1st M.N.F.C. Nat 5,103 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 7,791 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 17,366 birds
1st N.F.C. Nat 10,148 birds
1st B.I.C.C. Nat 3,461 birds
1st M.N.F.C Nat 4,154 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 4,753 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 14,701 birds
1st N.I.P.A. 12,229 birds
1st N.I.P.A. 5,243 birds
1st N.F.C. Nat 7,000 birds
1st N.F.C. Nat 5,977 birds
1st N.F.C. Nat 8,535 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 10,143 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 12,921 birds
1st N.I.P.A. 24,000 birds
1st N.I.P.A. 16,200 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 4,756 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 4,716 birds
1st F.C.I. Int: Nat 6,940 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 4,080 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 10,601 birds
1st M.N.F.C. Nat 8,406 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 7,312 birds
1st B.I.C.C. Nat 6,590 birds
1st U.N.C. Nat 5,434 birds
1st S.N.F.C. Nat 4,472 birds
1st B.I.C.C. Nat 4,315 birds
1st S.N.F.C. Nat 4,767 birds

Inbreeding & Line breeding

Mark Evans of Myrtle Lofts

Success in racing and breeding is down to good judgment when first purchasing new stock then after a length of time, ensuring that you, by the selection of the basket finish up with only the very cream of your new family.
National results bred down
from Myrtle Lofts Jester & Carrie

Show what you can achieve by in-breeding
1st National North East Section 1,652 birds Picauville.
1st Open M.N.F.C. National Picauville 4,154 birds.
1st National North East Section Yearlings.
2nd National North East Section Yearlings.
1st Open M.N.F.C. National Yearlings Picauville.
2nd Open M.N.F.C. National Yearlings Picauville.
1st National North East Section Old Birds Picauville.
2nd National North East Section Old Birds Picauville.
453 members sent 4,386 birds.
5th Open I.N.F.C. National.
3rd Open M.N.F.C. National Old Birds Picauville .
1,235 members sent 9,880 birds.
4th Open M.N.F.C. National Old Birds Picauville .
1,235 members sent 9,880 birds.
5th National North East Section Bergerac.
8th Open M.N.F.C. National Bergerac 2016 birds. (566 miles )
8th Open E.D.C. Mullingar 7,000 birds.
10th Open E.D.C. Mullingar 7,000 birds.
3rd National North East Section. Le Ferte Bernard 2939 Birds.
10th Open M.N.F.C. National Le Ferte Bernard 7,194 birds.
11th Open N.I.P.A. Rosscarberry National 9,142 birds.
13th Open E.D.C. Derby.
14th National North East Section 1,652 birds.
14th Open M.N.F.C. National Picauville 4,154 birds.
1st Section, 1st Open Northern Classic Fougeres.
2nd Section, 2nd Open Northern Classic Picauville.
1st Section N.I.P.A. 4,358 birds.
20th Open N.I.P.A. 31,619 birds.
1st Open M.N.F.C. National Car Winner.
Plus endless more prizes in the top one hundred.
Once you are in the position you then must persevere the winning lines by the ability of in-breeding and out-breeding at the right times, this is what makes it possible to successfully continue to breed generation after generation of winners year after year. To in-breed, line-breed and out-breed it is very important to understand genetics as it is the number one key to going to the top and more important is then staying there for many years to come. I advise anyone to be very careful when first purchasing new stock, fancy advertising can sell pigeons that are not half as good as they look on paper and again ask yourself if all these Dutch and Belgian fanciers who keep bring teams of pigeons to England, if they are as good as their adverts make them look, why do they have travel all the way from Europe to sell their birds. It,s a well known fact in Belgium and Holland that fanciers consider Great Britain, as a dumping ground. Top European fanciers have commented to me on several occasions many fanciers will turn to selling in England only because there is no market for their birds in Europe. Auctioneers are in fact often shrewd craftsmen, who know how to play on the innocence of their public. Believe it or not if you put their grandmothers in the basket they would sell her as a future Miss U.K.!

Also don,t make the mistake that is often made by some pigeon men. The first thing some fanciers go looking for is secret potions, they do this rather than admit that they have lower quality birds or a poor loft. There are no miracle potions, looking for them is a waste of time. It is simple; one finds first prize winners in the pedigrees of first prize winners. To achieve the very best performances you require top quality stock. The breeding of top quality racing pigeons is a must to being successful. A top fancier can make average pigeons perform better than others, but when handed good pigeons he will murder you in competition! To be successful in racing, the breeding of pigeons should always be at the back of your mind at all times not only in the racing season but all year round. You should also be thinking about things like possible birds to cull in your team, or why a certain pigeon is so good.
The breeding boxes inside Myrtle Lofts all made by Bernhard Hermes from Germany. All fitted with coloured fronts & automatic cleaning.
All these types of thoughts will help you become a better fancier and help you produce a top quality breeding loft, but don,t be fooled good looking pigeons with long pedigrees don,t always mean a lot. In the old days the beauty queens were selected and elected purely on their external (admittedly not unattractive) merits, the results were unfortunately that these lovely long legged creatures were often as thick as two planks, racing pigeons are no different. Champion pigeons come in all shapes and sizes, the basket and result sheets are the real judges in who owns the golden breeding pairs. There is no better selector of pigeons than the basket, and every fancier should tell you this. The most valuable birds in your loft are the good breeders. Once a bird shows promise as a breeder you should not risk it in any races. The bird may continue to win, but you may lose it and it is more valuable as a breeder of future racers. You sometimes hear fanciers saying "everything in my loft must race." The smart fanciers don't race their good breeders.

Any new stock which is introduced to Myrtle Lofts will only be purchased from a proven racing loft with winning success not only for themselves but also has like my father and I a successful record for producing winners for other fanciers. All new pigeons purchased must carry a full pedigree with top winners or breeders no more than two generations away. Many fanciers do say the pedigree is of no importance, they could not be any further from the truth.
Four Youngsters at 24 days old bred by Myrtle Lofts
Honest pedigrees can give you valuable information about the background of a family of birds. The pedigree teaches you how to keep a successful winning line going over a period of several generations by using combination of broad based line-breeding, but please remember inbreeding and line-breeding should only be practiced with world-class pigeons. Then at the right time careful out-crossing is always an integral part (in the long range view) of any successful inbreeding loft. Never start in-breeding with anything but the very best stock. Do not expect to take mediocre birds and improve their quality by using this system. In-breeding quickly shows up all the good qualities, by allowing the best association of genes, but it also shows up the faults. You cannot be successful with in-breeding without good records. An essential feature of a good breeding system is adequate record keeping. I keep extensive records and it is very time consuming, but without good records you have to rely on your memory. If your memory is like mine then you are in trouble.
"I consider myself a good pigeon fancier and an excellent stock man. By selecting, purchasing and continuously producing excellent stock and first class performance pigeons, not only for Myrtle Lofts, but proven by hundreds of letters, testimonials and telephone calls, a very high standard of pigeon is also widely distributed to many fanciers who purchase from us, many whom continue to return year after year. Our bloodlines have won 11 x 1st Open National winners in the last six years. I do believe there is no other loft in the country could claim this same statement. But to give credit where credit is due, who can have the best pigeons in the world but without good management you will not win anything. All credit must go to my father. His ambition, sheer hard work and dedication, his wise knowledge of the racing pigeon and the racing game, has made Myrtle Lofts, on many occasions, winners of that red card, week-in and week-out, and has consistently done so for over 30 years. Thanks dad for supporting me in the pigeon sport and teaching me everything you know".
Mark Evans
All new stock purchased by ourselves is firstly added to our experiment lofts where each bird is paired to at least three different mates and where all youngsters from these pairing are judged on performance and intelligence. It is then and only then the decision is made to either add the pigeon into our main breeding loft or cull the bird with disappointment. An example of the way we work is when we purchased 54 bred direct by Gaby Vandenabeele, as soon as this new family was introduced from the beginning we knew we had the task of selecting the best. Believe me as outstanding as Gaby Vandenabeele is a top stock man breeding outstanding pigeons worldwide, it would be totally impossible for him to breed Myrtle Lofts 54 champion breeders.

In 1998 not surprisingly 12 pigeons were destroyed as they did not make the standard for our breeding lofts, but we were pleased to say the remaining 42 where responsible for breeding outright 1st prize winners in Club, Fed., Amal, Classic and National races beating up to and over 30,000 birds.
But our next stage was to re-assess the remaining 42 because we believe our breeding standards are higher than most. All our stock birds must be capable of breeding pigeons with the ability to win Classic and National races. I am now pleased to say from the year 2001 onwards our breeding lofts contain only 22 from the start of the 54. This lengthy elimination process has left ourselves with 22 top breeder which are the cream of this family. By selecting and working this way the top breeders reward you with far more value than the small percentage of birds you must cull. I do wish all fanciers would work this same way, I myself am very disappointed with a small percentage of our own customers who purchase several pairs of youngsters from us to enhance their own breeding lofts. What they do after two to three years of breeding from them is select the very best, then re-advertise the one third which has not produced the best lines. We will not sell a bird that we would not keep for ourselves and I don,t mind admitting I am deeply offended when our customers don,t do the same thing, as this only damages our good name.
To earn our good name I have spent all my life continuing to study the genetics and understanding the X Chromosome Theory of master breeding for example, any superior breeder cock who throws good racing hens and cocks out consistently in every nest has to have 2 brilliant X Chromosomes in his genes. Now, I myself place greater value in the hens from superior breeding cocks simply because of this reason- all cocks pass 1 X Chromosome to their daughter who in turn passes it onto her sons only. This is where the theory bit comes in again. It is a possibly why you often get top racing cocks in the second generation from daughters of top class pigeons. As we continue to improve our racing techniques, remember that once a new technique is widely known, it stops being an advantage and becomes a requirement to remain competitive. As sophisticated as racing is today, we may well be close to the point where our techniques have maximized all the environmental factors. When this day comes, genetics will be the only area (outside of random luck) where one may forge an advantage.
Briefly what I would try to achieve is the reproduction of both the original X Chromosomes in a cock via the use of line breeding. I'll try and explain it now: Say we have a champion pigeon such as 'Jester'. We know he has 2 excellent X Chromosomes but only 1 can be passed to his offspring. Now, we'll name these X1 & X2. In his first nest, he may pass X1 to a son and X2 to a daughter if the nest contains a cock and hen. But, he can also pass X1 to both, or pass X2 to both. We never know the result because we'd have to genetically test it out. Now, if the cock and hen do contain X1 & X2 then we are fortunate enough to be able to pair these together, in essence putting the X1 & X2 back together in 50% of the cocks they produce. I say 50% because the cocks carry 2 X Chromosomes and therefore one in the cock comes from his dam which is completely unrelated to "Jester".
So, by experimenting with direct offspring we can feasibly get one nest pair, or a brother & sister who carry both X Chromosomes and these can be paired to create a cock which will carry both of the originals. In theory this sounds quite exciting but in practice it is very hard to achieve simply because you never know which chromosome it contains. I need to pair two daughters both back to their father and the offspring should be 50% copies of their father genetically. But, I think this is too close for breeding purposes so what I intend to do is use the offspring of these 2 hens which have been raced and pair them together. This also gives the other chromosomes a chance to break up differently and hopefully I won't end up with runty looking in-breds in our loft which don't perform. I must stress that the X Chromosome is the largest information carrying gene in the pigeon and that is why I place such significance upon it through my breeding evaluations. As soon as I get a good pigeon, I immediately retrace possible X Chromosome transfers through its pedigree to find the history of it. It mustn't be forgotten that the other genes may be responsible for other factors such as vitality and so on, so it makes sense to breed around one particular pigeon which is known to be a superior breeder. After in-breeding always maintain at least two generations in the breeding loft, sometimes progress is measured in two steps forwards and one step back. Boldly experiment, but quickly reject if results do not represent genetic progress.
Koen Minderhoud, with Mark & Dick working closely together in maintaining the very best of the Vandenabeele bloodlines.
At this point I must again stress that you must not get carried away with outstanding good looking pigeons, there are far to many fanciers out there thinking because it is good looking and handles superbly it is guaranteed to produce the goods. On many occasions it is the total opposite, prime example of this is the top Gaby Vandenabeele hen "Sissi" To sum it up in one word she was a breeding miracle. The thing about her is she would not have been most good fancier,s choice of pigeon and until she passed away she was the pride possession of Ad Schaerlaeckens. I would like to conclude with a few wise words from Ad Schaerlaeckens he quotes "To get a good bird you need luck. What do we know about pigeons? The Belgium guy would never have given me Sissi if he knew he had such a good bird. The great Champions who wanted my pigeons but not those of Sissi before 1995 were all wrong in judging the quality of birds. They wanted her children when it was too late and I did not sell them anymore. You are never sure about the quality of a bird but that,s the nice thing about pigeon sport. If we could see a pigeon was good the super birds would soon be in the hands of people with money". Sissi is well known all around the world for two things. Firstly she was without doubt one of the worst handling and ugliest looking pigeons ever to have existed. The second thing this hen is well known for is its outstanding record for breeding top class pigeons and I do believe without doubt the best breeding hen of all Holland; this proves there are no fixed connection between outward beauty and internal qualities, neither by man nor by pigeon. There is one tale to tell which I would like you all to think about when pairing up your stock this winter. The story goes; the famous Irish author, George Bernard Shaw, (you have probably seen the musical My Fair Lady which was based on his Pygmalion) once got a tempting offer from an actress who owed her fame more to her sultry sex appeal than to her acting talents. She wrote that she passionately wanted to have his child because it would have her wonderful figure and his intellect!
Obliging as they are, most men would have considered this an invitation they could not refuse and taken her up on her friendly offer. But the Irish writer, famous for his sarcasm and cutting wit, wrote back to say that he was sorry he could not respond to her proposal since it could also turn out their offspring would have his build and her intellect.
Winning over night at certain levels can be achieved by racing quality youngsters bred down from top stock, but putting together a golden breeding loft takes at least several years to complete. Many fanciers say that my father and I, switched to National racing just like that, but nothing is less true. We carefully and steadily prepared the way, not only by bringing in middle to long distance stock but also in the preparation of our birds. In poor weather conditions it sometimes happens that many of the top fanciers go to the clubhouse with an empty clock because their birds failed to get through. The results are often their own faults, has they have paired those birds together that produce the best results in good weather and this explains the bad returns and results in less favourable conditions.
Mark & Dick showing their partner Gary Daykin champion breeder "Golden Boy" grandsire to their 1st Open National winner 12,921 birds.
At Myrtle Lofts my father and I work and study extremely hard to in-breed and cross breed all the hard day working pigeons together, we have been known to cull the parents to winning pigeons which can only achieve top awards on fast days. We both strongly believe that with the right management any family of pigeon will win on high velocities with the wind up their behinds, but when you want to win on slow hard working days with the wind on their nose and giving 100 miles to the front lofts in national races you need a family with the ability not only to win, but achieve results which most fanciers only dream about and think it is totally impossible to achieve. An example of the results we try to achieve is the result from Guernsey in the M.N.F.C. when our bloodlines won 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 15, 16, 21, 24, 25, 31, 37, 38, 39, 46, 51 North East Section, 269 members sent 2,069 birds. 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 23, 28, 35, 38, 39, 49, 61, 63, 65, 77, 86 Open National 771 members sent 5,661 birds. In this result we were requiring over one hundred miles over fly and racing into a head wind, proving our birds are not only winning against a hand full of members but competing and winning against the strongest completion possible. By breeding all the hard working pigeons together we have produced a family of pigeons which have the ability in returning from the battle with hardly a ruffled feather.
Again please note any breeding experiment or breeding system or however good the gene pool is, in any top bloodlines the golden breeding pairs are only selected with the final test the basket. At Myrtle Lofts we require our stock pairs to breed winners on a regular basis; also they must breed to different mates. We have built up a family of pigeons, which over the last few years allows us to be very selective in what birds we allow to remain residents in our breeding lofts. We will not retire pigeons to stock with just one outstanding performance, single results are almost meaningless. We don,t take anything seriously until we see it for a third time.
One comment I must make my father and I pay no attention to eyesign. I've never believed in this theory from day one, to be honest I believe more in Father Christmas than I do in the eyesign, but I must say I have a lot of respect for any ones beliefs and opinions on this matter and I am sure there are many ‘eyesign experts' out there who would gladly like to prove me wrong. My opinion is that an eye is only good if you can see accurately through it. It doesn't matter about the colour that comes from the genetics side of breeding. However, I wouldn't listen to the experts because if you notice, most of them don't fly well at all, and if they're so good at selecting through eyesign alone, they would have a loft full of top racers & breeders wouldn't they? The first time I will sit back apologize and listen to the eyesign experts is when and only when they are collecting trophies in front of ourselves at the national presentation nights.
This year at our partnership loft of G.S.Daykin, Son & Evans we are again the top National flyers in the M.N.F.C. which has been achieved by top quality pigeons produced on the selection system. It is based on experience and has proved to me that it works in most cases it as put Myrtle Lofts at the top for the last 30 years, winning nine first prizes with just young birds in the first season we raced and we are proud to say that is the worst season we have had in over 30 years.
I remember my own father,s advice to me, in the early days. "Always be prepared to seek advice from other reputable sporting friends. You never stop learning in racing and breeding and the first time you believe you known it all, is the first time you will decline down the result sheets". This last statement as always been in my mind when I have travelled the world looking at top pigeons and absorbing information from many of Europe,s top fanciers, including Gaby Vandenabeele, Ad Schaerlaeckens, Silvere Toye, Koen Minderhoud plus many more fanciers I have been delighted to glean information. One name who I consider to be one of Belgium,s best in breeding is Marc Roosens he is without doubt a Master Breeder who wields the sword in inbreed and line-breeding, but who knows the right moment to cautiously cross breed. When you see that a super stock bird like "Macot" appears three times in the pedigree of "Foreu" Ace Pigeon Middle-Distance in the Charleroi Grand Union (1968) and Ace Pigeon Long Distance in the Club Friends of long distance racing in Liege (1969-1971) "Foreu" won first prizes in races from 100km to 800km as if it were child,s play. He himself also developed into a superb stock bird, which proves you no longer attach much importance to the fables of those people who try to make other afraid of line breeding or in breeding. But this does not mean to say that I think one should overdo line breeding or in breeding. I will dare to breed closely and cross breed afterwards. But I do advocate bringing in some new blood every year, but it has to be the Crème de la Crème. You must never let it reach the state that you,ve bred as far as you can go. On top of that you have to bear in mind that every new feather is not guaranteed success.
At Myrtle Lofts our goal is very simple, we want to breed the best racing pigeons in the world, and everything about our program is geared toward breeding better racing pigeons. This means that in the early years we spent a great deal of money and effort acquiring some of the finest genes available in the sport for the purpose of establishing a world class gene pool from which we could work. Once this was accomplished, our efforts shifted to evolving that gene pool. As we move forward in this regard, the famous birds that are the foundations of our lines become more distant in the pedigrees. However, the value of the birds we produce should increase with each succeeding generation if we are to be considered successful in our breeding program. Not everything we sell will win or will breed a winner. However, our success as breeders has to be measured by the success of many of our customers.