IN THE PAST, RACING PIGEONS HAVE been referred to as the poor man’s race horses. Today they are an expensive hobby. A superior racing pigeon can cost more than the average price of a horse and in Gauteng, the combined winning stakes during a single racing season easily exceed R1 million. Fanciers are importing the latest brands in specialised pigeon mixtures and the best medication. Pigeon lofts are being built with state of the art air conditioning and underfloor heating. Many fanciers are also importing birds directly from Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, US and the UK.
A greater level of competition
Most of the prime quality racing pigeons that broke records a few years ago are simply not able to score at the top as consistently as they used to. Now this phenomenon is nothing new in pigeon sport. When the late Frans Putterie, an ex-Belgian fancier immigrated to South Africa in the mid-1990s, he brought his Belgian stock into the country. Local fanciers didn’t like his pigeons and when he tried to sell a few, nobody wanted them. Only after he shattered records did the competition take notice. Today there are still a good number of South African lofts that boast a fine collection of Putterie pigeons as the inherited name given to our own South African strain in honour of Mr Putterie. Various pigeons have been imported from Europe over the years and crossed with the Putteries with phenomenal success. However, the front flyers are still being determined by strict selection in the breeding pens.
Working with champion pigeons
We must try to breed birds that can become the best in the world, but also be aware that this is not an overnight achievement. After Pat Wright from Boksburg imported some stock pairs from Gerhard Koopman, the renowned Netherlands champion, he became the union champion of his area. Alberton fanciers Roland Bouwer and Johan Schmidt are known as importers of the best stock money can buy. But it’s not just about copying fanciers or buying champion birds; it’s about working with these stars to secure and shape the future. And unfortunately many SA fanciers have used the best imports inconsiderately. – Thomas Smit ([email protected] or call (011) 680 4778).