Fanciers can make money instantly... and avoid numerous problems in the future – Part II

During and shortly after the Second World War people in general and fanciers in particular were not really interested in pre-war theories, methods and systems used in pigeon racing; they had other priorities at that time.

People were celebrating the end of the war and were no longer interested in the old values and truths. Instead new fanciers came to the fore to publish articles and books in which vague theories and principles were introduced and spread.

Theory or practice

The late Raymond Van Steenberghe had a fascination for pigeon racing already as a kid, especially the examination of pigeons. He would soon gain a reputation as a pigeon inspector. He received countless letters of thanks from fanciers who had become champions thanks to his advice.

The best proof for the value of his theory is the fact that he was one of the only pigeon fanciers whose theories proved useful in practice. This is illustrated for instance by his national successes and a first international prize at the Olympiad race from München in 1972.

He developed an interest in the selection of pigeons when a pigeon inspector rejected all of his pigeons, except for one cock and one hen. He was twelve years old. He followed the advice of this inspector and he bred as many as possible descendants with his remaining pair. Raymond noticed during the following season that he started to win decent prizes with the descendants of his only breeding pair.

In an attempt to unlock the mysteries of pigeon selection he purchased all pigeon books and publications he could find. That is how he got his hands on the book of Frans Van Linden; he soon started to put the theories from the book into practice. He tested the theories from the book in his own loft and in many other lofts in Belgium and abroad. 25 years after his first steps in pigeon racing and after publishing articles in several dailies and weeklies he decided to write down his experiences in a book. The aim of his book ‘Word keurder op eigen hok’ (How to select pigeons in your own loft) was to share his experiences with many fanciers who were in the same situation as he was ten years ago.

The throat

As a reporter for several daily and weekly pigeon magazines Van Steenberghe often disagreed with many of the (useless) theories in pigeon racing that undermined our sport. As a result fanciers sometimes turned against him. However, we notice in recent years that an increasing number of pigeon fanciers are supporting his views, which were published long ago in for instance, De Sportduif, Volksgazet, Het Volk en De Reisduif.

When he published his first articles about pigeons several years ago most people were not very enthusiastic either. In fact some scientists and fellow reporters distanced themselves from the norms that Raymond had (re)discovered and that he was implementing in practice, following the ideas of Frans Van Linden. Nowadays there is a shift in opinion and many considerate fanciers are now convinced that certain ideas about the throat of a pigeon are correct. They have proved to be valuable for the selection of pigeons.

Throat check for pigeons

Not everybody agrees that an examination of the throat can tell us something about that pigeon. It is true that even the most useless pigeon can have a good throat. How is it possible to distinguish good pigeons from low quality pigeons based on a throat check?

It is very easy: when I take a look at the throat I am not looking for the level of talent of that pigeon; I look for the pigeon’s health. When a pigeon (or a person) has to perform well in a race it is important that the pigeon is in excellent health. Anyone can examine the throat of a pigeon: you do not have to be a vet yourself to notice if a pigeon suffers from a disease. A father does not need a doctor to see if his child has a throat infection either. As a fancier you only need to know if your pigeon has a disease or not; a vet will tell you more about the disease itself. So the goal of a throat check is to learn if a medical examination by a vet is necessary or not. After all you cannot take your pigeons to the vet every week.

What a pigeon throat should lool like

The most important and also the easiest part is to check the throat’s colour. If it has a light rose colour, similar to the colour of fresh veal, there is no reason to worry. If the throat has a red or even dark red colour similar to horse meat there is clearly something wrong. The darker the colour the worse the physical condition of the pigeon is.

A second point of attention is the opening to the windpipe that sits just behind the bird’s tongue. This opening should be motionless and as small as possible. We noticed for instance that 95% of the national ace pigeon middle and long distance pigeons we have ever examined all had a motionless opening of only one to two millimetres wide. We know from experience that a diseased pigeon has a different throat colour and a wide opening to the windpipe of sometimes 6 to 7 millimetres. In that case you can see that the edge of the opening is swollen and that it contains a lot of red veins. Respiratory problems usually appear as well. When you take the pigeon in the hand you will notice that the body widens when breathing in, the body seems to expand. A pigeon with a good throat does not have this phenomenon and has slower breathing as well. If you have ever had the opportunity to examine a diseased pigeon shortly before it died you will understand what we are talking about. However, a wide opening to the windpipe is not something to worry about as long as the edge of the opening is not swollen and the throat does not have a dark red colour.

Attention! Simply reading through this article does not make you an expert. First of all you have to gain some experience in this field. It is advisable to check the throat of your pigeons on a weekly basis. Do this carefully and make sure you do not hurt the pigeons. A useful tip to open the bird’s beak more easily is to place the thumb on the tip of the lower beak. You gently push its head backward so that the back of the head sits on the pigeon’s back. If you do this very gently and carefully the pigeon will automatically open the upper beak and allow you to take a close look at location of the throat and the throat itself. You should never push the tip of the lower beak down.


Proficiat aan de auteur van dit werkje , eindelijk krijgt het "paard" de haver dat het reeds lang verdiende....Raymond was een "echte keurder" en zijn boekje is een aanrader voor éénieder die iets wil bijleren.....en zijn beste leerling en opvolger Frans Bungeneers heeft al meermaals bewezen dat de theorie van Raymond klopt.....hij heeft het in de praktijk op eigen hok ook al meermaals bewezen want wie kan zeggen dat hij op 5 jaar tijd 2 maal de "Gouden vleugel" heeft gewonnen met daarbij een 1° - 2° en 4° Nationaal bovenop...??? Inderdaad.....ver zover ik weet....niemand.....
Beiden hebben in hun boekje getracht van klaarheid te brengen en zijn daar zeker in gelukt , het is nu aan de liefhebber om er zijn voordeel uit te halen.....
Dus : bedankt Heren keurders dank zij jullie ben ik uiteindelijk "toch" nog een beetje van een melker geworden...en wat betreft Frans : dubbel en dikke merci voor de "raad en daad" zonder jou hulp had ik nog nooit "nen deftige prijs gespeeld".....

Mvg Eddy van "Casa Barca".