Poultry, pigeons, rabbits…

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Bob, left, and Norma Vos of Sibley, Iowa show a variety of pigeons and chickens at the Brown County Pigeon and Poultry Association Swap-Sell Show at the Brown County Fairgrounds Saturday.

NEW ULM — Minnesota’s oldest pigeon and poultry club, the Brown County Pigeon & Poultry Association, kept its streak of more than a century of consecutive shows alive Saturday, with an outdoor swap and sell show at the Brown County Fairgrounds.

A number of the dozens of show attendees brought rabbits too.

“It’s a great club. They’re always very well organized. That’s why I come all the way up here,” said Terry Maassen of Sioux Center, Iowa. “I’ve been a pigeon nut since age 11 when I began catching them in the barn.”

A former corn, beans and swine producing farmer, Maassen is now a landscape hydrologist. All the while, he’s been raising pigeons.

“These shows are my getaway. There aren’t many pigeon events now other than here,” Maassen said.

Norma and Bob Vos of Sibley, Iowa brought a number of their pigeons and chickens.

“It’s a hobby” Bob said. “The shows are a good way to meet people and renew old friendships. I’ve been coming here since 1999.”

Brown County Pigeon & Poultry Association President Doug Grams said he’s been heavily involved with the organization since 1988.

“It’s a lot of work, but I love it,” Grams said. “I started getting involved with pigeons after I came home from six years in the U.S. Army. My kids needed 4-H projects, so we began raising pigeons.”

The New Ulm Club promotes sportsmanship, friendship, competition and junior involvement. It has an avid closed Facebook group and has an extensive website on Angelfire.com.

You could say pigeons are underrated. They are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds on the planet and able to do tasks previously thought to be the sole preserve of humans and primates, according to the Pigeon Resource Center.

Pigeons can recognize all 26 English language letters and able to differentiate between two different human beings in a photo when rewarded with food for doing so, according to the organization.

Pigeons have saved hundreds of thousands of human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines in the First and Second World Wars.

Pigeons were carried on ships. Messenger pigeons were used to carry details of ships sinking after German U-boat attacks. Often times, this led to survivors being rescued and lives saved.

In the First World War, mobile pigeon lofts were created behind trenches from which pigeons often had to fly through enemy fire and poison gas to get messages home.

In the Second World War, pigeons relayed invaluable information back to the allies about the German V1 and V2 rocket sits on the east side of the English Channel.

All pigeons have the ability to return to their roost by using roads and motorways to navigate.

Pigeons can see ultra-violet light, part of the spectrum that humans can’t see, which is one of the reasons they are so well adapted to lifesaving at sea.

According to the Urban Wildlife Society, pigeons:

• Provide good company to senior citizens and children.

• Are loyal, affectionate and make great friends.

• Eat food we dispose of as litter.

• Primarily eat seeds. Some of their favorites are weed seeds.

• Mate for life and care for their mat and their young, sharing feeding areas and living peacefully with each other.

• Nearly all religions revere pigeons as holy birds.

• Have delivered lifesaving medications and provide valuable messenger service in remote areas.

Chickens have many benefits too including producing fresh, healthy eggs, producing great garden fertilizer and providing lively pets.

Chickens also:

• Can eat vegetable table scraps and a yard full of bugs including ticks, slugs, termites, ants, pill bugs and weeds.

• Chicken manure can be used as compost and fertilizer.

• Can recognize up to 100 human faces.

• Can be eaten daily, but are better eaten by boiling, grilling, roasting or baking.

• Chicken eggs are the only food high in cholesterol that are low in saturated fat.

Rabbits are good for many things too. They:

• Are as playful and silly as any puppy, independent and curious as cats and as loyal and affectionate as dogs.

• Help compost waste and generate valuable manure fertilizer for vegetable gardens.

• Recognize you by hour voice and looks, even come on command, follow their owners from room to room and jump on their laps when called.

• May even dance to classical music.

• Are scared when they are picked up.

• As domesticated pets, they will understand and mirror human emotions.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.


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