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|News > Etienne and Frank Devos|
and Frank Devos:
National Champion Very Long Distance KBDB 2004
by Stefan Mertens
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The clocking set-up
A detail of the
Etienne Devos in
the upstairs loft
Everybody in Belgium is talking again about the father-son combination
of Etienne and Frank Devos from Deerlijk, situated in West-Flanders. The
power of this loft doesn't know any limits. Theirs is a fairy-tale that
started about 30 years ago, but since the 70s the pigeon sport delivers
achievements at a higher level each year. You want proof on the table?
Well, it started with the first national title in 1979. When we look at
the trophy, we read "national champion long distance." In 1985 it was
"bingo" again - another title of national champion long distance went
to Deerlijk. In 1989 this loft represented Belgium at the Olympiad in
And the fairy-tale went further. Eight years later, this colony experienced a real "explosion." A national victory was celebrated because top bird "Jan Ijzeren" won the national race from Marseille. Two years later, the internationally known top bird, "Kleine Didi," became not only Worldchampion Versele-Laga, but also won the 1st national from Dax and the 2nd international from Perpignan. That same year, he also became first national ace-pigeon. Again, two years later there was "Stanics," who couldn't resist winning national Limoges. And now, in the 2004 season again national champion, now on the very long distance. The year 2004 was truly a top year for this father-son combination because during the past winter period they were celebrated 37 times as 1st champion. Those who did better can always contact us!
THANKS TO DAD
Just like a lot of other fanciers, Etienne became caught the pigeon virus from his father. In 1965, father Andre Devos died and Etienne was alone in the pigeon loft. Etienne kept his father's pigeons, and with the little knowledge he had, Etienne did more than his best. Certainly stockbird "Dikken," the favorite from his father's collection, with direct links to the famous "Opgeblazene" from Stichelbout, reigned as king over the breeding loft. Coupled to "Oud Gilberke" (strain Desmet-Matthijs X Nachtegaele Michel), they became parents of "Oud Zwartje," a superb breeding hen. Despite this, a first investment had to be made.
A son of the "Kleinen" from Gebroeders Debaere (Nokere) was purchased. This cock was named "Wittenbuik" and together with his hen "Bontje Verheye" (a daughter of the "Beatle" from Jos Verheye ) they became parents of the "Merckx"(3153514/70), a real top widower. Breeding must always take place with a certain strategy. Therefore, Etienne coupled the "Wittenbuik" with "Oud Zwartje." This produced the "Zwarten," who was coupled with the "Limogesduivin" (strain Vandenbroucke Joseph) and became parents of the "Benie." This "Benie" became the cock of a full sister of the "Merckx," and they became parents of the "Laten."
And Etienne continued coupling with success. On a certain day, he coupled the "Laten" with "Princesje" (sister "Merckx"), and so the world-famous "Witterugge" (3009906/77) was born. He was a world-class breeder, and still years after his death his name and ring number come back in a lot of pedigrees. But everything has to end, and so Etienne was again investing in new blood. During a pigeon-evening, Etienne bought a voucher for a youngbird of Joseph Vandenbroucke. The voucher was misplaced between other papers, and one day Joseph asked Etienne if he wasn't interested in his birds because he didn't collect the youngbird yet. A day later, Etienne was standing in Joseph's loft, and he also bought a late bred to prove that he was really interested in this birds.
The Vandenbroucke pigeons were not the kind of birds Etienne was looking for. "Too little and "not hard enough" was his conclusion. But let them do. They will be basketted like all other birds, and they'll select themselves out. The new investments came well through the winter, and during the spring they found each other as a couple. The first youngsters were not Etienne's type, but they surprised friend and enemy alike when they were basketted for a very long-distance race and came home at the top of the result sheet. In the following racing seasons, there was no discussion about the quality of those little Vandenbroucke pigeons.
The "Kleine Didi" made the name Devos unforgettable, and now seven years later we can say that those little birds are very valuable. Of course, the power of those Vandenbroucke pigeons was strengthened with blood from other lofts. For example, we're talking about birds from Florizoone Roger (Nieuwpoort), Vandenabeele Gaby (Dentergem), Couteau Georges, Harinck-Poelmans (Genk) and Noel Lippens (Aarsele).
A LOT OF LOFTS - FEW PIGEONS
I have personally known the Devos loft for ten years. From my first visits to this loft, I remember that I saw a lot of lofts but only a few birds in the lofts. There are places for 12 widowers, but when you open the loft door only two or three widowers are looking in your direction. "It's easy to clean the lofts," Etienne says to defend his method. But from the look in my eyes he could see that I didn't believe him. "I will tell you," said Etienne, "of course it is easy to clean lofts with only a few pigeons in them, but the main reason is that I am able to create a 'jealous atmosphere' in the lofts. By handling them like this I already had a lot of super motivated and jealous birds in the loft. I still remember very well the situation of the 'Kleine Didi.' There were only two cocks in one loft, and a lot of straw in the corner of the loft was the motivation. The whole week 'Kleine Didi' was sitting on this straw, and from the moment he was away his companion took his place. No wonder that 'Kleine Didi' was more than motivated. You can imagine that, when he came back from a race, he flew immediately through the window to sit on his straw and not in his box."
Etienne continues, "Maybe I have to explain my method in another way. Personally, I believe more in jealous pigeons than in motivated birds. A motivated bird can put a top result on paper. Here they say it is a top prize or no prize. Pigeons who are jealous can put topresults on paper a whole year through. You understand what I mean. Therefore, I try to create these kinds of 'jealous' situations. Nowadays I have the same effect with 'Rivaldo' (3100356/98) and 'Ronaldo' (3304274/98). Only those two are sitting in a loft with 12 boxes."
Devos holding one
of his champions
A champion's wing
A typical Devos
A drinker with
Etienne explains, "The last big advantage of lofts with a few birds is
that you can close the lofts as much as you want. I like lofts that are
well closed because I'm convinced that a loft with a lot of air-circulation
can lead to a problem with ornithosis.
At the Devos loft, hens are never showed the day of basketting but the day before basketting. In most cases, they can stay about four hours with their partner. On basketting day they are motivated but they are calm in the basket.
For the 2005 season there are 70 widowers ready to compete. Two different systems of preparation are followed. A first system is followed with 15 top widowers. The system is that after the last long-distance race, the best widowers stay together with their hen until the middle of December. Breeding youngsters is not allowed. When eggs are laid, they are always transferred to other couples. The result is that after a few months, Etienne has a nice group of latebreds from his best widowers. He shows no mercy with those birds. After a few months, they see the inside of a training basket, and during their first racing season they are even basketted for a very long-distance race. This system costs some "feathers" but those who survive are the future top birds in the loft.
The other widowers and breeders do winter breeding. Etienne says, "I don't like to do this but I need those youngsters for the youngbird races, otherwise I don't have any chance to win a general championship. Och. Those early bred youngsters. Maybe it is my wrong opinion, but I always have the impression that their 'career' is already finished before their real long distance 'career' starts. Give me summer or latebreds. Guys who get some experience during their first year and become good long-distance birds when they're three or four years old. Do I notice any difference in moulting during the racing season between the two groups? No. Every year I race with the group that stays longest together, around Perpignan, and then we're speaking about the beginning of August. So that says enough."
"On the medical scene," Devos explains, "I try to make no mistakes. The specialized vet comes every two weeks, and if he advises me to treat, I treat. Otherwise, no medication allowed. Last season, I kept the medication closet closed up. A little cure against ornithosis just before the important races was enough to keep all ornithosis problems away. I think that there is only one real pigeon dissease and that is trichomoniase. It's a disease that develops very quickly, and by treating every week I try to avoid this disease. Therefore, I give every week ¼ Flagyl. Efficient and proven good, otherwise I wouldn't win with birds that are six or seven years old."
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THEY WON THE
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