Ad Schaerlaeckens


The hardest thing about pigeon racing.

This article was first published in 2003 in Nederland’s on Ad’s website.
I have translated it for you this past week. It is still relevant today. Enjoy!

The cards should have already been shuffled, the chaff should have been separated from the wheat, but that is not the case because we are afraid. afraid that we will remove a good one . Being, afraid to remove a good one, and that fear is understandable, because at a time when we fly effortlessly to the moon, the man who can distinguish good pigeons from bad pigeons, still must rise.

Writers in newspapers can’t, champions can’t, vets can’t, judges can’t, no one can.’ And yet you are going to have to make choices.  Tough choices sometimes.

– Between that well build pigeon, who did not fly a prize, and the ugly one who flew  the shingles off the roof.

– Between that pigeon that was incredibly early four times and missed eight times and the pigeon that won ten prizes on the same number races entered, but not once at the top’.

Sometimes I think you can blow down from a dandelion as much as make reasoned choices.  Because we all make mistakes. I have selected out numerous pigeons that I should never have put away and kept pigeons that were not worth keeping.   And I am not the only one who makes similar mistakes. How many times do you read in reports that someone rose to the top, because he acquired a super pigeon as a gift?  You can bet that, there is not one serious fancier who would get rid of a pigeon if he knew it was a super.

So, can you assume that we all make mistakes when we are selecting, the trick is to make as few mistakes as possible.

In our sport whether to keep a single pigeon, can have far-reaching consequences.  Not many have become champions by single pigeon or a top breeding pair.  Furthermore, it cannot be stressed enough how few good pigeons there are. Barely a handful of good birds keep, even for the greatest champion at the top. In fact, remove the great champion’s three best pigeons from his/her loft and see how fast the quality of the loft goes down.

You have a smaller problem selecting,  if you are in the situation when you have some pigeons that performed well and a lot that did not. On the other hand, you are facing a hellish task if an entire loft does not. Particularly, with youngsters you often see that.  How do you select based on performance if there is no performance? If it was not for lack of class, but lack of form, was the cause of failure of an entire loft. Also, the opposite occurs: Pigeons (especially youngsters ) collectively performed so well that you have a similar problem. I had years when the young birds came so huge that it seemed I had  dozens of supers. But,  barely two years later, there were less than a handful, of these supers, left.

If the pigeons do not perform, you do not have to look  to far. It is either, bad pigeons or no form, sometimes both. If the pigeons lack class, there is only one solution. Get better pigeons!

If pigeons do not perform, and had previously proven their class?  Then you have a problem and there is only one thing left: Find the problem!  Buying other pigeons is completely pointless in such a situation.  If pigeons  perform unsatisfactory.  year after year, it makes sense to have a specialist, come and look at your lofts. Young pigeon lofts often have too much light, too much draught or… too little atmosphere. And if there is no atmosphere, pigeons have little motivation.  Small and inexpensive changes in the loft can lead to spectacular improvements.  Of course, buying pigeons must be done with consultation. Many are brainwashed and have too much regard for names currently in fad. The performances of the name, where new acquisitions are to be made, are not thoroughly studied.  Especially one fails to pay attention to the numbers of pigeons with which he/she raced. 
The mistake that is often made is ‘making acquisitions’ while there is no order in your own loft. Buying pigeons should be preceded by another step: in your own loft thoroughly separate the chaff from the wheat. Newly purchased pigeons will never pay off, among a lot of junk without class or health. 
When pigeons let known there something is right, there are often problems with the ‘head’: snot, rough necks, red throats. The problem is that there is no such thing as a specific, ‘head disease’.  It can be anything: bacteria, herpes and other viruses, chlamydia. There is no specific drug for ‘head disease’ that guarantees success because you do not know exactly what to fight. That is why it is better trying to prevent ‘respiratory’. Then you do not have to administer drugs that make you wonder if they are useful.

Too often in our sport, the cheapest of all medicines is not take advantage of: AIR!

Oxygen is the pre-eminent means of freeing pigeons once and for all from head problems (especially in winter), or to build up sufficient resistance to future problems.

Have you ever seen a wild pigeon with snot?  If you have a fear of letting your pigeons out in the winter, screens in your windows, extremely useful. Experience  shows that problems with respiratory problems are especially chronic with fanciers who use (or better abuse) anti biotics. I once heard a vet claim that the aviary for him was sometimes the last resort against head diseases if all the drugs failed. And that was a good vet.  And what to do if all your pigeons are healthy except one or two?  Quite simple: Get rid of those one or two regardless of the lineage. There is nothing  you can do with them. If you are not careful, you are going to have a loft full of these weaklings.

I have already pointed out that I have a weakness for pigeons that manage to leave a whole flock behind with wind behind.  The pigeon game is all about orienting. Pigeons flying from behind show that they are good at orienting. At one time, I mainly acquired pigeons that flew first ‘in pigeon weather’ (warm and headwinds).

I had bad luck obtaining these types of pigeons, because it did not get me any further ahead.

I have had good experiences with:

– Pigeons that won the very first time they were released in a large release. Splitting  from a flock of 20,000 pigeons, immediately after release choosing  the right group and always make the right choice when that group splits, has everything to do with orienting.

– youngsters who when single tossing, need the least time to get home also often are the better racers.

– Pigeons that are nest-tight and fight for their box, also have an edge, in my preferences. Or, more than that. Those are  the very pigeons I want. For example, hens that stay on the nest for days when her partner is lost. 

But it is, of course, above all the performance or lack thereof on which we must rely in our efforts to make as few mistakes as possible. Everything else such as eyes, wing, physique, lineage and so on are subordinate to this. 

Of course, to assess performance, you must race them. Every autumn, for example, there are fanciers, who breed some late breds, from their best for the breeding loft.  I find it iffy and dare to do so very sporadically.

Because, I have been wrong too many times when I have had to judge a pigeon for its class.  I have had too many perfect pigeons in my hands that were worth nothing. Have had too many pigeons of the noblest origin on the lofts who have shamefully disavowed their origin when racing.

And I have too often seen ‘ordinary’ unobtrusive pigeons that were real aces. Radiant eyes, a perfect physique, soft feathers, and a perfect wing? It all sounds nice but…

Look for your redemption, by selecting healthy pigeons that perform, you will automatically get pigeons with eyes, physiques and wings that satisfy.