The Pigeon or Prestige

PIGEON fanciers are often confronted by the choice of having to enter a bird for a race to win the points with the chance of losing it, or to keep the pigeon at home and forget the prestige of having won the competition.

The decision is always difficult, but it depends a lot on how competitive the fancier is. Does he love his pigeon or is the pigeon just there to fulfil his own ambitions.

The decision becomes easier when there are large prizes at stake but the fancier must still decide whether the prize at stake warrants the risk of losing the pigeon. Some fanciers would say the pigeon is only worth something if it has won the competition when it concerns the individual points competition. This is true enough but one must also take a lot of other factors into consideration.

Points averages are things which are only important for the present season. Next season we start again from scratch and it is a new competition again.

It is my considered opinion that one should forget about points averages and concentrate on building a team first. Once you have an established team of proven racers it becomes so much easier to win the points averages.

For the fancier who has only a few consistent racers chasing the points averages is a no, no!

You just cannot have birds in top condition for each race when you only have a few consistent racers. It is then that the bird with potential is sent more frequently many times on reputation and with no condition or form.

The time has arrived that we should do away with an open points averages system and replace it with a nominated bird system. First nominated bird, first two nominated birds, three and four up to five.

The competitions on nominated birds changes the entire conception and makes it possible for the fanciers with the smallest of terms to compete. It is no longer your loft against the other lofts but it becomes my one, two or three pigeons against equal numbers from other fancier's lofts.

This type of competition not only changes the conception but requires a lot more from the fancier. He must know his pigeons and can no longer rely on a large team in the hope of clocking a good one each week.

What do I do when I must decide to send the bird to the race or lose the competition? My motto has always been that when in doubt the pigeon stays at home. A good racer is always worth more inside the loft than a trophy or certificate against the wall or on the show case and a empty perch in the loft.

It is good to win competitions but the prestige attached to it passes with the seasons whereas a good bird in the loft can provide pleasure to the fancier for many years.

The bird becomes known and may become a legend while the prestige is soon forgotten. It becomes a great pleasure to race birds once you have built a team and the birds start competing in the loft against each other. There are very few fanciers who can boast of having such a team of racers. Usually one finds only a few top class racers in each loft. There are never large numbers mainly because most fanciers are inclined to race a good racer until it is either burnt out or lost.

The continental fanciers with their widowhood racing system are much more aware of the value of outstanding racers. They collect them one by one until they have a team of ten or twelve such cocks which form their race team. The ages of birds in such a team often varies from between two-year-olds to even six- or seven-year-olds.

I trust that this article will make fanciers think about their birds more than about their own prestige. We are entering the second part of the racing season and soon fanciers will come up against the dilemma of these decisions. One must always bear in mind that in South Africa we have programs with progressing distances. Pigeons which have performed well over the shorter distances should no be sent further and further as the distance increases.

By doing this one looses the real sprinters and are only left with the slower and hardier birds at the end of the season.

It is the wrong way of selection because in doing so you are selecting for long distance racing only.

By Theunis F. Venter

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