By Bob Rowland
There are many reasons that we are having poor races and generally we need to look in the mirror for the problem rather than looking at our birds. Ultimately, everything we do is our responsibility to maintain a certain standard or to improve our existing level of performance.
So let us look at a few problems that could possibly show us where our problems may be.
If our pigeons have been very good in the past, then the quality of the stock is probably not the problem or the level of the game we are now playing has gotten more difficult to win. One can have birds that are fine in a lesser competition or different environment but if those conditions are the same, then we must have another type of problem and perhaps getting some new pigeons will not change a thing.
It appears that we want pigeons that can win in spite of what we do but if you go back and read what I wrote at the beginning of this subject, "WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING THAT TAKES PLACE WITHIN OUR LOFT!" So how do we begin our program to improve our results? It is my opinion that we do not keep a rigid enough standard for performance and if we buy some expensive pigeons, then we may have more tendency to overlook performance as surely this pigeon that cost so much must someday make their mark in our loft.
It has been my experience that the good pigeons normally show their ability in a very short period of time. This great ones don't need to breed 100 young ones so you can get one that is respectable. Generally those pigeons that make their mark show their ability in just a few years.
If we have a pigeon on our race team, their purpose for us is to race well enough to win prizes and give us honors on race day. If your pigeon does not come any where near the prizes, what are we keeping that pigeon for?
If we bought some expensive breeders and they do not produce any top performing racers or breeders, then why do we have the pigeon in our loft? I believe it is because many people want to have a conversation piece and are quite proud to show everyone the pigeon that they paid so much for, even if it never produces a good one.
I quickly admit that I am as guilty as any one else in keeping pigeons that have not carried their weight. At the present time I have an 11 year old full brother to my top producing male which is 14 years old and still filling every egg. I have kept the younger brother because I felt he would one day produce me a great pigeon but how much longer can I wait for this to happen?
The problem of keeping a pigeon that has proven they are NOT a good one is that we do not have a pigeon in that nest box that could be breeding better pigeons than what we have kept so here is a large part of our problem.
I have established a system that if I follow it and do not stray too far from the intent, then the quality of my stock should improve. The problem we have is that if we do not eliminate the lesser quality pigeons from our racing and breeding program, then the other pigeons do not get the opportunity to show their ability.
Many people try to use the method which I refer to as "throwing mud against the wall". They are looking for something to stick but in many cases, there are problems created by keeping the extra pigeons in an attempt to get a good one. Any loft that is overcrowded is more susceptible to health problems and chaos becomes a daily part of the problems with pigeons fighting for territory.
How about the false breeding we get from pairs because another pigeon fills the eggs? We also have a problem if the health is not super as well and this should be easily noticed when we watch our pigeons exercise or road train. A team in excellent condition flies tightly bunched and when they change directions in the sky, all the pigeons seem to do it like a well trained squad of athletes. If any pigeons are not up to par, then the entire team will suffer and even the time they use for the training will be of a lesser quality.
So back to the system I use!
I use a spread sheet which is nothing more than a ledger type form which is used for accounting. For each line that goes across on the form, I have all the information I need on a specific pigeon and can add additional columns which are the spaces that go from the top of the paper to the bottom. So on our spread sheet we put in columns or everything we wish to track. There is one column for the sires of all my pigeons and next to that is an additional column for the mothers to my pigeons. Again all the information on one pigeon goes across the sheet in what we refer to as a row.
After a few years I have all the knowledge about every young one I have produced. Now to simplify this data was my next challenge so I began using colors so at a quick glance I can determine if a particular pigeon has ever produced anything that is worthy!
The colors I chose are BLUE for a pigeon that has raced in the top 3% in any race. For a pigeon that is not as good and could only race in the top 6% I use RED, and for the pigeon that can not reach the 6% goal but is within the top 10% in a race, I use the color GREEN. If there are no colors and all the data shows in BLACK, that pigeon and the mating are not very good as based on the information that pigeon gave us.
I then highlight the pertinent information in the row where we have collected the data so if a pigeon is a very good one and is in the top 3% of pigeons in a race, then the parents are also shown in that data as Blue as well.
By using colors I can tell my computer to sort the collected data for several years and if either of the parents have never produced a pigeon that was capable of receiving the highlight color, then why should we have the pigeon at our loft?
As I have already mentioned in this article, I can add columns for any information I wish to track so color is one to watch. One can notice certain things that can be enlightening or a point of concern. Another thing I watch for is eye color as there are also rules that must be adhered to if we are looking for truth about our pigeons. For example if a certain pigeon is a pearl eye pigeon and is also mated to a pearl eye color pigeon, there better not be any yellow eyes coming from that mating or there is a stranger somewhere that is really the father of the yellow eye pigeon.
This is a simple format and if we just stop trying to make a bad pigeon turn into a good one, then our results should improve. If we allow our pigeons to perform at a low level of acceptance, soon we will have a barn full of pigeons that are not worthy. Even from our absolute best pigeons, they do not produce all good ones so if you are keeping them around in hopes that a miracle will happen, you are going to be frustrated many times.
In conclusion, one must establish a system that is reasonable and attainable. Trying to launch a rocket to the moon when you can't even get it out of your own back yard is totally unreasonable so start by establishing goals that you can work with. Even with lesser quality goals, you will find many pigeons that can not reach that low quality level.
It will be difficult at first to be too rigid in your standards but the more you follow the rigid standards early, the quicker your performance should improve. If not, look in the mirror and see if you are being truthful with your self. If you are not willing to establish a program regardless of what the goal may be and if you vary from the direction the program was established to assist you with, then your success will probably never get there and you must decide if winning really is your goal.
I know that I must be more rigid in my program and even though I still have certain pigeons with me here in Florida, many of what were acceptable in Wisconsin are not producing the results I want to perform at. Each year look to see how many nests you can close rather than looking to see how many new nest boxes you need to add to your loft to accommodate new pigeons.
Odds are that if we do our own culling first, and THEN ADD a pigeon or two that should make an impact. If the new impact pigeon does not do what you expect them to do, then a complete change of pigeons may be necessary.
Hope this helps someone and I know what I must do now and continue to follow in the next few years if I expect to improve.
Bob Rowland SpringHill, FLorida USA
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