The breeding base

Jos Thoné is a multidimensional pigeon player. He plays within the most different categories, with males and females, from 100 until 1000 km. You have to consider that different types of pigeons are needed for the different categories, for short, medium, long distances as well as for the extreme long distance.

Certainly, you won’t find a pigeon who flies the 100 as well as the 1000 km.

Jos’ pigeons can be classified into two main lineages.

On the one hand you find the short and medium distance pigeons who – it’s a proved fact - can adapt quite well to the German programme and on the other hand there are the pigeons for the long and the extreme long distance. It has to be mentioned that long distance pigeons definitely represent a minority in Jos’ lofts, concerning breeding as well as racing. Otherwise, Jos wouldn’t be able to cover the whole, broad racing range of 100 to 1000 km with his team.

In his masterpiece "Großmeister enthüllen", Victor Vansalen described Jos Thoné’s lineages in detail. That's why I'd like to quote him now: "Jos knocked at Leo Geris' door because of pigeons for the medium distance.

There, he got twow sisters of his popular "Zwarte". Twice, this bird has been national Ace Pigeon for the medium distance as well as Olympia Pigeon.

His lineage traces back to the Frans Stoces' kind from Winterslag. Jos paired two sisters of the "Zwarte" with the "Superman", a pure bred Janssen of De Baaker. It's quite a lot what Jos owes to his "Superman". He became the basic pigeon for medium distances.

Several other important pigeons came from Pierke Dreesen from Houthalen, from Pros Roosen and Ris Ceusters.

The last mentioned brought the Grondelaers' blood into Jos Thoné's lineage." From all these pigeons, Jos formed his lineage for medium distances. It doesn't have to be mentioned that there have been other pigeons who were added over the years: Jos is always in search of reinforcements, or rather of improvements.

You can take the details from the various pedigrees shown in this book later.

Apropos pedigrees: As a pigeon breeder it is your special task to deal intensely with the lineages of famous breeding aces, of national winners and Ace Pigeons.

Then, it becomes clearly apparent from which lineages the really successful pigeons derive and what outstanding descendants have been bred in their collateral lines.

You really have to analyse such a pedigree. Then you'll make out certain breeding lines and come to conclusions for your own breeding. Just think about how many intensely praised pigeon breeders disappeared from the scene very quickly. To gain a national victory or to set an Ace Pigeon once that doesn't always mean that the successful pigeon fancier really has got the ability to breed. Therefore, you have to look upon the so called nine days' wonders with the utmost caution.

Not every new star on the pigeon sky keeps what a lot of sports fans do expect of him in heir euphoria.

At Jos Thoné's, everything is different. He became a loft manager at the lofts of his father-in-law. There he has been quite successful, he knew all the pigeons and, of course, their breeding potential as well. The analyses turned out to be quite easy for him. Jos knew

exactly, what pigeons, or rather what lineages he had to take from his father-in-law into his new lofts in the Kruisstraat. Concerning his base for long distance pigeons, he gave his opinion once: "For the long distance, I tapped completely different sources. The "Diego Armando Barcelona" (B 83-5060602) was my favourite pigeon at Peeters'. Between 1985 and 1988, he was maybe the best Barcelona-racer. From Peeters, I bought "Diego rmando's" brother, and I also seized his parents and placed them into my breeding base.

They became bull's-eyes." "Diego Armando's" father wears the ring with the number B 82-5248481. Up to 75%, he derives from pigeons of the brothers Kuypers, from Neer in the Netherlands. Within his lineage, you'll find the best pigeons the brothers Kuypers ever had. "Diego Armando's" mother, the B 82- 5248386, derives from the Dutch long distance nobility as well. Within her lineage, you'll find pigeons from Van-der-Wegen, of melidious names like "Oud Doffertje", "Lamme" and "De Barcelona".

What was it that Jos told us nicely: "They became bull's eyes". Within the pedigrees of the ong distanceaces Jos' opinion can be recognised as confirmed.

 National winners, the good family, ahead-racers, Ace Pigeons as well as pigeons who  achieved something outstanding for the breeding and can be counted to the total aces because of their successful descendants:

That's where you have to breed from and form a lineage of by yourself. But, stop, in reality, it isn't that easy. It's too bad. Especially the pigeons mentioned above are as rare as white ravens. Quite often, it's an overdominant bequeather who sets, or rather set the foundation for a whole lineage.

But there's still one fact we mustn't forget: It's not only the males who play an important role within bequeathing. In reality, most of the pigeon breeders set greater store by their males, especially when they play the system of widowership. It's the hens for whom they don't care too much within their system.

Actually, they mainly serve as a reception committee for the widowers. Their breeding value isn't thought about. Moreover, many juvenile pigeons aren't raised within their widower family. That's why only little information exists about their true value, or rather their breeding value.A totally different scene is shown in the lofts of breeders who play the system of total widowership.

Normally, the hens play a completely different role here. Much more attention is dedicated to them.

Because in this case quite often it happens that the females show the outstanding erformances normally only expected from the males. Suddenly, the breeder recognises the true value of his females. Now, they are paired in a completely different way. After some successful years of racing, they quickly get a seat in the breeding base. Normally, at that time, the problematical question of fertility is already current: A female is able to breed for how long? A female can lay eggs for how long? Here, we meet several limits set by our nature. The males are more suited for a long-lived breeding, that's for sure. And that's why they naturally form the majority within the overdominant bequeathers.

Maybe it's time now to mention some names of the past. For example, I think of the old "Klaren" of Desmet-Matthijs, of the "Schilderij" of Gommaire Verbruggen, of the "Kleinen" and the "Wittenbuik" of Gaby Vandenabeele and as well of the "231" of Engels & Sons. Surely, there's still a series of other pigeons worth to be classified into this category. Maybe, they didn't became as popular because, understandably, it takes years for a breeding ace to be recognised as an overdominant bequeather.

Racing pigeons and their special qualities can be recognised much earlier. But to make out breeding aces, overdominant bequeathers, takes much more time. What you need to have therefore is only one thing: Patience, sometimes a lot of patience. Only the one who is patient, who can breed, will be successful in the long run. It's the overdominant bequeather, the real breeding pigeon, who helps us shortening this period of time.

Within the dreams of every pigeon breeder, the leading role is played by the overdominant bequeather. It has been a pigeon like the "Kleine Dirk" of Gerard Koopman, the already mentioned "Wittenbuik" of Gaby Vandenabeele or the "231" of Engels & Sons - just to mention some of them - who made their breeders famous all over the world. They formatively influenced the whole descendants. Many breeders became successful because of the descendants of those pigeons. Such pigeons' quality has to be kept and  strengthened, that means it has to be anchored within one's own lineage.

This can only be managed by a calculated lineage breeding. For Jos Thoné it's a matter of course to strengthen valuable genetic material. With a lot of expertise, he interweaved his very best breeding pigeons like the "Superman"- he was 1st Ace Pigeon for the medium distance in 1986- for the medium distance and "Diego Armando Barcelona" and "Poco" for the long distance into his lineage. His racing success still confirms in a very impressive way that he chose the right way. In a restful moment, have a look at the pedigrees of Jos Thoné's very best pigeons and follow his breeding ideas. Excuse me, what's the title of that book? Right: "The idea of Jos Thoné". After reading the following chapter think as well about the possibilities of artificial insemination. However, therefore you need outstanding pigeons as a foundation. Like in the loftsof Jos Thoné.

Artificial insemination

Artificial insemination for pigeons represents a subject which mostly couldn't be understood within the world of the sport of pigeon racing so far. Within the stockbreeding, for bigger animals like pigs, for horses as well as for cows, artificial insemination is an accepted instrument to get a reasonable number of descendants from outstanding bequeathers for a long time. Tell me a pigeon breeder who didn't hear something about inseminating technicians, at least once. In the vernacular, they are called "backpack-bulls" as well. It's their task to inseminate pigs, cows or horses artificially. Like this, time and expensive trips with the animals are saved for the farmers, or generally expressed, the breeders.

Artificial insemination, what kind of sense does it make for the sport of pigeon racing then? The calculation is quite easy: We just have to think a little bit about the regular breeding process. We don't want to mention the so called stud breeding which sometimes produces big problems because not everymale is suited therefore. I know excellently bequeathing males who can only be paired with one, at most two females within one breeding period. How many children can I get from this bird now? We assume the regular breeding succession. How many juvenile pigeons does the top level bequeather supply us? Let us be honest:

Maybe eight to ten. Surely not more. Within a period of four or five years, you'll get at most 40 to 50 youngsters, spread over quite a long period. What kind of possibilities do remain for the breeder? Concerning the total number of bred pigeons there are - in plain language - comparatively few pigeons who can be tested.

However, the fact is that comparatively few outstanding pigeons are left, also from an outstanding bequeather. As a consequence, you have to wait several years until another excellent pigeon raises again. With the help of artificial insemination, this period can be shortened quite well so that, maybe every year, one crack is born.

Jos Thoné quite famous for his open-mindedness towards news made up the possibilities offered by artificial insemination from the beginning and he took the risk with his "Sars". With a look at the greatness of this bird, he'll maybe raise quite a few cracks more. Of course, I don't want to fix an exact number. In several years, when the descendants of the "Sars" are grown up, we'll know if Jos' hopes have been fulfilled.

Actually, the following question hasn't been answered yet: How do I have to operate in the case of artificial insemination? Obviously, sperm is taken from the male, in this special case the "Sars" and, afterwards, several females are inseminated. First of all, it's a question of organisation. You have to dispose of a suited number of couples, the males of whom have to be sterilized. Of course, these males' mates have to represent excellent females. The concerning couples are paired and some time around the sixth, or rather eighth day after pairing you'll have to visit a veterinarian so that he performs the artificial insemination with the top level bird's sperm. It's quite a simple system if you have enough space and couples of nurses.

However, one point deserves special importance: The male whose sperm is taken has to be of extraordinary quality. Otherwise, you'll breed a sort full of inferior pigeons and you'll obtain the opposite of the originally wanted. On the other hand: If you really have a crack, like Jos Thoné's "Sars", that's really a fantastic solution. Besides, it's of course very important to have a veterinarian nearby who knows this business. And that's what I have to admit: There are still very few authorities on this field.

There's still one point left to be recognised within this business: The following breeding line. By using an outstanding male as sperm donor for the artificial inseminations you'll get a lot of half-siblings with whom the breeding has to be carried on at any time.

Aren't we after all confronted with one-sidedness from artificial insemination? Do we have to do without the possibility of breeding in different versions? I just want to tell you that, concerning the breeding, you're always in danger to face death, more or less. In several years, we'll get to know the experiences of Jos Thoné within this field. I'm sure he'll quickly have theright solution, also for that kind of problem. Jos is always some steps ahead of many breeders, concerning the thinking and especially the acting.

Breeding by artificial insemination still raises a lot of questions. Certainty can succeed not until the artificial bred pigeons stand the racing test.

Maybe you should also think about the time when there's no sperm left from the breeding crack. Then you'll have to be in search of a breeding male of a class of its own again.

By the way, the sperm produced by the breeding ace can be frozen, too. That’s how a sperm bank is generated.

Choosing this method, the sperm's quality, quantity and viability is inspected at first. At a temperature of -196°Celsius, the sperm - only if it is suitable - is frozen in fluid nitrogen then. In this way, the sperm  of top level bequeathers can be preserved for years.

Concerning artificial insemination, Jos Thoné does have absolute confidence in the veterinarian Ferdi Vandersanden who works in Strodorp 41 in Belgian Lanaken under the company name BIFS.