Food for thought 2 (august 23rd)
There was a report about a real super pigeon on a Belgian website. It had such great performances that I was much surprised that the bird was still in Europe. In the past the Japanese bought such birds, later the Taiwanese and to-day the Chinese. At the time the owner of this bird was also contacted by middle men and agents but he refused to sell the bird. He wanted babies from it, as many as possible. But what a disappointment it was. Every year he mated it with different hens, but none of the babies was able to win a prize. Then a friend advised him not to eliminate the babies of the super but to try out their babies, so the grandchildren. ‘Quality sometimes skips a generation’ was what he said.
Too bad though: The results of the grandchildren and great grandchildren were as poor as those from the direct children. It made me think of something.
As I said, superbirds like this one, will normally be sold, sometimes for crazy money. The new owner seldom buys such a bird to only improve his family, he wants to make money by selling the off spring. They publish fancy photos of the bird hoping to get clients for its descendants. Take ‘BOLT’ for arguments’ sake , the Leo Heremans bird that was sold for no less than 320,000 euros. I heard from several sources its breeding results were very disappointing. Now you may understand why many eyebrows are raised when Europeans hear about crazy prices that are paid. Or when they hear about an auction of babies in which even the cheapest bird was sold for much money. As if they were all good. Maybe all the pedigrees were good, but pedigrees do not fly. Of course you have a much greater chance to have a good bird when the parents are good. But you are never sure.
Take that famous breeder from v d Wouwer, called ‘Kaasboer’. I bought a baby from it for pretty much money. Two years later Gaston asked me how good a breeder he was. ‘I am very sorry and would not have mentioned it, but it is no good at all’ I reacted. Gaston nodded understandably. ‘It is a super breeder’ he said. Of every 10 babies 7 are good or at least useful. You are one of the unlucky guys.’
But this is not the end of my ‘Kaasboer story’. A middle man had heard I had a direct son of Gastons famous breeder and wanted to buy it. I strongly advised him not to do that. I had mated it with 4 different hens and none of the babies was any good. ‘I do not care’, he said. ‘Just show me the pedigree.’ It was approved and for a moment I doubted what to do. Could I sell such a bird? Then I thought of the many bad birds that I had bought myself. And hadn’t I clearly told him the bird was no good? Yes I had. And sold it.
For some decades young Bart Geerinckx and his late father Luc belonged to the top of pigeon sport in Belgium. Those guys had a very good reputation, both for the quality of their pigeons and their honesty. Last year in spring I stood in the aviary with at least 200 babies in it. ‘What do you think, 10% of them good?’ I asked Bart. ‘I wish this were true’ he said. This remark was typical for the honesty of the young man, who knew very well I was going to publish it. 10% would mean 20 good birds and indeed, who breeds 20 good birds in a year? Not even Geerinckx.
Roodhooft is another champion who is straightforward. I have known Andre since long. What is so striking about him is that he makes notes of everything. Like every other ambitious fancier he imports birds (babies) every year hoping to improve his family. And naturally he is only satisfied with the best of the best. And you know what he learnt from his notes? Of every 12 birds that he imported one was usable. He did not say ‘good’ but useable.
Believe me, pigeons that only produce good babies? Or fanciers that do not breed junk? They only exist in dreams, in ads and in auction lists.