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  News > Ludo Claessens Part II
  News from Belgium and Europe

Ludo Claessens:
Alone at the Top
by Stefan Mertens

To go to the first part of this two-part acticle, click here
In this second installment about the top loft of Ludo Claessens, we will talk with Ludo about his methods. What does he do to succeed in the racing pigeon sport? When, with what, and how long does he treat his pigeons against diseases? How does he motivate his birds? How does he feed? All these questions I had in mind, but when I asked Ludo my first question, I was very surprised by his answer. "Listen, Stefan, I don't have a system. Every year I do something else. I never do the same thing two years in a row. Every season is different, so every season I handle it differently. No, I don't have a fixed coupling date for my widowers. No, I don't feed my widowers always in the same way."

Now, I was standing there with all my questions. What could I do? I didn't have any information for my second segment about this loft.
"No problem, said Ludo. "Talk about the results of the last years. The only thing that counts is results. It's so simple. For the rest, I can only mention what I did in the last season, season 2000."


Ludo Claessens

The Garden and Lofts
AFTER 1995

After the auction in 1995, a lot of fanciers thought that Ludo would be finished as a top fancier. A lot of top birds were sold. So it would be impossible to come back at the same level as before-namely, alone at the top.
But that view did not take into account Ludo's motivation. Until 1995, Ludo focused on the young bird races, but after his auction, this "superman" concentrated also on the old bird races. The "Claessens-pigeon" became an all-round bird.


Ludo cannot believe his ears when fanciers say that the pigeon sport has become impossible without a refrigerator full of medications. Winter, summer, they are always treating against diseases. "But it can also go in another way," says Ludo. "I assure you that you can be successful with a minimum of medication, but then you have to go back to the 'natural way' of the earlier days. You know what the problem is of the modern pigeon sport? Everything goes too quickly. Most of the fanciers are racing their birds until September. The moult starts, and when the moulting has just finished, they must be ready for the winter breeding. With all kinds of medication, they make the pigeons (also the widowers) ready for each season. But those fanciers forget one important thing-namely, nature needs to sleep. Take as an example the winter breeding. When you look outside, everything is 'dead' and we keep nature awake in our pigeons with all kinds of artificial tricks. We feed heavier, and we give extra light. Do we think that we will keep doing this without any punishment?"

"In my loft, I couple on the 26th of January, and so I give my birds a longer resting period to prepare them for the winter breeding. I'm not stimulating the moulting, and from September until the end of January, I'm not giving any medication. I'm not even treating against tricho, because after the racing season I make my birds tricho-free. Since in the winter they are not coming in contact with other birds, they cannot become infected and so you don't have to treat. Pigeons who don't have a normal 'health level' in the winter period are selected out. Even a superb pigeon with first prizes (1st St. Quentin/633 pigeons; 1st Nijvel/2281 pigeons), but with constantly bad droppings had to leave. I'm not prepared to treat with medication during this period. I don't sell a pigeon like that because a pigeon which is not good for me is not going to be good for anybody else."


Widowhood loft


"I let my pigeons train the whole year through, even in the winter period. Healthy pigeons train as well in the winter as in the summer, and when you feed them a little bit heavier, you develop a natural condition to start the breeding.
When the widow team is breeding, they are vaccinated against paramyxo. At the same time, the veterinarian Marien makes a visit to do a complete check-up, and, believe it or not, only after looking at 20 of my pigeons did the vet find one bird with a minor tricho infection. And, by the way, it was one of my top birds.

So in 2001 I bred without a treatment against tricho. Together with the 20 widowers I coupled 20 other couples. Just to make myself clear, when I talk about breeding couples, then I'm talking about couples that give on four youngsters, one very good one and a 'useful' one. I can assure you those couples are not so common.
From the 40 couples' eggs, I only kept 20. After 10 days brooding, there were five couples' eggs going to Kerstens-Claessens. The other eggs were thrown away. The 10 'better' cocks can, eventually, with another hen start a second nest.

The widowers have to breed two youngsters. They come again with eggs, but now they cannot have youngsters. The widowers brood until they leave their nest. Cock and hen must breed a nest together without any problems. A cock who cannot make a very good season after breeding a nest will be selected out. When the hen, together with a youngster from 14 days old, goes to the young bird loft, the cock has to raise the second youngster alone. In this situation, the cock gets into top condition, and this is ideal to start the racing season.

When the last youngster is 22 days old, it is also put in the young bird loft. All the youngsters were monitored, and one that was looking very nice had a little bit of 'yellow' in the throat. Normally, in the summer, I don't treat, but because it was so early in the year, I decided to give him Spartrix. All the other youngsters got a half dose of Spartrix."


Ludo says that there are also two other very important factors for successful racing, namely the loft and the fancier. From a top fancier, there is a lot of "matter of factness" expected. This concerning the results of his own pigeons and the results of the concurrents. Learn to read a result. The top five are situated in the west. The 6th prize winner is in the east. " Well, if I have to choose," Ludo says, "I'll take the pigeon who won the 6th prize, the moral winner. He was, without any discussion, that day the strongest bird."

"Of course, the loft is very important. The possibility to change your loft when the weather conditions change is very important. How often do you notice that pigeons in one loft are all home before the pigeons from the other loft. It is not always the quality of the birds. A new loft, the same fancier and no top results anymore-that is also the pigeon sport."

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Supercrack 69


"SUPERCRACK 69" 94/9410369
Superbreeder -racer
Raced only as youngster and yearling
Etampes fastest ca. 70,000 birds

Provins fastest provincial ca. 25,000 birds
Reims equal first 2763 birds
Montargis equal first 692 birds
Creil equal first 414 birds
"Supercrack 69" is sire of (results mentioned are through the end of the 2000 season):
NL95-9545111 1st St. Ghislain 416 birds
NL96-9619355 1st St. Ghislain 4032 birds
NL96-9692808 1st St. Ghislain 1580 birds
NL97-9779784 "Blauwe 84" 1st Peronne 2878 birds
1st Orleans 681 birds
1st Creil 198 birds
equal first Chantilly I 344 birds
NL99-9964515 1st Nijvel 2281 birds
1st Quentin 633 birds
NL99-9964498 "Yeti" 1st Morlincourt 3669 birds
1st Creil 374 birds
1st Orleans 193 birds
equal first Creil 227 birds
NL00-0077737 1st Chantilly 204 birds

"Supercrack 69" is grandsire of:
NL96-9619348 1st Chateaurous 1876 birds
1st Etampes 1781 birds
NL98-9878777 1st Peronne 4191 birds

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Red Venus


"RED VENUS" NL97-9779759
(see picture) Results mentioned are through the end of the 2000 season.
"Red Venus" is the example of an all-round pigeon, bred out of a very close family. As a yearling hen (against the old widowers) she won prizes (1 on 100) on all distances. She won 2963 prize kilometers on four races within 20 days. In one year, she won 6200 prize kilometers in 11 weeks' time.

Etampes 2000 363 km 5/6492
Creil 1998 273 km 5/2731 (1st/393)
Chateauroux 1999 543 km 5/2102
Limoges 1998 657 km 5/1981
La Souterraine 1999 608 km 8/3408
Peronne 1999 190 km 8/2878
Dax 1998 944 km 8/1295
Chantilly 2000 277 km 11/8526 (1st/344)
Etampes 1998 363 km 11/1709
Bordeaux 1998 817 km 15/1584

"ROOD 71" NL99-9915271
(see picture)
Father is "Grote Vos 35" NL96-9692835
This is a late bred from 96, out of "Silverboy" and "Donker Witpen 72" (mother of two national winners).
In 1997 Ludo had only one youngster out of this cock, namely NL97-9737630 (2nd provincial Chateauroux 2031 birds; 9th St. Quentin 2018 birds; 12th St. Quentin 2434 birds).
In 1998 "Grote Vos 35" produced the NL98-9878812 (1st Orleans 360 birds; 11th provincial 5801 birds).
In 1999 "Rood 71" and her nest brother "Donkere 70" were born. "Donkere 70" won first prizes. Mother is "Licht 117" NL93-9385117. "Licht 117" is a half sister of "Voske 54" and grandmother of "Red Venus."

Results of "Rood 71" (through the end of the 2000 season)
1st Orleans 272 birds
2nd Orleans provincial 3723 birds
9th Orleans national 14,037 birds
9th Orleans ZNB 17,642 birds
4th Morlincourt 472 birds
3rd Morlincourt 528 birds (after 2 loftmates)
10th Morlincourt 3669 birds
4th Bourges 155 birds
40th Bourges provincial 2476 birds
34th St. Quentin 4201 birds
32nd Chantilly 1296 birds

"DE GROTEN" NL95-9590389
Best Dutch short- and middle-distance bird in 1998. It looks as if winning top prizes is his hobby!

Orleans 1st 156 birds
1st 3277 birds
Reims 1st 215 birds
1st 652 birds
1st 1792 birds
Creil 1st 226 birds
1st 535 birds
1st 1472 birds
Chantilly 1st 305 birds
2nd 978 birds
Creil 3rd 2068 birds
St. Ghislain 1st 160 birds
3rd 1069 birds
Etampes 6th 1377 birds
Etampes 7th 1919 birds
Nijvel 11th 2477 birds
Orleans 14th 3268 birds
Chateauroux 14th 1777 birds
Creil 14th 1717 birds
Roye 14th 3209 birds
Reims 15th 3354 birds

"De Grote" is father of:
"Jonge Grote" NL99-9964491
Through the end of the 2000 season, 19 prizes out of 22 races entered; 12 prizes in the first 10 percent; equal first Nijvel 2281 birds; 5th Orleans 3574 birds.
"Blue Moon" NL99-9915283
Through the end of the 2000 season, records as a latebred against the old widowers, nine top results of which five are in the best one percent.
Creil 1st 227 birds
2nd 4867 birds
Creil equal first 325 birds
58th 6454 birds
Chateauroux 2nd 1772 birds
St. Ghislain 3rd 478 birds
Orleans 6th 3574 birds

"Spierke" NL00-0077729
Daughter of "De Grote." Through the end of the 2000 season, seven top results out of eight times entered.
Peronne 1st 451 birds
8th 3386 birds
Peronne 4th 2013 birds
St. Ghislain 7th 603 birds
Etampes 8th 3991 birds

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