The Best Youngbirds in the World?   by John Vance

On February 7, 2004, German flyers placed 5 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th) of the top 10 birds in the South African Million Dollar Race, There were 3,703 birds entered in the race. Of that amount, about 2,368 birds were basketed for the race with 2106 of those birds being activated ($1000 USD payment). Let us now look at the German results statistically; the German fanciers entered 16.92% of the birds sent in for the race, they had 19.54% of the birds basketed for the race, 23.60% of the birds making the race sheet and finally 50% of the birds in the top 10 positions. This was no fluke as they had 5 birds in the top 10 last year and 3 birds in the top 10 the year before that. In 2000, they placed four birds in the top ten, as well. Over the past five years, German birds have won this most prestigious race three times!!!!

Though one should not jump to any conclusions based on these results (as more years will tell the story even better), nonetheless over the past five years, the numbers are pointing to a conclusion that the Germans are consistently sending better birds to this race than the other competing countries, even better than the flyers of the host country, South Africa.

Here is some information on the winning bird DV 08071 03 58 "Cisco", bred by Jammer-Reinhard.

-- sire is a blue-pied breeder of old Desmet-Matthys blood-lines

-- mother is a blue check hen of pure Mattheuws, (Belgian sprint family)

A sister to the South Africa winner is also a big winner in Germany and is considered a bird of quality and character. Now the above breeding pair has produced two world class daughters!

The 2nd place winner DV 06297 03 484 "Pajou", was bred by Bernd Wichmann. This bird is mainly Janssen strain x Wouters x Desmet-Matthys. The father of the 2nd place winner has produced several race winners, and the brother to the father was 2nd Provincial Ace Cock, having four 1st Union wins against 2,000+ birds per race.

The rest of this article will try to familiarize our readers with the German style of racing as this might help us realize if there is a link between the type of bird needed to compete in German competitions and the type of bird needed to compete in the Million Dollar Race.

2003 saw a re-shuffling of the National Racing Pigeon Organization in Germany. This new structure services the approximately 70,000 flyers by organizing them into approximately 7,900 clubs (you can belong to more than one club). These 7,900 clubs are organized into 660 Unions and these Unions are further organized into 66 Regional districts. The largest regional district consist of 23 unions representing 1520 flyers. The smallest regional district consist of 5 unions. The race with the largest competition is an regional race from St. Dizier (France), with over 39,000 birds competing at a distance of about 420 km (260 miles).

Though the structure of the race organization has changed, the race schedule, Ace Pigeon and Champion Pigeon criteria did not change. In Germany, they fly a thirteen week schedule from the beginning of May until the end of July covering races from 150 - 550 Kilometers. Overall, a bird will fly about 5000 kilometers during this race schedule. Based on the results of this schedule the Ace Pigeon and Overall Champions are selected at all levels of competition (club, union, region, national). Of course, there are also long distance competitions as well, but these will be covered in another article.

The Ace Cock and Ace Hen are selected based on a bird's best 10 results during this thirteen week period.

The Overall Champion Cock and Overall Champion Hen are selected based on the best results from all thirteen weeks of racing. This is a grueling race schedule and the German's rate very highly birds that attain the Overall Championship. The Overall Champion birds are preferred over multiple race winners and Ace pigeons.

The type of bird that develops to successfully compete, when a complete 13 week schedule must be flown, is a tough bird that keeps coming week after week. This type of bird must be able to make it home every week and recover for the next race.

The Belgian and Netherlands Championships place more emphasis on 3 or 4 good placements for a bird over the season, These birds are not necessarily flown week after week but are rather set up for these Championship qualifying races.

Each system (German or Belgian / Netherlands) has its advantages and helps to bring about a certain type of bird to be a "topper" when competing in that country's race system. The astonishing multiple top 10 placements of the German birds over the last several Million Dollar Races is testament to how successful the German style of racing is in developing a youngbirds that can "best the best" in this tough South African race.

Possibly, the Germans have developed a race system that produces the best youngbirds in the world. Only time will tell, as more Million Dollar races are held and the underlying statistics represent more years of world class competition.

I for one am not waiting for more results, I am mating my German import brother of the 7th place South African winner (in 2003) to my Netherlands import granddaughter of Keizer (grandsire of the 4th place South Africa winner in 2004).