, still had not given good babies after two years with different partners? That would mean the end of the breeder. Thus it was not Piet who had gotten the best birds who became a champion but Jan, the man who could select without paying attention to the pedigree.

You know what Leo Heremans always says? ‘If someone buys 6 pigeons from me and he still has them all 6 three year later I know he will never become a good racer.’

It reminds me of that foreigner, also long way back. A man with a lot of ambition who bought one or two very expensive pigeons every year, but didn't get any further. I advised him to stop buying such expensive birds.

What he should do is contact a fancier who was not world famous but who raced very well and who was known for the many good birds that others got from him. From such a man I advised him to buy 6 or 8 summer breds. He chose six. ‘Very well’, I said. ‘Now breed from them, give them another partner the second year, and after that get rid of the birds that gave junk. Say that is 4 out of 6, so keep 2, which means you were lucky. Then contact the same man again and again order 6 birds. And another 2 years later do the same. Thus you will get good birds in the end, there is no other way.  

He followed my advice, he kept buying pigeons from the same champion and after some years he became a champion himself.

Is eliminating 50% of the birds that you import or even more not a bit exaggerated? Not at all. I once told my American friend the late Stanley Meyler, that no one in Holland or Belgium can breed one real super bird out of every ten. That is the reason they breed so many babies.  

Some years later a Belgian seller had a seminar over there, which was followed by an auction of his birds. During the seminar he wanted to be nice and said: Of all the birds that I breed only 20 % are supers.’ Then Stanly stood up and said: So if I buy 3 years on a row 100 birds from you, I will have 60 supers? The audience could not stop laughing.