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My view on inbreeding


Usually my view does not agree with what I read in the pigeon magazines about inbreeding. You cannot ground inbreeding with pigeons on the rules according tot Mendel. The Mendelrules exactly fit on those qualities which lean on a qualitative heritable basis. With these tools we can breed beautiful Olympiad standard pigeons, however no first prize winners or ace pigeons.


The racing qualities with pigeons, race horses etc are based in the first place on the quantitative heridity. The discoveries of Gregor Mendel refer to the color and the size of the pea, but don’t refer to the yield per acre. This last remark too counts for pigeons.


Inbreeding is not a schedule but a large conception. Inbreeding is a very special musical instrument out of wich different players can get many different tones. Let me try to explain the problem.


The best way to make use of inbreeding is when we do inbreeding on a super breeder. In this case we have the best chance of success. If you own a super breeder I would advise you to mate him or her against one of the best children. If the pigeon in question produces youngsters that actually have proven to be good racers and breeders, we have a great chance for success. The why I would like to explain further.


When we do inbreeding on a super racer we have same chances, but not so many as when we do inbreeding on a super breeder. The pigeons quality is determined by a combined action of several factors. These factors can lead to different combinations. For instance this pigeon has a constant flying condition and another one has anuncertain flying condition. Because the various qualities are not being inherited according to a certain pattern, not all super racers have the same chances to pass on their specific qualities to their children. I will try to eplain why.


Family breeding with inbreeding


This is quite different to other methods. When a loft obtains the definition "strain", the owners mostly try to breed their pigeons in relationship with the intention to breed pigeons for racing and for breeding. In this case the fancier makes use of inbreeding, but not in close relationship in order to keep vitality in the strain, so that the qualities of the winners stay for the next generations. This is not easy. The next generations often become slower. The top breeders try to prevent this by weIl planned cross breeding.


However there are fanciers who evidently do not want to bring new blood into the own strain. How do they succeed doing this?


After several generations without any fresh blood brought into the strain, the pigeons of course will bear more and more valuable genes from the basic breeding pigeons. The same happens when we mate during several generations the related pigeons with eachother. Distant inbreeding during several generations has about the same effect as close inbred in a few generations. What I want to explain is this: vitality and racing qualities become inferior. That's why these fanciers often raise a great number of youngsters of which they select the pigeons with the best vitality and the rest is being sold. They keep the best pigeons for themselves. That is true. But because they keep out of each generation the pigeons with the best vitality, they keep those pigeons where the inbred was not clearly noticeable. So they are more or less "heterozygot" than most genes of the own strain, however they seem to be bred the same way as the others: the pedigree shows a higher concentration of the wanted genes that are really present. When the fancier owns only a small population he has one handicap more: he is not able to make the most ideal seeming combinations because the partners are often related. The fancier is obliged to make less ideal matings.


Inbreeding to get later better cross breeding results


In the history of the hybridisation in animal breeding is known that before the cross breeding the first thing to do is inbred both partners in order to get better results. I do not believe this method will be very popular among pigeons fanciers. One remark I must make here: this method is excellent, I can show the results, but inbreeding first is no guarantee for the best mating results. A good result means that from both partners those genes lead in special combinations to an extraordinary result. However if these genes are not present in both partners it is of no use to do inbreeding first. But when two strains always give excellent results in cross breeding, than it is wise to inbred both partners first. In this way we preserve those genes in both the populations which we need most to get the excellent results. In such a case it is clear we should make use of close inbreeding without looking at the racing results of the next generation. Their crossbred youngsters will race lateron much better!


Is it possible to breed pigeons suitable only for breeding? It seams perhaps strange but it is possible! These pigeons do not have to be very vital; it is totally wrong to use their racing results as a touchstone for the selection. In case of these pigeons this is impossible, but when we cross breed them with birds from another strain we get youngsters with extra qualities and vitality. Let me teIl you in short about my own breeding method.


The basic breeder of my loft is the “Old Klaren '46” from De Smet-Matthijs. Al most twentyfive years ago I started to inbreed his blood by mating his grandchildren among eachother. I took special care that no inbreed was done at the same time on another pigeon in the same mating. So I was sure to do inbreeding only straight on the Old Klaren. Following the same principle I mated the grand-grandchildren and the next Klaren-inbred generation among eachother. By doing so I bred pigeons with only highly concentrated genes of the super breeder the Old Klaren '46!


With these super inbred pigeons I started to make crossbreeding combinations to prove my hypothesis: do inbreeding first on a super breeder and then do the right crossbreeding. The crossbreeding results with pigeons out of the Janssen strain were the best: lots of first prize winners, National Ace pigeons and first national winners were born. The best individual result was in the big Open National Orleans race of 1989. The 540 kilometers were difficult: a 4 days stay in the basket and then towards home in a strong head wind. From the 3000 basketed birds in my region 113 were mine; they won the first 11 positions and together 36 positions within the first 75.


At this moment I possess several excellent breeders. What method do I use to preserve their qualities for the future?


When we want to preserve excellent genetic material there is only one solution: very close inbreeding! So father against daughter, mother against son and sometimes during two generations! Combinations like nephew against niece are most of the times not strong enough to preserve the wanted genes as we would like. Something else that is important to remember: inbreeding also shows the shortcomings.


Character, intelligence and orientation ability are characteristics which are influenced by the combined efforts of hundreds of genes. Inbreeding and crossbreeding have no negative influence on them. From generation to generation the value of these characteristics always is the average of what both parents contributed. So the best breeders are those who own these characteristics in a strong way. And we can be certain they pass on these characteristics to their youngsters. When these characteristics in a following generation meet vitality we get first class racers again!


Vitality and signs to come into form inherit quite different. These characteristics are influenced by only a few genes and that's why parents and children often are different. Inbreeding here has a negative influence.


But a crossbreeding here gives clearly visible results and sometimes we breed a superracer from two heavily inbred parents who both have vitality problems.


So a superracer who was super because of his vitality and signs to come into form has great problems to pass these characteristics on to his youngsters. Why? Because his prominent characteristics pass on quite different than those from pigeons who became a champion because of their prominent characteristics character and intelligence!


This conclusion proves my hypothesis. So you will have understood now that an excellent pigeon is excellent because of one or two superior characteristics. Concerning these characteristics we now know that there are two quite different groups. One group passes on quite good the excellent qualities and the other group doesn't. So between a good and a good pigeon there is a world of difference!


What you have to do now is to study and to try to understand about the various characteristics of a pigeon. And when you one time can tell the difference, you will be able to make good use of my proven hypothesis. It's a long way you have to go, but on the end of the road you find yourself an expert who can tell the difference between pigeons and knows how to breed racers and how to preserve good qualities.


What I wanted to achieve by this article is that you think a little bit different about our beautifull hobby and to put the interested fanciers on a new and usefull track in modern pigeon breeding.

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Steven van Breemen