|David Clausing: Master Breeder – 2008 Follow-up
Arcadia, Florida - (863) 244-0300 – firstname.lastname@example.org
By: David Trunnell, Readfield, ME; email@example.com
There are two main ideas in this article: 1) David Clausing continues to extend the prepotency of his family of birds
into the third and fourth generations, and 2) the growth of our sport depends in part on developing our colleagues’
children as members, engaging them in a friendly and meaningful way similar to the Clausing boys’ experience.
Until recently I had never met David in person, but had spoken with him by phone numerous times. After being out of
pigeons for a couple of years I decided 2008 was the time get back in. In January I went to Florida to meet David and
acquire some birds as the Clausings had always out-performed my other families over the years. It was a real
pleasure to finally meet David as well as his wonderful family. I found him in person to be the gentleman and sharp,
straight forward businessman I dealt with by phone. He is always positive about the sport and fellow sportsmen. It
was good to see in person the methods and strategies I had written of before and to hear what is new in his approach
and results. And it was great to see and handle some of his birds such as 410, 217, Jay, 20, 23 (“Trouble”), 173;
David, Jr., and 300 (Never Say Die), and others.
Over the years many leaders in the sport have insightfully summarized David’s success. A few are included here:
Dr. Wim Peters, after the 2003 South Africa Million Dollar Race win, “Dave Clausing had a very successful event,
having three birds in the first 100. What an outstanding performance! Last year, he was third and he does well in
one loft races and futurity events around the globe. Surely this indicates that more than chance is playing a role
Bob Kinney, “Dave Clausing has done something that few…have been willing to do. That is he has cut to a center
cream of this family of birds. That is something that every loft must do over and over again if it wants to
progress…Dave Clausing is going forward and his stock proves it against the best competition in the WORLD.
…there are only about 3 or 4 lofts in this country I would go to for stock and this is one of them.”
In the December 1, 2003 issue of the Digest I wrote an article, “David Clausing: Master Breeder”. David continues to
succeed with outstanding breeding and racing results which I will share further below along with more of his methods,
but first here are the highlights of that first article.
Summary of the 2003 article:
Following Key Principles/Strategies
David Clausing maintains a focus on two key principles: 1. continuously find the best and develop better, and 2. keep
good records. The specific strategies derived by David from these principles are these:
1. test a number of birds to find the best
2. break up even the best matings to find which mate is the best and search for an even better mating
3. develop a family of racers that will be outstanding in all conditions
4. keep the numbers down to allow for more observation
5. use observation to see
a. which birds are more resistant to stress and disease
b. which birds cope better with environmental challenges while homing
6. test your birds in a variety of well-managed, one-loft races
7. keep good records – on paper and in your memory
The highlights of ten years of consistency speak highly of David’s approach:
1994 – IF Hall of Fame, 1st and 6th; President’s Cup, and #1 American Ace Bird
1995 – 1st Las Vegas Crapshoot Race, 1st Oklahoma State Race, 1st San Francisco Bay Area Classic, 1st San
Diego Triple Crown
1996 – 1st American Ace Pigeon by a customer
1997 - Wins at 21 of 25 national and international races, including: Southern California Classic, Las Vegas
Valentine Futurity, Monterrey Bay Invitational, Swiss Classic (Switzerland), Atlantic Seashore Classic, Palomar
Classic, Oklahoma State One Loft Race, and $100,000 prize partner in the South Africa Million Dollar Race
1998 - #1 Ace bird of the South Africa Million Dollar Race and also Ace Bird in the largest one-loft race in Europe
1999 – Continued, consistent, top prize results; customers winning the top Million Dollar Race Series Ace Bird
positions, plus the first American bird in the 2000 Final Race
2000 - Winning at 3 consecutive one-loft races, 7 of 11 overall one-loft race winners
2001 – Country Challenge Race Winner for Team USA in the South Africa Million Dollar Race Series, plus several
one-loft race wins and co-wins
2002 – America’s King Cup 200 mile race winner, winning $7,500; and best of all, winning $78,500 in the 2002 Million
Dollar Race, scoring one of the four day birds against the best in the world, in the largest money race in pigeon sport
2003 – The Clausing family of birds truly distinguished itself as world-class in the South Africa Million Dollar Race up
until 2003. In 2003, they win it all: 1st place in the Final Race at 630 km. And the first to score a 2nd and a 3rd bird,
also in the top prizes – David had the winner and three birds in the money before the countries of Belgium, Holland,
China, Taiwan, Japan, etc., had three birds in the money.
Which birds are responsible:
The best birds in the Clausing Family now are from the pair, Dana (Ziko/622) and #38 (1383 with his aunt, 487). This
pair has produced sons, #410 and #102, and a daughter, #248, all of whom are great breeders in their own right.
410 produced the 3rd place ($75,000) winner in the 2002 South Africa Million Dollar Race, #274 – 1 of only 4 day
birds in the Final Race of 630 km - in headwinds, 11 hours ahead of the next American entry. This same bird was the
first American bird home by several minutes in an earlier race in the series that was a blow home. 410 also produced
the 36th place ($3,000) winner in the 2002 South Africa Race, #295. Brother 102 produced the Texas Challenge
Race winner, #230. Sister 248 produced the 2003 South Africa Million Dollar Race winner ($200,000), #300, “Never
Say Die”. The Clausing family of birds is now more consistent than ever with more birds coming home, per entry,
than other breeders in the South Africa Race.
This is the end of the summary of the 2003 article.
Now the 2008 update - beginning with key birds
David sought out the Houben family of birds because they dominated the middle distances in Europe. David’s
cooperative effort with the Houben family and their great birds has been written about many times. His first prepotent
bird was Ziko, a Houben import. Dana, the next generation prepotent bird was a son of Ziko and another Houben
import, “622”. Dana’s son, 410 is the third generation of prepotent breeders and is the grandson of another great
Houben import, “487” on his dam’s side. Other Houbens have made their mark including, Evert the sire of Clausing’s
great South Africa Million Dollar Race winner, Never Say Die. David has idolized Luc and his family for all these years
for their honesty, integrity, and helpfulness. Through the years David Clausing and Luc Houben and their families
have celebrated many successes, shared some race entries, and shared much insight on breeding and racing. What
great cooperation for tremendous success.
At this point David has tested over 320 (mainly Houben) imports and the blood of only five cocks and thirteen hens
remains (less than 6%). He sold the great Ziko at age 12 as well as his prepotent son, King David when he was age
10. Many ask, “Why? Why would you sell such high impact birds at any age?” David answers it’s to push him to find
the next, better, prepotent birds, which he did in Dana; his son, 410, and now possibly his son, Trouble and many
Many of the key birds listed in the 2003 article continue to have an effect, but there are several new birds now
making a big impact:
1. 410 – BBC, is now the number one breeder, taking the quality of the Clausing loft beyond his sire, Dana and
his grandsire, Ziko. The percentage of 410’s children that dominate races and produce winners themselves is
phenomenal. In the Sun City South Africa Race 410 has produced in five years birds scoring in these places: 3, 4,
24, 36, 99, 101, etc. 410 breeds winners with just about every hen he is placed with. See below for more on 410 as
he is one of the most remarkable breeders to come along in years.
410, the third generation, prepotent Clausing breeding cock.
2. Jay – a 1999 Imbrecht RCC. Jay has captured David’s attention with the dependable homing of his young,
especially in tough-weather races as well as his breeding well with a number of hens. With very few of Jay’s children
raced, he has bred strong performance: in 2001 he produced five youngsters which were raced ten weeks in a row
with no losses and one, 368-01, as an OB scored first at 100, 400, and 500.
3. 23 – BBC, “Trouble”, son of 410/217 is breeding winners with different mates, including, with 301, the nest
sister of Never Say Die: “Right On The Money” scoring 1st in a large Million Dollar Race training race at 82 miles.
Trouble was hand-raised and got into trouble as much for his intelligence as for his place in the household. He is a
small bird with a big future in the Clausing loft.
4. David Jr. – 1-1999 – SilW/FC, he is 1/4 Imbrecht and a son of King David. He is having great influence in the
Clausing loft. David Jr. is super smart and has a great personality. When the other racers were going for the first
feed in the feeder he would land on David’s knee and go for the source of the feed. He was a great racer at 7
minutes ahead in a money race and on the drop with his sister. David Jr. bred the South Africa Country Challenge
Winner in 2001.
1. 217 – BBH, is the number one breeding hen. With 410 history was made in the Million Dollar Race with their
young placing: 3rd and 36th. 217 raced well as a young bird for Bruce Cerone of Spring Hill, FL, winning $9,000 and
4th place by battling against a tough long position – the only long end bird in the top positions.
2. 20 – BBH and daughter of 410/217 has bred three winners, with different mates, two of which were multiple
winners, including firsts at 100, 200 and 500.
3. 173 – DkCkH – a daughter of 410 and a granddaughter of David’s famous, Early Retirement, an IF
Champion. 173 has bred several money winners, as well as 377, the mother of the 2007, 19th place overall Hot Spot
winner, “Davey” flying with malaria (hemoproteus). Davey was an inbred: 377 with her grandsire, 410.
4. 300 – BBH, “Never Say Die”, the winner of the 2003 South Africa Million Dollar Race. Never Say Die has bred
children with 410 that are in turn breeding with amazing consistency. In 2007 David bred from five sons of 410/Never
Say Die and three of them bred winners that year. Of the two daughters bred from that mating, both bred winners in
2006 and 2007.
300, the Million Dollar Race Winner and now an outstanding breeder.
Another bird that deserves mention is 9-2002, a son of Ziko when mated to one of his best daughters, 123 a sister to
Dana. The last son of Ziko David now owns, 9 bred winners in 2007, the first year breeding him.
More on the incredible 410 cock
410, the super breeding cock listed above is so incredibly significant he deserves more credits. 410 is a world
famous breeder that is a 2000 hatch. He was a successful racer, one of only 7 day birds in the San Diego Holiday
Cup in California, and the only bird clocked in on the long end on the day. The long end was at a vast disadvantage
as short end birds were clocked at dusk, long ender 410 had to keep going to clock into the dark. David was not real
impressed yet, until he bred him in 2001. His first couple of babies were sent out for the South Africa Million Dollar,
world class event. The final in February of 2002 saw only four day birds, all after dark, all after 13+ hours on the
wing, and a 410 daughter named, "Valentin" was 3rd place and a $75,000.00 winner for the Clausing family. The
nest brother to Valentin scored 36th the next a.m. against 1,653 birds. These birds kept on coming when others did
not have the heart or stamina to continue on to home. These were the only two 410 babies David sent there that
year. The next year, 2003 David sent two more birds to the South Africa Million Dollar Race and won first place with
one of them off a full sister to 410, 248-2000. That bird, 300-2002 was named by the race committee, Never Say
Die. She won over $200,000.00 against 1,676 birds, by over a minute ahead. In 2004 410 and another hen, 163-
2002, bred 24th (David had five birds in the money and all the other prize winners were all related). (The 26th prize
winner was from a son of 410). In 2005 there were only 24 day birds out of the 2,642 birds going to the final race.
That year David sent only two from 410, and from yet a different hen again, 186-2003. These two were his first and
second birds home with the first one, "Heidi" scoring 4th overall and winning $56,840.00. In 2006 in the Million Dollar
Race his first two birds were again from 410 and yet another new hen, #6091951-2002. These are phenomenal
performances and unequalled consistencies by any one in the world.
David also notices several other special things about 410. 410 has great feather and he’s a very intelligent bird
around the loft. His children generally inherit these traits. In breeding from five of 410/300’s young, three hit with
race winners, with different mates. A new family of Clausings is developing here.
The theft of some of his birds and how it has influenced David
As though the terrible hurricanes of 2004 weren’t enough bad luck with considerable damage to the pigeon
operations, the theft of 105 birds in November of 2005 was even worse. About ten of 80 breeding hens were stolen
and some of those were recovered, including 300, Never Say Die, and 217 the dam of 3rd and 36th in the Million
Dollar Race. The great news is the thieves did not take the key birds listed above such as 410, Trouble, and Jay.
With the help of the FBI (because of drug and immigration issues surrounding the thieves), and the local game
warden staff, David recovered over half the birds. Because of the theft David added the most elaborate of security
systems available today and began a two-year program of polygamously breeding 410 twenty-four hours a day as
well as close relatives to assure the blood is never threatened with loss again. It is very time consuming to do this,
but the future is now guaranteed.
Updated money race results
Here are more results, continuing with 2004 where the list above from the 2003 article left off. These results are
accomplished by sending a few birds from his very best each year. This allows him to accumulate more great birds
as breeders for even better results in the future.
2004 – $12,000 from five, Million Dollar Racers – three in the top 45 places and five in the money overall; a Utah One
Loft Race money winner, an America King Cup Race money winner, and a Devore One Loft money race co-winner.
2005 – $56,840 from one Million Dollar Racer, “Heidi”, a daughter of 410/186 she finished 4th in the 350 mile, 89
degree, headwind race with incomplete body moult and five primaries to go.
2006 – recovering from the theft of birds, only a few races entered: two Flamingo International Challenge One Loft
Race co-winners, both grandchildren of 410, and one a grandchild of Never Say Die.
2007 – the Flamingo: two co-winners at the 150 and at the 250 one of six co-winners; the Winners Cup, one of four,
co-winners at 200.
David’s customers have also accomplished great things. A few of the interesting results are:
- Yonghua Zhang winning the World Ace Challenge 200 by 7 ½ minutes ahead with a Clausing-bred bird,
- Noel Certain (see 1/15/08 Digest cover) – “Golden Girl”, 1st Champion Winner Cup USA, sired by one of Noel’s
favorite Clausing 1383 sons. Noel says the Clausings are a major force in his loft.
- South Africa Million Dollar Race
o Car winner in 2005,
o Car winner also in the 2005 Country Challenge,
o #1 Hot Spot Ace in 2004,
o Four customers in the top 19 of the final, 393-mile race in 2006, and
o Hot Spot winner (not activated) and 5th Hot Spot in 2007.
Methods/strategies – breeding
Overall strategy – when you discover a prepotent bird, form a family with as many combinations as possible to
establish consistency, and the next improvement – just as the Houbens, Janssens, and others have done.
Selection – David believes in consistent race results first and foremost in selecting breeders and matings. He also
likes a strong back, great feather, and some quality of eye sign. And he likes to see “tail sign” – the birds going
through the trap. Breeding from children of champions is much more productive than breeding from brothers and
Polygamous system basics – David breeds polygamously from his top four or five cocks. Depending on the
cooperation of the cocks they may have three to twenty different hens per season. He uses individual, wire pens.
His ideal size pen, which has supported all of the great results above, is 18”X30”X30”. He uses an automatic water
system, feeds pellets – with no waste and from his own recipe made for him in bulk by a local feed dealer. He moves
the cocks to the hen’s pen for a couple of hours, and then on to the next. When a hen understands the system she
will lay and set the eggs by herself until fostered.
The polygamous system is not for every bird, or it takes a few years for some birds to mature to the point of
cooperating. Trouble, the new super breeding son of 410 is not cooperating. When his hen is removed he paces
until he is dripping with sweat. He seems to have an uncanny sense of where she has been moved to and often
rejects the next hen presented. David has tried mentholatum in his nostrils, and other tricks, but to no effect yet.
Because of his value David will match wits with him again in 2008.
Some hens just keep laying unless you stop them by interrupting food and water. Never Say Die is like this. After a
forced break last year she went through a beautiful moult and is ready for 2008.
Better birds mean fewer birds are needed now - For 2008 David will use 300 bands, down from 400 bands in 2007,
and down greatly from years ago when he used 1,000. 300+ imports later he has found the best and is now focused
on them. With about 30 cocks and 60 hens as breeders, plus 60 pairs of pumpers, he is set to reduce his numbers,
focus less on selling and club racing and re-focus on money races in 2008.
Fosters’ genes make a difference in immunity in youngsters – fostering with your own family of birds is best – David
believes fosters with the same genetics as your breeders are best because they provide that higher quality immunity
to the youngsters through their pigeon milk. He bases his conclusion on careful notes from having also tried using
unrelated birds on the same medication program he uses for his breeders.
First and second rounds only are fit for racing – David’s notes tell him only the first and second rounds from a hen,
whether fostered or fed by the breeder pair, are best for the rigors of racing. Later rounds are fine for breeding
because the genetics are there.
Inbreeding from great birds produces great racers – line breeding the Clausing family of birds is David’s signature
method of breeding. However, he finds the quality of the family shows inbreds can also be highly competitive racers.
David proved this years ago with his great Ziko mated to granddaughters. In 2006 customers sent four, inbred
(double) grandchildren of 410 to the South Africa Race from half-brother/half-sister matings. Two of them were
American customers placing two in the top: 11th and 19th. Two were South African customers placing two in the top
Many of the best flyers are white flights and reds – this includes both checks and silvers. He is thinking more about
how to strengthen white feathers whether by oils or proteins. His theory is that diet is more important for those
feathers – similar to his experience with champion show chickens – the white feathers are otherwise softer than the
Naturally healthier birds - stronger disease resistance has been a goal of David’s for years. He points out how
important that trait is to a family of birds winning one loft races where the medication program varies so much from
race to race. He observes his best or key birds are never sick.
Better homing instinct – equals better returns in all conditions. David found a few of his over three hundred imports
had this ability and thoughtfully worked it through his family. Today the most important thing in racing pigeons is that
they home – and not get lost – that way you don’t need an excuse for why they got lost. This family: Ziko, Dana, 410,
Never Say Die (#300), Jay (Imbrecht), Trouble (#23) – all show remarkable homing instinct.
Feeding and watering efficiencies – a custom pellet mixture is fed to all birds. The pellets are about 15% protein and
contain fish meal. Also included are alfalfa, soybean oil, yeast, vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals. All of the
breeders are in individual pens. An automatic watering system to each takes much of the work out of the individual
pen format. Still this is more work than with an open loft; however David is convinced the rate of uncertain parentage
in the open loft is too high – possibly as high as 50%. The individual pens allow him to move up in quality and down
in quantity at the high rate he has enjoyed all these years.
The best medication regimen – for those serious about winning local races, daily race medications make sense.
David doesn’t have the time now for that part of the hobby. At the same time, by continuing to race locally, it gives
him the opportunity to find which birds are more naturally disease-resistant. The core of his medication program is
now worming and canker treatments given monthly with alternating brands of medication. The breeders get the same
program – no general, broad spectrum, antibiotic treatment before, during or after breeding season. However, David
is wondering if his race results could be better if he pre-medicated his breeders more. In the South you can count on
all birds getting pox, so no vaccination.
Other colors – David has sub-families of red checks/silvers, blacks and whites.
Reds - The red checks/silvers go back to two Imbrecht cocks and one hen. Today Jay, a dominant red check (from a
red to red mating) and David, Jr., a silver are the key red breeders. They distinguish themselves with children that
don’t get lost easily and which win races, especially when mated with the 410 and Never Say Die blood. David
predicts many of his best birds will soon be red checks and silvers.
Blacks - The blacks go back to a 1995 gift hen from Jef Houben. He has been introducing blue bars each year and
50% of the offspring are black. He has had several race winners, but the popularity with customers has kept his
numbers down and out of his race entries.
Whites - The white family is mainly based around a near-white hen, 261 and a son of 410, 45. 261 is a daughter of
Converse, a half-brother of 410 through Dana when mated to an Imbrecht. Converse was 226th in the 2002 South
Africa Million Dollar Race. 45 is a son of 410 when mated to 217.
Methods/strategies – club and combine racing
Feeding - the racers get the same custom pellets as the breeders for efficiency. Extra carbohydrates in the form of
Carbohydrates Loader are given for short, fast races. Extra fats and oils in the form of Medpet Plume+, with omega-3
fatty acids; and flax, canola, and safflower, etc. is given for long, hard races.
Honey is given in water – plus electrolytes/vitamins – upon return for 2-3 days.
Training - with the two cattle ranches now David is too busy to train his birds very much. He sees this as yet another
good test of the birds’ natural abilities. It’s as though he has his own one loft race series. He knows many of us find
ourselves in this situation, but it’s still a lot of fun testing the birds against each other.
He noted that last year when a cock that had been raced before, but had not been trained since September flew the
500 winning 1st club against 100 birds. When training he favors many short tosses for the YB’s for early
development of good habits such as breaking for home and fast trapping.
Medicating – (similar to that under Breeding, above) worming and canker treatments, but no general, broad spectrum
antibiotic medications are given before, during, or after the race season, however antibiotics will be given on an as-
needed basis. When he was more concerned about winning local races he used antibiotics with the racers, but now
he wants to find which birds have that something extra allowing them to excel in tougher conditions.
System – David flies double widowhood with OB’s. He believes truly great birds win on any system. In YB’s he likes
to find birds that fly well to the perch – what they must do in one loft races.
Methods/strategies – one loft money races
Through 2005 the Clausing birds down from Dana (410’s sire) won over $360,000. David knows how to win in many
different races and countries. In the South Africa Million Dollar Race he has been in the top four places in four
years. He has had the first or second overall Ace bird three times. But now he is looking at new racing
Racing in China – David is finding the money races in China to be very promising. For example, there are 12, one
lofts races with total, combined prize money of $21 million. The government requires the prize purses to be
guaranteed. The country has about 500,000 fliers. And the Chinese love to gamble on racing pigeons. The current
avian health concerns and other factors do not allow one to get their birds back at the end of the race season, but
the size of the prizes appears to more than compensate for that.
David is finding that his pellet-fed youngsters need to be transitioned to 50/50 pellets and grain and vaccinated the
first week of weaning, and then to 100% grain in week two before shipping to one loft races (or customers).
The Future of the Sport: Developing Our Own Members’ Children as Members
The Clausing family – a model for the hobby - As I write this article I also find one of the most interesting ideas coming
from this visit with the Clausing family is a perspective on how the hobby may increase membership by focusing more
on our families’ interest as well as the current focus on attracting new members from the general public.
Clausing Family: Son David with his girlfriend Pam, David Sr. and Anna, Son Dana with his wife Brieann holding
their son Jacob. Son David is holding "David Jr." (left) and #205 (white). David Sr. is holding Million Dollar race
winner "Never Say Die", while Anna is holding #23 - "Trouble".
Dana is holding #410.
For years I have seen the Clausing family pictured in magazines: David, Anna, son Dana (now 27, with his wife,
BrieAnn, and their new son, Jacob), and son David (now 18). Everyone has a role in making not only the pigeon
operations work, but also the two cattle ranches and the orange grove which David invested in with his winnings from
special races. David plans the breeding and racing programs, and deals with customers, spending many hours on
the phone. Anna provides the daily maintenance of feed, water, and health products for the birds, and provides the
spirit that keeps the entire family operation moving ahead. Dana compliments David with the birds and with the
cattle. Son David enjoys the cattle operations and focuses his time and efforts there, coming together with the rest of
the family for meals, special events, and good times. The Clausing family holds great affection for each other. They
share the work and rewards and all with a great sense of humor. One of my favorite stories is how Anna became
more interested in racing, especially in taking the birds to the club for basketing: all the pool money was hers!
Anna Clausing tells why she feels blessed by the family teamwork:
Anna: I believe the greatest reason for our success is that we have been very blessed in all we do and have always
worked as a team. Our "team" has always shared the same goals and has had a strong work ethic that has been
instilled in all of us through our "team leader”, David.
We have had many trials, almost from the beginning of our marriage, starting with David's broken back 28 years ago.
We had to change all our plans even back then. I was pregnant for Dana at that time. David and I were told David
would never walk again and we would never have any more children. David never gave up and worked very hard
against all the odds. As the winters became worse for David, we decided to move south. We ended up in a little
Florida town called Nocatee. Three years later our second son, David was born. Nine years after we were told that
would be impossible! We have all worked very hard through the years and all have David's "never give up" attitude.
Even with all the damage we had from all the hurricanes that hit us directly in 2004 we were again blessed in a very
big way. Our son Dana was living in Wisconsin at that time. He and his girlfriend came down to help us rebuild.
They thought two maybe three weeks tops they would be here. We all worked doing repairs from sun up till sun
down. They are still here! Dana and Brieann were married in June 2006 and now have a beautiful son named Jacob
born in October 2007. Brieann finished school here and is a CNA. She still joins in and helps with all the things that
need to be done here. When the birds were stolen we were again blessed by the fact that they missed many of the
most important birds we use for breeding here. Once again we came together as a family to help in any way we could
to help track down the thieves. We all had many ideas, and the results were the return of many of the birds that had
When ever there is work to do here, we all join in, and I am sure Jacob will as well when he is old enough. Whether it
is pigeon work, fence work, yard work, or rounding up and sorting the cattle we all do it. I am very proud of my family
and the way they have all come together in all the tough times. It makes the easy times so much more appreciated.
We share in each others lives everyday, and are there for each other no matter what the issue is. I believe we work
well together because we do all the work ourselves and each of us may have a different view and give our input on
things and we all listen to each others ideas. We seldom have a problem that someone here can not fix or find a way
Even now as we plan to move, it is a move that all of us will make, no matter where it is. We want to go together.
David and I are very lucky to be able to keep our family together. We share all the bad times and I believe that
makes all our good times even better.
We do tend to laugh a lot around here which is, as they say, the best medicine for everyone.
Now David, Dana, and son David tell their story of family involvement:
David feels the family is still involved with the pigeons because they were involved from the beginning. He
remembers taking son David on training tosses and stopping to see fossils and prehistoric shark teeth, plus stopping
at toy car races. His son Dana went to South Africa with him the year they won first. Dana was worried for his dad as
several previous winners had passed away! Anna has been caring for the birds since Dana was a toddler. David
recalls they had a mynah bird in the loft area at that time and its only word was, “Dana!”
Son Dana says you need a general interest in the birds, but not a forced one. His interest came easily because he
was always around them. His best experience was being in South Africa for the first place win by Never Say Die.
Dana enjoys relaxing on race days waiting for the birds to come home. Helping at their new club is a pleasure too –
everyone helps out and is friendly. (Dana continues to engage in the pigeons: he is very deft at catching the birds
and he is the professional photographer in the family along with other technical duties with the computer.)
Son David describes his best experience as going on training tosses. It was fun, spending time with his dad. His
parents included fun activities into pigeon trips throughout the state. Always being around pigeons made him
comfortable, plus his mother bringing birds to school to carry messages was a highlight with friends. The club had a
$1 youth entry fee which got him very interested in races. The current club members are so nice. They greet you
with, “How are you?”, and give you a hug. Son David feels a real friendship and bond – a genuine acknowledgement
by the older club members.
Is Europe more family-focused than America?
The similarity of the Clausing family experience to the Houben family’s is striking to me. Over the years I enjoyed
reading about the Houben family’s team work in providing the highest quality care for their birds, realizing the
greatest possible success.
I look back on articles on many great, European family efforts: Janssen, Van Hee, Herbots, and Gyselbrecht, and
many others. My impression is Europe has more family (both children and spouses) involvement in the sport than
America – though it could be the larger number of flyers in Europe. But I wonder if the greater American focus on
work and career has prevented us from achieving more in this area. I know it has for me personally.
Lesson for the hobby: focus on the family first?
In a time when the sport is struggling to find ways to maintain the hobby’s numbers let alone grow them, it is
refreshing to see the Clausing family working together in model fashion. Have we as a sport been focusing on only
part of the opportunities for membership growth? Is the focus on attracting new members diverting our attention from
two other important focuses – developing our own children’s’ interest, and helping members with families attract their
I know personally I missed the greatest opportunity to develop a long-term interest by my two sons who are now
twenty and twenty two (and who now share their mother’s dislike of pigeons). When they were three and five they
had several pigeons on the flying team and were so excited, giving them names and checking on them several times
a day. They were so excited about their birds. After the hawks got them I failed to replace them. Big mistake. I
should have given them breeders - or a general interest in all the birds.
What strategies do we employ at club meetings and basketing to interest our club members’ children? Are we
comfortable with children attending basketing? Do we have designated duties they can engage in? Do they have
fun when they attend or do we find them hanging back uncomfortably with their parent? Do our club members
routinely travel to other’s lofts, especially those with families of small children – so we can demonstrate the collegiality
of our sport? There are many questions to answer in this area.
The AU youth initiatives - The AU offers a number of great programs for youth: Help A Beginner Program, small loft
construction plans, and the racing pigeon loft project for project-based education through local schools, and other
information through mailings and the web site and presentations around the country. Karen Clifton, the AU Executive
Director also describes a formal AU program that:
- Uses newsletters and zone meetings to share material with members and encourage them to take a look at their
club culture: - is it family friendly? - is drinking allowed and/or a problem? - how are new members assisted?, etc.
- That material stresses communication being a key component to the club's success, including common
activities in a non-competitive environment, such as having meals together.
- The material also emphasizes hosting educational seminars for all, but especially new flyers (video & pizza
night, AU Speakers' Bureau participation).
- The AU website highlights several youth projects to give leaders an idea of how to start - so it doesn't seem so
overwhelming and people don't have to reinvent the wheel.
The IF youth initiatives – The IF website offers a Help A Beginner Program, Scholarships, and lots of great
It would be great to see more discussion in the Digest and formal communication in local club meetings on how we
can strengthen this part of our sport development. If you consider how businesses establish important new skills in
the workplace it is through role playing. Should this role be assigned in club by-laws to an officer, plus an “assistant”
member, rotating the assistant by club meeting/basketing to develop the skills throughout the club? Some are
concerned about stepping on parents’ toes, but there is much room here before that point.
David Clausing achieved extraordinary and enviable success through 2003. Since then he has continued to:
- Win and place high in important races,
- Develop improved, next generation foundation breeders,
- Position himself for renewed focus on one loft races,
- Enjoy advice from and a continued friendship with Luc and the entire Houben family, and
- Continue to interest his family in the sport.
David shares these new ideas:
- Use your own birds for fosters for optimum immunity through the pigeon milk, and
- Only first and second rounds of eggs (whether raised by parents or fostered) are the best for racing – later
rounds are fine for breeding stock.
- China is the next big money race opportunity,
- More improvements will be seen in his birds, and
- Many of his best birds will soon be red checks and silvers.
To further the China connection David has just completed a letter of agreement with Mr. Wu Meng as his agent. Now
David and his family are planning a move to California this next year where he will continue to reduce the number of
breeders and concentrate more on money races, his most rewarding part of the sport.
The Clausing family teamwork is a model for the sport’s leadership to reflect on and it’s a model the sport’s
leadership can use for the development of new programs that will attract and maintain more family members.