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Let's talk about... Survival of the Fittest!...
Author: Bob RowlandTitle: Let's talk about... Survival of the Fittest!
Date: 2005-12-07 18:57:10Uploaded by: webmaster
We have all heard the expression "Survival of the fittest" but what does this really mean? Do we really believe this message or have we altered our standards so certain pigeons make the cut and are retained even though they may not be "THE FITTEST"??? Along with this question could also be the ability to breed top quality pigeons but for this subject, let's just concentrate on the health and resistance to health problems. We will discuss breeding in another area.

While watching an educational series of television programs entitled "Secrets of the Dead", I became extremely interested in the program about the Black Plague. Without getting too deep into this program, I found it extremely interesting that the current hypothesis in certain areas of Europe is the population now has an allele in their genetic makeup that shows resistance to the plague! It is also the hypothesis of several sources of information that this was brought forth by intensive selection brought on by the great Black Plague. Quite simply, those that were exposed but did not carry this allele, did not survive. The program also went on to offer their findings that they believed those that only received the allele from just one of their parents (heterozygous) may have survived the disease but may have still gotten very sick. It was further offered that the belief was that if both parents passed on this allele (homozygous), the offspring from them may never have even gotten sick even though they were in direct exposure to the plaque.

For those of us that may have problems with these big words of homozygous and heterozygous, it is as simple as understanding that a pigeon that is homozygous for something means that it received the same allele from both parents and this youngster can only give one type of gene to all of it's young. If the pigeon is termed as heterozygous, this means the pigeon received a different allele, (1 from each parent but they are different).

The more I pondered the Black Plague Program, the more I wondered if this is not the same in our pigeons? We have pigeons that are exposed to the normal loft problems and yet some never show any problems from disease. Have we gotten so close on our pigeon blood lines due to the great desire to own only certain pigeon that we now have also brought into the picture certain pigeons that lack the allele to remain healthy??

It is my belief that ONLY the pigeons that remain healthy should be our future! We hear the expression "Survival of the fittest" but I also hear people proclaim that they must live for the immediate success rather than try to create the Super Resistant Pigeon Line! I believe that if this philosophy is followed, we will continue to have yearly problems until we eventually lose those that can not stay healthy. However, while we are losing those pigeons that can not remain healthy, are we also allowing new strains of bacteria to become stronger because of the large amount of antibiotics being used to attempt to keep the birds health under control?? If this is so, then we may soon have a NEW HEALTH PROBLEM that will require much stronger medications for the cure, if at all possible!

Racing in the extremes of Florida has certainly opened my eyes to many things. I came from Wisconsin where we always had a loft cleansing through the winter as the droppings became frozen. Then as they were cleaned out as soon as the droppings could be popped loose from the floor and perches, out went much of the problem. For AWHILE!! Then as spring came on and the temperatures began staying above freezing, the bacteria and other problems began resurfacing in the birds.

As we go into a little about genetics, we should realize that each parent gives a chromosome to their children and this is done at the exact moment of conception. Now as there are about 40 pairs of chromosomes for the pigeon, this means that each young one receives one half of their chromosome from each of their parents so the combinations go into the millions as to what the genetic makeup of each pigeon could be. To help understand this, look at your brothers and sisters and note the extreme differences. That is because of the diversity of the gift their parents gave them in their chromosomes.

As I thought more about this information I soon began to ask if the transfer factors the parents give to their babies while they are giving them their first milk and continues while in the nest; is this more important than the genetic gift?? My conclusion was that although both are extremely important, I believe that without the genetic ability to survive common pigeon problems, the young are doomed regardless how many transfer factors they may receive.

So now you may ask what all this has to do with survival of the fittest?? It is my belief that because all the pigeons that are presently being promoted as great pigeons are primarily from just a few strains. Because the price to buy many of these pigeons is quite high, one must realize that we probably keep these pigeons too long even after we know that they have not produced any exceptional babies. Then from there, many grandchildren are being sold that also lack the ability to remain healthy and soon we are now trying to change the laws of nature and remain in the sales business by now using an excessive amount of antibiotics to attempt to have a few of these genetic deficient pigeons near the top of the results.

I don't want anyone to think that if they follow the above thought pattern that they will be free of any medicines for the rest of their life. We have a short window of time where the pigeons must be their best to compete in the races and as we mingle our birds together when we ship these competitions, this creates stress and also exposure to pigeons that may not be 100% in the absolute top health. Many times we do not see the health problems with the naked eye but if your birds are coming late and you have worked to condition and motivate them, then they are either no good or anywhere from quite sick to very mildly sick. It is at this time that we must then treat the pigeons or stop racing so their natural immune system can react and heal the problems.

It is the fall time of the year when we all begin looking seriously at what our pigeons have accomplished. If the results are not very pleasing to you, what will you do to correct this for future years? For my program, I attempt to bring in a few new pigeons each year and these are supposed to be special pigeons that should have characteristics that will enhance our pigeons. However, I believe that to bring in one new pigeon, our results will become better if we force our self to remove two of our pigeons that are already there. In discussing this with a friend, he jokingly said that perhaps removing 5 for each new one brought in would be better and although it was meant as a joke, perhaps there is much wisdom to this statement.

We all keep too many pigeons that are just an average pigeon. This means more work with little or no improvement on the results and added to the amount of work is the expense of maintaining and entering without much chance to place high. I recommend that we look seriously at what we buy and even closer at what the pigeons produce. It has been my experience that my best pigeons always came from top quality parents but even many of the brothers and sisters to these good ones may not possess the same combination of genes.

Once you have a few top pairs you will quickly notice that their young are the ones you get early on the big races. We can trick our self into thinking that some day one of the less talented ones will come to win the big prestige races. However, if you paid big entry fees and only contributed, then soon you stop playing. Give me 6 top quality pigeons on my team and I believe one will be very competitive with the lofts that have large numbers of pigeons.

I hope this information will help you to evaluate what direction your future will be.

Bob Rowland
SpringHill, Florida.

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