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and Patrick Desmet
Grit for the
Mixtures for the
Aviary for the
Hens in their
Patrick in the
with the birds
look very well
With fanciers Andre and Patrick Desmet from Semmerzake, the KBDB
definitely has as Belgian champion long distance a world name, without
any argument. I'm sure that you have already read somewhere other reports
about the base and results of this loft. But if you have never heard
of these fanciers and you have your doubts about the quality of this
top loft, then I will convince you with following performances. From
1990 through 2005 419 first prizes were clocked-all carefully counted.
If we take only the provincial results, then we find the name Desmet
524 times back in the first 10 provincial prizes, and among these were
74 times the 1st provincial. And then, there are the national races.
Also since 1990, Andre and Patrick won 434 prizes that were among the
50 first prizes in the national races, and among these, they were 13
times the first national and 12 times the 2nd national. Unbelievable
And then the season 2005…. Again, it was a superb one. They counted
23 first prizes during this season, and the most beautiful thing that
can happen to a fancier came true, namely winning 1st national champion
in their favourite category: the long distance. To win this national
championship, you have to take the best three results with the 1st and
2nd nominated birds, and these can be chosen out of the following national
long distance races: Brive, Montélimar, Cahors, Montauban, Orange, Limoges
HOW IT STARTED
We'll go back to the middle fifties (1955). Andre was responsible for
buildings everywhere in Belgium, and therefore he was away from home
during the whole week. If he wanted to race pigeons, his lovely wife
Madeleine had to be more than just a helping hand. Luckily for Andre,
Madeleine was a born top fancier.
Andre says: " On a certain very sunny day we had basketted our whole
team for a race from St Denis (240km). There was a very famous reporter
here to watch the birds coming home and we were lucky that the birds
came home one after the other. It was all blue birds, but the fact that
the sun was shining on them gave them the colour of vaal. [Editor's
note: the Belgians call silver-colored birds "vaal."] One
day later the reporter wrote in the newspaper that he had never seen
such an arrival of birds… it was just like a train that was arriving
in the station and he used as title the "Vale trein" (translated : the
Vale train). From that moment, everybody thought that we had a lot of
vale birds but that was a big misunderstanding."
The base of the Desmet colony was formed with world-famous pigeons.
The crossing of pigeons from Janssens Gebroeders (Arendonk) X Desmet-Matthijs
(Nokere) X Gust Hofkens seemed to be the "golden breed." But to be honest,
a hen from a certain Van Lierde from Ronse, who won a national race,
was also a superb breeding hen.
As with a lot of fanciers, our friends started on the short distance,
and on nine out of 10 races the Desmet birds won several top prizes
and always won a lot of money. After a few years, the different clubs
in the area had had enough of the Desmet results and closed their doors
to these fanciers. André quickly made a decision to try it on the long
The base of his short distance birds stayed, but their blood became
enriched with the blood of the Roger Vereecke pigeons. A lot of direct
Vereecke birds came to Semmerzake, and again it was bingo in the breeding
loft. Especially, the crossing of the "Crack" (Vereecke) X "204" made
sure that the name Desmet became known around the world.
TOP WITH HENS
In 1992 Andre made a serious decision. Andre explains, "I found it such
a shame that at the end of each season all those good young hens were
put in an aviary or sold. I found it was more than time to start racing
hens also. The first year we started with 12 yearbird hens. One season
later, we already had 16, and again a year later we had 32 ladies to
basket. And for the season 2005 we had just counted 70 hens on widowhood."
"Concerning the system," Andre continues, "we can tell you that the
hens, until last season, were never coupled for an early breeding. During
the moulting period, the hens stayed in their loft, and when the moult
was finished they got a ticket in the direction of the aviary. But in
2004-2005, the hens were prepared in a different way for the new season."
From the 1st of September, the hens went into the aviary, and because
the period from September until the end of March is too long to stay
in an aviary, Andre decided to couple them at the beginning of December
and to let them breed a couple of youngsters.
When the youngsters were 14 days old, all the youngsters went on the
floor of the loft, the hens went to the aviary and the cocks could breed
the youngsters further. When the hens are in the aviary, this is only
during the day. At night they can enter a loft where a moulting mixture
is fed. On the 1st of April they are coupled again and after a 5-days
brood they're on widowhood. Twice a week they get Colombine Tea in the
drinker, and also twice a week Biochol or Sedochol mixed on the corn.
About 14 days before the second coupling, the hens are fed quite well
so they're truly prepared for a productive coupling.
Hens must be raced weekly, and we must say in Semmerzake that is this
also true in the beginning of the season. Once they go to race around
the 500km distance, and the weather conditions are not so easy, then
it is possible that the hens stay home for a weekend. When the hens
are basketted, they only get their nest bowl and their box but don't
see their cock. Only when they arrive from the race, will their cock
also be present, and then they can stay a long time together, even till
the next morning.
"To avoid the pairing between the hens, we close up the hens in a box.
We can even say that the hens are always closed up in their box. When
the hens train around the loft, I stay a full hour outside with a flag
to make sure that the hens train very well. When the hens are called
in, my son Patrick and my wife, Madeleine, are standing in the lofts
and close the hens up immediately. In their box the hens find food and
"To be honest," Andre continues, "I prefer to race with hens than with
cocks. Hens are so lovely, don't become nervous during their stay in
the basket, and it seems to be easier to create the top condition with
hens than with cocks. Of one thing I'm more than convinced. Namely,
that you don't need to be afraid because of the cocks with hens in top
Ready for the
One of the aviaries
The racing lofts
A handy elevator
A special sputnik
The widowers, a team of 40, are paired up around the 15th of December
and breed a couple of youngsters until they reach the age of 14 days.
Then the youngsters are put on the floor of the loft, the widowers go
to the aviary, and the hens raise the youngsters till they're old enough
to put in the young bird loft.
On the 1st of April, the cocks are coupled again, and just like the
hens on widowhood they may brood five days. When the weather conditions
are perfect, they do their first tosses. It may sound a little strange,
but the Desmets are very careful when it concerns the first tosses of
a new season. They prefer to toss the widowers and hens a few times
at 20km than to go directly to 50 or 60km.
rest, they have the same system with the cocks as with the hens.
The Desmets insist, "To be competitive in the pigeon sport is being
present 365 days out of 365 days. We can assure you that if you want
to be at the top of the national and international pigeon sport you
cannot have 'a bad moment.' The pigeons must be in condition the whole
year through. A bad moulting or winter period will guarantee a bad racing
season. During the winter our pigeons get a lot of Colombine Tea, and
sometimes a little bit of Colombine Garlic Juice is mixed in the drinker.
When the pigeons come through the moult in a very healthy way, then
we can say that during the winter period the medication pot stays closed.
Only a few weeks before the first coupling do we treat the first time
against trichomonaisis. A second treatment against trichomonaisis is
made when they brood. During the racing season, the pigeons are treated
against tricho every two weeks or a maximum of three weeks. The birds
are never preventively treated against coccidiosis or worms. Only when
the vet advises to treat we will do that. To be honest, we try to avoid
treating a lot. And this is proven by the fact that we have birds at
five and six years old that still come out on top in a national race."
the same way about ornithosis. It is a disease which can be avoided
by creating superb ventilation in the lofts. The fact that the racing
birds stay a lot of the time in the aviary means a lot. It's unbelievable
how nice the birds look when they come back from their two- or three-month
As already mentioned, a very good ventilation design on the racing lofts
matters a lot. In the windows, they have special wire as well as a special
ventilation system that can be turned on if necessary. But also here
the fancier has to be alert. When the outside temperature is too low,
then the ventilation system shouldn't be turned on, because otherwise
it pulls in cold air and again that is bad for creating ornithosis.
It is the same with a heating system. In all the Desmets' lofts there
is a heating system but they are very careful about turning them on.
Every year our father-son partnership breeds around 150 young birds
for their own use. The game with the young birds is not so important
as the game with the old and with the year birds, but of course they
do everything to make top results in this category. Just as with a lot
of other fanciers, the youngsters are darkened and raced in the provincial
and national races. They're not raced on the open door system or on
widowhood, but they race them on nest position. Patrick explains, "The
young birds can do what they want. If they want to start a nest we let
them do that. The young birds in the best nest position are basketted,
and we hope that they win the needed points each week for the championships
we want to win."
SOME TOP BIRDS
"Het Briveke" 4010007/03: Comes out of "Super Tulle VII" X "Laat
Superke." Won in total 36 prizes, namely: 199th national St. Vincent
against 10,624 yearbirds and 19th national Brive against 20,310 old
"De 5000" 4030145/02. Comes out of "De 515" X "083." Won in total
45 prizes, namely 27th national Cahors against 7340 birds and the 5th
national Brive against 20,310 old birds.
"Tornado" 4010267/03: Comes out of "Jonge Ronaldo III" X "First
Lady." Won as top prizes 63rd national Bourges against 14,207 birds,
6th national Brive against 20,310 old birds, 6th provincial Chateauroux
against 2765 birds.
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