For decades it was the Japanese who bought our pigeons.
They preferred Dutch pigeons to Belgians and especially those that had proven to be good at the 2 day races.
This is not real strange since Dutch pigeons are superior at the so-called great long distance races and in Japan such races are the most popular.
Especially old birds that won a top prize from Sint Vincent or Barcelona were wanted.
But the pigeon sport also went down in Japan and to-day they do not buy many birds any more.
Their place was taken by the Taiwanese. I am talking about 25 years ago.
Unlike the Japanese the fanciers in Taiwan only race young birds.
Another difference is that Japanese compete for a trophy or a championship. The Taiwanese are not interested in that. They are only interested in one thing: Money.
And gigantic amounts of money are to be won over there.
Today the sea races are popular. Many of them end up in a smash but it seems they do not care much. They do not race old birds any way and if a bird is too late for a race there is no other choice as to eliminate it.
Today pigeon sport in both Holland and Belgium is afflicted by staggering amounts of losses of young birds.
Take 22nd of July 2014 for arguments' sake.
In the province of Oost Brabant they had a training race for young birds. The average distance was about 110 kms only, it was bright with calm headwinds.
Nevertheless up to 50% of the young birds did not make it home.
But the bad thing is that fanciers were not real surprised.
Since a couple of years fanciers take it for granted they lose half of their young birds, even in nice weather.
Why so many birds get lost in these days and why this did not happen in 'the old days' no one understands.
But the consequence is that people get scared, too many races are cancelled.
When temperatures are 30 degrees Celsius or higher for example no young birds can be raced.
When, early morning, there is so called inversion, the release will take place some hours later than planned. What a difference with Taiwan!
There fanciers are told on basketing day when the birds will be released one day later, regardless the weather forecast. They release them in all weather.
As mentioned before it is understandable that many races end up in a smash.
And it is in such races when very few birds make it home that fortunes are to be won.
When many hundreds of birds get home in time on a final race many hundreds get their share.
Taiwanese, like others, also prefer(red) Dutch or Belgian birds but they in turn lost their leading position as buyers. The Chinese took over.
Eleven so-called national winners of the same race is not exceptional.
And it seemed they had no limits moneywise. People here were amazed.
Take 'Bolt' from Leo Heremans for argument"s sake.
Taxes included 400,000 euros, about 500,000 USD was paid for just one bird.
And WAS it such a miracle bird? Hmm.
It had not even won one first prize in the club.
The Chinese WANT the best but we all know in reality they do not buy the best. They are brainwashed as much as other foreigners.
They buy name birds and pedigree birds.
For them a 1st prize is a 1st prize. Not for me and others. We want to know where it was won, in what kind of competition, against whom.
- They do not realise competition in one area is so much stronger than elsewhere.
- They want pigeons of a "pure strain" and do not realise the best birds are crossings.
- They do not realise that some fanciers here race 100 birds or more while others only race a handful.
When a fancier here has 7 birds in the first 100 of a National race they are impressed.
When another fancier has 2 birds in the first 100 National they are not impressed.
But the truth is that when the first fancier entered 75 birds or more his performance is not that spectacular.
If the second fancier with 2 prizes in the first 100 entered 2 birds only THAT is real sensational. But never have I heard a Chinese ask how many birds a fancier here entered after a good result. Or better' after a so-called good result.
But 2014 is not like the years before. The Chinese do not buy that many birds any more and they do not pay the huge amounts of money that they used to pay.
Since I wondered if they had become smarter I asked some Chinese why their fellow country men are not the great buyers that they used to be.
Why they buy fewer birds and cheaper birds.
Below is what they told me.
- There is much uncertainty about shipping. In the past nothing was easier than ship birds to China. If you had some you just contacted the shipping company and 3 days later the Chinese client had his birds.
Price on the Invoice was 30 euros per bird only or even less. More or fewer birds in the baskets than was mentioned on the invoice? This was no problem. No one over there opened any basket to check.
But due to illegal acts by both Europeans as Chinese importers the authorities have become very strict now.
Birds should be in quarantine, both in Europe and China, many documents have to filled in and one little mistake may be enough to block a complete shipment.
- There are very strict health rules and tests. The result is that the buyers have become very careful, if not scared.
Chinese authorities buy no longer the ridiculously low amounts of money in the Invoice. They want to know the exact value of each bird for which the buyer has to pay no less than 23.5 % taxes.
That is a lot of money for a bird of say 80,000 euros.
- Furthermore Chinese fanciers found that much rubbish is sold by Europeans. Partly their fault of course. They have too high an opinion of that piece of paper which is called pedigree. In 2014 only a fool wants to buy 'pure Janssens' or 'pure Huyskens van Riel' or descendants of National Sint Vincent winner 1978.
Let's quote what a Chinese loaded with money told me:
"I do not stop buying birds but from now on I will not buy grandchildren or nieces of good birds, but the good birds themselves.
And there is something else. Like the Japanese in the past also Chinese want National winners. But today there are FAR TOO MANY of such races, most of them with a low entry. Three national races in one weekend (in Belgium) with few a low entry in each race is the result of poor management.
Moreover today Belgium is divided in sections.
So for one race only there are several so-called national winners.
In the past Easterners were fighting for national winners, today the Belgian who won a national wonders why nobody contacts him to buy his winner.
And it is understandable: The more "national" winners the lower the price.
In the last decade many fanciers in both Holland and Belgium did real good business by selling birds. I am afraid these times will never come back.
But is not that partly their own fault?
In the old days birds that were no good were eliminated.
Today they are put in huge aviaries where they are waiting for foreign buyers.
Moreover I sometimes ask myself if so many fanciers also would race 75 or far more birds if there were no Chinese?