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Watch out in spring (07-03-24)

It is well known, many older people often think back to the past with nostalgia. Not because everything was better back then as you often hear, but different.
When I was about twelve years old, we had no idea what words like 'bi', 'gay', 'lesbian', 'gender neutral' and so on meant.
Now children (a bit exaggerated) who just van walk will tell you the meaning of these words. Especially a lot of chickens are said to be 'bi', I read somewhere.
Could it also apply to pigeons, especially hens?

In the past, hens were hardly raced. A single hen on the nest already made you stand out. Belgium is the land of doubles. Yearlings race separately and in the past also hens. 'More equal opportunities' was the intention, but especially 'the double hens' seems to be a farce with today's knowledge and has rightly been abolished everywhere.
Hens were the 'weaker sex', which had to be protected against 'the power of the widowhood cocks'.
Especially with a headwind, they would have no chance. That view has been overtaken by reality. Today's results make us ask the opposite question: 'who protects the widowers against the hens?

In earlier years, only a single basket was prepared in the club house before basketing. Just in case.
Today in some clubs more baskets are prepared for hens than for cocks.
One after the other embraced the hens' game and there is no longer any question of the widowers dominating.  Now fanciers mainly play:
- Double widowhood. Both sexes.
- Widowhood with hens. Cocks stay 'at home'.
- ‘Natural’ with hens. The extreme long distance racers.
Fanciers who race hens only don't have to be afraid anymore of the coks, but there is another danger: Pairing with each other;  ‘lesbian behavior.’
Hens that used to behave normal start hooking up with sex mates, after being separated from the cocks. Many take them out of the loft, because it may mean the end of the season.

There are always exceptions. For example, the late Gust Christiaens thought that there was no better position than two paired hens on a nest. Because they want to breed at the same time, you can play that out.
At the biggest disaster that they ever had in the Netherlands of Orleans youngsters, my first two arrivals were paired sisters. They won 1st and 2nd. One was the only one to make it the same day (4th National).
Roger Buvens, who was badly misunderstood, shared Gust's view. He even encouraged couples among themselves.
I went there once on a bleak winter's day. His hens were locked outside in an uncovered aviary.

But Gust and Roger are exceptions.
A new system came over from Germany. First to the Netherlands, then to Belgium:
Double widowhood; Both sexes were raced. Preventing lesbian behaviour became a challenge.
According to the 'specialists' the motivation for hens to be 'home' quickly is not the hens they see every day.
You have to be ahead of mating with each other during the game. If the hens are separated in winter it is better to leave them with the cocks for one and a half days a week. In fact then you are already too late. It is better to put a stop to lesbian behaviour as a youngster. If not, they will be the first to misbehave as a yearling.
However, it must be said that you can have a lot of success with young hens that have been paired. But almost certainly you can't play them as a widow anymore. Being separated some hens do not flirt with one other but even with several.
Fanciers rightly remover them. They undermine the whole system.
Disaster is tried to be prevented in various ways. Due to sloping slats so that they can no longer crawl together on the bottom. Round spinning rods or nets on which a ball. Or, if you don't have too many, lock them up.
Once I even saw a rabbit in the loft to prevent the hens from sitting on the floor and then flirt with others.

To each his own, but it seems to me that the system of racing hens with a partner staying at home is the best. But for people who are getting older, it seems better that they limit themselves in terms of the number of pigeons and keep boarders out.
If you have to keep 20 pigeons with a partner staying at home to be able to race with 10, with total widowhood it is different. Then you can race with all 20. By racing both sexes, you also get to know the breeding value of your pigeons.

It is therefore best to prevent 'running on' (lesbian behaviour) as early as the year of birth. What you could do is the following:
Pigeons that come from the race on Saturday do not separate until Sunday at noon. Then they have also calmed down. Then let the sexes together again on Wednesday when you basket on Thursday. Thus, there are only two full days that they are strictly separated, Monday and Tuesday. The other days they are (partly) together, or in the basket, or in the air on their way home.

Widow hens are said to be at their best as yearlings. I thought so too, but a hen in my own loft made me change my mind.
For example, I saw on the internet that there were only three pigeons in the whole of Belgium that classified themselves in the middle distance two years in a row among the National Ace Pigeons KBDB.
One of them, ‘190’, is from our loft. He also became Ace Pigeon regional for 3 years in a row with a rarely seen record list. She is from... 2020, so in 2023 played for the 4thyear.  What do fanciers mean when they say ‘as a two-year-old 'burnt out?'

When I say something, it does not mean that it is true, but I do have some right to speak. Dutch people who keep results should take a look at those of National Orleans from the past. Four times the best in the country according to calculations by the NPO. Once from no less than 200,000 participating pigeons.
Those were good times. Of course, there was envy, but not with everyone. During a meeting, appreciation was expressed that I would never race more pigeons than average. "For us it was bad enough as it is." If it comes across as bragging, sorry. But remember, nothing better for your credibility than performance.


'Interpaired young hens. According to some there is no better 'position'.
But later as an old bird such are finished.