Start A Loft | The Right Way First Time

Starting a loft is a serious problem for most beginners. As a rule they will start off by collecting pigeons from various fanciers as presents with the odd one bought in between. On the surface this seems to be a good way, but in fact it is the worst.

You will have accumulated a league of nations and it is going to take you years to sort them out and to discover that you are no better off than when you started.

Unfortunately one can only speak about this with hindsight as you would not have known a better way unless a more experienced fancier advised you and you had accepted his advice.

I have found the best way to start is to go around and visit as many fanciers as possible. Make a study of their pigeons and their racing methods and then decide which pigeons and methods appeal most to you. Here you should be led by performance records, whether he has a family of his own and how far your circumstances would allow you to adjust to, and apply his racing methods.

I would then obtain a round of youngsters or as many as I can afford from him. If you cannot afford a round of youngsters you could ask to buy eggs which should be cheaper.

If you are going to rear these babies yourself and for the purpose of foster parents you could use some of the birds which are so readily offered to beginners. You would then be in a position to race these babies the coming season. Also you would find yourself in the fortunate position of having had the donkeywork done for you by the fancier who supplied your birds and you would continue from there.

Don't expect to obtain the same results he does in the first year because you are a novice and have much to learn but you will certainly do better than if you had started with the league of nations I mentioned earlier.

It is important that you continue to get birds from the same fancier for the next year or two and if you are very successful this should become a fixed arrangement. After your first year of racing you will be able to start breeding from your best performers and you would not need as many other birds to fill your ranks of racers.

Some of the most successful fanciers in the world applied this method and Jos van Limpt alias "De Klak" has had a standing order with the Janssen Bros of Arendonk until as recently as 1987. He purchased his first birds from the Janssen's Bros in 1946.

It might appear an expensive way of starting when there are so many pigeons offered for free, but it will prove to be the cheapest way of starting in the long run.

The question of exceptional families however arises when discussing stocking a loft.

Why are some families better than others and why are some individuals inside the family so much better than the average family? These are very important and very difficult questions to answer.

Families are, however build around outstanding individuals and in most cases it is the discovery of the individual which leads to the formation of the family. The success of the family will largely depend upon the prepotency or ability of the individual to transfer his qualities on to his progeny and their ability to again transfer their abilities to their offspring.

Although many of the outstanding individuals are bred from first crosses there are also a large proportion bred from their progeny bred from the mating relatives like cousins, uncle to niece or aunt to nephew matings etc.

The more of these outstanding individuals are found in the family the more valuable the family becomes. However, one also finds that there is a dilution of the qualities the further you are away from the outstanding individual.

Although such an individual may have been the result of a first cross between two good families it is not advisable to continue crossing but it is better to start breeding in family relationships by which the good qualities are multiplied rather than diluted.

However, it is just as important that one should cross some of your outstanding individuals with members of another outstanding family in search of another outstanding individual. Once such an individual is found it is immediately mated back to the own family in an effect to increase the sought-after qualities.

Theoretically this sounds very easy but in practice it is very difficult. There are very few families in existence of which it is known that they have been kept at a certain level for many years.

Very few fanciers succeed in breeding such a family and keep it going for a number of generations. In most cases one find that when you get to the third generation which are the grandchildren of the outstanding individual, the ability to produce outstanding performers has been lost.

For this reason pigeons from a working family which have existed for more than four generations are hard to find and are always sold at a premium.

By Theunis Venter

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