It is Alright to Lose the Race,
but Do Not Lose the Lesson!
By Bob Prisco
When a pigeon fancier looks at his birds many are looking at only one pigeon when in fact there are two pigeons in every bird.
The first pigeon is the physical makeup of the bird - feather quality, wing configuration, the muscle quality, color of the eyes, size of the bird, etc.
Many fanciers evaluate their birds from the physical qualities. They buy and cull birds on appearance alone. The real truth is no one can pick a champion racer or breeder from the physical makeup of a bird. The real truth is that Champion racers and breeders come in all sizes, shapes, colors and yes, even different eye color. In fact most fanciers have turned their selection of birds into a beauty contest BASED ON PHYSICAL QUALITIES.
The real truth is the bird you can't see is the most important bird to evaluate. This is the second pigeon of the bird WHAT IS INSIDE-- it's mental capabilities. These mental qualities are more important than the physical appearance of the bird. The bird must possess the internal qualities of intelligence, orientation, navigating ability, compass, homing instinct, motivation, determination, desire, heart and good health.
The true fact is "All brawn (physical) and no brain does not make a Champion in any country." Since 1988 we have bred 28 "HALL of FAME " BIRDS, 40 "ACE PIGEONS" , 14 REGISTERED CHAMPIONS ,175 won national awards won against all USA and Canadian lofts competing against 1000-7000 birds weekly and 100-600 lofts and never did we judge( race or breed) a bird on his/her physical appearance or eye sign. OUR SELECTION PROCESS HAS BEEN HEALTH, HOMING INSTINCT and BIRDS THAT CAN REPEAT IN TOUGH RACES WEEK AFTER WEEK. We might sell the "good apples off the tree for years, but never the tree".
Maybe it is time to change our way of selecting new birds and evaluating the birds we already have. Take a good look at the fanciers that are having the great success in the race series year after year, many are not buying birds every year. Many are flying local racing pigeons of various strains and have discovered the true value of breeding from birds that have successfully competed in their areas. They are not all coming from Belgium and Holland. Look at the local birds that have had success and look to blend then with your new birds, but remember to look past the physical part and look for the qualities you can not see.
1. Breed from any bird that has shown he/she can fly over large bodies of water even if it did not complete the race series.
2. DO NOT SELECT BIRDS FOR "EYE SIGN". No other sport human or animal selects or judges its athletes by eye sign. It is a ridiculous myth and has no value to help you win large prizes.
3. Do not be afraid to make mistakes - when you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
4. A loving atmosphere in your loft is the foundation for motivation, desire and determination for birds to find his way home "home ability ".
5. Read and study from the fanciers that are having success - apply only good common sense .If your common sense tells you that an idea, or theory sounds ridiculous or idiotic, it probably is .Trust yourself.
6. Purchase quality as opposed to quantity. Purchase birds or bloodlines that have a proven record and success over water in your area. Look for local birds as well as imports. Take the time to find good honest consistent pigeons from a reputable fancier.
7. If you overcrowd your birds, you will never have success. Keep only the amount you can care for properly. We as humans could not be productive or successful at our jobs or athletic events without the proper rest our bodies require, stress free environments at home and work and strong motivational goals to keep us focused at our tasks. The birds require the same.
8. Racing pigeon sport is a test of both the fancier as well as his birds. It takes time to master the sport and understand and appreciate the fact that the birds can be complicated individuals.
9. In each pigeon there are actually two pigeons, the one you can handle, touch and see. The other is the hidden QUALITIES you have no way off judging or seeing. The hidden qualities are more important in winning the large prizes.
10. The most expensive birds are not always the best. Many fanciers have discovered they are very useful to cross into inbred imports. The breeding of two very inbred families has produced great success in the youngsters for racing ability.
11. Like people, most of our racing pigeons become followers instead of leaders and
independent thinkers. Followers are the birds that lack the mental ability to find
their own way home. Single tossing your birds is the best way to create and teach
mental maturity, intelligence and evaluate homing ability.
12. Birds are always sent to training tosses with a full tank of gas, fully fed and watered at all times. Hunger is the most destructive factor for our race birds. If a bird becomes hungry during a training toss or race, the bird develops memory loss, fatigue and loss of weight. Homing now becomes secondary to the need to survive, many times causing the loss of the bird.
13. When birds are released over water, they look for land first and home second. Make your training tosses close to water and up and down the coast. The birds will pick up land markers as they come off the water.
14. Remember, every bird is an individual and must be treated like one. Pay close attention to each bird's needs and wants. It only takes one bird in proper condition and with the proper motivation to complete the series and win the large prizes.
15. Peanuts are superior to any other grain we can give our birds for racing and breeding. You should feed them in raw form or as un-roasted nuts. You should feed peanuts whole, with the skin still on. This ensures that the birds will get the most value from the food source. When peanuts are halved or crushed, they lose a great deal of their nutritional value. The peanut is the first class fuel for our pigeons racing engines.
16. Keep all birds on a regular schedule and routine. There is no substitute for eating, sleeping and training at the same time each day. Put your loft activities on a regular schedule, you will notice an improvement in the health and fitness of your birds within a short period of time. When loft flying or road training, birds should ( FLY - LAND - TRAP - PEANUTS).
17. Too many long, hard training tosses become confusing to young birds. They return home, only to have the fancier place them in the basket again and take them away. Birds spend more time in the basket than their own loft. They need the comfort and security of the loft and their perches to have motivation and affection for the loft and owner. This is why I suggest more loft flying and shorter tosses instead of many long tosses.
18. The week between races the birds should receive plenty of rest in the loft. A warm bath with Epsom salts the first nice day after the race, loft fly once a day, light training 20-30 miles in middle of the week. Loft fly during the last days before shipping the next race. Keep the loft quiet and let the birds rest for the next race. DO NOT OVER TRAIN THE BIRDS BETWEEN RACES. This is a big mistake, especially if last race was tough. The birds need time to recover physically and mentally between races.
19. Before you buy birds, keep your mind clear and understand what you want and need. Buy on information and results, not emotion and fancy advertisements, names or pedigrees. Do your research and homework before you invest your money and your investment will be rewarding and pay dividends. Always go to the original fancier or source for your birds. The fancier has his reputation, honesty, integrity and his birds' good name at risk. He will give you a better selection and a better deal.
20. There is no difference between training a human or an animal athlete. They both need the athletic ability, proper training , excellent diets, good health and hygiene habits, plenty of rest, regular routine and stress free environments to stay in condition and compete week after week.
21. When feeding your birds start with a protein diet of 15-17% grain mixture and an assortment of various grains (12-18 different types of seed) add the following to birds' diet -electrolytes, vitamins, minerals in water 2 times a week. Fresh grit daily, free choice of 21-28% protein pellets , raw Spanish peanuts #1 grade , extra safflower and rice.
22. Successful trainers educate their young birds by obtaining a shipping crate identical to the one used by the club. They prepare the birds for what to expect on shipping night and race day. This gives your birds a big advantage for the young birds to know where to look for food and water. Take no chances that the birds will find it on their own.
23. Apply "common sense practices" to the following areas:
a. Training system that works for you and the birds.
b. Excellent health practices and loft hygiene.
c. Trapping system that is quick and efficient.
d. Medication program that keeps the birds healthy.
e. Quality feeding program and supplements to aid the birds' performance.
f. Loft that is functional and properly positioned for the location you are flying
g. Source of quality proven bloodlines to handle your style of racing.
24. Apply the simple formula of genetics to your loft" Heredity is handed down from one generation to the next" and "Likes Breed Likes". Place a high value on good breeding HENS.
25. If you believe that you have the correct birds to be successful and you are not, then you must take a long look at yourself and what improvements you need to make as a fancier to give your birds every chance to win. It is not easy for fanciers to accept that they may be the major reason why their birds are not doing well. This can be the one major reason you can turn your season around - BE VERY CRITICAL OF YOURSELF AND BE WILLING TO MAKE CHANGES IN YOUR ROUTINE.