The roots of our sport are in Holland, but even more in Belgium.
In the past that was reason for mainly dealers to visit these countries but now more and more common people from all over the world come to Holland and Belgium in order to visit fanciers and see their birds.
I do not think the birds they will see will surprise them, since they very much look the same everywhere.
But' now that in modern times communicating has become so much easier it is often the Dutch and Belgians who are surprised to hear what they hear.
It shows there are many misunderstandings and prejudices among fanciers from abroad.
In the nineties I got many questions on Klak from people who thought he had quit long time ago, but they were wrong.
Klak kept on racing till the day he died in 2004.
In 2001, as a 79 year old, he became 1st Champion in the Combine.
One reason of this misunderstanding might be he liked publicity as much as Bush liked Saddam Hussein and it is generally known that not the best racers get famous abroad but those who know how to deal with the press.
Furthermore there was American Campbell Strange that once bought a lot of his birds and people thought Klak sold out totally.
Finally Klak did not race long distance (the Nationals) and it is the results of the long distance races that get all the attention.
In Holland every body knew Klak kept racing till he passed away but what many did not understand was how he could be so successful with birds raced natural.
Many people do not understand either why there are so many national races inHolland compared with Belgium.
Well, the opposite is true; in Belgium are more Nationals than in Holland.
'National' refers to a competition in which fanciers from the whole NATION can participate.
In Holland there are just a few two-day races, the Belgians organize REAL Nationals, nearly every two weeks.
In Holland are so-called NPO races, sometimes 8 in one weekend; fanciers call them 'National' whereas most of them are not even provincial.
Why then are so many more birds entered for these races than for real Nationals inBelgium?
The answer is that long distance in Holland is far more popular than in Belgium.
It is said that 80 % of the Belgian fanciers never race further than from Quievrain, which is not even 100 kilometres for many of them.
As for the Belgian Nationals one should know that the country is divided into zones (West, Centre and East), to give the birds a fairer chance in case of side winds.
For a National with strong west winds it may happen that the race is finished in the East, whereas in the west (Flanders) not one bird has made it home.
Of course the opposite is also true.
With Eastern winds fanciers in 'Flanders' take it all.
So in recent years people speak about 4 National winners in Belgium, which means the winner of each zone, but in fact there is only one; that is the bird that made it in that particular race the highest speed of the whole Nation, provided it was entered inthe national. Some fanciers only race their birds local or provincial to save entry cost and the cost for the result sheet of the National.
Holland is divided into sections. As for long distance every section has its so called 'NPO races'.
The winners are often referred to as Nationals.
National Ace pigeons.
What confuses many foreigners is that they read about more National Aces of the same year.
The point is magazines, food companies and so on also organize so-called National Championships.
The real National Aces are those that won the competitions organized by KBDB inBelgium and NPO in Holland.
Are those Aces also the best racers of the country?
Of course they are not.
The number of the birds in the races is very important since points are given to classify the birds and both in Holland and Belgium and many fanciers have no chance at all to have since they cannot race against many birds.
HENS AND COCKS
In Holland and Belgium there are 2 sorts of long distance races (Nationals):
The two-day races from 900 kilometres and further (birds are released in the afternoon) and the one-day races from 500 to 700 kilometres for which the birds are released early morning.
As for the two-day races it was very often hens that were supposed to be better and consequently many races were won by hens.
The one-day races were another story though. Especially the Belgians thought hens could not compete the cocks and therefore few hens were entered.
Since the beginning of this century however people had to change their minds.
Many one day races as well were won by hens, which may explain why in recent years far more hens are entered than before.
As for long distance we sometimes read about a velocity of 1,800 or more meters per hour. Of course the birds did not fly that fast.
It always concerns two-day races for which pigeons are supposed to rest at sunset therefore half an hour after sunset 'the clock is stopped' is stopped as for calculating the speed. But when it is bright, the moon is out and the birds have tail winds they do not take a rest and keep on flying.
Therefore we get those speeds which are not the true speeds of course.
Some birds even make it home around midnight or shortly after.
In the past many Belgians were sceptic about Dutch fanciers clocking their birds in the middle of the night.
But now that there are so many nightly arrivals, also in their country, they cannot but admit birds do fly in the night indeed.
GOOD TO KNOW
Sometimes fanciers want to move eggs under foster parents.
They mate the pair off which they want babies at the same time as the foster parents, but then it may happen that the hen of the breeding pair lays eggs before the other pair and then' they think they have a problem.
But as long as the pair off which you want babies will come on eggs BEFORE the foster parents there IS no problem.
You just have to take away the eggs maximum 2 hours after the 2nd one was laid, keep them fresh, switch them daily and the eggs will stay good for about a week.
So if the foster parents lay eggs one week later you just put the eggs off the breeders under them the day that they lay their second egg, and then, 17 days later, you have birds off the pair you want them from.
Worms are no big deal for pigeons.
Most champions never ever faced this problem, and since problems are rare it is wrong what some Americans do; worm their birds every half year or so.
This is wrong, since most wormers will harm the condition and understandably trying to eliminate worms that do not exist is far from smart.
Though in a dry environment pigeons will seldom have worms this does not mean problems are excluded.
In case of hairworms you have a big problem since it is so hard to eliminate their eggs that may stay alive for long, both inside and outside the loft.
Many fanciers mean that disinfectors such as chlorine or Dettol may help.
So what they do is worm the birds, clean the lofts and then wash the floor, the nest boxes and the perches with a chlorine solution.
Unfortunately chlorine will not kill eggs of hairworms, the only way to get rid of them is a fire with an interval of about 2 weeks.
But' when using the firer those tiny eggs may be blown away instead of being killed.
Therefore one should make the floor a little wet before you use the burner.
Many people wonder if there is any thing they can do to prevent an outbreak of Adeno. Unfortunately this is not the case.
Perhaps (!) apple vinegar may help, but this has never been proven yet.
So the bad news is that any bird of any fancier may get adeno at any time.
On the other hand it is quite well possible to endanger the health of your pigeons and make them more vulnerable from an attack of adeno.
Everything that disturbs the PH sour base maybe a reason for pigeons to get that dangerous virus.
Medicating against canker or give birds vitamins for one day only may cause an outbreak of Adeno if you have bad luck.
Why this may be the case?
Due to the bad taste of the water birds will drink less, which disturbs the digestion of the feed and ups' an outbreak of Adeno may be the result.
Medicating against paratyphoid is controversial.
Some vets or scientists are against it and say it is useless if it has not been proven that the pigeons suffer from paratyphoid indeed.
Others do not agree and claim that it is an illusion to think 100 % of the flock are free from salmonella, therefore they advise to medicate for 12 days minimum once a year.
In recent years more and more fanciers started to medicate but' they dare not if birds are moulting.
They have often read that one should stay away from medicine in the moulting season as much as possible (which is correct) but' medicine against paratyphoid isone of the few that does not influence the moult at all.
So you can safely administer it on birds that are moulting.
Most fanciers believe that it is good to give pigeons 'light feed' after a hard race, (a 'depurative') and they also think birds need 'heavy' food, such as corn and peanuts, before basketing for a hard race to give them more energy.
Most depurative mixtures contain pretty much barley, so they think barley is light to digest and corn is hard.
This is one of the many misunderstandings in our sport.
It is barley that is hard to digest, whereas corn is 'light feed'.