The Pigeon Vaccine Lab
Featuring KM-1 a New Paratyphoid (Salmonella) Vaccine
John Kazmierczak,DVM, 568 Grand Ave., West Trenton, N.J. 08628, (609)771-0995, Email:JJK0820@aol.com
Article about Dr. K
Dr. John Kazmierczak: Flying Pigeons Is As Much Art As Science by Gene Yoes - Racing Pigeon Digest Nov. 1992

  

PAGE 4 THE RACING PIGEON DIGEST NOVEMBER 1992

Dr. John Kazmierczak: Flying Pigeons Is As Much Art As Science

By Gene Yoes

In many European countries, racing pigeon enthusiasts have organizations which allow every fancier in the entire country to compete in races. In America often we find even "state" racing to be impractical due to the larger sizes of most states. However, there are a few of the original colonies, much smaller in land area but much more heavily populated, that can allow its citizens to compete against one another statewide.

New Jersey is one such state. And the organization which organizes those races is the Central Jersey Combine, known by the acronym, CJC. It has been in existence for about fifty years. It has a front the whole length of the state which is perhaps 100 miles, and has a depth of the whole width of the state of around 40 miles. It is made up of about 30 clubs and over 500 members.

With such competition levels, to win once in a life time is but only a dream for most. But 45 year old veterinarian Dr. John Kazmierczak, a member of the Hunterdon Flyers, has not only won, last year he won the CJC five times out of a possible twenty races. Two of the wins were in young birds, three in old birds.

He has several other CJC wins flying against the likes of the Syndicate Loft, Tom Fahmie,Joe Zack, and other well-known flyers too numerous to mention. In addition he has won IF Hall of Fame twice and has won Bulletin All American mention and a Thoroughbred Ace Pigeon Award.

Veterinarians, he says, can take a lot of grief from their flying competitors. They are laughed at if they lose but have to endure suspicion of "drugging" if they win. But he continues, pigeon flying in as much an art as it is a science, and he freely admits trying the same things that other flyers do from garlic to teas. A pure scientist would want to know why something should work before experimenting with it. Dr. K, as he is commonly known by those who have trouble with his surname, will try something if not too bizarre, find out if it works, and if it does, and later will worry about why it works.

"Being a veterinarian is a double edged sword. If you do well, they say you are juicing them up, you're using drugs, you're doing cortisone, whatever. If you don't do well, then they say you're so dumb that you can't find you face with both hands. If you win its dugs, you're rich or they come up with some other reason why you have an unfair advantage. Every veterinarian who flies pigeons Knows what I'm talking about."

The Start

Dr. K grew up in western New York, in the town of Dunkirk, which had a long tradition of pigeon flying and contact with flyers in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Some of the famous area flyers were E. Lang Miller and William Koerschild.

At the age of 10, in about 1957, he became intensely interested in the racing pigeons of his neighbor, Frank Kita. "I would spend a lot of time watching his birds from my back yard. I was completely fascinated with them and thought they were the greatest things God ever made. I was amazed that you could take them away and they would come back, that you could handle them and that each one had a personality. I knew his birds better than he did. I would sit in the yard for hours and knew all of their habits."

"Another fancier down the street, Frank Pogorzelski, had a grocery store and when I got older I became his loft manager because I had the time and he didn't. Being his loft manager meant cleaning his coop and doing all the work., and I would have paid him to do it. I read all of the books in his library. I was in heaven at the time."

"I eventually got my own loft and became fairly successfully in the Dunkirk Junior Club with about eight members and eventually flew with the seniors. I think people at that time were a little more gracious than they are today. The older Flyers would pretty much help you with your birds, take you out training, and share things with you a little bit more,"Everything was a little more provincial back then. Everyone flew old Sions, Stassarts, Bastins or E.Lang Millers. Those birds were real good working birds that gave you a good day's work for the effort. You could rely on them. You could start the season with 25 youngbirds and fly them right out to 400 miles and end up with twenty of them. It was a real rarity to import birds. Consequently we had less health problems because we had less traffic in birds. I think We were more selective at that time because we kept less birds, made them do a little more and watched them a little better."

He gave up the birds to go to Cornell University for seven years as an undergraduate and veterinary student. His contacts with the pigeons were minimal. He didn't have time for the Cornell research on homing instict. He did have a veterinary professor named Dr. Delhanty who raced in the Ithaca club in New York, but, "basically, I was only concerned with getting through the place."

He did, however, develop a relationship with other than Dr.Delhanty, while at Cornell. He met and is still friends with Tom Smith of Long Island, N.Y. Dr. K had fallen in love with the Gurnays as a kid and Smith at the time, was also.

Smith doesn't have GurnaYS anymore, but Dr. K does.

"I have a side family of Gurnays, which are some of the most original true to type Gurnays you will find. Tom abandoned the Gurnays because basically they didn't fly well, they had lost

their edge."

So why is Dr. K perpetuating the sport? "I read a book when growing up in Dunkirk called Racing to Win by Fred Shaw. That was the story othe Gurays. I was so impressed with the record

and type of these pigeons,that to this day, it still stays with me. It is an abstract book in which you have to read between the lines. It gives you a lot of food for thought."

"One of the great secrets in this sport is imagination. You have to imagine or you have to visualize what certain things will do for your birds. You have to be a little bit different to succeed. You can't follow the beaten path all the time. That book got me thinking in a kind of abstract manner. I would list that book as one of my foundation stones. To this day, I have a nice family of Gurnays, but I just keep them for the pure love of the family"

After beginning his practice, he eventually moved to

West Trenton, started a family with his wife Barbara, and again began racing around 1980. His practice now includes many pigeon flyers. "It wasn't something that I was sure I wanted to get into because pigeonfliers can be very unforgiving and very judgemental, but I've gained more confidence doing it and I'm actually starting to enjoy it a little more."

"When they would bring in birds, they wanted a very simplistic approach. They are always focusing in on one thing causing a problem. What they fail to realize is that success is really a chain. Several things are integrated. It took a great deal of time to go over loft management, feeding and training before I felt comfortable focusing in on only one problem. Now I learn as much from them as they learn from me."

The Birds

"My flying family is the Janssens. They tend to be shooting stars. Janssens can be real spectacular for a while and then be a little inconsistent. In this area, perhaps 25% of the flyers are still flying Huyskens Van Riels, which though not as spectacular, are nevertheless much more consistent. I stick with the Janssens, because you can't have them all. I'm working on making them more consistent."

Veterinarian Dr. John Kazmierczak standing in front of the Copper Beech Flying Loft Dr. K says lofts should be high and dry and most need more light.

 

His original Janssens were purchased from Mike Ganus of Indiana, in 1984 "and to this day, I have never seen a family of pigeons which struck me with such awe." Ganus had four families of Janssens at the time, and Dr. K says "I never saw such depth and such consistency in type and such good pigeons. A very high percentage of his pigeons have done well for me and for other people who I have sold them to."

"To keep on top, you have to keep testing. You don't want to go

wild and destroy your base family, but you have to continually bring in other birds and test them against your base family, constantly looking for another family that will help you improve further. I am always looking for something to compare them to. Every year I will bring in a dozen youngsters from certain people to fly and let them compete against my own youngsters. I will also bring in some breeders and mate them straight and crossed into my own family."

"Usually I try them straight and they must show me that they are better than my family, not just as good-they must be better. If I find a family that out performs my Janssen base, then I will have a new base. But it is more of an evolution rather than an revolution; the transition from one family to the other will be gradual."

"I've tried Muelemans, Huyskens, Van Elsackers, and Dordins but the Janssens seem to be the best. I have had some success with Janssens crossed on Muelemans, but the Muelemans seem to be more inconsistent in type. You have big ones and small ones, long ones and short ones. I like the Janssens because they are a little more consistent and a little more predictable.

"My Janssens can compete from 100 to 500 miles, and from 1800 to 900 ypm. I think it is a falsehood, when people say that Janssens can't do it in hard weather. I think they can. I don't have short and long distance birds. Everything has to do everything."

Breeding Philosophy

"Racing prowess is a good indicator of breeding prowess," he states, "but not necessarily the best. Statistically, I think you will find that the better flyers make the better breeders. This doesn't always happen; sometimes one brother will be the good flyer and the other the good breeder." Then as if to hedge on that statement, he comments that Mickey Mantle was a great athlete and his brothers were good athletes but none of his children or his nieces or nephews were. "Face it 95% of the

children of professional athletes never become professional athletes."

After its own flying record, Dr. K puts a lot of faith in what a bird's close relatives have done, something known by geneticist as the "near kin index." "I think we put too much emphasis on family history. With Americans, it is more important what's on the label of the wine bottle, than what's in it. Pedigree is lowest on my list of considerations For breeders. I take performance, intuition, and physical appearance more than pedigree. I'm not even sure how accurate pedigrees are, anyway. Once you go past grandparents, pedigrees aren't of much value.

"You have to get a little feeling for the bird, its just intuitive. You just have the intuition that this is a good bird. Some of my best stock birds are birds that I just got this feeling about that this is going to be a good one. Three of four times I've been right."

One thing is for sure, "If a bird is ugly, I don't care how good he is, I don't want him. I've seen as many ugly as good looking ones fly well, so you might as well have something that looks good."

"I don't believe in eyesign very much at all. I'm not even sure If people know what eyesign is because, everybody I talk to about it gives me a different opinion about what it is. I don't think you can judge a bird's homing ability by eyesign at all.

"I do like the eye to have a lot of contrast. I don't like these washed out eyes, that are black and yellow and just don't have any circles in there at all. I do know that when a bird comes into form, one of the circles that people tell me is eyesign seems to be more obvious, that being the circle around the pupil."

With regard to inbreeding or out crossing, this veterinarian says that you will get more success with limited outcrossing than with limited inbreeding. However, this refers to racing performance. Doc will inbreed at the end of the season to hold a particular line, but these youngsters are destined strictly for breeding.

"When I pair, I take all the birds that I intend to breed from, and I just See what looks good with what, kind Of the best match to the best match. After that, I look at the pedigree to see if there are any real inconsistencies or incapabilities. I don't like to go too close."

"I pair on intuition. Breeding is throwing dice. A lot of it is luck. If you start out with a good gene pool, you could just let them go together, and get good pigeons. The art of breeding is not so much putting pairs together, it's in selecting the entire group,that you will be breeding from." His favorite formula for mating is to take an outstanding widowhood cock and mate it to the daughter of an outstanding stock cock."

Dr. Kazmierczak changes his matings every year, regardless of how successful they were. "I'm always looking for something better. I'm often told, 'How can you get better than winners.' My answer is that maybe you can win four races instead of three; maybe you can win 2 Hall of Fames instead of one. Most of the time. I'll admit, I'm unsuccessful and after two, three tries, I go back when the youngsters are getting no better. I tend not to get a lot of inbred pigeons that way."

Before the breeding season his Fifteen pair of breeders are treated for malaria and trichomoniasis. He also gives the birds a ten day treatment with auremycin concentrate in the water to increase hatchability. He ensures that they get plenty of vitamins, especially Vitamin E for fertility. Between rounds they are again treated for trichomoniasis.

"The biggest problem with most people," he says, "is that they let their breeders get too fat in the winter and that gives you problems with laying and hatchability. I believe pigeons should suffer a little in winter - don't feed them too heavy." Doc feeds a lot of good barley in the winter. He also tries to give the breeders an extra week or two of light before mating to get their hormones going.

The breeders are fed a 16% protein mix during their season, to which is added pellets to the proportion of 5 to 10%. This gives the birds some animal protein and riboflavin.

There are few pumpers; every breeding pair is expected to raise their own young from the three rounds he takes.

Health

Following up on a previous comment about his days in Dunkirk,

Dr. K attributes many of today's health problems to the heavy traffic in birds within this country and internationally. "This traffic is more than birds brought in for a Cross; birds are sent in from all over the country for futurities. You have a couple of hundred different strains of salmonella or paratyphoid, and although birds in one area may be resistant to one type in their area, they may not be to another type brought in from another area."

"It is like the same thing when everybody goes to school in the fall. You get in all these people from different areas and everybody gets a cold. That is one of the reasons, but not the only reason pigeons today have more health problems."

Here are some specific health comments:

a) Haemoproteous

"Haemoproteous is also big problem in this area. And I find it in the best lofts, the lofts that guys take pride in and keep Clean. I think more people should check on haemoproteous. I try to prevent it by using a lot of Insectrin dust. I usually dust a couple of times a month. I also use the water soluble form of ivomectin, one teaspoon to a gallon, and will spray my birds every week or two. The birds are caught, the wing is lifted and each is sprayed in the armpit and in the tail base. The dusting and spaying is increased during racing season because the contact with other birds in the crates will increase the fly counts in most lofts."

"Once they have it, then you can treat with atabrine, which I understand you can't get anymore, or chloroquine. The dosage is 500 milligrams to a gallon, once or twice a week, usually towards the end of the week." During the winter months, he may treat for a full month, two tablets to a gallon of water. "I don't know if you can actually cure it, but I talked to Dr. Tudor recently and he thinks you can actually cure malaria by using the atabrine at a dose that is in his book, for ninety days but I don't know. My own experience is that you seem to suppress it more than cure it,"

b) Respiratory problems

"One of the biggest problems Dr. K finds in New jersey lofts is respiratory problems, which he believes is prevalent because of the heat and humidity. "There are several things that can cause respiratory complex and they can all be interrelated. it could be herpes virus; it could be mycoplasmosis; it could be some other bacteria; it could be related to trichomoniasis; it could be related to overcrowding; it could be related to poor ventilation; sometimes a diet too rich in protein can make things worse."

"Probably the best medicine you have is to go into your loft and cut down on half of your pigeons. Overcrowding is a big problem. If a person is in an overcrowded area, he is stressed out and tense. This will lower his resistance and inhibits his ability to overcome some the exposures that his body, unstressed, could overcome."

"Put ten people in one room for one week and see what happens. It starts getting more smelly and congested, you are getting a lot of exhaled gases to be exposed to. You can't rest properly.

"One of the greatest secrets in pigeon flying is to get the pigeons to rest properly. These guys that are In their lofts all day long are sometimes doing their birds more harm than good. Birds can't rest if they are bothered by their owner or there are SO many that they are agitating each other trying to carve out a place for themselves. Such stress causes them to release hormones and other body chemicals that affect their system. Overcrowding keeps them from developing a true love for any particular perch or nesting box."

"With overcrowding you have more contamination of both food and water, and give the micro organisms more meat to eat. Cutting down on the number of the pigeons is probablY worth more than all of the medicines that you can buy."

C) Vaccination

HIS friend Mike Ganus started a pretty significant controversy when he stated that vaccinating for PMV would cause one's young bird season to be caput. Ganus recommended that flyers treat with the LaSota instead. Doc, on Mike's recommendadon, didn't vaccinate, though he had in the past, but used LaSota.

"I'm going back to the vaccine next year. I don't like the number of applications to carry through the LaSota plan and I haven't really seen any difference in performance."

The Lofts

Doc has four lofts. The racing loft, with two sections for young and old birds, is 12x28. The breeding loft is 10x20. There is the small widowhood hen loft. Finally there is the Gurnay loft.

"The biggest loft problems are lack of ventilation and a lack of light. The air should generally enter at the bottom front and exit through the top of the roofin the middle. I notice that a lot of lofts have the slant roofs, and I think you are much better off with the peak roofs with the ridge vents running down the center."

"I also don't like the turbins that people put on their roofs because they work when you don't want them to. For example, when the wind is blowing like hell and you don't need a lot of air in there, they are whirling. And when it's still, they are not moving at all. You would be much better off with a thermostatically controlled fan so when you need it you can move that air."

"I think that grated or wire floors are okay for breeders but I don't like them for flyers because I think it is hard to hold their form since there is likely to be too much temperature variation and too much air going through. I and don't like the feather quality that grating gives. Their tails seem to get frayed."

"I have just had Steve Ripper of Quakertown, Pa. remodel my loft and one of the things that he installed, as per Mike Ganus' suggestion, was a heating system in the floor. This keeps the floor nice and dry and keeps the loft temperature more constant. I also raised my loft further off the ground. People have their lofts too close to the ground. The higher the loft, the drier the loft, and the better off you are. One foot above the ground is not enough. At this height you have varmits under there and you can almost feel the moisture come up through the floor."

Feeding and Medicating

Surely, a veterinarian knows the secrets of feeding and medication, right? There must be formulates?

Dr. K says, "How much to feed is an art; you just have to get a feel for it. I think it is erroneous to measure feed. We all tend to overfeed. As a rule of thumb you feed until they start loosing interest. When a few birds start becoming selective about their grains, then you start backing off a bit. It is amazing how little food pigeons can get along with. They need a lot less than we think, as long as it is good grain. And as a rule. I feed as much in the morning as I do in the evening."

"Pigeons don't really need much protein after a race because a conditioned pigeon is not really tearing down muscle unless they have used up their glycogen (fuel in muscles) reserves on these real long hard fifteen hour races. A fourteen per cent protein is as high as you should feed in your heavy mixture for racing."

He analogizes the goal of feeding to that of blowing up a balloon: "I look at form as a balloon. When they comeback from a race, that balloon is flat. You want to gently inflate it, and every day of that week you're pumping up the balloon by the feed. By the end of the week, you hope that the balloon is so taught that it is going to explode."

"I think that barley is such a good food, because it is high in everything but protein and perhaps Vitamin A. If you give it to your birds early in the week, it will keep their form lower but still give them a lot of the nutritional needs without hurting them. Barley, I think, is the best grain of all for pigeons. I will actually send out to Montana to get my barley, because I think the birds do so well on it. Acceptable barley quality is a two row plump used for malting, not the six row. I like safflower also but it is higher in fat and higher in protein.

Then toward the end of the week you are packing them with the fats and the heavier carbohydrates like corn and peanuts to get a nice ballooning effect."

Here is his daily regime during racing season:

Sunday - "When the birds return from a race they are locked in. They are feed a light feed, which is defined as a feed high in carbohydrates and low in protein. This definition goes hand in hand with the one that says a light feed is made up of smaller

grains that are more easily digestible. It is much easier to digest a piece of bread than a piece of meat. If you are giving peas, you are giving meat. By staying away from the peas, you are giving the birds system a chance to rest rather than working on breaking down the harder protein grains. This light feed is usually high in barley, as much as fifty per cent, twenty wheat, twenty per cent Kaffir or milo and ten per cent safflower."

"I sprinkle the light feed with Brewer's yeast and lemon juice. Brewer's yeast because it is an easily assimilated source of amino adds, which are building blocks for protein, has a lot of trace elements and has a lot of B vitamins in it. It seems to give them a nice nourishing meal that is easily digested."

"The lemon juice that is used to be the 'bonding agent' for the Brewer's yeast and because it is high in vitamin C. It may also have some antimicrobial properties, and does have some sugars in it. It seems to be a quick pick me up and a little bit of a purifier. It is never from a bottle, it is freshly squeezed. I squeeze the lemons in a blender and get the lemon juice out and then add the Brewer's yeast in that until it gets to the consistency of a thin milkshake, and then put that on the grains and let it sit over night, giving it to the birds the next day."

"They receive a tea in the water. Teas are very under-rated. I don't know what is in these teas, but I know one thing, it makes the birds feel better. Cleansing is a nebulous subject. Nobody is able to define what it is to me. Does that mean lower your blood urea nitrogen; does that mean lower your creatinine (waste products the kidney eliminates); does that mean your are excreting metabolic waste? Nobody has really told me what it is. I think it is a term invented by pigeon flyers to confuse everybody."

"Nobody tells you what is in teas, but I give them and even run some tests, and what I do know is that teas seem to help. They seem to make the droppings look a little bit better.

They seem to make the birds'feathers look a little bit better. Their flesh looks better. It makes blue flesh youngsters pinken up. It probably makes me feel better and think that I'm doing something. I also admit, that I'm a great imitator of the Belgians and they use a lot of teas. I've never met one, but I've read a lot about their methods and talked to people who do know them and they must know what they are doing because,they wouldn't be as successful, if they weren't."

Dr. K stays away from the yery small seeds at the beginning of the week. "When you feed them the lighter feed, you can control their moods. Barley, for example, is a very comforting food. The smaller seeds, such as the rape and hemp are exciting seeds. You can tone the mood of the pigeons down and conserve their energy and their strength; but as soon as you start giving these agitating foods, they start getting active and change their whole disposition. One of the great secrets of success is to keep these birds calm at least in the early part and during the week as much as possible. They don't need to be running around like maniacs in the coup, they need to be resting, and not excited until just before shipping, just like that taught balloon."

Monday - "They will get light feed again,with the Brewer's yeast and lemon juice. This is the day that I will treat for something, though the treatment may also extend into Tuesday. My own mixture is Sulmet for cocddoisis, an ounce to a gallon, Gallimycin for respiratory, two teaspoons to a gallon, Ridzol for trichomoniasis or canker, one teaspoon to a gallon, and I use a low dose of vitamins. These are all mixed together and given every week. I may change the type of medication, because these bugs get smart, so I change things every once in a while."

"I will usually halve the dose recommend for the vitamins. This is because of recent research, that low levels of vitamins may enhance glucose uptake in the muscles, not high levels of vitamins, but low levels. I don't give electrolytes. If I would give them, it would be in the beginning of the week, not when they are shipped. I think that they tend to screw up the fine tuning of the metabolism. Electrolytes are salts and you may retain more fluid then you want. You may screw up some enzymatic pathways, so I wouldn't do it. I would say the only time that I would do it, is after a very hard race when the birds come, wiped out and then I might give electrolytes With dextrose."

Tuesday - "They get light food in the morning and at night. I will give half light and half heavy food. A heavy food mixture may be 40% corn, 15% wheat, 15% white milo or kaffir, 10% safflower, and the rest maple peas."

Wednesday - "The feed mixtures are just as I described for Tuesday. I, on occasion, also give them Lugol'S, an iodine solution that you can get in the drug store, a table-

spoon to the gallon, especially if their throats are slimy or mucousy. It is an oxidizing agent, and basically it is a germ killer. It has a broad spectrum and you are just napalming all of kinds of bacteria."

Thursday - "I'll give them tea With garlic, one clove to a quart. Garlic is a good thing for pigeons. Why, I'm not absolutely sure. When,I give my pigeons garlic, I go into the loft the next morning. They have so much down drops the next morning, that its sticking to their eyeballs. It looks like a snowstorm in there. I use the garlic right with the teas. With the garlic, it is better to put a clove of garlic in a quart of water that has been boiled and is cooling down and let it sit overnight. I think if you boil the garlic, you may inactivate some of the active ingredients in it. I usually give garlic twice a week and use as fresh a garlic as I can find."

"In the morning they get half heavy, half light feed again, but at night they get heavy."

Friday -"The birds again get half

heavy half light in the morning, and in the evening, 60% heavy and 20% safflower for fat and energy, 5% treat-the small seeds for some easily digested fats and energy and some mild excitement. They get some hemp for lots of energy and white kaffir or milo for carbohydrates and energy added in. You are carbohydrate and fat loading. Fats are a little better than carbohydrates in producing the fuel for racing.

Depending on my malaria checks, the water has chloroquine for malaria or Lugol's. You can also substitute the Van Hee 1500 for the Lugol 's."

Saturday - "This is the day of shipping for us, and I may occasionally give them columbine nasal drops when I'm shipping them, one drop in each nostril."

"The birds do not get out because I want them to balloon up. I try to feed them grains that are easily digested, and I don't feed them right away. I let them work up a little bit of an appetite.I would likely feed them at ten o'clock in the morning. I'll feed them a lot of safflower, throw in some kaffir or milo, maybe a little treat and perhaps a little bit of the heavy feed just to see if they are hungry for the corn."

"The mixture doesn't change based on the race distance, but maybe the time of feeding may. I try to feed them no later than one or two in the afternoon. I think one of the biggest things that people do wrong is that they send their pigeons with crops packed full of feed. I don't think they digest their food well in the crate. This is perhaps evidenced by all of the food that they have vomited in the race crates, that we find when we clean them out. If you don't have them glycogen loaded by that time, you are only making them worse by sending them full of food. You are going to have them dehydrated, and thirsty."

"When my widowhood cocks are sent you can barely feel anything in their crops. I don't even feel they should be packed on a two day race. What they should be is glycogen loaded for shipping; their muscles should be swollen and firm. By the time of shipping you shouldn't be loading the cannon, the cannon should already have been loaded."

"I fall in and out of love with peanuts. Right now, I'm mad at them.I find that sometimes they do seem to help. I'm mad at them because they seem to get rancid too fast, so you have to keep them in the refrigerator. If I gave them,I wouldn't overload them, because I think that just as peas, they are hard to digest. They are big heavy grains heavy in both fat and protein. I have opened up the crop of a bird that has eaten peanuts and they just sit there; they don't digest as quickly as the smaller grains."

The birds get plain clear water on the day of shipping."

The Bath

"The bath is important to pigeons. It gives them a sense of euphoria and a sense of well being. I give them the bath option twice a week, usually the day following the race. I've even given a bath one the day of shipping but more commonly the day before. It really seems to bring on their form. The bath may cause their bodies to release some hormones, but it does get them to use their oil gland in the tail and by preening, they are spreading the oil and thus reducing the frictional component on their feathers. It helps them get rid of their down. Again it is one more link in the chain of success. There are a thousand links in the chain of success, and the more things you can do to create the links, the better your chances of success."

"The practice of dipping birds returning from a race in water as hot as you can stand it is an excellent idea. I do it For my widowhood cocks all the time. I use a five gallon container with nothing added to the water and I submerge the birds with just their heads above the water, and massage their muscles and feathers for a minute or two. Each week my widowhood cocks became more tame when I did this and eventually, a couple of cocks would perch on the rim of the container waiting for their turn. This encourages the cocks to rest as much as possible and this has a calming effect on them."

Widowhood

Dr. Kazmierczak flies the classic cock only widowhood system. If you want his formula, read Mark Gordon's book, Widowhood Flying, "It is the best book there ever was."

The reasons he flies widowhood are:

1) It is easier

2) It is more predictable

3) The birds are consistently made available

4) More birds are in form more often

5) You can evaluate your pigeons better

"Pigeons like routine and widowhood is pure routine, for both the pigeon and the flyer himself, this veterinarian states: "You really get to know your pigeons under the system. You know them all.You know their personalities. One's a sneak one's a bully, one's a cheat, one's wild, another tame; you'll know them."

His widowhood team consist of 24 cocks, of which, over the course of a season, he might have five to seven fall by the wayside. Another five to seven will be eliminated at the end of the season due to poor performance. That is poor consistent performance. He will usually eliminate all but about the ten best and bring in 14 yearlings.

"I think the widowhood system which I fly, is easier for the birds. The birds are always in form or at least 75% of the time and they are not really being stressed too much. All they are doing is resting and racing and seeing their loved ones on weekends. As long as the weather conditions aren't too bad, I think by and large the birds have it easier. This is because they are sent to the races a little more often, but in better condition. They become more roadwise, because of the constant flying, and better condition. The cocks are sent almost every week and will normally fly at least 7 out of the 10 weeks. If they don't go to a race, they get a 100 mile toss."

"A lot of people have problems because they keep these shooting stars. I would rather have a bird with 5 seconds than one with one first, because what you want is consistency. I try to eliminate the occasional winner. My time is so valuable to me, with the practice and the family, that I can't waste time sitting out there waiting for birds that come home well once in a while. They must come home on a reasonablY consistent basis and they have to be so predictable that if somebody else gets a pigeon, I'm going to get one too. Last year, I killed three combine winners that beat 350 lofts in the CJC. They only did it once or only had three diplomas. If they are not consistent, they're eliminated."

"The cocks are fed in their nestboxes. This is to increase the love of the box. I think sex is a minor motivator for cocks; the major motivation for them is territory." He says that at the end of the race day, it seems like the cocks sometimes want their hens out of there, so they can have their nestbox all to themselves again.

The hens are shown before shipping for the first four or five races then he just shows the nest bowl for the remaining races. During the week the nest bowl is completely out of the section. Five to ten minutes before shipping the bowl in placed in the box. When the cocks return, they will find their hen waiting. He will leave the hen as long as the cock shows interest. "As a rule that is usually two hours."

The hens are kept in their own pen, and during the day, they are locked in the aviary to keep them from mating. If they get too matey, they are locked out there all night. In addition, the hens are fed a light feed until the day before and the day of shipping when they get the heavy diet.

 

Young Bird Flying

Although he does not consider himself a hot shot youngbird flyer, he believes that the American system of flying youngbirds is antiquated. "A modern system would control the moult with light, and separating the cocks and hens until the night before shipping, to give a motivation factor which we don't usually have the way we fly them."

"I think one thing people do, is train youngbirds too much, too often, too hard, too late. I think they should start young birds out a little slower. I think when you take youngsters during the race season fifty or sixty miles everyday, you are leaving your races down the road. I think they should be trained four weeks before the first race. And I am not that crazy about routing like other people are. A little bit is okay but I sometimes think that the birds dissipate themselves too much by routing."

"For a First toss, I will go about three miles and I only train in good weather. I think a lot of youngbird losses are because people are too impatient and they too often modify their own training schedule because of what they heard other flyers are doing to catch up with them. I take them out gradually, once a day, at 6 miles, then 9 miles. then 15 miles at which time I would break them up in groups of ten, until I hit the forty or fifty mile stage and then I keep them there."

"I train on line of flight, but I don't think landmarks are that important. I train on the line of flight because I want their orientation compass to be set in a certain direction. I just want them to think 'west'. I try to do as many things as possible, the same as race conditions. Some of the best flyers I know go so far as to use race crates as their training carts. If you can, take them along the same course, release them at the same time, so they know where the sun is at that time of the day. The more experience they have the better they will be."

"I would single toss if I had the time, but I usually have a 100 youngsters and that becomes a problem. I think single tossing is a great thing. I think it can only do good things for them. It makes them think and gives them a sense of independence and gives them confidence. I don't think it teaches them to break, but I think that it gives him a little more confidence to find a more direct route home. It makes them independent thinkers."

"I think they would be better off having a curve. The day of the race, Sunday for us, they have rest. On Monday, they are loft flown. On Tuesday, dependent on what the race

was like, they may go on a twenty or thirty mile toss or fly around the loft. On Wednesday they go a little further, maybe an hour's time. On Thursday, maybe an hour and a half - that's your big day. Then on Friday, back down to an hours flying time and a bath. On Saturday, the day of shipping, they stay in and rest. On the days that they have a workout, it is the only workout they get that day and the rest of the time they rest."

At the end of the season, he will keep a young cock that has "shown me something, but that doesn't mean he has to have won a race, but he has to be consistent. He has to have the physique to stand up to the pounding-a good strong back, I like them a little above average in size, a lot of balance, a good pedigree, has to have the character for the team, meaning he has to protect that perch and kick butt if anyone else tries to get him out of it. It has to show intelligence and calmness at the same time. It has to be predicable in results and behavior. It better not come home and sit in a tree. Hens are selected on the same criteria except that they have to show a little bit more than the cocks when it comes to race performances.

"There is more of an interest in youngbirds, these days. There are a couple of reasons. One is the money. Another is that everyone is sort of on an equal Footing. In old birds, the

older established teams have the advantage. But a lot of the fading interest in old bird races is socio-economic changes. People are just not in love with sitting in the backyard all day looking at the sky like they used to. To me one of the biggest thrills is in fact sitting in the backyard, having some food, getting away from everything and waiting for those pigeons.

A lot of people think three or four hours is enough. They don't feel like sitting there all day and then waiting the next morning for pigeons. They have other things to do. There are more competing forms of entertainment. When I grew up in the 50's and 60's, a big time for me was walking all over Dunkirk and visiting pigeon flyers and looking at pigeons. Now kids have cars and go to New York or Philadelphia, they can go everywhere. They don't want to sit at home and wait for pigeons. Youngbirds gives you that quick easy option." Still, he prefers old bird racing.

Shipping Limits

"I don't like limits of any kind. In the CJC, we don't have clocking limits but we do have shipping limits. We need competition, we need performance evaluation, we need pigeons in the races. Many times we send the CJC tractor trailer with 18 wheels, that can hold 10,000 pigeons and they have only 3000 pigeons on there. I think we should let people ship a lot more pigeons than we do and make it a lot more fun."

Problems With the Sport

"Cost and time are the biggest detriments to the sport. There are too many competing forms of entertainment, as I said. But we do need to publicize the sport more to compete with other forms of entertainment and we need to treat new members with kindness instead of fear."

"Another problem is that people that hold positions, even if they fail, shouldn't be chastised-at least they are doing something. A lot of the criticizers are these people who sit on the sidelines and just stir up agitation but don't get out front and try to do these jobs."

"We have to get away from those who say, 'Why should we do this, in another five years, I'm going to be gone.' We have to look farther than our own noses or there won't be much left for the rest of us who will be around more than five years. We have a lack of adjustment to change and it is hampering the development of the sport. We need to try new ideas. A lot of these new ideas aren't going to work, but we should try to keep the sport from stagnating."

Conclusion

We are indeed Fortunate to have veterinarians in our sport. It is a shame that if they win, they have to take grief for being a vet, in addition to the all time standards such as overfly, wind, short man, etc. And to all you guyS who have pigeon veterinarians in easy access, hey, lighten up. You at least have someone to go to with health problems. Remember, they are more than just vets, they're pigeon fliers and friends too.

 

PAGE 4 THE RACING PIGEON DIGEST NOVEMBER 1992

Dr. John Kazmierczak: Flying Pigeons Is As Much Art As Science

By Gene Yoes

In many European countries, racing pigeon enthusiasts have organizations which allow every fancier in the entire country to compete in races. In America often we find even "state" racing to be impractical due to the larger sizes of most states. However, there are a few of the original colonies, much smaller in land area but much more heavily populated, that can allow its citizens to compete against one another statewide.

New Jersey is one such state. And the organization which organizes those races is the Central Jersey Combine, known by the acronym, CJC. It has been in existence for about fifty years. It has a front the whole length of the state which is perhaps 100 miles, and has a depth of the whole width of the state of around 40 miles. It is made up of about 30 clubs and over 500 members.

With such competition levels, to win once in a life time is but only a dream for most. But 45 year old veterinarian Dr. John Kazmierczak, a member of the Hunterdon Flyers, has not only won, last year he won the CJC five times out of a possible twenty races. Two of the wins were in young birds, three in old birds.

He has several other CJC wins flying against the likes of the Syndicate Loft, Tom Fahmie,Joe Zack, and other well-known flyers too numerous to mention. In addition he has won IF Hall of Fame twice and has won Bulletin All American mention and a Thoroughbred Ace Pigeon Award.

Veterinarians, he says, can take a lot of grief from their flying competitors. They are laughed at if they lose but have to endure suspicion of "drugging" if they win. But he continues, pigeon flying in as much an art as it is a science, and he freely admits trying the same things that other flyers do from garlic to teas. A pure scientist would want to know why something should work before experimenting with it. Dr. K, as he is commonly known by those who have trouble with his surname, will try something if not too bizarre, find out if it works, and if it does, and later will worry about why it works.

"Being a veterinarian is a double edged sword. If you do well, they say you are juicing them up, you're using drugs, you're doing cortisone, whatever. If you don't do well, then they say you're so dumb that you can't find you face with both hands. If you win its dugs, you're rich or they come up with some other reason why you have an unfair advantage. Every veterinarian who flies pigeons Knows what I'm talking about."

The Start

Dr. K grew up in western New York, in the town of Dunkirk, which had a long tradition of pigeon flying and contact with flyers in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Some of the famous area flyers were E. Lang Miller and William Koerschild.

At the age of 10, in about 1957, he became intensely interested in the racing pigeons of his neighbor, Frank Kita. "I would spend a lot of time watching his birds from my back yard. I was completely fascinated with them and thought they were the greatest things God ever made. I was amazed that you could take them away and they would come back, that you could handle them and that each one had a personality. I knew his birds better than he did. I would sit in the yard for hours and knew all of their habits."

"Another fancier down the street, Frank Pogorzelski, had a grocery store and when I got older I became his loft manager because I had the time and he didn't. Being his loft manager meant cleaning his coop and doing all the work., and I would have paid him to do it. I read all of the books in his library. I was in heaven at the time."

"I eventually got my own loft and became fairly successfully in the Dunkirk Junior Club with about eight members and eventually flew with the seniors. I think people at that time were a little more gracious than they are today. The older Flyers would pretty much help you with your birds, take you out training, and share things with you a little bit more,"Everything was a little more provincial back then. Everyone flew old Sions, Stassarts, Bastins or E.Lang Millers. Those birds were real good working birds that gave you a good day's work for the effort. You could rely on them. You could start the season with 25 youngbirds and fly them right out to 400 miles and end up with twenty of them. It was a real rarity to import birds. Consequently we had less health problems because we had less traffic in birds. I think We were more selective at that time because we kept less birds, made them do a little more and watched them a little better."

He gave up the birds to go to Cornell University for seven years as an undergraduate and veterinary student. His contacts with the pigeons were minimal. He didn't have time for the Cornell research on homing instict. He did have a veterinary professor named Dr. Delhanty who raced in the Ithaca club in New York, but, "basically, I was only concerned with getting through the place."

He did, however, develop a relationship with other than Dr.Delhanty, while at Cornell. He met and is still friends with Tom Smith of Long Island, N.Y. Dr. K had fallen in love with the Gurnays as a kid and Smith at the time, was also.

Smith doesn't have GurnaYS anymore, but Dr. K does.

"I have a side family of Gurnays, which are some of the most original true to type Gurnays you will find. Tom abandoned the Gurnays because basically they didn't fly well, they had lost

their edge."

So why is Dr. K perpetuating the sport? "I read a book when growing up in Dunkirk called Racing to Win by Fred Shaw. That was the story othe Gurays. I was so impressed with the record

and type of these pigeons,that to this day, it still stays with me. It is an abstract book in which you have to read between the lines. It gives you a lot of food for thought."

"One of the great secrets in this sport is imagination. You have to imagine or you have to visualize what certain things will do for your birds. You have to be a little bit different to succeed. You can't follow the beaten path all the time. That book got me thinking in a kind of abstract manner. I would list that book as one of my foundation stones. To this day, I have a nice family of Gurnays, but I just keep them for the pure love of the family"

After beginning his practice, he eventually moved to

West Trenton, started a family with his wife Barbara, and again began racing around 1980. His practice now includes many pigeon flyers. "It wasn't something that I was sure I wanted to get into because pigeonfliers can be very unforgiving and very judgemental, but I've gained more confidence doing it and I'm actually starting to enjoy it a little more."

"When they would bring in birds, they wanted a very simplistic approach. They are always focusing in on one thing causing a problem. What they fail to realize is that success is really a chain. Several things are integrated. It took a great deal of time to go over loft management, feeding and training before I felt comfortable focusing in on only one problem. Now I learn as much from them as they learn from me."

The Birds

"My flying family is the Janssens. They tend to be shooting stars. Janssens can be real spectacular for a while and then be a little inconsistent. In this area, perhaps 25% of the flyers are still flying Huyskens Van Riels, which though not as spectacular, are nevertheless much more consistent. I stick with the Janssens, because you can't have them all. I'm working on making them more consistent."

INSERT PHOTO

Veterinarian Dr. John Kazmierczak standing in front of the Copper Beech Flying Loft Dr. K says lofts should be high and dry and most need more light.

 

His original Janssens were purchased from Mike Ganus of Indiana, in 1984 "and to this day, I have never seen a family of pigeons which struck me with such awe." Ganus had four families of Janssens at the time, and Dr. K says "I never saw such depth and such consistency in type and such good pigeons. A very high percentage of his pigeons have done well for me and for other people who I have sold them to."

"To keep on top, you have to keep testing. You don't want to go

wild and destroy your base family, but you have to continually bring in other birds and test them against your base family, constantly looking for another family that will help you improve further. I am always looking for something to compare them to. Every year I will bring in a dozen youngsters from certain people to fly and let them compete against my own youngsters. I will also bring in some breeders and mate them straight and crossed into my own family."

"Usually I try them straight and they must show me that they are better than my family, not just as good-they must be better. If I find a family that out performs my Janssen base, then I will have a new base. But it is more of an evolution rather than an revolution; the transition from one family to the other will be gradual."

"I've tried Muelemans, Huyskens, Van Elsackers, and Dordins but the Janssens seem to be the best. I have had some success with Janssens crossed on Muelemans, but the Muelemans seem to be more inconsistent in type. You have big ones and small ones, long ones and short ones. I like the Janssens because they are a little more consistent and a little more predictable.

"My Janssens can compete from 100 to 500 miles, and from 1800 to 900 ypm. I think it is a falsehood, when people say that Janssens can't do it in hard weather. I think they can. I don't have short and long distance birds. Everything has to do everything."

Breeding Philosophy

"Racing prowess is a good indicator of breeding prowess," he states, "but not necessarily the best. Statistically, I think you will find that the better flyers make the better breeders. This doesn't always happen; sometimes one brother will be the good flyer and the other the good breeder." Then as if to hedge on that statement, he comments that Mickey Mantle was a great athlete and his brothers were good athletes but none of his children or his nieces or nephews were. "Face it 95% of the

children of professional athletes never become professional athletes."

After its own flying record, Dr. K puts a lot of faith in what a bird's close relatives have done, something known by geneticist as the "near kin index." "I think we put too much emphasis on family history. With Americans, it is more important what's on the label of the wine bottle, than what's in it. Pedigree is lowest on my list of considerations For breeders. I take performance, intuition, and physical appearance more than pedigree. I'm not even sure how accurate pedigrees are, anyway. Once you go past grandparents, pedigrees aren't of much value.

"You have to get a little feeling for the bird, its just intuitive. You just have the intuition that this is a good bird. Some of my best stock birds are birds that I just got this feeling about that this is going to be a good one. Three of four times I've been right."

One thing is for sure, "If a bird is ugly, I don't care how good he is, I don't want him. I've seen as many ugly as good looking ones fly well, so you might as well have something that looks good."

"I don't believe in eyesign very much at all. I'm not even sure If people know what eyesign is because, everybody I talk to about it gives me a different opinion about what it is. I don't think you can judge a bird's homing ability by eyesign at all.

"I do like the eye to have a lot of contrast. I don't like these washed out eyes, that are black and yellow and just don't have any circles in there at all. I do know that when a bird comes into form, one of the circles that people tell me is eyesign seems to be more obvious, that being the circle around the pupil."

With regard to inbreeding or out crossing, this veterinarian says that you will get more success with limited outcrossing than with limited inbreeding. However, this refers to racing performance. Doc will inbreed at the end of the season to hold a particular line, but these youngsters are destined strictly for breeding.

"When I pair, I take all the birds that I intend to breed from, and I just See what looks good with what, kind Of the best match to the best match. After that, I look at the pedigree to see if there are any real inconsistencies or incapabilities. I don't like to go too close."

"I pair on intuition. Breeding is throwing dice. A lot of it is luck. If you start out with a good gene pool, you could just let them go together, and get good pigeons. The art of breeding is not so much putting pairs together, it's in selecting the entire group,that you will be breeding from." His favorite formula for mating is to take an outstanding widowhood cock and mate it to the daughter of an outstanding stock cock."

Dr. Kazmierczak changes his matings every year, regardless of how successful they were. "I'm always looking for something better. I'm often told, 'How can you get better than winners.' My answer is that maybe you can win four races instead of three; maybe you can win 2 Hall of Fames instead of one. Most of the time. I'll admit, I'm unsuccessful and after two, three tries, I go back when the youngsters are getting no better. I tend not to get a lot of inbred pigeons that way."

Before the breeding season his Fifteen pair of breeders are treated for malaria and trichomoniasis. He also gives the birds a ten day treatment with auremycin concentrate in the water to increase hatchability. He ensures that they get plenty of vitamins, especially Vitamin E for fertility. Between rounds they are again treated for trichomoniasis.

"The biggest problem with most people," he says, "is that they let their breeders get too fat in the winter and that gives you problems with laying and hatchability. I believe pigeons should suffer a little in winter - don't feed them too heavy." Doc feeds a lot of good barley in the winter. He also tries to give the breeders an extra week or two of light before mating to get their hormones going.

The breeders are fed a 16% protein mix during their season, to which is added pellets to the proportion of 5 to 10%. This gives the birds some animal protein and riboflavin.

There are few pumpers; every breeding pair is expected to raise their own young from the three rounds he takes.

Health

Following up on a previous comment about his days in Dunkirk,

Dr. K attributes many of today's health problems to the heavy traffic in birds within this country and internationally. "This traffic is more than birds brought in for a Cross; birds are sent in from all over the country for futurities. You have a couple of hundred different strains of salmonella or paratyphoid, and although birds in one area may be resistant to one type in their area, they may not be to another type brought in from another area."

"It is like the same thing when everybody goes to school in the fall. You get in all these people from different areas and everybody gets a cold. That is one of the reasons, but not the only reason pigeons today have more health problems."

Here are some specific health comments:

a) Haemoproteous

"Haemoproteous is also big problem in this area. And I find it in the best lofts, the lofts that guys take pride in and keep Clean. I think more people should check on haemoproteous. I try to prevent it by using a lot of Insectrin dust. I usually dust a couple of times a month. I also use the water soluble form of ivomectin, one teaspoon to a gallon, and will spray my birds every week or two. The birds are caught, the wing is lifted and each is sprayed in the armpit and in the tail base. The dusting and spaying is increased during racing season because the contact with other birds in the crates will increase the fly counts in most lofts."

"Once they have it, then you can treat with atabrine, which I understand you can't get anymore, or chloroquine. The dosage is 500 milligrams to a gallon, once or twice a week, usually towards the end of the week." During the winter months, he may treat for a full month, two tablets to a gallon of water. "I don't know if you can actually cure it, but I talked to Dr. Tudor recently and he thinks you can actually cure malaria by using the atabrine at a dose that is in his book, for ninety days but I don't know. My own experience is that you seem to suppress it more than cure it,"

b) Respiratory problems

"One of the biggest problems Dr. K finds in New jersey lofts is respiratory problems, which he believes is prevalent because of the heat and humidity. "There are several things that can cause respiratory complex and they can all be interrelated. it could be herpes virus; it could be mycoplasmosis; it could be some other bacteria; it could be related to trichomoniasis; it could be related to overcrowding; it could be related to poor ventilation; sometimes a diet too rich in protein can make things worse."

"Probably the best medicine you have is to go into your loft and cut down on half of your pigeons. Overcrowding is a big problem. If a person is in an overcrowded area, he is stressed out and tense. This will lower his resistance and inhibits his ability to overcome some the exposures that his body, unstressed, could overcome."

"Put ten people in one room for one week and see what happens. It starts getting more smelly and congested, you are getting a lot of exhaled gases to be exposed to. You can't rest properly.

"One of the greatest secrets in pigeon flying is to get the pigeons to rest properly. These guys that are In their lofts all day long are sometimes doing their birds more harm than good. Birds can't rest if they are bothered by their owner or there are SO many that they are agitating each other trying to carve out a place for themselves. Such stress causes them to release hormones and other body chemicals that affect their system. Overcrowding keeps them from developing a true love for any particular perch or nesting box."

"With overcrowding you have more contamination of both food and water, and give the micro organisms more meat to eat. Cutting down on the number of the pigeons is probablY worth more than all of the medicines that you can buy."

C) Vaccination

HIS friend Mike Ganus started a pretty significant controversy when he stated that vaccinating for PMV would cause one's young bird season to be caput. Ganus recommended that flyers treat with the LaSota instead. Doc, on Mike's recommendadon, didn't vaccinate, though he had in the past, but used LaSota.

"I'm going back to the vaccine next year. I don't like the number of applications to carry through the LaSota plan and I haven't really seen any difference in performance."

The Lofts

Doc has four lofts. The racing loft, with two sections for young and old birds, is 12x28. The breeding loft is 10x20. There is the small widowhood hen loft. Finally there is the Gurnay loft.

"The biggest loft problems are lack of ventilation and a lack of light. The air should generally enter at the bottom front and exit through the top of the roofin the middle. I notice that a lot of lofts have the slant roofs, and I think you are much better off with the peak roofs with the ridge vents running down the center."

"I also don't like the turbins that people put on their roofs because they work when you don't want them to. For example, when the wind is blowing like hell and you don't need a lot of air in there, they are whirling. And when it's still, they are not moving at all. You would be much better off with a thermostatically controlled fan so when you need it you can move that air."

"I think that grated or wire floors are okay for breeders but I don't like them for flyers because I think it is hard to hold their form since there is likely to be too much temperature variation and too much air going through. I and don't like the feather quality that grating gives. Their tails seem to get frayed."

"I have just had Steve Ripper of Quakertown, Pa. remodel my loft and one of the things that he installed, as per Mike Ganus' suggestion, was a heating system in the floor. This keeps the floor nice and dry and keeps the loft temperature more constant. I also raised my loft further off the ground. People have their lofts too close to the ground. The higher the loft, the drier the loft, and the better off you are. One foot above the ground is not enough. At this height you have varmits under there and you can almost feel the moisture come up through the floor."

Feeding and Medicating

Surely, a veterinarian knows the secrets of feeding and medication, right? There must be formulates?

Dr. K says, "How much to feed is an art; you just have to get a feel for it. I think it is erroneous to measure feed. We all tend to overfeed. As a rule of thumb you feed until they start loosing interest. When a few birds start becoming selective about their grains, then you start backing off a bit. It is amazing how little food pigeons can get along with. They need a lot less than we think, as long as it is good grain. And as a rule. I feed as much in the morning as I do in the evening."

"Pigeons don't really need much protein after a race because a conditioned pigeon is not really tearing down muscle unless they have used up their glycogen (fuel in muscles) reserves on these real long hard fifteen hour races. A fourteen per cent protein is as high as you should feed in your heavy mixture for racing."

He analogizes the goal of feeding to that of blowing up a balloon: "I look at form as a balloon. When they comeback from a race, that balloon is flat. You want to gently inflate it, and every day of that week you're pumping up the balloon by the feed. By the end of the week, you hope that the balloon is so taught that it is going to explode."

"I think that barley is such a good food, because it is high in everything but protein and perhaps Vitamin A. If you give it to your birds early in the week, it will keep their form lower but still give them a lot of the nutritional needs without hurting them. Barley, I think, is the best grain of all for pigeons. I will actually send out to Montana to get my barley, because I think the birds do so well on it. Acceptable barley quality is a two row plump used for malting, not the six row. I like safflower also but it is higher in fat and higher in protein.

Then toward the end of the week you are packing them with the fats and the heavier carbohydrates like corn and peanuts to get a nice ballooning effect."

Here is his daily regime during racing season:

Sunday - "When the birds return from a race they are locked in. They are feed a light feed, which is defined as a feed high in carbohydrates and low in protein. This definition goes hand in hand with the one that says a light feed is made up of smaller

grains that are more easily digestible. It is much easier to digest a piece of bread than a piece of meat. If you are giving peas, you are giving meat. By staying away from the peas, you are giving the birds system a chance to rest rather than working on breaking down the harder protein grains. This light feed is usually high in barley, as much as fifty per cent, twenty wheat, twenty per cent Kaffir or milo and ten per cent safflower."

"I sprinkle the light feed with Brewer's yeast and lemon juice. Brewer's yeast because it is an easily assimilated source of amino adds, which are building blocks for protein, has a lot of trace elements and has a lot of B vitamins in it. It seems to give them a nice nourishing meal that is easily digested."

"The lemon juice that is used to be the 'bonding agent' for the Brewer's yeast and because it is high in vitamin C. It may also have some antimicrobial properties, and does have some sugars in it. It seems to be a quick pick me up and a little bit of a purifier. It is never from a bottle, it is freshly squeezed. I squeeze the lemons in a blender and get the lemon juice out and then add the Brewer's yeast in that until it gets to the consistency of a thin milkshake, and then put that on the grains and let it sit over night, giving it to the birds the next day."

"They receive a tea in the water. Teas are very under-rated. I don't know what is in these teas, but I know one thing, it makes the birds feel better. Cleansing is a nebulous subject. Nobody is able to define what it is to me. Does that mean lower your blood urea nitrogen; does that mean lower your creatinine (waste products the kidney eliminates); does that mean your are excreting metabolic waste? Nobody has really told me what it is. I think it is a term invented by pigeon flyers to confuse everybody."

"Nobody tells you what is in teas, but I give them and even run some tests, and what I do know is that teas seem to help. They seem to make the droppings look a little bit better.

They seem to make the birds'feathers look a little bit better. Their flesh looks better. It makes blue flesh youngsters pinken up. It probably makes me feel better and think that I'm doing something. I also admit, that I'm a great imitator of the Belgians and they use a lot of teas. I've never met one, but I've read a lot about their methods and talked to people who do know them and they must know what they are doing because,they wouldn't be as successful, if they weren't."

Dr. K stays away from the yery small seeds at the beginning of the week. "When you feed them the lighter feed, you can control their moods. Barley, for example, is a very comforting food. The smaller seeds, such as the rape and hemp are exciting seeds. You can tone the mood of the pigeons down and conserve their energy and their strength; but as soon as you start giving these agitating foods, they start getting active and change their whole disposition. One of the great secrets of success is to keep these birds calm at least in the early part and during the week as much as possible. They don't need to be running around like maniacs in the coup, they need to be resting, and not excited until just before shipping, just like that taught balloon."

Monday - "They will get light feed again,with the Brewer's yeast and lemon juice. This is the day that I will treat for something, though the treatment may also extend into Tuesday. My own mixture is Sulmet for cocddoisis, an ounce to a gallon, Gallimycin for respiratory, two teaspoons to a gallon, Ridzol for trichomoniasis or canker, one teaspoon to a gallon, and I use a low dose of vitamins. These are all mixed together and given every week. I may change the type of medication, because these bugs get smart, so I change things every once in a while."

"I will usually halve the dose recommend for the vitamins. This is because of recent research, that low levels of vitamins may enhance glucose uptake in the muscles, not high levels of vitamins, but low levels. I don't give electrolytes. If I would give them, it would be in the beginning of the week, not when they are shipped. I think that they tend to screw up the fine tuning of the metabolism. Electrolytes are salts and you may retain more fluid then you want. You may screw up some enzymatic pathways, so I wouldn't do it. I would say the only time that I would do it, is after a very hard race when the birds come, wiped out and then I might give electrolytes With dextrose."

Tuesday - "They get light food in the morning and at night. I will give half light and half heavy food. A heavy food mixture may be 40% corn, 15% wheat, 15% white milo or kaffir, 10% safflower, and the rest maple peas."

Wednesday - "The feed mixtures are just as I described for Tuesday. I, on occasion, also give them Lugol'S, an iodine solution that you can get in the drug store, a table-

spoon to the gallon, especially if their throats are slimy or mucousy. It is an oxidizing agent, and basically it is a germ killer. It has a broad spectrum and you are just napalming all of kinds of bacteria."

Thursday - "I'll give them tea With garlic, one clove to a quart. Garlic is a good thing for pigeons. Why, I'm not absolutely sure. When,I give my pigeons garlic, I go into the loft the next morning. They have so much down drops the next morning, that its sticking to their eyeballs. It looks like a snowstorm in there. I use the garlic right with the teas. With the garlic, it is better to put a clove of garlic in a quart of water that has been boiled and is cooling down and let it sit overnight. I think if you boil the garlic, you may inactivate some of the active ingredients in it. I usually give garlic twice a week and use as fresh a garlic as I can find."

"In the morning they get half heavy, half light feed again, but at night they get heavy."

Friday -"The birds again get half

heavy half light in the morning, and in the evening, 60% heavy and 20% safflower for fat and energy, 5% treat-the small seeds for some easily digested fats and energy and some mild excitement. They get some hemp for lots of energy and white kaffir or milo for carbohydrates and energy added in. You are carbohydrate and fat loading. Fats are a little better than carbohydrates in producing the fuel for racing.

Depending on my malaria checks, the water has chloroquine for malaria or Lugol's. You can also substitute the Van Hee 1500 for the Lugol 's."

Saturday - "This is the day of shipping for us, and I may occasionally give them columbine nasal drops when I'm shipping them, one drop in each nostril."

"The birds do not get out because I want them to balloon up. I try to feed them grains that are easily digested, and I don't feed them right away. I let them work up a little bit of an appetite.I would likely feed them at ten o'clock in the morning. I'll feed them a lot of safflower, throw in some kaffir or milo, maybe a little treat and perhaps a little bit of the heavy feed just to see if they are hungry for the corn."

"The mixture doesn't change based on the race distance, but maybe the time of feeding may. I try to feed them no later than one or two in the afternoon. I think one of the biggest things that people do wrong is that they send their pigeons with crops packed full of feed. I don't think they digest their food well in the crate. This is perhaps evidenced by all of the food that they have vomited in the race crates, that we find when we clean them out. If you don't have them glycogen loaded by that time, you are only making them worse by sending them full of food. You are going to have them dehydrated, and thirsty."

"When my widowhood cocks are sent you can barely feel anything in their crops. I don't even feel they should be packed on a two day race. What they should be is glycogen loaded for shipping; their muscles should be swollen and firm. By the time of shipping you shouldn't be loading the cannon, the cannon should already have been loaded."

"I fall in and out of love with peanuts. Right now, I'm mad at them.I find that sometimes they do seem to help. I'm mad at them because they seem to get rancid too fast, so you have to keep them in the refrigerator. If I gave them,I wouldn't overload them, because I think that just as peas, they are hard to digest. They are big heavy grains heavy in both fat and protein. I have opened up the crop of a bird that has eaten peanuts and they just sit there; they don't digest as quickly as the smaller grains."

The birds get plain clear water on the day of shipping."

The Bath

"The bath is important to pigeons. It gives them a sense of euphoria and a sense of well being. I give them the bath option twice a week, usually the day following the race. I've even given a bath one the day of shipping but more commonly the day before. It really seems to bring on their form. The bath may cause their bodies to release some hormones, but it does get them to use their oil gland in the tail and by preening, they are spreading the oil and thus reducing the frictional component on their feathers. It helps them get rid of their down. Again it is one more link in the chain of success. There are a thousand links in the chain of success, and the more things you can do to create the links, the better your chances of success."

"The practice of dipping birds returning from a race in water as hot as you can stand it is an excellent idea. I do it For my widowhood cocks all the time. I use a five gallon container with nothing added to the water and I submerge the birds with just their heads above the water, and massage their muscles and feathers for a minute or two. Each week my widowhood cocks became more tame when I did this and eventually, a couple of cocks would perch on the rim of the container waiting for their turn. This encourages the cocks to rest as much as possible and this has a calming effect on them."

Widowhood

Dr. Kazmierczak flies the classic cock only widowhood system. If you want his formula, read Mark Gordon's book, Widowhood Flying, "It is the best book there ever was."

The reasons he flies widowhood are:

1) It is easier

2) It is more predictable

3) The birds are consistently made available

4) More birds are in form more often

5) You can evaluate your pigeons better

"Pigeons like routine and widowhood is pure routine, for both the pigeon and the flyer himself, this veterinarian states: "You really get to know your pigeons under the system. You know them all.You know their personalities. One's a sneak one's a bully, one's a cheat, one's wild, another tame; you'll know them."

His widowhood team consist of 24 cocks, of which, over the course of a season, he might have five to seven fall by the wayside. Another five to seven will be eliminated at the end of the season due to poor performance. That is poor consistent performance. He will usually eliminate all but about the ten best and bring in 14 yearlings.

"I think the widowhood system which I fly, is easier for the birds. The birds are always in form or at least 75% of the time and they are not really being stressed too much. All they are doing is resting and racing and seeing their loved ones on weekends. As long as the weather conditions aren't too bad, I think by and large the birds have it easier. This is because they are sent to the races a little more often, but in better condition. They become more roadwise, because of the constant flying, and better condition. The cocks are sent almost every week and will normally fly at least 7 out of the 10 weeks. If they don't go to a race, they get a 100 mile toss."

"A lot of people have problems because they keep these shooting stars. I would rather have a bird with 5 seconds than one with one first, because what you want is consistency. I try to eliminate the occasional winner. My time is so valuable to me, with the practice and the family, that I can't waste time sitting out there waiting for birds that come home well once in a while. They must come home on a reasonablY consistent basis and they have to be so predictable that if somebody else gets a pigeon, I'm going to get one too. Last year, I killed three combine winners that beat 350 lofts in the CJC. They only did it once or only had three diplomas. If they are not consistent, they're eliminated."

"The cocks are fed in their nestboxes. This is to increase the love of the box. I think sex is a minor motivator for cocks; the major motivation for them is territory." He says that at the end of the race day, it seems like the cocks sometimes want their hens out of there, so they can have their nestbox all to themselves again.

The hens are shown before shipping for the first four or five races then he just shows the nest bowl for the remaining races. During the week the nest bowl is completely out of the section. Five to ten minutes before shipping the bowl in placed in the box. When the cocks return, they will find their hen waiting. He will leave the hen as long as the cock shows interest. "As a rule that is usually two hours."

The hens are kept in their own pen, and during the day, they are locked in the aviary to keep them from mating. If they get too matey, they are locked out there all night. In addition, the hens are fed a light feed until the day before and the day of shipping when they get the heavy diet.

 

Young Bird Flying

Although he does not consider himself a hot shot youngbird flyer, he believes that the American system of flying youngbirds is antiquated. "A modern system would control the moult with light, and separating the cocks and hens until the night before shipping, to give a motivation factor which we don't usually have the way we fly them."

"I think one thing people do, is train youngbirds too much, too often, too hard, too late. I think they should start young birds out a little slower. I think when you take youngsters during the race season fifty or sixty miles everyday, you are leaving your races down the road. I think they should be trained four weeks before the first race. And I am not that crazy about routing like other people are. A little bit is okay but I sometimes think that the birds dissipate themselves too much by routing."

"For a First toss, I will go about three miles and I only train in good weather. I think a lot of youngbird losses are because people are too impatient and they too often modify their own training schedule because of what they heard other flyers are doing to catch up with them. I take them out gradually, once a day, at 6 miles, then 9 miles. then 15 miles at which time I would break them up in groups of ten, until I hit the forty or fifty mile stage and then I keep them there."

"I train on line of flight, but I don't think landmarks are that important. I train on the line of flight because I want their orientation compass to be set in a certain direction. I just want them to think 'west'. I try to do as many things as possible, the same as race conditions. Some of the best flyers I know go so far as to use race crates as their training carts. If you can, take them along the same course, release them at the same time, so they know where the sun is at that time of the day. The more experience they have the better they will be."

"I would single toss if I had the time, but I usually have a 100 youngsters and that becomes a problem. I think single tossing is a great thing. I think it can only do good things for them. It makes them think and gives them a sense of independence and gives them confidence. I don't think it teaches them to break, but I think that it gives him a little more confidence to find a more direct route home. It makes them independent thinkers."

"I think they would be better off having a curve. The day of the race, Sunday for us, they have rest. On Monday, they are loft flown. On Tuesday, dependent on what the race

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was like, they may go on a twenty or thirty mile toss or fly around the loft. On Wednesday they go a little further, maybe an hour's time. On Thursday, maybe an hour and a half - that's your big day. Then on Friday, back down to an hours flying time and a bath. On Saturday, the day of shipping, they stay in and rest. On the days that they have a workout, it is the only workout they get that day and the rest of the time they rest."

At the end of the season, he will keep a young cock that has "shown me something, but that doesn't mean he has to have won a race, but he has to be consistent. He has to have the physique to stand up to the pounding-a good strong back, I like them a little above average in size, a lot of balance, a good pedigree, has to have the character for the team, meaning he has to protect that perch and kick butt if anyone else tries to get him out of it. It has to show intelligence and calmness at the same time. It has to be predicable in results and behavior. It better not come home and sit in a tree. Hens are selected on the same criteria except that they have to show a little bit more than the cocks when it comes to race performances.

"There is more of an interest in youngbirds, these days. There are a couple of reasons. One is the money. Another is that everyone is sort of on an equal Footing. In old birds, the

older established teams have the advantage. But a lot of the fading interest in old bird races is socio-economic changes. People are just not in love with sitting in the backyard all day looking at the sky like they used to. To me one of the biggest thrills is in fact sitting in the backyard, having some food, getting away from everything and waiting for those pigeons.

A lot of people think three or four hours is enough. They don't feel like sitting there all day and then waiting the next morning for pigeons. They have other things to do. There are more competing forms of entertainment. When I grew up in the 50's and 60's, a big time for me was walking all over Dunkirk and visiting pigeon flyers and looking at pigeons. Now kids have cars and go to New York or Philadelphia, they can go everywhere. They don't want to sit at home and wait for pigeons. Youngbirds gives you that quick easy option." Still, he prefers old bird racing.

Shipping Limits

"I don't like limits of any kind. In the CJC, we don't have clocking limits but we do have shipping limits. We need competition, we need performance evaluation, we need pigeons in the races. Many times we send the CJC tractor trailer with 18 wheels, that can hold 10,000 pigeons and they have only 3000 pigeons on there. I think we should let people ship a lot more pigeons than we do and make it a lot more fun."

Problems With the Sport

"Cost and time are the biggest detriments to the sport. There are too many competing forms of entertainment, as I said. But we do need to publicize the sport more to compete with other forms of entertainment and we need to treat new members with kindness instead of fear."

"Another problem is that people that hold positions, even if they fail, shouldn't be chastised-at least they are doing something. A lot of the criticizers are these people who sit on the sidelines and just stir up agitation but don't get out front and try to do these jobs."

"We have to get away from those who say, 'Why should we do this, in another five years, I'm going to be gone.' We have to look farther than our own noses or there won't be much left for the rest of us who will be around more than five years. We have a lack of adjustment to change and it is hampering the development of the sport. We need to try new ideas. A lot of these new ideas aren't going to work, but we should try to keep the sport from stagnating."

Conclusion

We are indeed Fortunate to have veterinarians in our sport. It is a shame that if they win, they have to take grief for being a vet, in addition to the all time standards such as overfly, wind, short man, etc. And to all you guyS who have pigeon veterinarians in easy access, hey, lighten up. You at least have someone to go to with health problems. Remember, they are more than just vets, they're pigeon fliers and friends too.