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Would you Send a Child to do an Adult's Job?...
Author: Liam O ComainTitle: Would you Send a Child to do an Adult's Job?
Date: 2005-11-24 15:15:43Uploaded by: webmaster
Some of what I will express in this article will not I expect be accepted by many fanciers because its essence is contrary to tradition and we all know that tradition is a hallowed part of the human fabric. As I have written in the past the animal welfare organizations are turning their attention on the sport especially on the continental mainland and I have no doubt that this attention will be exercised in Britain and in Ireland in due course.

Aware of this growing threat to our sport I am concerned about the losses that the fancy is experiencing and the apparent stampede to replace those losses via over breeding or buying from the numerous studs. In relation to the studs I know of cases where fanciers are not breeding their own anymore but relying upon those bought from the latter businesses. In fact since my recent return to the sport compared with the 1950/60s period I sense an element of craziness today that was absent then. And this against a background of an ageing fanciership and the sports failure to attract new blood. Now I don't want to be overly pessimistic but unless the international body of the sport initiate now an official commission of inquiry (including representatives from each nation where the sport exists) into the present state and status of the sport and hopefully a productive way forward, such an inquiry in the future will be but a requiem.

Aside from human error or down right stupidity there are numerous theories circulating as to the reason for the massive losses that is taking place throughout pigeondom in recent years. Of course there were losses in the earlier period quoted and throughout the sports history, in fact, there has to be losses but I believe that it is extreme today and it would be folly if the sport refused to inquire or seek answers. But the lead has to come from the top, and for the welfare of the sport, it must come now!

Perhaps a new universal code for the liberation of our thoroughbreds maybe required as well as a limit on the number of races and the numbers that each fancier is free to send. In other words the universal legalization within reason of quality rather than quantity! Thus imposing a self discipline that can be only for the good of the sport. Such a sport imposed discipline would in time alter the number of losses and the resulting stray problem. Thus counteracting the criticism that we breed hundreds of pigeons yearly and throw them to a future with the ferals on the streets of our towns and cities without a concern for animal rights and welfare.

Which brings me to perhaps the most controversial aspect of this article, that is the case of young bird racing. Is there a case for the non-racing of young pigeons? We acknowledge that our thoroughbreds have to receive a wholesome programme of training along the line of flight but considering the fact that a racing pigeon is not physically and assumable psychologically mature until 18 months of age are we not asking too much of them?

Especially when we consider mature birds having difficulty with the same or similar race programme. After all inspite of the recorded outstanding feats by young pigeons (but they are in the minority) a close observation of our young clearly show them to be but babies. Many of whom perhaps could become national winners if they were not thrown into the fray at such an early age to a future of footpath rummaging. Of course as I said above there will be losses otherwise we would not have the accommodation to manage. This arises from the fact that there are many variables at play such as intelligence and stupidity as well as poor management by their owners, etc..

Since my return and my increased awareness of such loveable creatures as our thoroughbreds I tend to think that race horse owners and grey hound racers are more appreciative of their animals than many pigeon fanciers. Especially those fanciers who flog their birds in order to win a race or two.

Yes, we all desire to be successful but there is more to the sport than winning. For example the slow and careful preparation of our young and yearling pigeons in order to prepare them to meet the bad days as well as the good days when they are mature enough. As for the opinion that our birds must have race experience when youngsters that is old hat for the records show that many a great pigeon never experienced a race while young. A proper programme of training suffices in preparation for the future.

Yes, there are many wrongs in our sport such as overcrowding, lack of ventilation, and other failures of management but here I am adding the abuse by many fanciers upon the future of their lofts, that is, their young birds and also their yearlings. For beyond the young bird stage the majority of strays entering other lofts are year olds. Merely children sent to do adult tasks in their stages of immaturity.

However I cannot envisage a ban because of human nature on young bird or yearling races but I would contend that the powers that be of the sport should consider the possibility of restricting the number of races and let them be at shorter distances. For example, to take the practice of my own country, the holding of 200 plus mile young bird races across the Irish Sea in this period of climate change is the height of folly and in human terms it is reminiscent of the folly of the Generals at Dunkirk. Yes, there was much bravery but terrible slaughter on that occasion of mans inhumanity to man. But what about our behaviour towards our racing thoroughbreds? Finally, one swallow or even 10 does not a summer make!

Liam O Comain



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