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 Ask Ed > Loft breeding practices
   
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  What are the breeding practices you use in your own loft?

I first started collecting toward the birds I have today in 1977.

Like most people, I accepted a lot of what people gave me, and I bought birds here and there. I was reading about Janssen pigeons, and people were recommending them, so I bought a few Janssens. The first two years, I can remember having 85 birds, some purchased, some giftsóa real hodge-podge.

Iíve always been interested in studying genetics. So I turned toward breeding pigeons from a genetic point of view. My studies had taught me to breed the best to the best within the family as close as possible. I realized that although my birds were a hodge-podge, some of them were producing good birds from the beginning. The key is to isolate the best breeders.

You have to test a bird on more than one mate. I took my 85 birds and paired them randomly, trying to balance things body-wise to produce a medium-size bird with good muscle and not too deep a keelónot too extreme in any degree. I began to train and race the birds.

I won the first race of the first season I competed in, despite the fact that people were saying it was going to be tough, as a beginner with my loft position. But I won five out of ten races that season. After the season was over, I evaluated my birds, and traced the winners back to only a few birds. These went to the top of the list for next yearís breeding. I did this for three seasons without adding any new birds.

I switched pairings each season to allow "the cream to rise to the top." Out of these pairings, I discovered the Celeste Hen, the 1832 Hen, and the Frill Cock. All had Janssen backgrounds, and all had bred above average to excellent racers with every pairing. Once Iíd identified the best cock in my loft, the Frill, I began to breed him back to these two best hens.

After this, things really took off. The Frill Cock to the 1832 Hen produced Cisco and Diablo, both Birds of the Year in both club and combine. This pairing also produced Gringo and at least five or six other excellent racers. Gringo was not only a steady racer but became an excellent breeder. The pairing of the Frill Cock to Celeste produced Amigo, Maria, and Beatrice.

I bred Gringo to Celeste, always staying as close as possible to the three dominant breeding birds in the loft. This pairing produced several excellent breeding hens. Children and grand-children of these birds are still breeding in my loft today. I bred Diablo to Maria and produced Pueblo, a hen I gave to Steve Van Cleve. She bred the Texas Center Convention Race Winner in Wichita Falls for Steve. Pueblo bred winners at an incredible rate, almost one in every nest. But this fantastic bird was stolen, and when we got her back, she was done as a breeder.

Several other children of Diablo and Maria have bred good pigeons. Children and grand-children of the above-mentioned birds are still breeding in my lofts today. An excellent example of my inbreeding philosophy follows. I took the 1832 hen and paired her to her best son, Cisco. This mating produced the 1008 Hen, who became a foundation breeding hen for Joe Carter of Houston. This hen bred for him three 1st Houston Association winners and over 20 other club winners.

Weíve added to the family as the years have gone on. I bought a cock from Campbell Strange from the "Schalie" Janssen blood. This cock bred to a daughter of Gringo and Celeste produced a lot of good birds. For example, Blue Beauty was the second highest point pigeon in my club and a 300-mile winner, and the 205 Cock was a 200-mile winner and also finished at the top of the high point winners in club standings. Today, the old family still exists, and we keep breeding along the lines of those three dominant birds.

When we find a pairing that works, we keep the young from the pairings and breed them back into the family. This family of birds is responsible for more winners in south Louisiana than we can count. At one point, we were able to trace over three seasons in my club, in both old bird and young bird races, from 100 miles to 500 miles, in which either the first- or second-place bird in every race was of this family of Minvielle Janssens. They are no longer quite as dominant, but they still produce outstanding birds almost every year.

In addition to my old Janssen-based family, Iíve been going to Europe each year since 1989 and have made contacts that have developed into good friendships with some of Europeís top fanciers. When I visit with them, I make it a practice to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open. My philosophy has always been not to try to impress but to learn by listening. In this way, Iíve learned that some of the dominant families in Europe such as Grondelaers, the old Van Loons, the Schellens, the Stoces, and many other families that are not so well known in the U.S. all go back to common origins.

In that vein, I decided to buy the best I could of those common bloodlines. I started off going to the lofts with the biggest names, but soon saw that sometimes the biggest names are selling so many birds they donít have the best selection.

Not in every case do I purchase from the biggest loft. I try to find the super breeding pair in every loft I visit. These are the key pigeons to take youngsters from. Whatever "nick" or combination of genes that has caused their young to perform superior to all others, you want in your loft.

Just a few of my key choices have been:
--From Jean-Claude DeBieve, direct children of his famous "Driebander" and grand-children of "Plaisant" and "Emilie"

--From Willem DeZutter, direct children of "Wondere Dunky", "Cent," and "Manue"

--From Ludo Claessens, direct children of "Voske 54," "Supercrack 69," and "White Golden"

--From Jan & Kees Bleeker, championship middle-distance competitors in Holland, direct children of their foundation pairs

--From Maurice Casaert, middle-distance champion of Belgium, children and grand-children from his foundation pairs

--From Van Cauter-Plas, where the original Schellens exist in their purest form, grand-children of world famous "Fenomenal"

--From Filip Herbots, children and grand-children of the world-famous "National I"

--Also, a hen from the Meulemans strain of Wilhelm Wulfmeyer and Heiner Nordmeyer, down from the world famous Golden Couple of Karel Meulemans, that has produced a second national Hall of Fame pigeon for Steve Van Cleve

We are currently breeding from 42 pairs, all hand-selected in Europe and paired according to pedigree to produce the highest quality racing pigeons we can produce. Since we believe that good pigeons breed to their pedigree and race to their pedigree, success will follow. Certainly in the case of our loft, it already has, with top racing birds being reported to us from all over the United States.

For more information about how you can obtain birds from Ed's loft, visit the Our Loft section of the Siegel's web site.