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Breeding good pigeons (1)

Breeding good pigeons                                        (part 1 of 2)

 We all know that breeding good pigeons is also a matter of good luck. Okay, you need good birds in the first place to breed more good birds, but the problem is that good birds produce shit birds as well. Even far more than good birds.

-A pair that produces one good bird and never does the same again? No one will be surprised by that. Also a champion like Verkerk changes the matings again and again, since it seldom happens that a pair will give more than one real good bird, he claims. Therefore he breeds 300 plus babies per year from different matings. He compares breeding with a lottery. ‘The more ‘destiny lots’, the more chances.’ Understandably he does not believe in so called Golden Couples. I myself have never believed in them.

-Two fantastic racers that are mated and do not give any good baby? It is not uncommon either.

 But breeding that super that we all want is not a matter of luck only. You can give ‘good luck’ a helping hand.

In a climate like ours, it is a must to put on the lights when you mate birds in the heart of winter, when the days are so short. See what happened to Hooymans (the breeder of famous ‘Harry’) this winter. Jan has his breeders in two lofts. In one loft he turned on the lights one week before mating, in the other the lights were turned on two weeks before. In the second loft the eggs were laid much sooner and more regularly. There was a time that I thought ‘lighting’ before breeding in winter was no big deal. Not lighting only meant eggs would be laid some days later, so what? That is what I thought, now I know better. In winter birds in the wild are not ready for breeding, nor are pigeons. By lighting you get more form. And more form can only have a positive effect on the breeding results. Manipulating with light and dark is also a mighty weapon in the hands of many champion racers. Especially chicken farmers will understand what I am talking about.    

Two years ago Boeckx and me practised ‘co-breeding’. I brought him two cocks that he would mate with two hens of his. The result was spectacular. I got a bird that was a Provincial Ace two years on a row. He got his ‘Bas’, a multiple winner and 3rd NATIONAL Ace.

What struck me was that before I brought him the cocks, he kept on asking where those cocks were breeding before. In the top left hand corner of my loft? Or in a box below right? It looks trivial but these questions are typical for a good handler like Boeckx is. In a new breeding season things will be much smoother when birds will get a box at the same place where they used to breed before.

Long way back we had fewer birds, smaller lofts and our racers were our breeders as well. That was in the old days, when you were someone special if you did NOT race pigeons, when we did not know what pedigrees were and before Chinese were after our birds. Today nearly all fanciers have a special loft for breeders. Some fanciers even do not want babies from their racers. Take German fanciers for arguments’ sake. We do not see them anymore to buy our birds, they are swiped away by the Chinese, as it seems. But in those days when those Germans contacted us for birds they inevitably had two questions.

-What is the price of babies (a normal question).

-Is this price for babies off the breeders or off the racers?

They expected a higher price for babies off the breeders. Why?

Talking about ‘breeders’, let us be honest: What is the existence of many of them?

-They are still alive because they had cost (a lot of) money.

-Or because they come from a good loft or have an impressing pedigree.

-Or because their grandfather, brother in law or whatever was a good racer.

-And because of many other ‘becauses’, or should I say excuses?

Other than those Germans and many others I prefer babies of a good racer. A good racer has proven to have the right genes to pass on to their descendants! Personally I find ‘Breeder’ a term that is highly misleading. Many of them have not given any good baby, while they are 3 years or older. I wonder why such birds are still alive.

Every year I try a handful of babies from a good friend. Those are from his best breeders and sometimes he includes one off his racing team as well. And guess what? In case there is a good one among them it is always from the racers! Like in 2012. This time I got 8 birds, 7 of them had a breath-taking pedigree, one was just from yearling racers. I raced them all 8, the babies off his breeders did not meet my expectations, the bird from the yearlings, my 12-941, was a sensation. In one year time it won:

3,799 p – 2nd (beaten by loft mate).

6,069 p – 2nd (beaten by loft mate)

15,735 p – 2nd (NPO S National).

7,795 p – 3rd (NPO S National)

5,842 p – 35th

4,591 p – 18th (NPO S National).

Who else has a pigeon with such a record in one year time?

Example two:

The best long distance racer from all Belgium in recent years is Daniels. Some years ago he had bought a voucher from de Meijer, a club mate. This de Meijer had a fantastic Sprint bird. From Quievrain (120 kms only) it had won several firsts. When de Meijer asked him what kind of pigeon he wanted for his voucher Daniels said: ‘From that Super racer, if possible.’ De Meijer: ”I will do you a favour: You get a baby off the parents, so its full sister.’ Daniels: ‘Appreciate but I prefer the baby off that racer.’ The descendants of the hen that he got made him famous, and surprise: At long distance.    

                                                                                                         (to be continued).