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 Ask Ed > Buying birds.1
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  What's your recommended approach for buying birds?

  The least expensive way is to buy in volume, buying a large number of late-hatch babies. Some people even arrange to purchase eggs from a breeder. Late-hatch babies can also be a good way to go. When Iím interested in buying birds from a breeder, I examine the race records and futurity records of their birds to determine the answer to these questions: How successful is the loft in its own competition? How successful are this breederís birds for other fanciers?

We go to Europe once or twice a year to purchase birds. Sometimes I go into a loft that I have been studying for some time, watching the results, to see the kind of pigeons that Iím looking for. We like to purchase middle-distance birds that have the ability to fly 300- and 400-mile races as young birds. These are the areas where the biggest money is to be won in the sport, and itís certainly nice to have birds that can do that.

In selecting these young, we ask the fancier what his most successful pairs of breeders are, and at this point we are gathering information. Itís most important for us to know what the successful breeding pairs are in any particular loft. For example, in a loft of 40 to 50 pairs, surely there are 8 or 10 pairs that are outstanding among them in producing a higher percentage of good birds than the other pairs will produce.

We also will not restrict ourselves just to birds from established breeders. We also like to find a particularly hot young pair, especially if itís a pair of birds that have produced two or three really good racers. We like to take babies from these. They often produce a higher quality bird.

Once we identify the top pairs in the loft, we make arrangements to purchase their young. Of course, weíre always trying to deal with reputable people, so we can be sure that we are getting what we select. Many fanciers in Europe will ask you to come and choose the young in the nest, letting you into the loft to copy their band numbers for later verification.

One problem with buying young birds is that you donít always know how theyíre going to turn out. We all know that, percentage-wise, fewer than 20% of all racing pigeons produced turn out to be good birds. So we know going in that in purchasing unproven young, youíll be getting only 2 out of 10 "keepers." You should keep this in mind when you purchase. If youíre dealing with reputable people, you can generally buy 10 youngsters for the same amount that one adult bird would cost you. Most top lofts in Europe will not want to sell their best racers or their best breeders for an affordable amount of money. In most cases, purchasing young will be the best shot you have. And if you do this, buy them from the pairs that have the highest success percentages, so that the chances of your getting good birds will go up.

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