Shewmaker Genetics

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Site last updated on 01/16/2020

We are in the genetics business. We breed elite racing pigeons. While our products are designed to meet the breeding stock needs of the elite fanciers of the sport, we are happy to work with anyone who has a keen and supportive interest in the sport, is honest and is willing to work hard to get results.

A Different Kind of Program

In many ways, we are one of the most unique racing pigeon breeding operations in the world. That is not to say our way is the best way, just that we do a number of things in ways that are a little different than most other operations. If our approach makes sense to you, then you might find that we are the breeding stock source you have been looking for. Not everyone will agree with our program and that is fine. There is plenty of room in the sport for different approaches, objectives, philosophies and/or methods.

The key cornerstones of our program are:

  • a superior gene pool with distinct, well maintained families,
  • a well designed breeding program,
  • all birds are bred in individual pens to ensure accurate pedigrees,
  • extensive contemporary group testing (testing over 750 birds each year),
  • extreme selection,
  • extensive DNA testing for performance related genes (LDHA and DRD4),
  • carefully managed health,
  • a 7 generation pedigree unlike any other in the sport
  • advanced computer systems for record collection/analysis and
  • a unique sales approach which is designed around client collaboration.

Our Gene Pool

We maintain a number of distinct families, each with its own purpose. We acquired our foundation animals over a period of twenty years during which we systematically purchased birds from many of the top lofts of the world. We have distilled down these 40 plus lines to the dozen or so we maintain today.

The families are kept straight. We do cross breed for racing, but generally not for breeding. When a cross bred bird is occasionally used for breeding, it is done for a specific purpose and we designate the resulting birds as a new line or subline. This means that when we say a bird is a Janssen, it is a Janssen and not a bird that just has a few Janssens in its pedigree. Being “pure” isn't terribly important with respect to the value of any individual bird. However, it is very important in maintaining the value of a line. As you would expect, all of our matings are done in individual breeding pens and our record keeping system is absolutely among the best in the sport.

Our Lines

As a geneticist, I have an unusual interest in gene preservation. For this reason we have more families than a fancier would normally maintain. For most lofts two are all that are necessary. In our case, we currently have fifteen. Over the course of the next few years we plan to reduce this number to four.

Since we are primarily interested in the One Loft Races, we are focused on breeding birds that excel in the tough middle distance races. Just like a painter (who must have all three primary colors in order to paint any color), I feel I need to always maintain a distance family and a speed family to augment my one or two middle distance families. This is why I am reducing my number of families to four. One will be a speed family, one a distance family and the remaining two will be the ones which produce the best cross for tough middle distance races (300 - 400 miles). We will be spending the next two or three years determining which of our various families produce the best cross.

The specific lines we are breeding and some of the matings for 2020 are here.

The Breeding Program

We have had outstanding success in a number of different species using our breeding methods. While they certainly don't represent the only way it can be done, our program has worked very well for us for over fifty years. The basic idea behind the breeding program is to acquire/develop and then maintain closely bred families that are rich in the alleles that positively influence racing performance. The advantage to this approach is more consistency in the quality of the offspring produced.

The race birds in our program are designed to be F-1s, produced as crosses of our more homozygous parent lines. These F-1 birds are bred to race and are not intended to be used as breeders after their racing career. There have been customers who have elected to breed with the F-1 birds. Doing so can breed good racing birds, but there will be much more variation in the offspring produced.

The Testing Program

The testing program is the cornerstone of our entire program at Shewmaker Genetics . There is no selection criterion that comes close to that of race results to the loft. We test out most of what we raise and keep only the best for the next generation.

Extreme Selection

The most significant genetic progress comes from extreme selection If you are not selecting from the very extreme top end of the bell cure, then you may find you are making very little progress. You can read more about this extremely important point on slides 23 to 29 of this presentation. We practice extreme selection!

DNA Testing for Performance Genes

There are probably about 100 genes that contribute to racing performance. DNA testing now allows us to test for the genotypes of our birds for two of these that have been shown to have a major impact - the LDHA and DRD4 genes. We have an aggressive DNA testing program having tested hundreds of our birds. You can read more abut these two genes on slides 32 to 48 of this presentation.

Carefully Managed Health

No loft can successfully compete in this sport if it doesn't have perfect health. Further, the substantial investment we have made in our breeding program absolutely requires that we protect it with the very best health program possible. We employ strict bio-security measures and believe we have a very sound health program. You can read about it in more detail here.

Advanced Computer Systems

We employ very advanced computer programs to track and analyze the genetics of our birds. While we do not sell these programs, they play a very large role in the genetic progress of the birds that we do sell.

Unique Sales Program

Buying pigeons should be straight forward, so we try to outline on this site as much as we can about our birds, our methods and how we sell them. However, not everybody sees things the same way, so we don't expect everyone to like our birds or the approach we take. If you see it another way, that is fine. Pigeon racing and breeding is a hobby for most people and hobbies are meant to be enjoyed. There is plenty of room in the sport for many different approaches and many different people. Do it the way you think it should be done.

For those though who think we are on the right track, we are happy to work with you if you have a need for any of our birds or our services.

 

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