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Always Look Ahead, But Don’t Forget To Look Back Sometimes…


This week I have started to give my first thoughts to the matings of my breeders for next year’s 2002 breeding season. In only a couple of months the first eggs will be in the nest bowls again. I take this task seriously and it is never too early to start thinking about the coming year.


At first I look at the pairs that will stay together. The decision for that I take with the first selection of the youngsters fresh in mind. They can impress me either by good results or by the qualities I lay high value on. These I try as much as possible to bring together in my birds, because I’m quite limited in loft space. Sometimes youngsters do give a splendid impression and in this case the parents stay together. Next year’s races will soon make things clear. Then they will have to show results and when other birds from the same loft can do the job, then we know we may have been mistaken.


Why do I select for a type of pigeon in which racing and breeding capacities lay close together? The answer is simple. The future is in the breeding. Not in racing. Success eludes many fanciers simply because they refuse to look ahead. A good racer must perform until his wings drop off. After that moment such a bird goes into the breeding loft. And wouldn’t it be nice if such a bird would be capable then of delivering good offspring? And even nicer if such a bird breeds well over 2-3 generations. Then we are rich as a fancier. But to get that you must do something.


For most fanciers that’s a matter of luck. But one can plan the luck. For years I plan the matings of my breeders ahead in the future. Sometimes I look 2-3 generations ahead. Why? If a mating clicks, then you must have a suitable partner. If not, it takes time to get it. Most fanciers will shake their heads when they read these lines and think I’m telling stories. I will ask you a simple question. Which fancier can raise his hand and state that has a basic pigeon of which the offspring wins nationals over a number of generations?


Authors often are laughed at if they try to promote a vision because they do not have had the results to prove what they put on paper. My ideal is the breeding and because of that success has been around for so many years. A pigeon that is suspected to have breeding qualities goes straight into the stock loft. If the bird descends from a good family this will almost always pay back dividends if there is a plan behind it all. The fanciers among you that have read “The Art of Breeding” know that in the seventies I started to concentrate to breeding heavily on “The Old Klaren ‘46” of Valeer Desmet-Matthijs of Nokere. That valuable blood just had to be saved. Back then I wrote in the pigeon papers about the method I was going to employ to do that. And I was criticized heavily. Who was I? Please, have some results first and then we can have a look and discuss whether the article will be published or not. I think I would react the very same way now. But in the meantime a lot of generations have hatched. And the basic concept, what turned out to work, was carried on always the same way.


The fanciers that are familiar with my strain a bit better know that my most important basic pigeon is NL82-448368 or “De Goede Jaarling” (The Good Yearling). His father, “De Bels,” is a direct product out of Anker’s school. In his pedigree we find somewhere in one generation four children of “The Old Klaren ‘46.” According to plan “De Bels” had to be crossed and this therefore happened. Some years before he was even inbred more and the product of that was “Het Boerke.” It was clear to me he just had to be crossed based on what I knew about him.


One of the pigeons out of Professor Anker’s scheme was “De Oude Kapoen ’67.” In wintertime I almost always plan crossings because they will bring success easily. And racing is the fancier’s game, isn’t it? In those years I had laid my hands on a pure Janssen hen from the loft of the late Jan van Erp, also from Hilversum. And this hen was put on “De Oude Kapoen ’67.” This was the golden mating with nuggets all around. Their youngsters have won on the short and middle distances all there was to win for me. The most well known was “De 312” who was 1st National Ace Pigeon of Holland in 1980 and who wound up under the top four of National Ace Pigeons on the short distance three years in a row. The breeding capacities I foresaw in his full brother “De 411” and to save that special crossbred combination he was mated to his half sister “De 309 Duif.”


One daughter, “De 150 Duif,” became for many years the partner of “Het Boerke” and her sister “De 646 Duif” was mated to “De Bels” because the same combination clicked with his son. This mating too was a bull’s eye and their first youngster was “De Goede Jaarling.” As a yearling he was extremely successful with 2nd National Ace Yearlings and so he earned his name. In 1985 he assured everyone’s attention with a win in a heavy headwind national from Chateauroux, beating 8500 birds by a quarter of an hour. After that explosion he was promoted to the stock loft and not for nothing:


His son "Magic Blue Turbo": wins 1st Nat. also from Chateauroux.
His daughter "Yearlings Blue Lady" gives "De Jonge Baron”: 1st Nat. Etampes.
His daughter "Susan" gives "De Witpen Etampes" 1st Nat Etampes.
His son "De Bonte Jaarling" gives 1st Nat Bourges.
His grandson breeds in Denmark 1st Nat. Altona for Arne Porsmose.
His great great grandson breeds 1st Nat. Mesai in Thailand.
His daughter Het Asgrauw" breeds "Riis": 1st Nat. Orleans.
And her daughter breeds 1st Nat. Chiangray in Thailand.
And her mother breeds 1st Nat. Orleans Afd 7 for Jan Witteveen from Hilversum, and then we are six generations away from "De Goede Jaarling.”
And it goes on with a great-great grandson that is responsible for the 1st Nat Bourges.
And even further: for Willem de Bruijn; the 7th generation wins 1st National Munich.


That last National winner has the red color. And that color descends from the half brother of "De Goede Jaarling," namely off "Het Boerke.”


Now this article starts to smell like a piece of my own public relations. But I do hope it has been clear to you that it is possible to set up a family of birds that are equipped to pass on their genes over many generations because of a system. And this is what’s all about in the breeding of all kinds of animals: good material needs to be anchored. To set up a system for that and to stick with it is not so simple as it looks. I also overlook things. Yes me, too.


The biggest mistake I ever made was not to think too highly about the breeding possibilities of that blue hen I bought off Jan van Erp. The late Georges Veys, my Belgian teacher, always told me there are no better birds then the ones of Desmet-Matthijs. When I started to make crossbreeding combinations, the birds I brought in were “used.” Used means bred into the family. And there was no intention to set up a family around “De 08 Duif” simply because it was not a Desmet-Matthijs bird.


I’m a kind of know it all and this made for luck next to bad luck. Against Professor Anker’s wish I did an inbreed mating on “De 08 Duif” of Jan van Erp. Simply because the combination worked so well. And when inbred I did not have to go and buy fresh blood for a couple of years. That also would cost quite a fortune all the time. If it would work I would have fresh blood available all the time. The fact this worked out well also was my future luck. But I did not notice it back then, until it was pointed out by Leo van Leeuwen and Hans van Grieken in Aalsmeer, when National top positions started falling off the tree just like ripe apples from the line of their basic breeder “De Bonte 354” (a very inbred cock on “De 08 Duif”) and of course something was taken back from him to Hilversum.


A couple of years later the offspring of the inbred combination on “De 776 Duif” (also heavily inbred on “De 08 Duif”) started to win for other lofts, beating the hell out of the competition, as Piet de Weerd used to say. Willem de Bruijn tells to all that want to hear that he has never owned a better breeding hen than the daughter of “De Fijnen” and “Jessica.” All what that big hen kicks into the world wins firsts and top prizes in big competition. Het daughter “Het Nationaaltje” was 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon. It almost can’t be better.


Then the moment comes someone rubs it under your nose. First carefully. And when it seems it is not noticed it is put on paper. Niels Anker Pedersen collected all the “evidence.” He noticed that most of my big wins on the long distances were because of the grandchildren of “De 776 Duif.” And then you will wake up whether you want to or not. The last couple of years I have made matings on purpose on “De 776 Duif.” “De Grote Blauwen” was such a product. As a yearling he was 1st Ace Pigeon on the long distance in the National Section nr. 7 with following results:


Argenton 680 km 9803 birds: 14th
Bourges 610 km 8107 birds: 22nd
Chateauroux 650 km 7470 birds: 23rd
Bourges 610 km 8433 birds: 41st
Orleans 530 km 13250 birds: 50th

In his pedigree “De 776 Duif” is three times present as great grandmother on a total of four. It turns out such inbred birds can also race very well. But material like this is bred for breeding. After his top results as a yearling, “De Grote Blauwe” was transferred to the breeding loft. Sometimes you are lucky right away and sometimes it takes a bit longer to find the right partner. But when such a bird does have the right characteristics, sooner or later this will happen. Simply give time the chance to work for you. And then history goes on. And will repeat itself with the proper management.


Most fanciers are not as serious as I am when it comes to the planning of the matings for next year’s breeding season. They buy here or there some youngsters with the label strain on it. And they start making crossbred combinations right away. As soon as the champ has been discovered the bird spends more time in the basket then anywhere else. He has to bring home the cup and the championships. And then it happens. A smash. A wire. Or an obstacle and the champ never returns. And often a lot more was possible in the breeding loft. Think about this hint and dare to invest in your breeding loft each year with some good racers with breeding qualities. And try to build up a closely bred family. That’s the best way to do it. It almost always pays off. As a breeder try to look ahead. But don’t forget either to look back to the crossbred combinations that really paid out. You bring birds in to refresh the blood, but sometimes you’ll find birds better then yours. Keep an open eye for this all the time. It gives you the opportunity to work well with such birds and to make the best possible use of them.

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Steven van Breemen