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 Ask Ed > Buying birds.2
Ask Ed!

  What's your recommended approach for buying birds?

  A possible pitfall in buying unproven young birds is that you have so many more birds to breed from, and it takes so long to find out what their talents are. But there can be a real gem in the group, and if this bird were in the hands of the original owner, youíd not be able to buy it for any amount of money. So while there may be many birds produced that donít pan out, you will get some truly good ones. All in all, purchasing young birds is not a bad way to buy pigeons.

The other way to purchase birds is to go after proven racing stock. Often, we purchase birds that come right out of the racing loft. Oftentimes, a bird that is not a great racer but a very good racer can be a very, very good or even a great breeder. Depending upon how theyíre bred, some birds that are only average racers become great breeders. Naturally, if you can afford it, buying a great breeder gives you a much better chance of getting super racers. The old adage "the apple never falls very far from the tree" often applies in the case of breeding but not in all cases. Sometimes, a super champion that costs many thousands of dollars can be an absolute "dud" in the breeding loft.

Some considerations in making decisions about purchasing birds are how much you can afford to spend, and how good are the birds that you are considering purchasing. Often, we go in and buy birds that are going to be retired from the racing loft. We know of European lofts that like to retire their racing birds at four or five years of age. At this stage, these fanciers have already got a well-stocked breeding loft with an excellent reputation, and you can go in and buy a bird thatís been flying on the widowhood team or the racing team for two or more years. The bird is obviously a high-quality pigeon if it has managed to stay in a high-quality loft for this long and has earned its keep. A pigeon like this may be expensive, but will be very well worth the purchase price.

Regarding buying hens, we often like to go to a loft that races only cocks and has a number of excellent widowhood hens that arenít being used for anything but to stimulate the cock birds. In many cases, you can purchase a good quality stock hen from a fancierís widowhood hen loft. This fancier obviously uses some method of selecting the hens that he keeps. In many cases, they are racing these hens as young birds. So we try to select young hens that have had excellent racing records and have been put into the breeding loft or into the widowhood loft.

Many times these hens produce exceptional racing birds. As an example, a few years ago, we obtained a hen from Ferry Lambrecht that had been the ace hen of his club. He had been using her as a widowhood hen. She had no pedigree. All we knew was that she had been given to Ferry as an egg by Jean Claude Debieve. Ferry hatched the egg and put his own ring on the bird. He flew the pigeon as a young bird, and it turned out to be the ace pigeon of his club. To this day, we still have no pedigree for her, but we have bred from this hen. And in her first breeding season, bred with two cocks, she bred six multiple clock winners. She is truly an excellent breeding hen that is valuable in our loft, even without papers.

Another way to buy pigeons is to go for the really big money and to buy birds out of the breeding loft, or ace pigeons of certain competitions. Every year at the end of the season in Europe, champion birds are put up for sale. Weíve all heard about how much money these birds can go for. And while it is true that these birds are very valuable and have been great racing pigeons, in many cases they donít prove to be good in the breeding loft. I would have to say that this is true in most cases. Few champion racers ever produce pigeons that race as well as they have raced themselves. Breeding from first ace pigeons is not a guarantee that first ace pigeons are going to be produced.

Very often, it has more to do with a pedigree. We like to follow a pedigree, meaning a family of birds that produces a high percentage of first ace pigeons. Itís likely to be a very good family to purchase young from. If you can obtain a high quality racing cock bird from the loft and a high quality hen from the widowhood loft, such a pairing of birds from a good family will very often produce much better than average pigeons, especially if the birds are related.

While ace pigeons are nice to have and can certainly be good advertising, the average fancier doesnít need ace pigeons at all to compete at the highest level.

Purchasing birds from a breeding loft can be risky business. A pair of birds in the breeding loft that are for sale has probably not been as successful as the owner had hoped they would be. Sometimes, birds are sold from the breeding loft only because they didnít pan out.

Occasionally older birds can be bought that have been high-impact pigeons, because sometimes fanciers want to breed only from very young birds. In this case, some older breeding pigeons can be purchased at fairly reasonable prices. You have to be patient and willing to work with these birds. I advocate putting their eggs under younger foster parents. You can produce extremely high quality pigeons from such pairs. Normally the reduction in performance that you see in the youngsters of older breeders doesnít have to do with the parentsí genetic quality as a breeder but in the reduced level of care that older pigeons can give the young once they are hatched. A younger pair can care for the babies better, but the genes of the parents are obviously still the same. Set up foster pairs that are young, and "float" the eggs from the older breeding pairs to them to be raised. In this way, high quality genes can be brought into your loft without spending an exceptional amount of money.

We have managed to purchase birds from lofts that are being completely sold out. Such sales, in which every bird is accounted for, often yield gold-mine pairs for fanciers that are lucky enough to purchase them. All the records are available for the best pairs in the loft and the best results in the loft. If you manage to get those pigeons, it is up to you the fancier to get the same kind of results.

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