Most people in virtually every walk of life have an unfortunate habit of ignoring the quality in their own jurisdiction and always looking elsewhere. It is true and we are all guilty of this, so much so that is there is an old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side” that addresses this situation specifically. Well I am here to tell you that, that is not always the case and we would do well to seriously research our own back yards before looking enviously offshore. Remember that the best does not necessarily come with a BE or NL prefix often you are much better served with a well-researched specimen that is AU “A” or IF or CU banded.
Twenty three years ago I (and others) were made aware of a business opportunity. At that time the owners of “Charles Siegel & Sons” company were seeking a buyer for their very successful pigeon supply business. I looked at the possible acquisition very seriously but decided that my location in Canada would prove a substantial drawback to the continued success of the firm and declined to move the discussions further. However unbeknownst to me at the time Ed Minville looked at the business seriously and decided that he could continue to, successfully operate and grow the company to its next level. He was indeed the perfect new proprietor and in 1989 he acquired the “Charles Siegel & Son” company as a going concern and has indeed grown it from strength to strength over the intervening 23 years.
Given that I was already supplying pigeon books to “Charles Siegel & Son” I continued to do so and in time Ed Minville and I had many opportunities to discuss not only books but more important our mutual fascination with the breeding of pigeons especially inbreeding and line-breeding. You see Ed in his University studies had specialized in “genetics” and unlike most of his classmates he had been in love with pigeons and racing since the age of eight and this gave him a huge advantage when it came to his studies because clearly for Ed it was not study but rather a “passion”. To say that Ed Minville is “knowledgeable” is an understatement. He has bred raced for over 45 years but more to the point he has studied every aspect of the sport given that he operates one of the most successful pigeon supply companies in North America today. His knowledge of medications, nutrition, and supplementation is encyclopedic and his knowledge of the major players and movers and shakers of the sport in Europe and North America is no less legendary.
However it is not Ed’s business acumen that fascinates me but rather his breeding philosophy that has required enormous tenacity and belief in himself and his vision. He had the intuition, the know-how, the stick-to-itiveness the educational background and guts to follow his own breeding philosophy until it finally paid off in huge dividends. He believed, he studied he bred and he raced his Janssen based family and has produced more winners that most will ever count. His family has produced and continues to produce outstanding results. He has bred best to best within his own family and has bred as close as possible on a continuous basis (inbreeding and line breeding) with continued testing of all progeny.
He inbreeds line-breeds and tests, tests, tests so that he refines and concentrates these most desirable performance genetic traits. Most pigeon enthusiasts will never consistently even get close to this achievement. Here is how Ed put it as we spoke:
“I’ve bred my birds based on my own philosophy of breeding the best to the best within the family as close as possible. And over the years that philosophy has paid major dividends in helping this family of birds produce outstanding results. And still to this day, it is producing outstanding results.”
Since purchasing the Siegel Company Ed has been traveling to Europe yearly and has learned a great deal about the history and origins of many great lines many of which not surprisingly have common origins:
“…I’ve learned that some of the dominant families in Europe—especially the Grondelaers, the old Van Loons, the Schellens, the Stoces, and many other families that are not so well known in the States—all go back to common origins.”
Some of the key breeders in Minville’s loft, every pair of which is bred in an individual breeding compartment that include attached individual aviaries, include the following:
“… Jean-Claude Debieve’s "Driebander," "Plaisant," and "Emilie." From Willem DeZutter’s "Wondere Dunky," "Cent," and "Manue." From Ludo Claessens’ "Voske 54," "Supercrack 69," and "White Golden." And from the Schellens pigeons from the loft of Van Cauter-Plas, birds down from the world-famous "Fenomenal." Breeders out of Filip Herbots’ world-famous "National I." And from the championship lofts of Maurice Casaert and Jan & Kees Bleeker, direct children and grand-children out of their foundation pairs.”
It takes a lot of racing, and I do mean a lot of racing to finally isolate the top genetic material and know its limitations, then work around those limitations by blending families to complement one another's strengths and weaknesses. Ed has created a number of performance families that are second to none .As an example his old line Janssen family is a top cross for his “Vernazza” family as well as his “Van loon” family and his Devriendt family. One such combination of Van Loons with Vernazza is responsible for half of the equation that gave rise to the magical “Chocolate Bar Pair”. Ed bred the hen of this pair AU 2005-A 25341 who is called “Andromeda” and Mike Cortes of Puerto Rico purchased her at an auction in 2005 and formed the pair in 2008 by mating “Andromeda” to a cock AU-NWIN-08-99 called “Persues”. Ed Minville was able in late 2011 to purchase the “Chocolate Bar Pair” from Cortes . As an aside children from this “Chocolate Bar Pair” might just be the most successful potential long term investment that serious fanciers could ever make. Offspring of this pair, I believe, are extremely desirable genetically for one loft racing in the USA and Canada. Additionally they are making their mark in Sun City Million (8th overall at Sun City in 2011 for Gallo Loft) against the best in the world as well and it will only be a matter of time before they do so in China and Thailand as well.
The Chocolate Bar Pair is a combination of Minville’s older Van Loon family with a touch of Vernazza together with a top performance family of Janssens out of the Simons family loft in Holland that were imported by Cortes. I think it is of interest to note that the Gallo Lofts Champion sire “2009-ISA-4014” who was 1st GHC Classic in 2009 now called “Classic Boy” (Classic Boy was bred in Puerto Rico by Mike Cortes and was entered into the 2009 GHC Classic by Cortes and flown by Manny Rodriguez of Gallo Lofts who managed the bird to a super win) is a direct son of the “Chocolate Bar Pair”. These chocolate bar descendants have, over the past two years, literally terrorized the participants at the “Canadian International One Loft Race” in Canada. Speaking with Cortes he confirmed that they have won many one loft and classic races in Puerto Rico as well and continue to do so. Below the 2012 final results show three pigeons arriving at exactly the same time sharing equal first! This line is achieving top results at one loft races all over North America. I was so impressed with this “Chocolate Bar Pair” that I arranged with Ed to get a pair of 2012 youngsters directly from this pair which makes them full brother and full sister to “Classic Boy” and I fully intend to cross these with my Spanjaards Janssens for 2013.
However this is only one of many exceptional pairs.
It was reported to me that a customer of Minville’s by the name of Dean Breaux living in Florida has bred one of Ed’s Musketier cocks to one of his Van Boxmeer Janssen hens and produced a yearling cock that just won 1st at 500 miles by 45 minutes in the club, by 25 minutes in the Combine, and by 15 minutes in the Federation against over 900 birds. So that means that Ed’s Musketiers are now another possible cross for the Janssens. By the way, these Musketiers might be the best pigeons that Ed owns, given that 6 of the top 20 IF Hall of Fame pigeons in last year's young bird season were "A" banded birds from Ed Minville. All but one was half Musketier. Three of the top Old Bird Hall of Fame pigeons in the IF from 2010 were "A" banded, including the 4th IF Hall of Fame hen, which Ed is now breeding from. They are all at least half Musketier. The bird that just won 1st Champion Old Bird Sprinter in the Gulf Coast Club of Florida (clocking 10 times in 10 weeks) is an "A" banded bird from Ed. It is half Musketier. The 2nd and 11th Champion young birds in the Gulf Coast Club from last year were both "A" banded birds from Ed. The 1st Ace Pigeon of North America, (Category 2-1000 to 2000 birds), sprint division in the Racing Pigeon Digest right now is an "A" banded bird from Ed, along with the 2nd Overall Ace (category 2) plus the 9th Overall Ace (category One-2000 birds and up) and the 8th Ace Sprinter (category one.) They are all half Musketier from Ed. The current #6 and #11 AU Hall of Fame Yearlings in all of America are "A" banded birds from Ed, both are half Musketier, and the bird that was named 1st Overall best gold banded bird in the World of Wings Gold Band series for 2011 YB is from a Musketier bred by Ed. As of this writing Ed also currently has the #2 and #8 best old birds in the state of Texas, both of those are full blooded Vernazza birds. The 5th best bird in the World Ace Challenge this year helping George Rankin win 1st Champion Loft in the FCI world championship series was bred from a pair of Jean Claude Debieve’s from Ed. That same pair has also produced an 8th place winner in South Africa for him some years ago and 1st Overall in a big One Loft futurity in Denver, Co. back in 2005.
The very same Debieve blood was half of the equation for “Four Starzzz Dream” the bird that won 1st Overall in South Africa for Jeff Smith's Desert View Loft on a hot and windy day in 2005. Jeff bought the cock from Ed and paired it to a Calia Janssen hen and then the magic happened along with a $200,000 US pay day!
So, I think we can assume that Ed is very happy with where his breeding program is going right now.
Ed has, over the past 15 or so years, been isolating the top genetic material from his families of birds. Once the top genetic material was isolated, he line bred and inbred to solidify the genetic stock. Now, he is crossing the successful lines to one another to produce the kind of racing results that are listed above. As you can imagine this has been a work in progress, and it started with the purchase of entire families of pigeons, including his purchase of the Vernazza from America's #1 loft at the time, Armand Zazueta, and the Schellens, when Ed purchased the parents and grandparents of the 1st Ace of Belgium and 2nd World Champion, and the Musketier from the only loft in Belgium at the time that had been 7 times in a row in the top 10 best sprint lofts in Belgium, and the Debieve’s, when Ed purchased Jean Claude Debieve’s entire breeding loft, a man who had twice been 1st Champion Middle Distance loft of Belgium.
These are the families that Ed started with over 15 years ago, some longer, and he has stuck with his plan. Recently Ed has brought in the best of the best, hence Colin Walker's top Janssens from Australia, and my own Spanjaards from Canada for a second time.
Vegas Trouble is the sire to "Super 36" and therefore grandsire to “Andromeda” and great grand sire to "Classic Boy." He has been a super breeder for Ed for 10 years, and spent 2012 paired to his famous daughter "Super 36." He is a foundation cock in every sense of the word.
Ed and I have used each other’s pigeons on two separate occasions. Originally in 1995 when I was allowed to breed from his super champion Van Loon hen called “Super 8” .At the time she was bred to St. Thomas (http://www.silvio-co.com/pigeons/famalbum.htm ) my foundation cock as well as a son and his grandson St. Blaise. We each shared equally youngsters from these three breeding’s. My Combine and Club Champion “Phar Lap” who was 1st Champion Old Bird of the 1998 Kawartha Northshore Racing Combine and 1998 Oshawa General Racing Pigeon Club. Phar Lap who flew ten races in a row, from 130-550 miles, for a total of 4,500 kilometers was a grandson of Ed Minville’s “Super 8”. This year in Feb 2012 we exchanged birds again where I will now use two direct children of Ed Minville’s magical “Chocolate Bar Pair” (which makes them full brother and full sister to Gallo Lofts “Classic Boy”) as a super cross on my own Spanjaards Janssens.
It is difficult enough to establish one successful family but rare indeed to be able to do so with multiple families.
“Artemus” was also bred by Ed in Louisiana and sent to his good friend Art Hees to be flown. He became 2nd Ace Pigeon of the prestigious Gulf Coast Club in Florida (Sprint Division.) His mother is a full sister to "Miss Artesian." The pairing of "Artemus" to "Miss Artesian" has produced a large number of outstanding breeders. I know we have all heard it before but the children of this pair really are like gold in the breeding loft.
As if the aforementioned specimens were not accomplishment enough I will only mention one last bird bred by Ed and his name is “In-Vader”.
"IN-VADER" was one of the best racing cocks Ed has bred in the past several years. He was E-1st in two separate futurities flying for Joe Zack in New Jersey. He also scored well in the open division of the Central Jersey Combine. He is heavily line bred to the famous "Schone Schellens" father to 1st Ace of Belgium. He has produced an AU Young Bird Ace Pigeon, an AU Middle Distance Ace Old Bird, a Long Distance Ace Old Bird, All Distance Ace Old Bird and Marathon Ace Old Bird. He was paired to "Super Queen" for most of 2012.
In conclusion I never give advice that I myself do not act upon, I could have obtained birds from anywhere in the world. I certainly have a great number of top European Champions whom I know well, but my research in this case took me closer to home, to my old friend Ed Minville and his “A” banded pigeons right here in North America. Thanks Ed, the results clearly indicate that you are indeed a Master Breeder and your AU “A” banded pigeons are as good as anything in the world today and for our unique North American conditions possibly even better.