Breeding Program for Success
By: Bob Prisco
Because of Taiwan’s unique style of racing and the various breeding seasons, fanciers must cull, select and prepare their breeders several times a year to ensure the greatest possible fertility of eggs, the hatchability of young and the growth of strong, healthy young birds from their breeding loft.
Keep all breeders on a protein diet of 20-22%, plus electrolytes, vitamins, minerals in the water two times a week 365 days a year. Keep your breeders on a regular schedule for feed time and feed at least three times a day when raising young. Change the water at least three times a day and sanitize the feed and water containers regularly. Keep feed, grit and water in the loft at all times when raising young. At no time should the breeders be without feed or water. Because of the warm climate, our breeders do not go through a moult like birds that have an extreme change in temperature; therefore our birds are breeding and moulting almost all year. This is a very stressful time and the birds must be feed properly. Many studies have proven that pigeons will be HEALTHIER and RACE / BRED BETTER when on a FIXED SCHEDULE.
1.The first priority is selecting breeding stock for health and vitality. Choose only the strongest and healthiest birds for the breeding loft.
2.Along with good health, breed from birds that have a good COMPASS or HOMING INSTINCT and NAVIGATION SKILLS. Without both health and homing instinct, you are wasting your time and money.
3.The most valuable birds in your loft are the good breeders. The basic rule in breeding is that the value of a pigeon is judged by the quality of its off-spring, but only after a fair number of young birds has been produced and raced.
4.The quality of each breeder can only be tested and measured by the race performance of their children and grandchildren. More than one tested pairing maybe necessary to achieve results. The training basket and race results are the real judge in who owns the “GOLDEN BREEDING PAIR”.
5.Our only goal is to breed and develop early maturing, tough endurance racing pigeons with strong navigation skills that will fly at all speeds, conditions and distances.
6.With accurate record keeping, fanciers have found certain matings give consistently better race results. The term “HIT PAIR or NICKING” has been used to describe these great results. It is based entirely on the racing and breeding performance of the past. It works on the idea that history tends to repeat itself in terms of both PROVEN and FAILED RESULTS. This is not a crystal ball, but it can give you an accurate picture of the past. Select for excellent health, homing ability, navigating skills, racing toughness, early maturity and easily motivated birds with proven race results.
7.Good pigeons will adjust over time to any type of conditions. The bloodlines from birds that have already proven themselves to be successful in Taiwan are the only birds we should be breeding. The birds that have “ADAPTED THROUGH NATURAL SELECTION AND SURVIVED THE RACE CONDITIONS GENERATION AFTER GENERATION”.
8.Bloodlines from proven breeders and champion racers should be in the 1st or 2nd generation of the pedigree. We must develop a breeding program one generation at a time. There is no genetic influence past the 3rd generation, and the possibility of going past the 4th generation without proven success is a WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY.
9.IMPORTANT – We want only race birds and proven breeders bloodlines 1st and 2nd generation from birds that have had success in Taiwan racing.
10.You must destroy or cull all poor quality birds and keep only the very best for breeding. The theory “Likes produce Likes” can be very true. Both good and bad hereditary traits are present in every bird. There are only two kinds of birds: GOOD ONES that can help you improve and BAD ONES that will cost you time, money and aggravation with poor results. When deciding to cull, forget all about names, fancy pedigrees, strains, costs, feelings (yours or others) and just look at the results. IF THE BIRD CAN HELP YOU MOVE AHEAD AND IMPROVE YOUR RESULTS, KEEP IT, IF NOT, GET RID OF IT. NO EXCUSES OR SECOND CHANCES, CULL IT.
11.One or two pair of proven breeders and their closely related bloodlines (brothers / sisters, etc.) can bring great honor to a fancier for many years. The 3 season young bird race series requires careful planning for the fancier to have his best pairs on young at band sale time.
12.Give a bird a 3 race series or 4-6 young birds to prove its breeding ability. Good results and it stays, bad results and it goes. If the bird cannot help you to improve your results in the breeding loft, it is of no value to you and you should cull it.
13.“CULL” means regardless of bloodlines, strains, costs, or origin, you must you must eliminate all birds from the breeding loft that are giving you bad results and preventing you from improving. Here are some examples:
A.Cull any birds that are not of superior health and any breeders that do not produce strong healthy young.
B.Cull any breeders if their young are hard to manage or settle.
C.Cull any breeders if their young will not loft fly and train easily.
D.Cull any breeders if their young cannot keep up with the rest of the race team and appear to have no excuse for being late and lazy.
E.Cull any pair in which you have heavy losses and poor homing ability before the race series starts.
F.Cull any birds whose young have not had any success over water (birds that are lost first time over water).
G.Cull any breeders that produce young birds that have poor recovery periods. Birds that take several days to recover from a difficult race are easily lost in the next race.
H.Cull any breeders that produce young that do not possess toughness. This is a trait that fanciers sometimes ignore in their breeding program “TOUGH WEATHER BIRDS” / versatility to adjust to various difficult conditions during a race and to recovery quickly from a tough race.
14.Fanciers must understand that a bird's ability and potential is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. We must select birds that have the genetic qualities we need and look for in Taiwan racing (intelligence, vigor, early maturity, navigating ability, compass, homing instinct, motivation, determination, desire, heart and good health). Environmental factors are “man made”, not genetic. Fanciers must recognize that the environment they create for their birds is vastly different and unique to each individual loft. The lofts that are overcrowded, with poor health maintenance programs, inferior diet and nutrition, and lack of sufficient training, place their birds under severe stress and do not allow them to reach their true potential as either racers or breeders. Performance is affected when there is any type of imbalance in the birds’ environment and diet.
15.Like all successful breeding lofts, we must pay close attention to our “BREEDING HENS”. Every bird is an individual and must be treated like one. Pay close attention to each hen's diet. It is important to have the eggs well formed and smooth. A medication program for all breeders is important, and the fancier who always studies his pigeons and pays close attention to health 365 days a year shall increase his chances for success.
The past several years, several American and European fanciers have all turned to specializing in certain types of races and distances. This seems to be true in the modern world and especially in the pigeon sport. In the past we could find pigeons that were fast at short distances, strength at the middle distances and have endurance for the daylong races. Taiwan fanciers must look for the birds that can fly 100-500 miles in bad weather conditions, extreme heat, temperature changes, difficult land /sea courses and hard changing winds. This is NOT the new modern pigeon of today in America and Europe that specializes at certain distances. Many famous fanciers and strains are known for specific performance. The fancier has developed his birds to adapt to his style of training, conditions in his area, and distances in which they wish to compete (SPECIALTY BIRDS). The pigeon sport has been for many years a commercial sport. Each year there are many pigeons sold and most of them are worth nothing. Today the “COMMERCIAL BEEDERS” breed for sales appeal instead of racing ability. Most of them are only selling feathers with beautiful pedigrees, not quality birds that can handle the tough style of racing in Taiwan. These feather merchants have taken advantage of many and caused a big disaster in the breeding of quality racers. Most of the time, their large advertising campaigns are 100% better than the birds they offer.
It should be the fancier's choice to breed from a bird that flies the race series, or a major part of it, and shows its ability to handle the conditions of the race course, in hopes that it will pass on the same desirable qualities to next generation. AVOID THE COMMERCIAL BREEDER BIRDS! To breed this type of unproven bird is always a big risk, with little success. Always select your breeders from bloodlines of families that have already proven themselves to be successful in Taiwan’s tough style of racing, especially in the area in which you race (North, Central, or South Taiwan). Genetics have proven that “Likes Breed Likes”.