“In 2012, the four rounds of young pigeons were partly mixed together… in 2013, these will be kept separate until the first races. All the young are weaned on the same day… some are by then 22 days old… others are 30 days old… and cocks and hens stay together until the third race of the program. The last young are weaned in early May. Darkening of the youngsters starts from the beginning of March… until the longest day on 21st June… and this is done with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th round. Extra light is given from the end of July… until the end of the season.
The training of the youngsters starts in early June… some eight times they are taken by car from 3 to 25 kilometres… then they fly Duffel… and then on until Sens (440 kilometres). The young exercise twice a day, the same as the old pigeons.
When the cocks and hens are separated, they are raced on the ‘sliding door method’. In principle, they don’t come together at basketing… but after returning from the training flight on Wednesday, they are allowed together for an hour. Coming home from a race, they usually stay together until the following morning. After cocks and hens are separated, young and old cocks exercise together… and the same goes for the young and old hens.
The young pigeons are in general given the same medical treatment as the old birds. After three very poor flights (with losses), the young were kept at home for one week and treated against bronchial infections.
The last round of late young (the 4th round) was also entered six times in the ‘natoer races’ up until 265 kilometres.”
Only the results count!
“The system for the breeding loft excels by its simplicity… every round, the breeding pigeons are ‘re-coupled’… and are given a different partner. The eggs of the best breeders are put under different couples in the 1st and 2nd round… in the 3rd and 4th round they raise the young themselves.
In previous years we too have been tempted to put last years ‘good breeding couples’ together again, but this ended mostly in disappointment. That Ace… that champion… that was born out of those parents… that bird isn’t born ‘for a second time’ out of the same coupling!
How do we try to breed a good pigeon?
We are not ‘testers in the hand’… breeding a lot… racing hard… and a ruthless selection… according to us that is the shortest way to success! The pigeons have to be able to fly in 23 races and make 8,000 racing kilometres… and that is the best selection normally to separate the chaff from the corn.
The new acquisitions are paired with the best breeders… and within two years they have to prove their worth… otherwise they can go!
And what kind of pigeon has our preference?
I would say in the first place a vigorous bird… of a middle to large size… but she will have to show her worth!”
This is part 3 of a total of 4 parts of the Verkerk story. Please check back next Friday for part 4.