Fabry was a meticulous record keeper and could trace the entire pedigree of a
given pigeon, in some cases as far back as 50 years. Although he sold many
pigeons over the years, Fabry was also well known for his generosity. He is
reported to have given away thousands of birds and eggs to fanciers who did
not have the money to buy them.
He believed the loft should face southeast and good ventilation was
necessary. The sun should shine into the loft and when you enter the loft you
should not be able to smell pigeons. It should be free from all odors.
Fabry was a believer in cleaning the loft twice a day. This level of
fastidiousness is understandable when you consider three large lofts occupied
the second floor of his house. In his heyday, he kept as many as 150
youngbirds, yearlings, and widowers in the second story loft.
Behind the house, a stock loft holding 20 pair could be found. As a
general rule, old cocks that had performed well went into stock. However,
younger birds were stocked if their children excelled.
Yearlings and old birds were raced on widowhood. Young birds were
trained up to 250 kilometers. Each year Fabry selected the 26 best young
cocks and moved them into the yearling section where they ultimately raced to
300 kilometers. He did not consider their performance as youngsters or
yearlings to be terribly important. Conformation, bloodline and health were
paramount. The main thing was to teach them the widowhood system and give
them a few races under the belt.
At the end of the first racing season the best yearlings were
transferred to the main team. From there they competed in the big National
and Provincial races, again on widowhood. Cocks were not permitted to breed
before racing season. Instead, after the season they were allowed to raise
one or two youngsters before being separated. Contrary to most widowhood
flyers, he did not believe in breeding his widowers before racing season
because this method helped the cocks maintain their form longer.
An hour of exercise in the morning and an hour in the early evening was
the routine Fabry followed.
The Fabry birds were given a diet of 20 percent wheat, 50 percent barley,
10 percent peas, and 20 percent corn in the winter. The summer diet consisted
of 23 percent wheat, 30 percent corn, 30 percent peas, 10 percent millet, and
5 percent sunflower seeds. For racing season the diet was made up of 15
percent wheat, 40 percent corn, 30 percent peas, 10 percent millet, 5 percent
sunflower seed and a little hemp a few days before a race. Finally, when
birds went through the moult they received 15 percent barley, 25 percent
corn, 25 percent wheat, 5 percent sunflower seed, 5 percent hemp, and 25
Fabry advised against overfeeding or underfeeding. His rule was to feed
enough so the birds had a slight edge on their appetite.
THE JANSSEN CONNECTION
Fabry pigeons have crossed well with any number of well-bred families.
My own experience bears this out, having produced excellent performing and
breeding pigeons by crossing Fabrys with Janssens and Meulemans. But the
results of crossing them with Janssen's have been outstanding as any number
of American flyers will tell you. This is a favorite cross for Clair Hetland
of Golden Valley, Minnesota, owner of Foy's Pigeon Supplies. As an example,
his Janssen-Fabry cross won in the 1985 Minnesota State Race making over 1300
yards per minute flying an airline of 488.411 miles.
In 1994 I bred a Janssen-Fabry blue hen with band number 928 that I
sent to a 300-mile Central Jersey Combine race that had more than 3,000 young
birds competing. My first bird home was Home Alone, my good Janssen cock who
has amassed a tremendous flying record. Twenty minutes went by and 928 came
not looking the least bit tired or interested in trapping. I figured there
was no point in clocking her since so much time had elapsed after I clocked
Home Alone. As it turned out, Home Alone won the combine by 30 minutes and
the 928 would have been 2nd combine, 10 minutes ahead of the next bird. That
was a hard lesson learned. The story of 928 does not end there. In 1998, I
bred her to de 2000,one of my best performance Meuleman cocks, taking only
two children from the mating. They were both blue hens. I kept one for
myself, who won a first club, and I gave one to my good friend Gerald Hebert
of Louisiana. Gerald's 928/de 2000 daughter has turned out to be one of the
most consistent breeding hens in his loft.
As I noted earlier, the Janssen Brothers' Halve Fabry was a grandson of
Porthos. The Halve Fabry was responsible for a number of important Janssen
pigeons, including the Oude Witoger of 1965, winner of ten firsts. The Halve
Fabry is also the great grandfather of De Oude Merckx, a superb racer and
But the Janssen-Fabry connection doesn't end here. According to John
Keller of Baltimore who has extensively researched the Fabry pigeons,
"The Janssen Brothers are believed to have bought many pigeons from
Fabry over the years."
FABRYS IN AMERICA
Countless American fanciers have done very well with Fabrys. Rochol won
32 diplomas with them in 1987, including 300-mile young bird and old bird
Grantham has won out of turn in the Washington, D.C. area. His Fabry
loft has won more than 24 average speeds and 226 races.
Of particular interest is Grantham's system of flying celibate hens.
This system has been especially effective in long distance races. In 1987,
Grantham won a 500-miler that saw only four birds home on the day with such a
hen. Grantham also took 1st, 4th, 6th, and 8th in the 600-mile race with his
Of course, Fahy Robinson is famous for his Fabry family. Bob King, Jr.
(who imported many important Fabry champions and supplied great Fabry pigeons
to Ganus before he turned to Janssens and other lines) and many others,
including myself, have done well by this family. The straight Fabrys do
especially well in the long-distance races and in tough weather when all the
speed families have exhausted themselves and gone down.
In closing, I must mention what is probably one of the greatest Fabrys
every breed in this country--Mike Ganus' 180. This check splash cock carrying
Barnum bloodlines in his veins is the prepotent sire to more than 30 1st
place winners and hundreds of diploma winners. This is a conservative
estimate because Ganus sold many youngsters off the 180 and could not
possibly track the records of all his children and grandchildren. A Maryland
flyer wrote Ganus to inform him a 180 son won 15 diplomas. It's quite
possible 180 and his children are responsible for several hundred to a
I handled 180 when he was 14-years old. He felt like a pigeon half his
age and I was fortunate to have obtained two of his sons to form my own line
of Fabulous Fabrys. I have placed my Fabrys in a number of lofts that have
reported back excellent results. For instance, Jack Banks of Methuen, Mass.
had three generations of 500-mile winners from one of my Fabrys. And Bill
DeRossier of Andover, Mass. won 1st North Section, New England Concourse with
a Cornella Family Fabry. Finally, John Florek of Benld, Ill. bred six 1st
place winners, including 1st combine with one of my Fabry cocks.
The Old-Line Fabry bloodline dating back to pre-1972 is difficult to
find today. However, if you are lucky enough to get your hands on good ones,
they will certainly add toughness and vigor to your breeding program. -- AC