Young pigeons losses – June 1995
For some years now, fanciers have been complaining about massive losses of young pigeons at the start of the season. Many torment their brains to understand the circumstances. It may be a professional fault, but first and foremost I am thinking of diseases, such as trichomoniasis and coccidiosis. But if you consider that most pigeon fanciers currently attach a lot of importance to young pigeon races, you have to abandon this idea. The medical assistance of the animals has become common practice so that the health condition of the young pigeons has become much better than before. With regard to “disease of the membrane of the eye”, I have always been of the opinion that this appears during weakening, mainly as a consequence of the 2 plagues mentioned above. Against these, I practiced regularly during the season of preventive cures each time of two days. On returning from a race, the pigeons were treated, for example, against trichomoniasis, the following week against coccidiosis and so on alternately.
It should be added that there was no question of cold and humid drafts. My way of doing things was therefore not so bad since I did not have to suffer the slightest attack from this inflammation of the eye, despite intensive participation in competitions. The widespread practice of winter farming is certainly a factor that must be taken into account for these losses. The young people who are destined for the interesting end-of-season competitions are almost 100% born before January 1st. This has the consequence that they are weaned at a completely unnatural period during which they must also be educated. If the weather is unfavorable (cold and snowy), training must be postponed and the period which is most favorable to the necessary education of the youngsters and the acquisition of new impressions is thus missed. It is then necessary to start them at a time when they are already too robust, too temperamental and too cooing but still very stupid.
A few years ago, a new fact appeared. The concern, ill-founded, to always want to participate in the beautiful national events at the end of the year with young people having a complete “strike”, led to the manipulation of durations and periods of illumination. At well-determined periods, some artificially lengthen the duration of lighting and others practice darkness. These practices cause disturbances of the biological rhythm and the internal clock of young pigeons, which leads to defects in the sense of orientation. Despite the fact that orientation problems are far from being completely solved, we know enough to be able to say that the sun compass, which is not the only one, is however the main means of orientation when back to the dovecote. This is why the modifications of the illumination pattern of the animals and especially at the beginning of the manipulations confuse the latter as to the determination of the position of the sun and therefore disrupt this sense of orientation.
The black weekend of June 23-25, 1995
The above relates only to losses before and during the breeding of the youngsters. But there is more. I read in the newspapers that for the young pigeons huge losses were recorded during the races.
First of all I have to say in general that flying for 5-6 hours continuously, in hot weather like we had, is beyond the strength of most youngsters. This is partly due to the current development of pigeon racing. The competitions for youngsters have developed over the years to a real specialization and have become a goal, mainly for middle distance players. This has the consequence that the selection, in most of the participating pigeon fanciers, is based on criteria such as the precocity and the quality of the services thanks to all kinds of motivations. Most youngsters also haven’t inherited enough athleticism to fight today’s flying conditions. In the newspapers, it was mentioned that the losses in the contests had peaked in Dourdan on the weekend of June 23-25. We are talking about real disasters. For that I can’t say much. I don’t know if there are ancillary factors associated with this case.I believe that one must be able to accept the opinion that the weather in many regions of northern France (which the pigeons from Dourdan had to cross) was far from beautiful, and that at noon, almost no release was had been carried out in this region (Cambrai, Arras,…). Brumes? Fog banks? Rain ?
This same Dourdan competition went a little better with the old than with the young (which is normal), however its progress remained very laborious all the same. On the contrary, the Antwerp competition, in Châteauroux, went on normally. There were also two more international competitions that same weekend (namely: Pau and San Sebastian).
The first competition was organized by Belgium and the other by the Dutch. I found the data concerning the two competitions in an article written by a Dutchman (this detail is important). The Pau competition took place quickly (the first prize was won at a speed of 930 m/min) while everything tends to show that the San Sebastian competition is a real disaster. Fortunately, it wasn’t the other way around, otherwise what criticisms would have been leveled at the Belgian organizers of the Pau competition?
To give an idea of the dramatic course of San Sebastian, you should know that of the 6,800 pigeons participating in the competition and released on Friday, there were only Saturday evening, at closing time, 200 pigeons recorded and Sunday evening 565. So after two days of flight there were still 1135 prizes to be removed. The author of the article also added that given the prevailing atmospheric conditions, one could wonder if all the prizes would be won. Why such a big difference between the two competitions?
First, a difference in letting go. The pigeons from San Sebastian were released on Friday at 11 a.m. and those from Pau on Saturday at 9 a.m. There is also a difference in the distance but it is only about thirty kilometers. I don’t think these two factors can be held responsible for the difference in how these two contests went. Is it then necessary to put everything on the back of bad atmospheric conditions such as wind, mists or sudden fog, showers? Maybe yes, maybe no! I only see one person in Belgium able to elucidate the situation (also for the competition on Dourdan). This is Colonel Tamboreyn who demonstrated in his work “Natural Influences on Pigeon Competitions” his ability to handle good analysis techniques. I only hope that he has remained active in this area. If not, then someone else will have to try.
The dramas of this weekend are a regrettable affair, all the more so if we cannot learn the lesson from them. Personally, I think you have to look elsewhere as well, particularly in terms of means of transport. In the climatological circumstances that we have experienced, transport by cabin-express is far below transport by train when considering animal welfare. I know that in the Netherlands serious scientific studies were done on this type of vehicle and everything seemed fine. But we must not forget that this research was carried out under normal atmospheric conditions. However, these were extremely unfavorable. I am convinced there was a problem with the ventilation but I also see problems in the turmoil after basketing. And in the speed of travel: 800-1000 km at one time. All this causes inconvenience to the animals. The journey at full speed on the highways does them no good. Here again, the proverb “haste and haste are rarely good”.
For me, long live the old system of transport by train and especially for long distances during the summer. The quality of transport by train could still be verified during the 1995 international competition in Barcelona.
Despite difficult flight circumstances (heat, wind, distance), the competition took place normally (the first prize was won at 1024 m/m and the second 1015 m/m).
To conclude, I will make a few remarks… First of all, the release from San Sebastian took place at 11 o’clock, so not in the afternoon. Did the Dutch want to abandon the afternoon releases to which I have often already expressed my opposition?
In the report, the question of division into sectors is also raised. The reason given is the observation that the leading pigeons of the short distances are still beaten by the leading pigeons of the long distances. This is something I wrote many years ago and rightly argued here to demonstrate that it makes no sense to do all sorts of things to try to level the playing field for all participants. This is not easy and certainly cannot be solved by the easy means of delayed release. There is also the proof by means of calculations.
In Belgium, we take as classification limit 800 m/m in accordance with scientific results concerning the minimum speed of the pigeon.
In the Netherlands, on the contrary, we still classify by dividing the distance by the duration of the flight and thus the speeds decrease to 700 to 600 m/m. Where does it stop, I don’t know, what I’m sure of is that it gives a false picture of the ranking. From this still occurs too big an advantage for long distances.
Prof. Dr. G. Van Grembergen
According to Professor Van Grembergen, the big losses of the youngsters at the beginning of the year are due to two important factors. First of all the winter breeding which has the consequence that the young pigeon weaned in the middle of winter begins to make its small flocks and then its first training sessions at completely unnatural times. On the other hand the artificial lengthening of the length of the day or the darkening of the loft. This causes disturbances in the biological rhythm and the internal clock of the young pigeons, which leads to defects in the sense of orientation.
[ Source:Article edited by Prof. Dr. G. Van Grembergen – PIGEON RIT Magazine]
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