From the very beginning the selection of breeders has been fascinating for me plus rewarding in meeting top flyers in different parts of the world. Like any other subject matter Pigeon Graders, and there are several good ones in America, have different beliefs and stiles. Some graders will grade your birds and possibly give you a score. Some will tell you that this bird can fly the distance and this bird well not. Ask some what they are looking for and they will dance around the subject matter just like a true politician. Let’s cover each of these three items. Item No.1 to look at a bird and give it a score, tells little but not a total story. To me very few pigeons are perfect; if you look very closely you can discover that pigeons will have strengths and weaknesses.
To give each bird a report card on their strengths and weakness gives you a much better idea of the quality of the bird plus even more important tells you what this bird should be mated to. Only by mating the 2 correct birds together will you come up with a better product. Isn’t that what we are really after? If your 2nd or 3rd generation of birds are not better then the originals then you are not on the right track. Item No.2 This bird can fly the distance and this bird will not. In most cases the owner of the bird already knows this information. In regards to breeding only. If you really want to make an impact by adding more speed or distance to your family you are better adding a bird from a loft that is well known for the trait you are wanting to add. If you asked Pied De Weered to add a top distance bird for you he would not go to a performance middle distance or speed loft and select a bird for you. Common sense should point you in a different direction.
Piet or any other top grader would go to one of the top distance lofts and select the best bird from the best proven pairs. Or possibly pick out one of the top breeders or the champion himself. For example when Hank Vernazza wanted to add some distance to his Janssens Piet De Weered did not look through Vernazza’s birds hoping to find a bird that would add more distance. Instead he selected the “ Dax “ Jan Aarden Hen that placed 2nd National Dax . So looking for a distance bird in ones own loft is normally a waste of time. Item No. 3 Asking the grader questions. In this area some graders will take the time to answer a few questions and some will not. I am under the belief that sharing the information can only help and that’s what you are getting paid for in the first place. A grader should have enough confidence in himself that sharing some details in one conversation will not make the next pigeon grader.
Traits that are not worth looking for
Blue tongue Some graders will disqualify a bird with a blue tongue. I have personally found blue tongues in several World Class Breeders. In my own birds some of the best flyers and breeders have blue tongues others do not. While you have the beak of the pigeon open if you see small white dots in the back of the throat, don’t worry. I have asked several pigeon vets about these dots and they claim they are in most cases encapsulated protein and normally these small dots will not go away.
I also believe in some cases there is too much importance placed on one individual trait rather than the bird in total. Two examples. Eye Sign experts. To date I have yet to find a so called eye sign expert that has a fantastic race record. I like to see a strong eye myself but only use the eye as one of my 6 Common Denominators tools. To me some also place to much emphasis on the wing.
As long as the wing is in proportion to the rest of the pigeon is really all that matters. I personally like to see the last 3 flight feathers well vented. Not sharp like a stag knife or not too round like a butter knife. For me trying to analyze every one of the 10 flights or having a large or small step does not seem to matter. I have handled several champions with large steps while others have very small steps. In race horses it is no different. Many have tried to say this size, style or confirmation of horse will be the winner but in reality this has never held true.
Examples that grading for breeders can help
Heinz Meier 2008 best loft of all Germany. In the past Piet De Weerd has graded the loft of Heinz Meier. Since 1991 on many occasions I was asked to grade his family of birds. Back in 1999 While at the loft of Marcel Sangers I picked out a Janssen Cock for Mr. Meier. The following year this same cock was the Sire of Marcel Sangers “ Eagle Eye” 1st National 2000 One day long distance bird of all Holland
In 2005 I was asked to go through about 80 hens. Without looking at any band numbers I selected 2 hens The First hen 92 Belg. 5052995 turned out to be the foundation hen
“ Bonny “ From the famous Belgium breeding pair “ Bonny and Clyde “ this pair bred 4 Belg. Ace Pigeons in one year. The best of the 4 was “ Asterix “ The 1st National Ace Pigeon of All Belgium KBDB 1998 . The 2nd Hen 03 DV 40- 09711 turned out to be as close to the original Schellens family as it gets. Heinz presented me this hen I now call
“ Erika “ as a gift. In 07 the loft manger for Heinz said that he would love to have her back because 3 of his top breeders are down from her. She is also the Gr. dam; of Bill Tadlocks record setting race results in the Vegas Race 07& 08 with nest mates 1st or equal 1st in all 3 main races.
Steve Sterchi 2nd best 2008 AU loft of All America
I first met Steve back in 1995 when he asked me to go through his breeders. Back than
Steve was told to get rid of all his birds because they were no good from one of the eye sign experts that graded pigeons. A couple of years later after following my suggestions Steve has climbed to the top with these same birds crossed on to the Bieche Birds.
All 5 birds that I selected for Steve at that time turned out to be top breeders. The same year I gave Steve a Schellens Cock 1995 Bieche 0401 cock to fly that turned out to be a top racer and later his No.1 breeder. At present his best birds are coming down from a Gr. Son of our “ De Baron “ blended with the Peter van Osch Janssen Imports that I picked out for him.
Doug Sanders of Ca. started racing pigeons back in 1996. Right from the start Doug had me grade his birds every year. The first 2 birds that I picked out for him turned out to be of golden quality. The 0420 Bieche Hen which is a direct daughter of my Schellens “ Warlord “ turned out to be his foundation hen. In 2003 he had possibly the best Y/B season that any Ca. flyer ever had.
That year he spread his Y/B team into 4 separate Combine races. He Won first average speed in all four combine races plus also won 1st Ace Pigeon in each of the 4 combine races. On the National level he won 1st and 2nd Ace Pigeon of all America in his class. His 4 Ace pigeons plus 80 % of his whole team all went back to the 0420 hen.