Better than medicine
I seldom show visitors any of my birds.
Why should I?
No one in the world can say for sure which birds are good and which are not.
See what happened last spring.
With 2 fellow sports men I was in the lofts of W de Bruyn.
Suddenly we handled a bird that was the ugliest we had ever seen.
All 3 of us let it slip out of our hands and were looking for the next one.
"I knew that" he said, "but you just handled my "Olympic Schanulleke".
We were shocked, since every serious fancier knows the results of this flying miracle.
And I thought about 613, the best racer Klak ever had.
No one wanted its father, too ugly.
I thought about "Artist" from Houben. The same story.
And I thought about all those good looking birds that won 1st prizes in pigeon shows but that fail to find their way back home from 100 kilometres.
Because they lack the most important things that racing pigeons need to be GOOD racing pigeons. Things that cannot be seen from the outside, thanks God.
No wonder they are mostly the greatest champions who claim they know nothing about pigeons.
So indeed, what is the point of showing birds?
I only do so when visitors ask for it, I do not care whether they like them or not.
I even hardly listen to their comment.
This time I made an exception, since my visitors came all the way from China.
I did not allow them into the lofts, I never do, but asked them to have some patience and some minutes later I came back with a basket with 4 birds in it.
They liked them (most Chinese are so nice as to "like" all birds they handle) but one thing they did not understand.
The condition of 2 birds was normal, the condition of the others was breathtaking.
I was not surprised to hear this.
The normal looking birds were from the racing loft, the other 2 with the breath taking condition I got out of an aviary; an aviary with an open front. The birds in it are exposed to cold, snow, wind in our hard winters.
The racing loft is different. Double glass, heating, ventilation and so on.
In this loft I have everything under control.
But fanciers in Holland and Belgium who have an aviary know that for some mysterious reason birds are often in a better condition there and seldom get sick.
The day after the visit I also put the racers in the aviary, like I always do in winter.
And every winter it is the same story. Within a few weeks their condition is better than it was in their insulated lofts with heating, double glass and so on.
It reminds me of a visit to Phoenix Arizona long way back.
I had to speak in a panel and my plane had landed in the middle of the night.
I never forgot how cold it was when I got out of the plane.
After the panel a fancier invited me to see his birds.
He had invested much money but still failed to win decent prizes.
When he opened the lofts I was shocked to see the horrible condition of the birds, despite all the medication and vitamins they got.
And I shivered since the floor of the loft was just a grate to allow fresh air into the loft.
The birds clearly did not like it.
"You have a loft problem" I said and pointed at the openings in the floor.
"I have no other choice, you know how warm it can be here in the daytime" he said.
"I know that" I reacted "but I also noticed how terribly cold your nights are here".
He promised to make some changes so that he had more control.
Only one year later he wrote me he had a fantastic year.
When fellow fanciers accused him of having a secret he just shrugged.
I always say "there is only one secret in pigeon sport and that is SELECTION!
This selection should be based on natural health and results.
When you have say 50 birds and 3 get sick while the rest is fine those 3 have no reason to be sick, since they get the same care as the others and are in the same loft. Get rid of those 3.
And do not make the mistake to medicate all birds in order to heal 3 of them.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In my area churches are loaded with stray birds.
There they breed babies which explains why these birds become a plague in some towns. Not because they are sick but there are too many.
In winter, when there is snow, they survive even after several weeks without food.
They do not get vitamins or other additives but still none of these birds that are not taken care of by any body suffers from Adeno, Coli, paratyphoid, paramyxo or whatever.
In their nests are always 2 babies, growing up perfectly.
Those birds are tough birds and hardened!
What I want to say is this:
Many fanciers do wrong by helping birds that are born with a poor health. It is wrong to try and turn them into strong birds by giving additives, vitamins and so on.
Why have pigeons become weaker and weaker throughout the years?
Why has it become so much more difficult to keep them in good health?
Because we forgot to trust on their NATURAL resistance and medicated too much too soon throughout the years. The result was a type of racing pigeon with an unnatural health.
Today many champions go back to nature in winter.
They putting their birds in open aviaries.
During the racing season it is different. Then they do whatever they can to make the loft climate as agreeable as possible for the birds.
A champion like Verkerk always says "my secret is that I try to make my lofts as comfortable as possible for the birds."
With a good loft you keep the medicine away but the first condition is to have birds
that are strong by nature.
A good loft is far more important than medicine to keep the birds in good condition.
As we all know a good loft is dry, warm and in it there is oxygen in abundance.
But here we face a problem.
When we close the loft to make it warmer it may result in lack of fresh air.
When we make the loft more open it may become colder.
The problem with the guy in Phoenix was that the difference in temperature between day and night was too big.
It is the art of a champion to find a good balance so that the lofts are dry, warm and not draughty.
Champions constantly think about improving their lofts.
Those who will never become champions look for better medicine and magic bottles.