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The loft, the fancier and the pigeon (17/5)

When someone buys pigeons from a champion you sometimes hear ´you should buy the handler as well.` What do they mean?

-Would pigeons of an average fancier perform better in the loft of a champion?

-Or the reverse: How would the pigeons of a champion do in the hands of an average fancier?

Many fanciers are doubtful about their own role, the role of the pigeons and the loft. There are many examples of champions who auctioned all their birds, then started to race again with other birds and again they stood out soon. This may make you think that the main factor in this sport is the handler. But, there are also numerous examples of fanciers that perform well for a couple of years and after that you never hear about them anymore. Now you might think ´quality birds is the only thing that matters.’

And there are examples of fanciers who started to race well. Encouraged by this they built a new fancy loft and… in their new loft the pigeons refused to perform. Eddy Janssens is an example. In such cases you might think: A good loft is the main thing.


Now you may understand why fanciers often talk about 3 criteria that matter to have good results.

  1. The handler.
  2. The loft.
  3. The pigeons.

Fanciers disagree about which of them is the most important. One finds a good loft the most important thing, the other thinks only good pigeons matter, a third one says: It is the fancier and the fancier only. Some even think in percentages. Like: To be successful it is 50 % the pigeons, 30 % the fancier and 20% the loft. Or something like that.

But can you think so mathematically? And can you separate those factors? As for me the handler comes in the first place. A good handler sees to it that his loft is fine and since he knows too well how important quality birds are he takes care that his loft is filled with good birds. Pigeons cannot create a good loft, a loft cannot import good pigeons or select them. So, the handler is the most important factor. A poor handler will never be successful, no matter how much money he spends on pigeons, the loft or medicine.  


Fanciers who performed well for a short time, the ‘one day flies’ mostly got some good birds by coincidence. Later on, when they do not have the good birds any more, they are finished for ever. Two mistakes are often made;  

  1. They think their birds are the best, they do not import birds till it is too late and they wonder ´what has happened with my good old family. Where is it?
  2. Or the reverse: They cannot stop buying pigeons everywhere. They cherish the imports and neglect their own proven good old family.


- The real champion follows new developments. In Belgium the champions were the first to imitate the Dutch and also darkened their birds. Champions such as Houben, IJskout, Roodhooft, Vandenabeele. Honestly speaking it was me who taught them how and when to darken their babies, but they gave it a try and never regretted it.

- The champions know when they should import birds to improve their family. They also know where to go and buy birds and also which birds.

- The champion does not let himself be seduced by agressive propaganda. They do not fall for ads that promise to change your birds into winners if you buy their products.

- The champion has confidence. In himself and in his birds. He stays calm after a good result and he will not do stupid things after a poor race, or take refuse to antibiotics.


I repeatedly say that no one, not even the champions, can see if a bird is any good. The big numbers of babies flying around their lofts are the living proof of their ignorance. Concerning good birds some remarks:

- Most good birds are normally sized. But if I had to choose between a bigger model or a smaller I would prefer the smaller pigeon.

- I prefer a somewhat longer type with somewhat longer wings and last flights that are not too broad. The tail should not be broad and not down. The modern racing pigeon has the tail thaty looks like one flight and somewhat up.

- A good pigeon has a little pupil, directed forward. Pigeons that give the impression to look backward are no good. Stay away from pigeons with a big pupil as well.

- A good pigeon has soft feathers, certainly for middle and long distance. Pigeons with broad last flights and feathers so dry that you hear them when you open a wing are absolutely no good.

- Pigeons ´of two pieces’ do net get old in the loft of a champion.

- Champions like calm birds that feel attached to their box and find an own place (territorry) which they will strongly defend at a young age.

- I personally like birds that at a very young age have the guts to leave the others on their way home, even from short distance. This does not count for long distance birds.


A good fancier makes sure that he has a good loft. Humans perform better in a nice environment, with pigeons it is no different. A great champion, who was accused to have a secret, once told me: ‘What distinguishes me from others is that I do everything that I can to make the loft for the birds as agreeable as possible.’

A problem in Holland and Belgium is the changeable weather. Different weather will change the loft climate. A loft that is good in to-day’s weather may change into a poor loft in other weather. And the reverse of course. Sometimes you hear fanciers say on racing days: ‘Other weather, other pigeons.” Or: ‘That guy has pigeons that are good in hot weather.

 Personally I do not believe in such birds. I think that the hot weather the days BEFORE a race influenced the loft climate positively so that the pigeons got into good shape.