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To blame or not to blame

Pecking order and other things

December 2014. Everywhere the champions of the past season are celebrated. And  this winter will not be different from others. They are often the same people that climb the stages all over the country. How boring. But there were also surprises.

One of them were the results of Dirk van Dijck at short distance in fall.

These results did not get much publicity but that is the fate of short distance racers. They seldom get the credits that they deserve.

Did not Gaston van de Wouwer say that in the past his birds were far better than today? But then he only participated the sprint races which are almost ignored by the media. To get a name abroad there are 2 "musts".

- You should race long distance.

- And you should race many birds.

Take that National race in Belgium for arguments" sake.

Vercammen won, the winner was his 66th pick on the pooling sheet. He got all the publicity, nothing wrong with that, but as for me Patrick Boeckx was the star of that race. He won 20th National, not in his section but of ALL Belgium and'He had entered ONE bird only. Where could you read about this? Right. Nowhere!

Unfortunately, the tragedy of any sport is that most of the participants are losers. And in pigeon sport it is no different
Problem for many is however that they are looking for excuses for their failures, while actually it"s oh so simple. In pigeon racing there are two things that matter if fanciers fail to get good results again and again:

- The birds are no good.

- Or ... the form is missing.
Usually a combination of both.
One bad race can be bad luck, but when the results are poor throughout the season something is very wrong. And if the fancier has no self reflection he is doomed to play a subordinate role for the rest of his life.

What often happens after a poor race is that fanciers refer to others who also underperformed that day: "Look at him. He usually races so good. So my pigeons cannot be blamed. It must have been the wind or something else."
When you hear these men talk it seems that there are flights in which only the bad pigeons win a prize.

How do you get out of that slump?
There is only one way: Like I said, self reflection, face the truth.

Just accept that the lack of quality and/or poor condition are the reason of poor performances.

And how to improve the quality? 

Not by directly purchasing pigeons but by "cleaning the own loft". Get rid of pigeons that are not performing and are struggling to stay healthy. And move those older breeders that have never given good birds yet, regardless the origin.

Regarding the lack of form respiratory problems are often blamed.

"Thick heads" they say in Belgium. For the champions no problem as it seems, for others a nightmare. It"s been a few years ago that my results for a club member were reason to lament that I had so much luck in this sport.
"You have a family that never have respiratory problems, red throats, loose necks, flu." It sounded almost like a reproach.
I do not have such problems indeed but that is not because of my "family" as the man said. I do not have a "family". It"s a mixed bag.
I have big birds but especially small, short and tall, in the pedigree famous names but especially un known, Dutch and Belgians, often bought, sometimes presents.
So definitely no "family", not to mention a "strain".


What we call "thick heads" is not a disease as many think, but a symptom.
A symptom of no condition of mostly poor pigeons.
That was my reaction the the man. He did not understand.

Such a bird is vital and on the alert. Very important qualities of a modern racing pigeon.

How do pigeons get those "thick heads" he wanted to know.
Again simple: Through fighting. And ... that happens especially to pigeons that have no form. And we know how cruel pigeons can be.
They feel instinctively when the counterpart for some reason is weakened.

- A bird that came home some days late after a smash and that was exhausted? The others will torture it even more.
- A young that fell off its nest? It is not uncommon it is almost killed.


In the loft is a certain "pecking order" and also in the baskets in the trucks that head for the release station, in the most literal sense of the word.
And the unhealthy birds, those that are not in good shape are the victims.

They are hacked by pigeons that are in good shape. The result? Thick heads.
Some blame cold spring races. Wrong. Pigeons can very well stand high or low temperatures. Never have I heard complaints in winter about pigeons with "thick heads" because of flying hours in icy cold weather.
Some say "thick heads" are caused by draft. I doubt that. Pigeons sometimes look for  the most drafty spots.

Like I said "think heads" are the result of poor form. But what is the reason of poor form, one may wonder? That is indeed the key question.
Mostly because they are weaklings that are more vulnerable to herpes, chlamydia, ornithosis and/or other infections than other pigeons.

They lack natural resistance. The only thing to do is get rid of such birds, or it will be a never ending story. And a sad story I can tell you.

People know my mantra: I consider selection the only REAL secret of the champions.

In Portugal, even with a doctor we talked about good and bad pigeons only. Health and form were no item, while they are more important than quality.    

What you should do is focus on prevention rather than cure.
Ornithosis powders often do something, but ... for one or at most two races only.

After that the problem is often worse than before the cure.

And disinfection after the race?
If pigeons are healthy it makes no sense.

If they suffer from a disease, whatever it is, it is na've to think that one day of medication will do to heal the birds. Therefore:
- Remove systematically pigeons that are less tight, or have no weight maintenance.
- Have only confidence in naturally healthy pigeons and quality birds of course.

As for me health is even more important than quality.

Buying quality birds makes no sense when you put them among unhealthy pigeons. They will never show their class.

So throw away all those jars, pills, powders and potions that are considered to turn your poor birds into winners.
- Find refuge in a better environment (the loft !!!) instead of drugs.

NATURAL condition/form is what matters. Artificial health will always be temporaly  

When you see how some people spend fortunes on pigeons without anything to achieve and others with freebies stringing together the successes I think that many would do well to first learn how to keep pigeons healthy before spending or better wasting money on pigeons.