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Good luck and much luck (nov 11)

                                                                                                         (part 1 of 2)

 Breeding pigeons is something else than grow pigs, chickens, or, say, flowers or whatever. We do not breed with the intention to get the pens full, we do not want to breed a certain colour or other appearance characteristic, our goal is to breed good pigeons. Pigeons that stand out from others. When are pigeons good? That differs from one fancier to the other. What is a good bird for one may not be good enough for the other, depending on where one stands in pigeon sport.

What makes us different as well is that we want to grow pigeons with features such as a good sense of direction, willpower, stamina, resistance, natural health and (very important!) pigeons that attach themselves to the territory. All properties that are not observable. In that regard, I sometimes think of Gust Janssen, the breeder of the Olympiad 003. When I was there once with foreigners Gust handled them some birds. They studied them thoroughly and long-lasting, especially the eyes.

Then Gust said: 'They can still look so long, but what they are looking for they will never find.’ Gust meant that we humans cannot see what really matters. How right he was. With this remark many theories fell apart. It made me think of those guys who claim they are capable of forming good breeding pairs. Some even let themselves be paid for that.

Gust Janssen, the breeder of Leo Heremans Olympiad 003

Real good pigeons also fascinate me. And what stands out: Most fanciers that own such an extraordinary good bird will claim it was born by coincidence. Therefore I often say:  

The breeding couple does not make the good pigeon but the good pigeon makes the breeding couple.

 What I mean is this: all of a sudden and unexpectedly there is that good pigeon, the super as we say. And subsequently the parents are recognized and acknowledged as good breeders. Very often that ‘super’ is from couples that surprise us. Is the fancier that is so lucky as to have such a good racer now also the owner of a good breeding pair? Not at all. Because what is reality? It very rarely happens that the same couple will produce another super. Now you may understand why it is advisable to change the matings again and again like nearly all champions do, even if the pair gave a super before. What you need to breed good pigeons is parents that have the right genes and even more… a lot of luck !

I daresay my 006 is a super. It is a multiple first prize winner against many birds. It even won a 1st provincial (Antwerp) from Argenton in hard weather with a lead of 10 minutes. Argenton is little long distance. The father is an import. It is a son of Extreem x mother ‘Leeuw’ from Wouters. The mother is an import as well. It came from Hermans. 13-006 is not only a good racer, it produced good babies as well. And poor babies of course, like every pigeon will, regardless how good it is. Every champion that is honest will admit even his best birds give crab now and then. As I said the 006 gave good babies but this year ‘good’ was not enough for us. We wanted him to produce SUPERS. Therefore it was mated with our best breeding hen, our 264, that had given real good birds with different cocks. So that fantastic racer 006 mated with our best breeding hen 264? What could go wrong with such a ‘dream pair’?

Their babies looked fine indeed. Actually only one thing was wrong with them. They were too stupid or too lazy (or both) to win a prize.

Fanciers from the Far East sometimes talk about ' Golden Couples '. Poor them. Imagine a fancier and his ‘Super’. It must be very easy for him to breed 8 babies of the same parents every year. That means 40 babies, all brothers or sisters of the super, in 5 years’ time. However: Who has 5 supers of the same pair? Some food for thought.  

I do not believe in super breeding pairs. But I do believe in super breeders and that is something quite different.

 What do I mean with a super breeder one may wonder? For me that is a pair that produces one or two real good birds every year. No more? Indeed, no more. Golden Couples about which those Easterners speak only exist in our and especially in their imagination. And in sales lists, nowadays especially on the Internet.

If I am right, and believe me, I am right, and if good luck is so important why then won’t we allow pigeons to choose their own partner one may wonder. Indeed, why not? But on one condition: There should only be good pigeons in the stock loft, pigeons that have performed themselves. Such birds have proven to possess the right genes. Sometimes you hear fanciers say:

If you have a good racer and the nest mate is no good, then that bird is the good breeder. What a load of crap if you ask me.

I prefer the babies of the good racer. I even like them better than the babies of its parents, so its brothers or sisters.Some talk about certain 'bloodlines' that only give good birds. I find this nonsense again. It is sellers’ talk. Those guys may have some fliers with a record, but 'some' is commercially speaking not enough. They must also be able to sell from their others. So from the 'good bloodlines’. And here they are lucky, good bloodlines, or inbreeds, is what some naïve buyers want. Still it is a well kown fact that ost real good birds are the products of crossings.

Some people wonder: Why have the same fanciers been so successful for so many years? The answer is simple. They did not sell their best racers, not even for much money. They needed them for the stockloft. And why are others finished after some successful years?

Because they fell for the money and sold their good racers. They kept their brothers and sisters and started to breed from them. Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately, pigeon sport is not that simple.