|Author: Bob Prisco||Title: Interview with Paul Johnson “White Rock Loft” Loxahatchee, Florida.|
|Date: 2004-02-07 22:15:21||Uploaded by: webmaster|
It is a long time coming, but it is nice to see that the pigeon sport is starting to recognize another important individual in the formula of developing racing champions. A great deal of credit has always gone to the bird (Hall of Fame, Ace Pigeon, Champion Bird) and the trainer (Champion Loft, All-American, President’s Cup, etc.), but we sometimes forget about another part of the puzzle, the “BREEDER”.
The “AU” (American Racing Pigeon Union) has established the AU Breeder’s Award to recognize fanciers who breed birds and ship them to various types of “out of area competitions”, such as futurities, charity races, recognized benefits or other races. I hope this is the first of several awards that recognize and publicly honor the breeders in North America for their great accomplishments.
One breeder that deserves such credit and recognition is Paul Johnson. “White Rock Loft” of Florida, owned and operated by Paul and Sharon Johnson, has devoted a great deal of quality time over the years to the art of breeding, and it has had great success. The 2003 YB. Season was one for the record books. Paul bred three (3) separate combine winners and few more equal first and numerous diploma birds in the CJC (largest combine in USA). The CJC flew 10 YB. Races, averaging 222 lofts per race and 2,615 birds. Paul and Sharon bred 30% of its combine winners in 2003 YBS. Also, add to that 3 wins in YB. FUTURTIES, along with 1st “IF” Hall of Fame in the 150-500 loft category.
The “Champion Loft of Joe and Madelyn Zack” of Jamesburg, New Jersey flew all of these birds. Joe and Madelyn Zack give Paul a great deal of credit for breeding and sending the right birds and Paul’s constant effort to breed quality birds through a very strict selection process.
Paul has taken the time to provide us with some insight and information to his great success, but he was quick to say that his wife Sharon is an active partner and has contributed greatly to their growth and accomplishments in recent years.
1. How do you prepare your birds for breeding season?
“Both nutrition and environment are critical elements in breeding of healthy young birds. It is my responsibility to be committed to the health of my birds. My breeding season (preparation) starts in August, after a five month rest / relaxation period. I start with the Health Program – taking care of the major groups such as Canker, Worms, Respiratory, Coccidiosis and Paramyxovirus. This takes about 3 months to complete. Prior to this program, the birds have a “special diet” of hand made mixes prepared by me to restore their body weight.”
2. How do you select birds to go into the breeding loft?
“There is no substitute for experience. Experience is the one factor that contributes to much of my success to in the breeding loft. It helps me to recognize a bird’s breeding potential. The best to the best theory does not work all the time, although it is a start. The family tree stands out most for me. To choose which is the breeder or which is the racer, that is the trick. I use some old methods such as wingspan and length of ninth and tenth tips. Stance is also important, but the final factor is the feeling of the bird in my hand.”
3. How do you select which birds to pair together?
“Selecting pairs is the part I enjoy the most, that is where I can become creative. First, I choose the cock, then at least 5 hens that fit the cock’s type, along with the family tree, race record and handling. I will introduce each hen, one at a time for me to study. Then, the final decision is made through breeding or stock sense. Some fanciers do have a gift of recognizing quality in birds. This is something that cannot be taught or learned, you have it or you do not. I like to have the probability of success in my favor. Each bird has various potential, one as a flyer and the other as a breeder. I must evaluate the bird’s ability to reproduce at least as good as itself or better.”
4. What families or strains of birds do you have?
“I have several families of birds which include the bloodlines - Janssen, Vandenabeele, Stichelbaut, Vanloon, Meuleman, De Klak, Casaerts, Roosen, Schaerlaecken, Aarden, Grondelear, HVR and Peppermint.”
5. What is the source of your bloodlines?
“My bloodlines come from me selecting the best of the best, knowing that no one strain is superior to another and taking what works for me and adding some blood that I think will enhance the overall performance. I love crossing blood. When I look to buy birds, I go to a champion in an area that is known for its strong competition. Strength of the competition is as important as the birds’ genetic background and race record. I look for reliable, hard working birds and consistency, not just names."
6. What time of the year do you put your breeders together?
“I pre-mate my breeders the last week in November. They stay together for about 5 days. Then, they are placed back together in the middle of December.”
7. What do you feed your breeders at various times of the year?
“It is my belief that the standard grain mixtures do not contain all the nutritious substances in proper amounts for the birds. Both nutrition and environment are critical elements in the breeding of healthy young birds."
I feed a depurative mixture for the first 3 months, combined with special oils and vitamins.
A good moult is the basis for optimal results for that year’s breeding season. I feed a blend of mixes with a variety of seeds. These are my own mixtures, developed over years of experience, with the right type of oils and a few special moulting products from Comed. I like to use a natural source of proteins, vitamins and minerals during this period.
Again, I mix my own feed, blended with peanuts and special oils, without corn. I use plenty of fresh grit and vitamins and fresh, clean water to keep control of bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms that can cause problems during this time of year.”
8. Do you use any supplements & medications during breeding season?
“As for supplements, every other day I use some type of vitamins, minerals, etc. in the water or over the feed. It seems to stimulate the libido, improve the fertility and helps the breeders to stay in excellent health. I also feel it activates the breeders metabolism and guarantees absorption of their food so that the breeders can benefit, along with the young they have in the nest. I never use any medication during breeding season.”
9. At what age do you wean your young birds? Do you place them on any special feed or medication during this time?
“I wean my young birds between 30-40 days, depending on each bird and its independence and adjustment to the loft. They are kept on the same diet as their parents, high protein, without medication.”
10. How many pairs of breeders do you have, and how many young will you breed during the season?
“I have 35 pairs of breeders, and I will raise approximately 150 young birds.”
11. How long do you give a bird to prove itself in the breeding loft?
“I give a breeder about three (3) seasons to prove itself, and as many as three (3) different mates. A bird must breed honest, reliable, durable and healthy young for it to stay, regardless of cost, strain or bloodlines.”
12. Do you still introduce new bloodlines into your loft, and if so, do you prefer cocks or hens?
“This year I introduced a Peppermint hen from my good friend Marty, Queen Ann Loft, Bronx, NY. I have always brought in new cocks. I will only consider birds or bloodlines that have proven themselves in strong competition. I will always try a bird that is reliable, hard working and consistent that comes from an area that is known for strong competition. The bird must also posses great genetic background and racing performance.”
13. Is your loft designed or set-up in any special way for breeding season?
“I have a 10 x 36 foot loft especially for breeding, in which each pair has its own box. As I stated earlier, along with good nutrition, environment in the loft is important. An adequate supply of fresh air and sunlight is a must. The air should smell and feel comfortable to the birds with no noticeable ammonia odor. Provide a comfortable temperature, but avoid drafts, plenty of natural sunlight with a clean and germ free environment and plenty of fresh clean water.”
14. Do you keep accurate records, and how do you use this information to improve your results?
“Accurate record keeping is very important to breeding success. Knowing which birds are related and how closely, and which birds seem to click with others is important. In addition to dedication, success demands knowledge and direction, and accurate records are a big help in the overall selection process. This helps me to determine which birds to keep and which birds to cull.”
15. What advice would you give other fanciers to improve their breeding skills?
“My advice is to read books from the best in the sport. Maintaining a healthy loft and birds are the greatest things you can master. Keep up with the new products on the market. Trust yourself and your own gut feelings, apply good common sense to your program and remember champion racers / breeders come in all colors, sizes and bloodlines. Every pigeon fancier has his own ideas and opinions on how to breed quality racing pigeons, and the average fancier is looking for a short cut, but there is none. Keep bloodlines that are honest, reliable and durable. This will keep the probability of success in your favor. Also, fly your birds in the toughest competition available.”
We certainly thank Paul for his time, and we know he is proud of his birds’ most recent achievements in 2003. Few lofts can show results like these, but Paul and Sharon’s standards are high, and the level of competition in which their birds compete must be the best. They will accept only success as a standard. Sharon and Paul have set their goals for 2004, and the breeding season has already started. Best of luck and success to Sharon and Paul, “White Rock Loft”, Loxahatchee, Florida.
By Bob Prisco
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