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Ramarkable remarks (10 oct)

Experienced fanciers do not always realize how difficult this sport may be for novices. Once I wrote:

 ‘If some one has bought 8 birds from me and he still has them all 8 after 3 years this is not a champion and he will never become one.’

When a fellow fancier asked me what I meant I was surprised. Was not this clear? Then I realised that this man was new in the sport. I explained him that the real good pigeons are very rare and no one manages to breed even one good bird out of every 10. Then he got it. Then I realised that there are also remarks of others that stay in my mind. Because they are so true.

Van der Wegen is one of the best Dutch long distance champions of all time. For decades his dark checked widowhood cocks dominated the nationals. Look at the pedigrees of many good long distance birds of to-day and there is a great chance the name of Anton v d Wegen is in them. Long way back, when in my area you were exceptional when you did NOT race pigeons I was in a seminar (quiz) with van der Wegen. A fancier in the audience asked v d Wegen a tricky question.

If you could talk about ‘v d Wegen strain’ was the question. Apparently he knew that also v d Wegen imported pigeons every now and then. But Anton stayed calm and cool. ‘Do you ever drink coffee?’ he asked in return. The man nodded. ‘And do you add some milk?’ was Anton’s next question. That was a fact indeed. And what do you drink then v d Wegen asked. Fanciers in the audience smiled.

‘For me regional results do not count, only national results matter’ a man once said when we were talking pigeons at Herbots. ‘You are wrong’, Herbots senior said. ‘In some races the regional results mean more to me than the provincial results. And provincial results may mean more than national results.’ It may be clear Herbots referred to the importance of the location and the influence of the wind. With western winds the fanciers in the west have no chance. With eastern winds fanciers in the east have no chance. Thus it may happen that a 50th prize of a man that lives in the East did better than a NATIONAL winner who lives in the west. This is the case when there was a strong Eastern wind. Unfortunately too many fanciers, especially buyers are not aware of that.

81 year old Frans van Roey had bought 2 vouchers for 2 birds from de Bruijn. When Frans was at De Bruijns’ place to pick up the birds de Bruijn had put some in the basket and he let Frans choose. Frans liked one bird very much. Then de Bruijn said: ‘I advise you to take the nest mate as well. It seldom happens that two birds of the same nest are both good and when you take both you will have the bad bird but also the good one. ‘It seldom happens’, de Bruijn said. That is right indeed but it does happen! And if you are so lucky as to have two real good nest mates chances are great they are good breeders as well. Take my 145 (Ace Four) and its nest mate 144. They were 1st and 2nd Provincial Ace as a baby. Average entry 11,000 birds. As breeders 145 and his nest sister were second to none.

Tossing young birds in between the races is a very controversial subject to-day. De Bruijn, mentioned before, does not believe in it. Long way back he tossed his babies daily. It did not make him a better young bird racer though. Another successful young birds racer is Belgian Roger Thijs. He does not even think about going on the road with that heavy traffic of to-day. Other fanciers who do well with Young birds are amongst others J v d Putten, Henri van Doorn, Falco Ebben, Jelle Roziers, Dirk Donckers. They never kept it a secret that they train their birds as much as possible. ‘Why do all this work if we would not believe in it’ they unanimously say. Who is right and who is wrong? Hmm. That is the one million dollar question. My opinion? I believe in going on the road with young birds, provided they are healthy. When they are not in good shape you will worsen their condition even more by training them.

Gason v d Wouwer is not optimistic about the future of this sport. It is the younger generation, the young professionals, fanciers in their 30ies and 40ies that endanger pigeonsport’ he says.

Those fanciers who are full of energy and who are smart as well engage themselves from early morning to late evening with their birds. They enter an enormous army and the results are overwhelming. The result is that fanciers in their 60-ies and 70-ies (the majority!) are not competitive any more, may give up and quit.Co Verbree is such a man. ‘Our greatest enemy is our age’ he claims.

When I was once in the loft of the late Emiel Daems he asked if I wanted to see his best racers. Of course I wanted to see them. And also his best breeders if possible. Emiel: ‘Hmmm. My best breeders? I will tell you one thing: If your favorite breeders will produce your best youngsters future does not look good for you.’ What he meant is that good pigeons are often bred from birds that you did not expect. They are surprises. I once asked Chris Hebberechts what his best breeding pair was. ‘I do not have a best breeding pair Christ reacted, adding ‘I do not believe in couples that only give good babies, and I have never had such birds.’ It reminded me of Klak.

When fanciers want to buy birds they naturally want them from the best. From the best’ often implies more expensive. But to the surprise of many this was not the case with Klak. He charged ONE and the SAME price for all his babies, regardless the origin. Klak: ‘Why charge different prices? If you have a good family yearlings may produce babies that are as good as or even better than the babies from ‘old proven breeders’. It reminds me of all those champions that change the matings again and again.

Because it seldom happens that a pair will give more than one real good bird’ they claim. I myself have the opinion that the longer a couple has been mated, the poorer the quality of their babies. So you better change the matings, again and again.