We received this question from a fancier who will be breeding in winter for the first time. The idea that youngsters bred in winter will be useless as old birds comes from a fancier who seems to know all about it.
Such statements annoy us quite a lot and we are sorry to say that this fancier knows nothing about how a youngster bred in winter behaves as an old bird. It bothers us a lot that people make bold statements about something they are not at all familiar with.
I happen to know some ardent long distance racers who have been breeding in winter for quite some time now, both with racers and breeders. When we looked at a list of their best pigeons and their achievements we noticed that a lot of their outstanding long distance racers were actually bred in winter. We give more credence to what a fancier experiences than to people who spread unfounded theories.
Take it from us that these are not the only fanciers who experienced this with their winter youngsters. In fact there have been quite a few very successful pigeons in other lofts that were bred in winter as well.
Make no mistake: we do not deny that breeding youngsters in summer is generally a bit easier; you have to take more precautions when breeding in winter. That does not mean that a summer youngster will automatically be more successful as an old bird than a winter youngster, simply because it was bred in the summer. There is no evidence for that.
Of course, it is a fact that a lot of the youngsters that were bred in winter prove useless later on but the same applies to summer breeds: real champions are always exceptional in a loft; it does not matter if they are bred in summer or in winter!
The fancier who claims to know everything about winter breeding gave us some more bad advice: “If some of your winter youngsters are very motivated as a young bird you should definitely not spare them. Strike while the iron is hot; they will lose their qualities in the years to come.” This is in fact, the core of the problem. There are a lot of winter youngsters – most of all cocks – that appear very talented in their year of birth. As a result the fancier baskets them as long as they are successful and he puts them under too much strain. This is often the reason why they are no longer good racing pigeons when they are a few years older.
If a fancier would use the same approach with his summer youngsters he would probably end up with overstrained birds as well, just like the winter youngsters. We are strongly convinced that overstrained pigeons are caused by everything that is related to breeding: cocks chasing the hens, problems with the parents feeding their youngster, jealousy among your pigeons, etc.
As long as you let your winter youngsters develop well you need not worry about them not being successful as old birds. Good development means five to six races and then some time off. We think that the way an old bird performs has nothing to do with being bred in summer or winter! You could compare it to fanciers who believe that late youngsters lack intelligence because they are born in the autumn. This is also a myth; it all has to do with good development and training.
Talking about myths: some fanciers think that winter youngsters are stiff and cramped birds. This is also nonsense. People who say this should first gain some experience as a fancier before they make such statements.