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translation from Dutch by LCB
 You can reach a lot with patience but not everybody has it…
message posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Last time we talked about searching and selecting pigeons for our winter breed. I feel the need to add something very important. I forgot (with us it happens automatic) to point to the evaluation of the wing.  We must be sure that the pigeon doesn’t have split feathers in their wing. I will try to explain this process as good as possible. It’s complex and not easy because your finger tips are the most important instruments to find out. Most fanciers have a job in which they work with their hands and mostly they have to use their finger tips. Hereby their fingers become hard and rough and it gets even more difficult to examine the pigeons with their fingers. Since my return to Belgium, many people ask why I always have my gloves to take care of my racers. The reason is very simple: I don’t want my finger tips to become hard and rough because these are important instruments to discover the most sensible spots. Ask my wife, she’s the only one to know.  It’s pure reality. And may be the Germans know more about it because they always talk about their “Fingerspitzengefühl”.  Many years ago, my friend Peter Trost and I visited the late master Piet de Weerd in Breda Holland. And to be honest, once you saw Piet manipulate a pigeon, you’ll never forget. His wise advice will always be remembered. He told us following when we gave him a pigeon and aksed about his opinion. “What’s a pigeon?, he asked, without giving us the opportunity to answer.  He explained and it became historical. It goes like that: ”A pigeon is for  90% orientation, the compass that makes a pigeon find its way. We don’t know very much about this aspect. So there’s only 10% left for us to judge the pigeon, here we have the things we feel when we take the pigeon in our hands. Good or bad feathers? Short or long muscles? Souple wing or not? Examining the eye and the throat? The balance?  Is the coccyx well closed? Is the breast solid or not? In short, all we see and feel to make our judgment is all in these 10%.” ”And” Piet continued, ”You must know that on 100 fanciers, there’s may be one that knows 1% of the 10%!” Till here the wise judgement of Piet de Weerd, the late Reinaert the fox to remember. I mentioned this only to show you that it’s not easy to find the right pigeons for the next breeding period. Good luck with it!  Split feathers can mostly be found when pigeons have dry and hard feathers. When you open the wing and you feel the under-wing with your finger tips, you can feel this with some exercise. To be sure about this, you have to turn the wing over, so you can see the pinions.  Then blow, so the little feathers move and you can see if the feathers are split or not. In fact you should have seen before and these pigeons shouldn’t be on your loft any more. Here some tips to select out these pigeons. Except of their hard and dry feathers, the pigeons often give you the impression that their little feathers under the wing aren’t long enough. The result is that you get a wing where you can see and feel through. Observe them when they take a bath because these are mostly the pigeons that don’t dry as fast as the others and when it rains, they won’t win an early prize. Didn’t you already  notice the sound they make when they train around the loft. If you discover them, don’t use them to breed with no matter what origins they have.       
Winter breeding is close and we promised to tell you more about the eyes, the throat and the combination of breeding pairs. The eyes: no need to tell you how important these are.  And as long as your own eyes don’t cheat, nothing is wrong. Champions come and go only because they loose their view on their pigeons and their sensibility in their finger tips. What do we search for and what do we finally see in the eyes of our pigeons? We prefer the pigeons to have a well-closed eye. Pigeons with oval eyes, formed as an egg, don’t get the opportunity to produce any youngsters on our loft. Their eyes are moist or they have an infection and they need to be treated. More about this, at the right time, certainly before the season 2012. We have to be careful with the colour of the eyes. There are very good racers with all kinds of eye-colour.  So it’s dangerous to select them only based on the colour of their eyes. Of course beautiful eyes are seductive and if we take a close look, it’s possible to find out their condition. And that’s important.  It’s the same with women, some of them can’t be resisted by men. He who falls for this, mostly gets cheated. It will become clear later on. That’s why it’s good that remorse comes after the sin and not before…We all know that beautiful women and flowers by the side of the road can’t remain there a long time without being picked.  Search dry eyes that shine brightly and which look like being painted. You have to be careful when you can’t see the exact colour of the eye. Play them for what they’re worth. Let the basket do the selection because this almost never lies. Finally we search for pigeons with a complete circle, which is mostly found with hens. No matter what some of us say, this circle is very important to breed with. If one of the partners has a well-closed circle it’s really positive. But always keep in mind that you should never select a pigeon only because the circle is closed, although it remains a very important aspect within the breeding. 


The throat: normally you shouldn’t take a look at the throat when the pigeon in your hands is calm, shows confidence, white nose and eyes and soft feathers. We only take a look at it when there is some doubt. A throat should be pink, not infected without slime and the opening should have the shape of a grain of barley and almost not move while breading.  When you see something else, it’s time to get some medical advice by your vet. Pay attention with fat pigeons, they can make an exception. Fit for combination as a pair: we will always search for pigeons that fulfil each other, without doing compensation. Never put small and big together because the product out of them is not sure; nature has its grills and is inconstant. We pair them so one of them has a complete eye-circle. We also prefer a bigger hen in the nest. Blue fits blue, chequered with chequered.  The pigment and the intensity of the colours become much more clear. White eyes fit together, yellow eyes share their nest. Red and coloured eyes always get together. Only in summer we don’t hold on to this system. For the last round of our breeders, we bring white and yellow eyes together although red and coloured eyes remain in the same nest. Why? Because every year we select out of these pigeons for our future breeding loft. By experience we know that these summer youngster show more resistance than their early born brothers, sister, half-brothers and half-sister. And be sure: all of the past died yesterday; all for the future is born today…  We will be back at the beginning of December, till then…


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© 2004 Michel Vanlint
Michel Vanlint
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