The pigeon fanciers’ mecca

The Kassel International Pigeon Market is one of the biggest of its kind in the world, says Thomas Smit.

The pigeon fanciers’ mecca

Photo: Courtesy of SA Pigeon Auctions
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The Kassel International Pigeon Market ( is held in the town of that name in Germany in late October. It attracts fanciers from around the world and comprises a dozen packed exhibition halls. There are about 50 000 visitors a week. Kassel brings together the latest advances in pigeon breeding genetics, clocking systems, feed, medication and general pigeon management.

READ:High-class racing pigeons

Vets and other experts man the booths of the ‘big guns’ in pigeon medication to introduce you to breakthroughs and state-of-the-art products at special market prices. And there’s no shortage of books, CDs and brochures. Among the more than 350 exhibitors you will find retailers such as Chevita, Versele-Laga, Beyer’s, Herbots, Rhonfried,  De Weerd, Natural, Pharma, Comed, Koehoorn Products, Van Robaeys and Vanhee. One-day loft races such as the SA Million Dollar Pigeon Race are also showcased.

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Talking pigeon english
Language barriers are overcome with smiles, handshakes and gestures, as the Kassel International Pigeon Market shows just how ‘international’ the sport is. Germany, Austria, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Russia and, of course, South Africa, are just some of the countries represented.

Besides the famous show homers, various fancy breeds get the ‘Claudia Schiffer treatment’ many months in advance for their own ‘beauty parades’, organised by the German Homing Pigeon Association and German Pedigree Pigeon Fanciers’ Association. Looks, not racing skills, are what count with the show homers too; these birds are different to those used in today’s pigeon-racing competitions.

The best of the best for sale
Needless to say, world-class pigeons are also auctioned at Kassel. Top sellers this year included Walter & Andreas Drapa and Rik Cools from Germany. You can also buy birds at the stalls, and the performance and pedigrees of super pigeons are studied months ahead of the show.

Gut feeling
While helping a friend look after his stall, German-born SA pigeon fancier Reinhold Brichta handled a roomy blue pied hen. It seemed an extraordinary bird to him and he decided, on a hunch, to buy it. He made his friend an offer even before studying the pedigree. Reinhold imported it to South Africa and found afterwards that his intuition had proved correct – the bird is a gem. It is connected to top performances worldwide and worth every cent he paid, and more.

Phone Thomas Smit on 011 680 4778.

This article was originally published in the 15 November 2013 issue of Farmers Weekly.