Soon ripe soon rotten?
Soon ripe... Soon rotten?
Every fancier has his own way of keeping pigeons.
Some focus on 2 or 3 overnight races, others want to peak on the one-day long-distance and in Belgium traditionally there are still quite a few speed racers, although there too, there is a tendency towards flying longer distances.
They don"t have a choice because of the ever decreasing number of pigeons in the many village clubs.
I don"t have the patience for those races or those pigeons.
To get the most out of the pigeons from the very first race for young pigeons, I do the same as many other Belgian speed racers, and start selecting from the moment the pigeons start their training.
When a young pigeon returns too late from a training flight, it gets a clip ring on its leg, and when it gets too many clip rings it has to go.
With this method you"ll create a kind of pigeon that is mature early, and that"s what we need from the first race on.
Once upon a time, long ago, there was that first race for young pigeons from Duffel, 1991 to be precise. It was a race from only 50 kilometres, 10 pigeons arrived at the same time and won the first 10 prizes against some 1,100 birds. These were pigeons that had been trained intensively and had been strongly selected.
Fellow fanciers called it luck, because of the short distance, however, the same pigeons excelled again later in the National Orleans with hard weather.
How different is the approach of long-distance racers.
Their youngsters are rarely entered in a race, flying a prize isn"t necessary.
Some fanciers don"t even clock them in, and there are even those who don"t bother with how they perform as yearlings.
They basket their young pigeons only about 6 times, the results are of not much importance, as yearlings they race two one-day long-distance races, but as a two year old pigeon on, they have to make their mark.
Two years is the age that many of my pigeons are at their top, while for long distance racers the birds still have to start their "career".
You often see that with pigeons of long-distance racers.
In 2008 I visited van Gestel from Retie, Belgium.
The brothers are good at long-distance and I had bought a "Bon" on the Internet from them, which is usually cheaper than when you buy pigeons at home of a fancier.
I had never been there before and they told me about a hen that had fantastic results at the long-distance when she was... 5 years old.
And then you should know that I don"t enter hens that are older than 3 years old anymore, because they are past their best.
I took home a hen out of a 12 year old cock, they didn"t reckon that very unusual.
It reminded me of Schellekens from Riel; an overnight racer.
I once had breeders in my hands there, that were 15 years or older, and still very much fertile.
HENK DE WEERD
Having pigeons that are not fertile for very long is annoying, especially when they are good ones.
For a time I thought that this was my own fault because of my yearly treatment against paratyphoid, especially after I read that Pros Roosen had the same opinion.
I told vet de Weerd of this problem and he said that the treatment couldn"t be the cause, and that it would be inherent in the breed (i.e. my breed) he didn"t believe either.
"I think that you ask too much of them as youngsters and yearlings," Henk said, "that"s why they are not fertile for very long, that"s also why their racing career is shorter, and therefore the long-distance races are not of much interest to you".
It has not so much to do with your pigeons but with your system.
He is possibly right.
The "Sprint" from Verkerk (3rd World champion V L long-distance) came out of one of my cocks.
The 2nd World champion Long-distance V L from Leytens came out of one of my cocks.
Two Semi National winners Long-distance and the National Ace Long-distance BDS of Vanlint descended from my pigeons, and the best Long-distance pigeon of the Netherlands in 2000 (raced by Rens van der Zijde) even came out of two direct ones.
Soon ripe, soon rotten?
I still believe in that, but possibly it"s the fancier who creates such pigeons through his method of preparing, racing and selecting.
After all, there are many examples of fanciers who wanted to specialize on the short middle-distance, who acquired "long-distance blood" especially for that reason, but who couldn"t get any results with them.
Afterwards they tried the same with their own "short middle-distance pigeons", but with a different method and ... bingo.
Erik Berckmoes and Vandenabeele are two of those examples.