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Tips (Febr 8)

In my club I was the first who used the internet, to-day everybody is familiar with it. Fanciers check when the birds are released on race day, they check the weather, in winter sales of vouchers and more and more they look at the results. There are even fanciers who do not want to receive results on paper any more. For that they have the internet. I do not think this is a good development and will tell you why.

I remember the days when there was a discussion about our sport on the NATIONAL TV-station every week the day before a race. The NATIONAL radio as well paid much attention to our sport, there you could here every hour when and if birds were released.

Also the daily magazines had a page about pigeon sport every week, not to speak about regional weeklies. In every little town there was a ‘pigeon shop’ that reminded non-fanciers of our existence. With the decline of the sport this is all gone. Up till 2018 a leading Belgian daily newspaper (‘Gazet van Antwerpen’) published the race results every Monday, but that is also history.

To-day good willing people are doing their outmost to promote the sport. I would strongly advise them to focus on the media. The media should pay attention to pigeon sport again. The fanciers would like that and for non fanciers it might be a reason to join.

I find results on paper also important to stop the decline.
When, long way back, I visited Janssens Bros there were always race results on the table early in the week. Later on the same with Houben, Leo Heremans, Gus Jansen. I checked them but not also other members of the family, neighbours, friends, visitors and so on. Of course with the internet we can do without but yet I hope paper result sheets will not disappear. Too much that referred to our sport disappeared already.

Few fanciers let their birds out in winter, since they fear the hawk. Birds that are locked up are safe from birds of prey indeed but sometimes you have to pay a price. Birds may suffer from muscle injury in spring. Fanciers in the UK complain, so do fanciers in the North of the Netherlands but in Belgium or in the south I never heard about this.

I myself once got such a bird. It was 11-941. It was such a good racer that I cannot imagine there were better birds. As a 2 year old I could not race it because it would not train. Muscle injury indeed. And what is so odd? I got this bird from a champion in the North. Why fanciers in the North may have up to 15 birds that are finished after a winter in which they were locked up, while other fanciers have no problems at all I cannot understand.

Some fanciers say they give their birds all kinds of supplements, thus they can reduce the use of medicine to a minimum. If those supplements are of any use (which I doubt) you should give them several days in a row. One day per week beer yeast, garlic, tea, vitamins or whatever? I think it is a waste. You should give it as a kind of cure, but once more I do not believe in them. Scientists claim that those supplements, vitamins included, are useless for humans. Why should it be different for pigeons?

And if there is one thing that you should NOT do is trying to cure sick birds with additives. In case of sick birds you need to go to a vet and antibiotics are the only means that may help you out.

When selecting young birds after the season I have only one criterium, the results. How birds look or the pedigree is not relevant for me. In 2018 I had a whole bunch of youngsters that performed really well. I had to get rid of youngsters that won 8 prizes from 8 races, because they were not good enough. And not many fanciers have birds that won 8 prizes from 8 races

Those youngsters won the 1st ‘Provincial’ over all championship young birds before Vercammen who had a sensational year as well. And believe me, 2018 was a hard year for our youngsters. Most races were held in terribly hot weather with headwinds. We race at the greatest distance which was certainly not an advantage in such hard weather.

It is very promising when you can start the new season with birds that all performed so well. But the war is not won yet. In 2017 I did not have such good youngsters. I kept some through the winter that I would have eliminated in other years. But how pleased I was when those birds that were ‘average’ as a baby turned out to be very good yearlings. In the championships for yearlings we ended 2nd Provincial (after the same Vercammen). Marcel Wouters was also impressed by the results of my youngsters. ‘But… watch out’, he said.

He dare keep youngsters through winter that were poor racers. And it happened more often that they did real well as yearlings. The opposite also happened to him. Youngsters that performed fantastic were no good as yearlings or old birds. In my loft I cannot possibly have good old birds that were poor racers as a baby, since they do not get a chance.

Many fanciers must have experienced the following thing. They have a real good racer but in the new season the bird is late again and again, even from road training. Watch out with such birds. They look ok but something is wrong with them. Stop racing them because they will get lost, even in nice weather. And losing birds that have proven to be good is terrible. We all have to breed too many babies for just one real good bird.