Arek Buttner of Swarzedz Poland
By Ski Grabanski
My cousins from Minnesota have been to Europe a couple of times and have been after my wife (Eileen) and I to join them. Our stand by answer was always, “next time”. Well, wouldn’t you know it, we received a call in late May telling us “next time” is here. They were planning a trip in August and would like us to join them. Long story short, we did and we had a great time.
We have cousins in Poznan Poland and spent several days there visiting. Now you have to understand, this was not a pigeon visiting trip. BUT, since we had several days planned in the Poznan area, I had a small idea form in my head J. I contacted Ireneusz Brozk of Poland owner of “Pigeon Loft Organizer” and publisher of the European “Racing Pigeon Newsletter”. The question I asked, “was there any pigeon flyers near Poznan”? To my surprise, he said there were two or three thousand in the surrounding area. Next question, can you give me a flyers name that can speak English (because of my limited polish) that I could contact? The name he gave me was Arkadiusz (Arek) Buttner. In my opinion an upcoming young star in the Polish pigeon world.
The first thing Arek did when I contacted him was apologize for his English. He hadn’t spoken it in 20 years. Believe you and I, his English is much better than my polish. We exchanged many emails before our trip. I asked Arek if there was a website that I good look at to see his race results. When I visited the website, I was totally amazed at his OB Race Results.
1st thru 12th 145km 6,479 birds 28th, 32nd, 33rd, 39th, 40th 41st, 44th, 48th, 49th, 50th 168km 6,666 birds 11th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 27th 204km 6,006 birds 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 11th, 20th, 21st, 23rd, 24th, 34th, 35th, 36th 359km 5,945 birds 5th, 6th, 7th, 16th, 23rd, 26th, 28th, 30th,40th, 41st, 47th, 48th 359km 4,486 birds 1st, 2nd, 42nd 533km 2,943 birds 1st, 2nd, 4th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 51st 359km 3,897 birds 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th 533km 2,993 birds 13th, 14th, 15th, 18th 359km 3,426 birds 11th, 12th, 15th, 35th 761km 2,107 birds 6th, 7th, 8th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 36th, 37th, 38th, 50th 359km 2,886 birds 4th, 5th, 8th, 10th, 20th, 24th, 26th, 30th, 31st, 359km 2,381 birds 2nd 533km 1,732 birds
When I contacted Arek, I asked if I could pay him a visit when we were in Poznan. I told him I would understand if he said no, because I knew it would be during his young bird race season. To my surprise he not only said yes, but invited us to come and watch his young bird team return home from their second young bird race. I can truly say for me our visit with Arek and his family was the highlight of our trip to Europe. What a wonderful and gracious host and family.
As we were talking and waiting for the birds to return, Arek asked if I would like to attend Knockoff with him after the race. What a treat.
I asked Arek about the young bird season and if flies the Dark or Light system? He flies the yb’s natural and said for him the young bird season is only to prepare them for next year’s old bird season. As I looked at his young birds that he kept home, I could see they were going through a heavy molt and wondered how he would do in the race today. Well, he did great (15th, 19th, 22nd, 24th, 28th, 30th,32nd, 43rd, 44th, etc. against 6,479 pigeons). It was a beautiful day, but I found out the US is not the only place that experiences heavy losses in young birds. The whole organization experienced about 35% losses on what looked like a perfect day for a race.
As we waited for the race birds, I found out that Arek is 37 years old, has been married to his wife (Agnes), for 9 years and has two sons. He can’t remember ever not having pigeons. His father (Gregory) also grew up with pigeons. Arek and his father flew birds together until this year. His father had a stroke last year and is on his way to recovery. As we talked, I told Arek that I had written a few articles for our American pigeon magazine “The Racing Pigeon Digest” and asked if he would mind if I did an article on him? His immediate response was, “I don’t know if I’m good enough. There are better than me. For example, there is a man who lives 40 Km from here who will probably be Champion of Poland in Middle Distance”. I told him if he wasn’t the best, I thought he was right up there with them. Actually, I think I embarrassed him a little by asking the question. But after some thought, he said okay.
As we waited for the birds to arrive, Arek asked if I would like to take a look at his race birds. What an experience, Arek took me through all of his flying lofts and let me handle the birds. It was very easy to see why he does so well in the races. The birds all handled excellent and were in fantastic shape. The birds had excellent balance, beautiful feather and sparkling bright eyes. It’s hard to describe quality, but easy to recognize when in the hand. I also got to handle the breeders that are kept at Arek’s father’s home. The birds are in a loft above the living quarters. It was really neat to see. It’s something I have read about, but the first time ever seeing it. Again the birds were excellent in the hand and very easy to see why they are so successful. The thing that really stood out to me with both the racers and breeders was how calm all the birds were and the special relationship they had with their owners.
Old Bird System: It’s really surprising how simple he keeps things. Arek has two Widowhood cock teams. On one team he only flies the cocks and the second team, he flies both cocks and hens to the races. All the Widowhood cocks are 2 years old or older. He also has a natural team that consists of yearling cocks and older hens. The Widowhood cocks out fly the natural team almost weekly. He said the yearling cocks are being prepared for Widowhood as two year olds. He mates the widowhood cocks February 1st and then separates them after they are on eggs for 4 or 5 days. He repeats the same process again on April 1st. The Old Bird season starts the last weekend of April and goes through the last weekend of July, for a total of 14 races. The Young Bird season starts two weeks later and is 5 weeks long.
Training: The birds have 5 or 6 tosses between 20 and 70Km before the season starts. For the first 4 or 5 races the birds are given a 15Km toss mid-week. After that, the road training stops. The cocks and hens are let out for exercise Monday thru Thursday for 40 minutes once per day. Races over 500Km the birds are let out Monday through Wednesday.
Feed: He mixes his own and the flyers have feed in front of them all the time. He doesn’t know the percentage. It was funny to watch when he showed me how he mixes the feed. I think he must have had 25 different bags of mixes and seeds opened. He said he takes a can of this and a can this and a can of that and a half a can of this, etc. He had my head spinning. But he knew exactly what he was doing. He does not feed light to heavy. They get the same feed 7 days a week. He did say when they are shipped 400 Km or further and it looks like a tailwind day he cuts back on the white rice.
Medication: Arek vaccinates the young birds for Paramyxo and Pox’s. He also vaccinates the breeders every year for Paramyxo. In February all birds get a combination treatment for Canker and Cocci and in April something for Ornithosis (respiratory). The race birds are treated for Canker and respiratory 3 to 4 times a year. The race birds are given Vitamin B12 the day before basketing.
Races: The widow cocks go every week until they show signs of needing a rest. He likes shipping the yearlings when it looks like a headwind race day. He says he thinks the losses are much heavier on a tailwind day for the yearling cocks. The widowhood cocks are shown their hens on Wednesday. Sometimes for up to 6 hrs. On their return from the race, they are with the hens for 7 or 8 hrs. If it’s a hard race they are together for only about an hour.
The family of birds that Arek has are: Floor Vanvoort (Fieneke 5000) for Sprint, Claessenes, Koopman (Tips) for middle distance and Vandenabeele(Bliksem bloodlines), Houben & Van Loon (Beach Boy lines) for the distance.
I would like to thank Arek and his family for making us feel like part of their family. A couple of days after the race we were invited to Arek’s parents home for lunch. We met his mother Grandma (Steffie), his sister and her family and Arek’s family. Our only regret was that Arek’s wife was working when we were there and never did meet. We had a great lunch and some great conversation.
If you have any questions for Arek, he can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org