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Benny and Carine
Wing of "Chipo"
The aviary behind
An aviary for hens
A view inside
In the corridor
of the widowers'
In a breeding loft
A breeding couple
It had to be in 2003 when we had the first conversation with this Belgian
champion. I remember it very well...
It was on the provincial championship day of East-Flanders, the province
where more than 11,000 fanciers live and "Chipo" (B03-439022) was just
crowned as the best young middle distance bird of the province. His
owner: Benny Steveninck. To give you an impression that it's not that
easy to win the ace-pigeon competition, I will give you the results
that "Chipo" won as a young bird: 1st Dourdan 571b., 1st Dourdan 375b.,
2nd Dourdan 1,316b., 9th Dourdan 1,268b., 9th Dourdan 339b., 10th Dourdan
964b. Extremely nice results, and it was no wonder that several buyers
were ready to put this "golden cock" in their basket.
But Benny didn't sell, and one season later "Chipo" had to prove
again that he's a real top bird. A top bird stays a top bird, and "Chipo"
showed his qualities again as a year bird: 1st Dourdan 614b., 1st Dourdan
213b., 1st Dourdan 101b., 41st Bourges 2,306b., 17th Dourdan 848b. and
so on. However, after this second nice season he didn't receive a ticket
to the breeding loft. No, again he had to perform, and also in his third
season (in 2005) "Chipo" was more than just present: 3rd Dourdan 217b.,
7th Toury 427b., 5th Dourdan 194b., 9th Noyon 199b., and so on. Beautiful,
isn't it? But the nicest thing about the "Chipo" story is that his sons
began to win top prizes also. Sometimes Chipo's sons were clocked before
their father. For Benny, this was a sign to give "Chipo" a new box,
but this time in the breeding loft. Coupled against his hen B03-4328989
(won as a young bird seven prizes whereby 5 times 1/10 - strain Michel
Hautekiet from Ruddervoorde ) they became parents of following top cocks:
"Chihaut 100" (B04-4138100): became as a young bird the 15th
provincial ace-pigeon and as a two-year-old bird the 6th national ace-pigeon
middle distance KBDB. His racing results: 1st Noyon 807b., 1st Dourdan
508b., 1st Dourdan 384b., 1st Dourdan 204b., 3rd Dourdan 565b., 2nd
Dourdan 357b., 4th Dourdan 441b., 3rd Dourdan 317b., 2nd Dourdan 198b.,
2nd Dourdan 180b., 5th Dourdan 349b., 4th Dourdan 270b., 7th Dourdan
420b., 9th Bourges 333b., and so on.
"Chihaut 99" (B05-4323999): 4th Bourges 1,971b. (11th national against
12,989 year birds), 1st Dourdan 394b., 2nd Dourdan 453b., 15th Blois
1,973b., 2nd Dourdan 194b., 7th Dourdan 564b., 5th Dourdan 169b., 7th
Dourdan 227b., and so on.
"Chihaut 98" (B05-4323998): 1st Noyon 539b., 1st Dourdan 571b., 1st
Dourdan 342b., 1st Dourdan 227b., 1st Dourdan 226b., 2nd Dourdan 443b.,
2nd Noyon 400b., 8th Dourdan 786b., 3rd Dourdan 229b., and so on.
But it doesn't stay in the first generation. Also in the second "Chipo"
generation we find 1st prize winners:
B05-4323835 (son "Chihaut 100"): 1st Dourdan 330b., 1st Quievrain 119b.,
3rd Dourdan 342b., 2nd Dourdan 226b., 6th Dourdan 143b., 13th Dourdan
579b., and so on.
B06-4249317 (son "Chihaut 100"): 3rd Dourdan 310b., 3rd Vichy 255b.,
and so on.
And what do you think about the brothers of "Chipo," namely B04-4138962.
He is almost as good as his famous brother: 1st Noyon 255b., 1st Dourdan
229b., 1st Dourdan 198b., 1st Quievrain 103b., 3rd Dourdan 270b., 6th
Dourdan 508b., 11th Dourdan 915b., 9th Noyon 533b., 5th Dourdan 284b.,
7th Dourdan 379b., 9th Dourdan 357b., 4th Dourdan 148b., 6th Noyon 183b.,
7th Dourdan 198b., 8th Dourdan 204b., and so on.
A son of "brother of Chipo" knows also very well what it means to put
top results on paper: 1st Dourdan 659b., 1st Dourdan 248b., 2nd Dourdan
579b., 3rd Dourdan 443b., 3rd Quievrain 119b., 8th Dourdan 1,013b.,
8th Dourdan 266b., 9th Dourdan 227b., and so on.
To be honest, if you have such a winning family of racing pigeons in
your loft, then it must be more than fun to race pigeons!
Benny Steveninck, 45 years old, has not been in the pigeon sport very
long. Benny explains: "I started in 1998 on my own name, but I must
say that the pigeon sport was not a strange thing in my life because
my father Raymond was also a fancier. When I was just married I formed
a combination with my dad, with the result that I was spending more
time at my parents' house than at home. My wife Carine didn't like this
very much, and therefore she proposed to build a pigeon loft in our
garden. We did that very quickly, and since that time Carine also developed
some interest in the pigeon sport. Due to my busy job, it is not that
simple to make time free for the birds. Carine is there to help me,
and she does that with a lot of enthusiasm.
"When I started in my own name," Benny continues, "I decided to try
it on the middle distance races, and therefore I invested money with
well-known middle-distance specialists. The first birds came from Willy
Van Houtte (Wevelgem). Around 10 young birds went into my basket and
as the success with these Van Houtte birds came readily, I bought birds
again from this fancier. Those Van Houtte birds needed to be crossed,
and the perfect cross was found with Eric Brootcoorens (Idegem), Van
Damme Johan (Dendermonde), Verstraeten Sylvain, Michel Hautekiet (Ruddervoorde)
and Philips Geert (Dendermonde)."
"For the past few seasons I have started the season with 23 widowers.
In 2006 these were eight old and 15 year birds, but for the 2007 season
it can be the opposite way, namely eight year birds and 15 old birds,"
Benny explains. "This is so because I had too many good year birds in
2006. As already mentioned, I want to basket weekly for the middle distance.
The racing programme of the widowers is in the beginning a few short
distance races, then weekly Dourdan (343km) and in the month of July
Blois (460km) and as the final race Bourges national (480km)."
"Once the last race is finished, the widowers may 'de-stress' and start
a nest," Benny continues. "When the youngsters are big enough to wean,
everything is separated and the widowers can moult further. During the
moulting the pigeons are kept inside, get a bath twice a week and a
few times a week Sedochol or Biochol is in the drinker. Sometimes I
put Sedochol on the mixture and dry this with vitamins and amino-acids
in powder form. It is very important that the pigeons can start 100%
healthy at the moulting season, and therefore every bird in my loft
is treated against tricho and coccidiosis. I do this treatment the first
week after their last race."
"Just to mention," Benny says, "last racing season the vet found more
coccidiosis in my birds than in other years. He didn't have a logical
explanation for this problem and because the birds flew very well he
didn't suggest a treatment. Due to the fact that the results were super,
I was afraid that when I treated against coccidiosis the top condition
would go away."
Benny explains, "As is the case in a lot of lofts, winter breeding is
a fact here also. Breeders, racers-everything goes together at the beginning
of December and may breed. When the stock birds finish their first round,
they can start immediately with a second round. With the widowers I
watch out that they don't start a second nest. I don't want the hens
of the widowers to lay a second time and therefore I quickly wean the
youngsters of the widowers, together with the hens. Sometimes I put
the eggs of the best widowers under another couple and let the hen of
that top widower lay a second time. In this way, I have also four youngsters
of the best birds and so I know quicker the breeding qualities of that
After the winter breeding, Benny makes the first preparation steps for
the new racing season. He says, "The widowers may train more little
by little, but I'm careful that they don't get too quickly (in March
and April) into top condition. In that period I also adapt the mixture.
They get 1/3 barley and 2/3 Super Diet. From this mixture they get 1
soupspoon per pigeon per day. In this period I visit a specialized pigeon
vet, and all necessary vaccinations (paramyxo, pox) are done. During
that same period I give a lot of Colombine Tea and Biochol."
At the beginning of April, the widowers are coupled for the second time
and they sit on eggs for a maximum of five days. If the weather conditions
are good, Steveninck makes the first training tosses. Benny explains,
"I'm very careful when I make those tosses. In seven or eight steps
I go to 70km."
"Once the season starts," Benny continues, "I don't do anything special
anymore. Just the widowhood system as in a lot of other lofts. Feeding
is very important, and here I work with a three-system feeding program.
They get a protein-rich recuperation mixture when they come home and
a day after, a protein-poor mixture the following days, and a mixture
very rich in fat the last meals before basketting. For the rest I work
a lot with Aminovit from Colombine and with Zell-Oxygen."
A few hours after arrival the widowers all get a luke-warm bath, and
he drops the eyes with an antibiotic eye drop. Benny says, "On the medical
scene, I work with the vet Piet Blancke (Kanegem). He has a kind of
six-week program, and I follow this."
In two rounds there are about 100 young birds bred for Steveninck's
own use. The first round is darkened from the moment they're weaned
until the end of May. The second round stays in the dark till the longest
day of the year. Benny explains, "The reason why I bet on two horses
is to create the top condition at several periods of the season. The
second round has to be ready for the last two national races in September,
namely La Souterraine and Guerret."
Till their second Quievrain race the birds stay together and then the
"open-door" system is followed. With exception of the last four races,
hens and cocks never come together before the race. Only after the race
can they "party."
Benny says, "During the week I toss the young birds once or twice at
40km. Hens and cocks are liberated separately, but by arrival they may
stay together for two hours. For the rest, I follow the same system
as with the widowers."
SOME RESULTS 2006
Each from Dourdan (350km):
394 yearbirds: 1-54-56-72-75 (5)
357 old birds: 2-7-9-14-19 (6)
284 old birds: 1-3-4-5-6-42-109 (7)
443 yearbirds: 2-3-5-48-112 (5)
152 old birds: 3-4-45 (4)
194 yearbirds: 1-2-22-23-31-46-47 (8)
270 old birds: 2-3-4-7-11-34 (7)
342 yearbirds: 1-3-12-33-57-88 (6)
169 yearbirds: 1-2-5-9-12-18-32 (8)
229 old birds: 1-3-7-19-26-39-46 (7)
226 yearbirds: 4-8-11-19-32 (6)
226 yearbirds: 1-2-3-15-18-21-22-30-42-52-53 (12)
774 youngbirds: 2-3-6-8-9-10-11-12-17-35-39 etc…(27)
310 youngbirds: 1-2-3-6-7-9-10-30-31-33-48 etc… (24)
502 youngbirds: 2-4-6-8-9-11-12-20-21-22-23 etc… (27)
175 youngbirds: 1-2-3-6-7-8-21-27-28-29-31 etc… (24)
460 youngbirds: 1-2-21-33-64-69-73-77-78 etc… (16)
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