Some q and a (30-10)
Of course I am not a man who knows everything about pigeons. But sometimes I get questions that I dare to answer. I get such questions from Dutch fanciers, Belgians, Germans, Americans. Even from the Gulf States fanciers sometimes ask my opinion. A summary.
Are pigeons with strong and closed vent bones better than ones with weak and open vents? Are the latter physically inferior and not recommendable to breed from?
I think that is right indeed. It may happen that a bird with weak and open vents is a good racer, but those are exceptions. Personally I would never allow such birds in my breeding loft.
Where are the best pigeons, in Belgium or Holland?
Such questions are too general. You should know that in both countries fanciers specialise. Nobody believes in birds that can win from both 100 kms and 1.000. Some birds are fit for sprint races, others for 500 to 700 kms, others again for races farther than 900 kms. The so-called great long distance.
For great long distance the best pigeons are undoubtedly to be found in Holland. For sprint birds I would go to Belgium, more specifically the province of Antwerp. (Rings start with ‘6’). There are fanciers in the Far East that only want birds with a ring that starts with ‘6’. For races from 500 to 700 kms as well I think Dutch birds are better. As for Middle Distance I do not think there is much difference. I know a bit what I am talking about since I live right at the border.
Sir, how do you deal with paratyphoid?
I can tell you how I deal with this disease, but this does not necessarily mean this is the best method. The champions in our sport have different opinions and even the vets do not agree. Believe it or not, they even contradict each other. Anyway, what I do is the following thing:
Cure against it every 3 years with Baytril for 10 days. It is not followed by a vaccination. In case of so-called ‘problem lofts’, in which there was a salmonella infection indeed, I would act differently. First give that cure for 2 weeks, but then followed by a vaccination. You should do this 3 years on a row.
Note: Maybe I would not treat against salmonella at all if I did not regularly import pigeons. But I am always looking for better birds and nearly every year I try out new blood. That is the reason I do not take chances.
One of our sensational hens in 2019
What supplements do you give your birds?
None, since I do not believe in them. Leo Heremans was a top racer. He does not believe in them either. And for long distance? In my opinion they are useless as well. A champion like Verkerk has tried out everything. But never ever did he notice a boost in condition.
I must admit though, some real good long distance racers advocate for oil and they administer ‘oil containing stuff’ like peanuts the last 2 days before basketing.
Perhaps (!) pigeons may benefit from oil indeed. But certainly not if the birds get that just one or two days before basketing. You should start giving it at least one week before the race. Giving the birds extra energy in just one or two days is an illusion.
Is a pigeon that was in a smash and came home some days after the release completely worn out and skinny still fit to excel? Or is it only valuable as a breeder.
Hard to say. This differs from one pigeon to another. But pigeons that do not gain weight soon and never get back that nice pink colour are pigeons without future.
Do you darken your old birds?
The hens only and it certainly does not hurt them. This year (2019) we started with 12 hens. We had 9 Ace pigeons in the Federation (called ZAV) and 8 of them were hens. Right, we had a fantastic year. Many fellow sportsmen say we were the best of the whole country as for Middle Distance.
Having 8 Ace pigeons from 12 racers total is unique. One of them (18-732) became 3rd NATIONAL Ace KBDB Middle Distance yrl. I race under the name ‘Comb Maegh A S’. As for the Ace only the name of Maegh was published by KBDB.
Why I did not darken the cocks? For some mysterious reason it seems to make no sense. The hens are darkened like young birds, 10 hours daylight maximum, but unlike young birds I darken them the whole season.
What system is the best in your opinion?
We practise double widowhood, which means that both cocks and hens are raced. But this system is unfit for long distance. At long distance it happens too often that after a race a bird has to wait too long for its partner. I think a system that is even better than mine is to race hens only while their partners are not raced but welcome the hens after the race. Especially in races from 500 to 700 kms hens that are raced like this may perform fantastic. Gaston v d Wouwer practises this method. As for the great long distance (two day races) probably playing natural (on the nest) is the best.
I am a novice, what can you advise me?
Breed many birds, race many birds and eliminate many birds. And once you have become pretty successful: Eliminate the poor racers, sell the good racers and keep the supers !!!
In those days only cocks were raced. Today hens are the 'secret' weapon on many.