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Parkinson. L.J.

When I am writing I am doing so about the sport I love so much, and I admit I can change my mind and don’t mind admitting it. With no longer having pigeons in the garden I am now looking at pigeons in a different way, but I still stick to my basic instinct of what I believe is the best way forward. Since I parted with the pigeons in 2014 there have been many times when I have really missed them, but circumstances are not in my favour even thought Elizabeth has said that I should convert the summer house and have pigeons again. The one thing I don’t have is enough time to look after a team of pigeons while I have the web site which takes up so much time and as I have been told I cannot do both and everything else in the normal day. Plus, I have now got the North West Classic Club in full swing so that takes up time, even so that is during the summer when I can get out of the office and into the garden. I also have Kim as joint secretary so that job is even lighter than I thought it was going to be.

The main contact I do have with the pigeons is through taking photographs which gives me the opportunity to handle pigeons and see what others are looking for. Even though I don’t have them myself I still like to see and handle a good pigeon. I know a photo done right makes the pigeons look good but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how good a pigeon looks or handles because if it does not have what it takes then they are not going to do you any good. It’s always good to handle them but how many top class bred pigeons and especially those who handle well make the grade. There is no guarantee with pigeons and no matter what your opinion is of them they still have the same chance to either win or breed winners.

Going back to doing the photographs for sales I have handled some really good pigeons and have been tempted to have a few again especially when they make your mouth water when going through your hands and I get them in every batch I do, there is always going to be something that stands out head and shoulders above the others. I cannot help but mark one up when it looks and handles so good, but I do. Would those that I prefer do any good, that’s the million dollar question and one that we will never know unless the right person gets hold of them and pairs them right. In the past I have opened the sections up between the cocks and hens and left them to it, that is providing that all in the sections are of equal quality in their breeding. I did this when I had over 30 direct children of 1st National winners, I let them pick their own mates. Did they breed the pigeons we want to race that’s a good question? It is because I know different fanciers had them off the same pairings, some did good while the others did not do anything at all. So why did one fancier do so well, and the other didn’t with pigeons off the same pair. Well in my opinion it doesn’t matter how many you breed off a pair they are not all going to be winners. Yes, I suppose there are a very few and I do mean a very few pairings where more or less all that are bred from them are winners. As we know from all walks of life there are the exceptions to the rule and that does include breeding pigeons.

A few weeks ago, I took 13 photos to go up for sale and out of them I could have picked 5prs and would have been confident that they would have filled a loft full of winners. No, not everyone would have turned out good winners, but I would be confident that well above 50% off each pair would have come good. Plus, I would expect the odd ones that did not race well would be better than average in the stock loft. It is not by coincidence that there are top lofts out there who are winning more than their share of races. They know what they are looking for and they can select the racers and breeders. Why do some fanciers sell some of their good racers when they get to 3/4yrs old, more often than not it is because what they are breeding do not fit in with what they are looking for to enter their race team but in other hands who knows? There are lofts about who have generation after generation that continue to breed winners but when you look around how many lofts can do that from the same family of pigeons, not many. We all bring in new pigeon’s year after year and they are brought in because of their breeding, most having not been raced or bred anything. They are the latest fashion, so we want to try them, no let’s say most like to try them. However, going into a new loft under new management can soon change what the capabilities are of any pigeon. Over nearly 50yrs of visiting lofts I have seen and handled numerous winners including many National winners. Believe me they have not all been to my liking, in fact I would go as far as to say had some of them been in my loft I would not have given them a second look. However, they have suited the fancier who has had them in their hands and got the best out of them. The same pigeons could have been in 95% of other lofts and never done a thing.

I bet we have all seen pigeons and thought the same about them and just brushed them aside.

I once had a dark w/f cock, and no one saw anything in him, but he was a really good distance pigeon for many years. On many occasions selecting pigeons for racing and breeding can be more luck than judgment and that is a fact. I have heard it on many occasions that a certain winner was bred by luck, a pair went together because there was nothing else for them to be selected to go to. Then it’s a case of, “After all the selecting I did the best breeding pair went together by pure chance” heard it many times. Yes, we all like to think that we have bred birds through the skill of section but we all know that is not always the case. How many pedigree’s do we see where there are winners two or three generations away and think there is little chance of breeding anything worthwhile. Then we see winner after winner coming through, therefore they don’t have to be winners to breed winners. As long as the pigeons are breeding youngster’s winners can pop up anywhere even from the unexpected pairings.

I still believe that most fanciers are too selective in what they are introducing into their loft and they come a cropper. So why do some fanciers win so much, and others don’t, no matter how much work they put into their pigeons. There are fanciers about who can win at certain distances with ease week after week. They can get their pigeons into a frame of mind where they have the love of home which is what they really need to have to win. This is bred into them as soon as they are in the nest and able to see what is going on around them. Winning is bred into their pigeons because they are in their own way teaching them the love of home. Some get it into their heads that to win fanciers are using drug’s but that sin not the case, in fact the biggest winners in the local fed have had their pigeons drug tested and they have always been negative. They have something that they breed into their pigeons from the start and I believe that is the love of home. Yes, they need to prepare and feed them to do the job that they require of them at the time and in the case of racing pigeons, the distance they want them to win at. Many say they feed for the distance that they are aiming to win at but when you are talking to some of the best fanciers in Europe they feed on a very light mix all the way through.

When visiting lofts on the continent I have been told on several occasions, “You Englishmen feed too many peas and beans” when I have asked not even for the distance they have said the same fed right the way through. I am going back now, to I think 2002, when we won the lion’s share of the trophies in the club and won the fed grand average. That year I fed all the way through on the light Vandenabeele mix which is much the same as Gerri Plus, you don’t see lots of peas and beans in those mixes. What I have done for the longer races is add oils to the corn at least 4 days each week. I also used Vior from Vandersanden in the water most days of the week, only lightly and I think that kept the gut sweat. Here is a good point when buying pigeons, there are many good pigeons on the continent and in the UK who do not get the recognition they deserve for their quality winning pigeons. On some occasion’s they do get through in the end but only after the best have been bought and put into a few selective lofts before being made into superstars, those lofts being the ones who study the continental papers week after week. Or in the modern day search the Internet to see who is winning what and the competition they are up against, it’s so easy.

Anyway, with the breeding season approaching or here for some I just wanted to make a few notes on breeding pigeons, probably not to the liking of many but nothing never is.

Les J Parkinson.