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Quiz in Portugal

Quiz in Lisbon Portugal November 2008.


The quiz was in Q and A. The questions made up and asked by Pedro Lopes.



Since you have bred so many good pigeons and have such a big name I first would like to ask some personal questions:


- How come you have more successes than others in pigeon breeding?

I only breed from birds that have many good racers in their family.  

I would not even breed from the best bird in the world if none of its sisters or brothers are any good.

Nevertheless I also make mistakes.

Take my 'Creilman' and 'Invincible'. Those 2 birds were super racers but I advised people not to buy their babies since they were no good. That was a big mistake.

Those babies were poor racers indeed but many of them turned out to be good breeders.


- How close do you inbreed?

I am against inbreeding. Most good birds are products of crossings. At other lofts and in mine. Inbreeding is good if you want to sell. Buyers like inbreeds.    


- What about the age of the breeders?

The parents of most good birds are younger. A breeding loft may not look like a home for the aged.

At some fanciers I see very old birds that never produced a good bird. I wonder what those old-timers are doing there. Good origin alone may not be a reason to keep it. .

A 3 year old bird should be a proven breeder or no breeder.  


- Do you cure the pigeons or give extra vitamins in breeding?

Cure? Why should I?

I treat all birds against paratyphoid in fall and that is it.

In the past I frequently cured against canker but I stopped doing so since a couple of years because canker is no problem in my loft any more.

I am almost sure this is because I give vinegar in winter, since others have the same experience.

I do not waste money on vitamins, since I do not believe in them. Never ever did I see birds shape up after they got vitamins.


On every corner of the street one could see where the quiz was at. 


Since you are considered as a specialist in young bird racing, some call you the best, I have some questions on that too.


- How do you care your youngsters when you wean them?

I wean at a young age, about 22 days old, and do not give small seeds. Every time I enter the loft I look for weaklings to be eliminated.

Natural health is a must to survive, again, regardless the origin.  


- What's your training program?

I start training when birds are 3 to 4 months old and only when the weather is nice. That means nice for pigeons. A bright sky with head winds is not good for young pigeons. The first toss is from 5 kilometres, then 10, again 10 and then 15.

Then I do not increase the distance until they fly home directly.      


- Do you use a special system for the young birds?

In fact there are 2 systems.


Racing them natural (on the nest).


Racing with separated sexes.

I do not believe you can race successfully on the nest for 3 months. They perform best on their first baby.

I do not believe either that you can race successfully on widowhood for 3 months. They get bored of it.

Therefore I practise both methods. First on the nest so that couples are formed and pigeons 'know each other' and then with sexes separated.


- Do you think that you can prepare young birds for widowhood later on?

A good old bird knows soon enough what is going on, whether it was raced on widowhood as a youngster or not does not make any difference.


-What sort of medical treatment do you give during the season?

As little as possible. My best years are those in which I do not have to medicate. The problem is that most people do not believe this. I give electrolytes after races in hot weather so that birds can catch up for the moisture that got lost.

In case of problems you have no other choice than to medicate of course.


-How do you select your youngsters after the racing season?

There are 2 criteria; natural health and results. They should have won 50 % prizes in first 10 %. A youngster that won a leading prize both with headwinds AND strong tailwinds will survive the selection as well. Those are often good birds I found.


- How often do you train your pigeons before and during the season?

Old birds about 4 times before the season, young birds about 10 times. In between the races I do not train old birds, young birds sometimes once per week.  


- How do you prepare your pigeons on basketing day?

I suppose you refer to feeding.

If birds are in the basket for one night they can eat as much as they want in the morning. Shortly after noon the food is taken away.

If they are in the basket for 2 nights they are fed again about 4 p.m. which means at least 2 hours before basketing. They must have a chance to drink since they need the water to digest the food.


- Do you have to pay attention to anything in particular with the racing females?

I cannot explain why but they need more food than cocks. And of course they should not mate amongst each other.    


-For how long do you show the females before and after the race?

Since 2005 I race double widowhood, so both cocks and hens. I let the sexes together the day BEFORE basketing. In this way they are always basketed calmly which is very important in hot weather. 

Birds that are too nervous, especially cocks, finish themselves before they are released when the weather is hot.   


- What tricks do you use to spur your pigeons?

I do not believe much in tricks. In case I do something it is always based on the love for their own territory.

* I open empty boxes. 

* I hang perches nearby the boxes so that they feel threatened.  

* I put other birds in half closed nest box. All these things have to be built up. They do not work if you do this the day before basketing as some people do.


- Do you have any special preparation to get top class performances in special races? You were very successful in the National Orleans in the past.

National Orleans used to be the biggest race in the world indeed and I sometimes performed the best of the whole country. But, without bragging, my babies performed equally well in other races.  The point is that Orleans got more attention in the media.  What may help for a special race is La Sota.


- How do you feed?

I give my birds the same mixture the whole year round. Klak was the first to practise this and now pretty many fanciers do the same.



Vet questions:


- How do you increase the natural resistance in your pigeons?

That is one of the most important issues in modern racing sport and an increasing problem. What I do is:

* Medicate as little as possible. Preferably not at all.   

* I do not clean the lofts.

* I select strongly. If you have 40 babies and 38 of them are in good health the other 2 can go, regardless the origin. Just give medicine because 'it was a long time ago' is the same as taking aspirin today for a headache that you may get in a month.     


What kind of treatments and vaccines do you give your birds?

Like everybody I vaccinate against paramyxo and furthermore I treat against paratyphoid during 12 days in fall. As I said before canker is less a problem for my birds. .

So I do NOT medicate against coccidioses or worms. Coccidioses is no problem for birds in a dry loft. I have the droppings checked for worms twice a year.


Do you agree with the expression 'Nobody can buy good form and super health at the chemist '?

100 %. Poor racers medicate their birds far more than the champions. The champions worry more about the loft climate. A good loft is very important and if the loft is good it is not difficult at all to keep birds in good shape.



General questions:


- In this sport you can fall more quickly than you climb....what makes the difference to be on top for several years?

One word; selection! Or, like I often say, eliminate bad pigeons, sell the good ones and keep the supers.


- What do you consider to be the most important aspect in a healthy loft?

Dry, no draught, lots of oxygen and agreeably warm.


- What has been your finest experience in sport?

I have many. Of course the NATIONAL victories from Orleans but also the fact that so many NATIONAL Aces descend from my loft and the devastating results from Verkerk and Jespers van der Wegen with my birds. Their results are described as the best ever.

I am also proud that they forbade me to pool money back in 1997. This was sad but I considered it as a compliment.


- My final question:  What makes this sport so intriguing for you?

The fact that you need not be an athlete, rich, handsome or intelligent to be a winner. Scientists, uneducated people, aged people, teenagers, gays, women, everybody can be successful if he or she uses common sense and believes in the good pigeons and not in secrets that do not exist.



Some of the questions that were asked by the audience.

- You saw the mountains here and you know about the hot summers we have. In your country circumstances are not so hard. Should we keep buying birds?

You must have strong birds indeed and I am the last to say that the best birds are to be found in Holland and Belgium. Do we dominate the many one loft races? In case you buy birds I advise to cross them with yours.

If you race birds under such hard conditions you will end up having good birds or no birds.


- In Holland it seems all champions race Janssenbirds and van Loons, while the Belgians do not have these strains. How come?

Maybe the Dutch are better business men?


- Are hens really more important than cocks in the breeding process?

I noticed that most people that buy birds prefer hens. I really do not know if they 'give' more to the babies. Furthermore world famous breeders such as Kannibaal, Kleine Dirk and Wittenbuik are all cocks.

Portugal is very mountainous. Hard for the pigeons on their way home from a race. 

So far part of the quiz that I held in Portugal. I noticed fanciers are very competitive and unfortunately the number also went down from 18,000 to 13,000 today.