Etienne Meirlaen has made a phenomal 2017. Together with Yvette and Aline they were invincible on the extreme long distance races. National Champion Extreme Long Distance, 1st and 3rd ace bird extreme long distance and 4th national ace bird Long distance and extreme long distance year birds on the national championships were the results of an amazing season. And in fact, that 4th national ace bird had to be a 1st as well, but for an inscrutable reason the ace bird long distance and extreme long distance has been put within one category of the year birds. But on the strange decisions of our national federation is something we can’t have an impact on. Let us focus on the sportive results of Etienne Meirlaen. With an impressive list we like to start of our walk through 2017.
- 1 Nat Ace-pigeon Extreme Long Distance 2017 KBDB (14/1040453)
- 1 Nat. Ace-pigeon Extreme Long distance 2017 (16/4237076)
- 1 Provincial ace-pigeon Extra Long Distance KBDB 2017 (16/4237076)
- 3 Ace-pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2017 (12/4278314)
- 4 Ace-pigeon Long Distance year birds KBDB 2017 (16/4234076)
- 6 Provincial Ace-pigeon Long Distance KBDB’17 (13/4077151)
- 21 National Ace-pigeon E.L.D. KBDB ’17 (14/4261079)
- 22 National Ace-pigeon E.L.D. KBDB’17 (13/4077031)
- 25 National Ace-pigeon Long Distance KBDB’17 (13/4077151)
- 1 National champion Extra Long distance KBDB 2017
- 1 Provincial champion long distance KBDB 2017
- 1 Provincial long Distance old and year birds KBDB 2017
- 1 Champion long distance FVOV 2017
- 1 Champion long distance FVOV 2017
- 1 National General Champion Entente Belge 2017
- 1 National All-round Entente Belge Champion 2017
- 1 Jan Breydel (Brugse Championships)
- 1 Ace Jan Breydel (Brugse Championships)
- 1 Steeple Cup (Grand Slam)
- 1 Champions League – Decathlon (Grandslam)
- 1 Extreme long Distance (4-day race Zwalmvallei)
- 2 Super Marathon FVOV 2017
- 2 Belgian Nat Long distance trophy ( Brugse Championships)
- 2 Ace Jan Breydel (Brugse Championships)
- 2 Pieter De Coninc (4-day race Zwalmvallei)
- 5 National champion long distance KBDB 2017
- 18 National champion Extreme Long Distance and Long Distance year birds KBDB 2017
- 1 Long Distance (local Eeklo)
- 1 Ace Extreme Long Distance ( Local Eeklo)
- 2 Marathon (local Eeklo)
And with this we are only talking about 2017. To add the results of the former years we would need a book format. For the year 2017 we will also focus only on the extreme long distance races, the natural habitat for Etienne and his well-oiled team. Also on the long distance races are several top results on the palmaris but as mentioned before we will stick to the international races.
A strong inbred strain as basis:
The philosophy of Etienne is to keep pigeon sport as simple as possible. On the Extreme Long Distance is a large part of the results the result of the quality of the pigeon. On the shorter distances the fancier has more tools to improve the results of the pigeons or to stimulate them or with wrong decisions to stop them. With the ELD-races the pigeon needs to possess super qualities to fulfil these international races. Don’t get me wrong, also the fancier can’t afford to make any mistakes. The pigeon has to come to the start in an optimal health and condition. The optimal condition isn’t something you can give them with any medication, at the contrary, the less you give the more a pigeon can grow into his natural top form. But besides this the fancier has to be able to count on the qualities of his birds. And this is why Etienne Meirlaen has built his super strain. Founding mother ‘Yelena’ is to be found in nearly every pigeon Meirlaen colony. Her sons ‘Monar’, ‘Montali’ and ‘De Montauban’ seemed to have the same super genes to give them to further generations. But there was also ‘Cor’, ‘Perpignan Lady’, ‘Marathon Lady’, ‘and Old 7 x Barca ‘, ‘Fenomeen’ and also especially the famous ‘Marseille’-strain that took care for offspring. We surely forget a few other top pigeons that took care for glory at Etienne’s or at other fanciers. The above also means that Etienne has worked on a deeply inbred strain. He does put in some new blood once in a while, but this will be done with the necessary caution. This is how the ace bird year birds comes out of a crossing of the divine Meirlaen-strains with a pigeon from ‘De Clercq-Vervaeren’ that heads back to the founding birds from Joost De Smeyter. A second example is the co-breeding with Hugo Batenburg-Van De Merwe that took care of top pigeons on both lofts. This is how the 1st two pigeons from Barcelona at Etienne were products of this co-breeding. But also at Hugo’s there are several top results to be found out of this co-breeding. One thing is for sure when you co-breed, the results have to come quick as there isn’t a lot of patience for waiting for it. We start off having a walk through the season from the beginning and immediately you can tell how important some pigeons were in building up the racing team.
We always start with the preparation and will make immediately use of it to point out their system. In February the widow cocks were being coupled, where half of them could race their youngsters and the other half only came onto eggs. In a matter of racing results, Etienne didn’t see any difference between both groups. The widow cocks training once a day for about 1, 5 hour in the morning. The hens are being basketed on eggs and get their training shortly in the afternoon when they’re not on their nests. The preparation looks very standard. After a few short training races, they go into the large basket. They try to get about 1,000km in their wings before the race of Vierzon and Bourges. With the help of Aline, who takes care especially for the widow cocks, is this well-oiled machine.
In a matter of feeding they use the mixtures of Versele-Laga. Until the races of 300km a protein free mixture is being given. As from the national races from +600km they are being fed a bit more heavy by adding a sports mixture. With the extreme long distance classics they are being fed from about 5 days before basketing with sport mixtures. Before that they receive a basis mixture consisting of diet, corn, Gerry Plus and Champion Plus. Two days before basketing also Dextronic is being added to the drinking water. At home coming from the international races they get a breeding mixture to eat and also Dextronic is being added to the drinking water. For the medical follow up they lay their hands in the advice of the veterinary. They never cure blindly. The pigeons do get a pill against tricho at home coming from an international race. And beside this there are only the alert eyes from Etienne and Aline. But when you have superb pigeons, it is just a bit easier to succeed. .
Superlatives for 2017
We start off with the first international race of the season namely Pau. The weather conditions weren’t that superb so the releasing committee decided to change the releasing point to Mont de Marsan. This seemed to be afterwards a very good decision. In about 1 hour and a half the race was over. And it was immediately the extreme long distance tenors that could measure with each other. In Sint-Martens-Latem it was immediately a hit in the rose.
- 13th , 25th , 91st national 2,135b
- 6/18 per 10, 10/ 18 per 4,
- 1st provincial and 1st locally
We will first focus on the first two Meirlaens’ that reached the loft:
- ‘Nestsister Montalisa’ (4077160-13) 13th national: this hen is directly out of the founding birds of the loft. Father is ‘Montali’ or the first superb son out of ‘Yelena’. His father is also one of the founding birds of the loft namely ‘Vader Marseille’. Through mothers’ side it is as even wonderful with ‘Cor’ and ‘Perpignanlady’ as grandparents or also two national ace birds ELD coupled against each other.
- ‘Grandson Yelena’ (4077031-13) 25th national: this cock is again a grandchild ‘Yelena’. Second superb son out of the couple ‘Vader Marseille’ and ‘Yelena’, namely ‘Monar’, is the father. This virtuose even won the 1st international Narbonne. Mother of the ‘031’ is one out the best strains from Cor De Heijde being ‘Diamantje’ and Frans Bungeneers being’Queen Tony’.
The second international race of the season was also the first race for the year birds. It became a special edition, due to the weather circumstances they couldn’t release for several days. At the end the pigeons had to stay for 9 days in the basket. With a northern wind, we can speak of a very hard race. In Sint-Martens-Latem the pigeons weren’t impressed at all by the circumstances:
- 3rd,6th, 22nd, 53rd, 79th national old birds 4,405b
- 6/13 per 10, 8/13 per 4
- 2nd provincial, 1st locally
- 9th, 12th, 37th, 80th international 11,930 old birds
- 16th national 5,335 year birds, 31st international 12,760 year birds
- 6/33 per 10, 16/33 per 4
We like to introduce the three first old birds and the first year bird:
- ‘De 216’ (4240216-15) 3rd national: again, this lady is a grandchild ‘Monar’ through mothers’ side. Father is an ace bird at Etienne namely ‘Next Ace’. Grandparents are ‘Cor’, ‘Perpignanlady’ and ‘Broer Marseille’ or also the basis of the loft Meirlaen
- ‘Ace Agen’ (4278445-11) 6th national: this one is also the best on the two-year and three-year classification Agen with in 2016 also a 20th national and in 2015 a 56st national. Father is soun out of the couple ‘Cor’ and ‘Perpignanlady’ and the mother is a full sister ‘Perpignanlady’.
- ‘De 111’ (4077111-13) 22nd national: here we have a full brother from the first one on Pau from ‘Montali’ and again the grandparents ‘Cor’ and ‘Perpignanlady’. Again the proof that the best come out of the best.
- ‘Best of Belgium’ (4237076-16) 16th national: this national ace bird year birds has had a marvellous season. As described before it is a crossing between the best of Etienne namely a full sister ‘Cor’ coupled to a cock with ancestors the best of the colony De Smeyter being ‘Gitan’ and ‘Persup’.
Barcelona was the third international weekend and everybody wants to shine on this race. But it was a hard one, a real tough one. Very high temperatures and a northern wind made the pigeons slow down. In the end, the first pigeons only arrived in the afternoon on the second day. With the first entries you could immediately find Etienne’s pigeons.
- 7th, 16th national 7,874b
- 6/30 per 10, 15/30 per 4
- 2nd provincial, 1st locally
- 27th, 54st international 16,759b
The two top birds were breeding products out of the co-breeding Hugo Batenbrug-Van de Merwe
- ‘Diamond Anita’ (1040453-14NL) 7th national: this wonder hen can crown herself to best extreme long distance pigeon of Belgium. Barcelona was the first achievement of this amazing hen. The father of this fairy is of Dutch breeding and comes out the strain of the ‘Witbuik’ and also the ‘Eurodiamond’ from Brockamp are to be found within the ancestors. On mother’s side we find again the founding strain being a daughter ‘Monar’ and also a daughter ‘Marathonlady’. We can always see the same pigeons popping up in the pedigrees.
- ‘Yelebar’ (1040448-14) 16th national: and again a product out of the co-breeding but this time on fathers’ side a third wonder son from ‘Yelena’ being ‘De Montauban’. On mothers’ side again ‘Witbuik’ from Hugo.
The season rushed further and the next classic on the program was getting closer. Variating winds on the road, but nevertheless a very smooth race. In the evening a 10th of the entered pigeons arrived home and the next day it was for the ‘fast’ ones as the race closed at 08u30 in the morning. But the bigger part of the Meirlaen-pigeons made it home in the evening already. This fact has set, off course, another amazing result.
- 11th, 20th, 31st, 50th, 78th national 3,053b
- 9/18per 10, 13/18 per 4
- 1st provincial, 1st locally
- 22nd, 34st, 49th, 80th international 11,569b
If we have a look at the arrivals, you can’t be otherwise then amazed when looking at the origin of the pigeons. The first 4 pigeons are grandchildren ‘Monar’, the 5th is a son ‘Monar’ and the 6th in the row is again a grandchild ‘Monar’. The apple doesn’t fall far from the three, does it? We highlight the first 3 in line.
- ‘Provincial Pau’ (4278314-12) 11th national: This one is the 3rd national ace bird ELD KBDB. He is a phenomenal racer with on his palmaris several head prizes. We can’t forget to mention that he already became 10th national ace bird ELD KBDB in 2016. He also became the 1st provincial out of Pau that year. Father of this great pigeons is ‘Superbreeder’, a son of ‘Monar’ coupled to a daughter ‘Marathonlady’. On mothers’ side we find a daughter ‘Eurodiamond’ from Brockamp, also an amazing racer and also an amazing inheritor. Maybe a small anecdote on this ‘Provincial Pau’. Three weeks before the national race from Limoges he didn’t come home from training around the loft. But Etienne saw that a strange pigeon was sitting on the chimney. In the evening Etienne checked valve within the chimney and yes, there he was. In the end it didn’t mean a setback for his season.
- ‘De 066’ (4240066-15) 20th national: a rookie in the team with as father again a son ‘Monar’. This time he was coupled against ‘Perpignanlady’, also mentioned a few times before in this article. The mother is from the loft of Daan Beseling.
- ‘De Blauwe Witpen’ (4261079-14) 31st national: On mothers’ side we find again a daughter ‘Monar’. On fathers’ side we get to see the old strains of the colony Meirlaen with ‘Kanibaal Barcelona’ and ‘De Gouden Vleugel’.
The 6th international race of the season meant, with the strong western winds, a difficult one for East- and West-Flanders. Besides that, they saw many clouds popping up for the last 300km. This was immediately one of the reasons why the race stayed open for many hours. The first pigeons clocked around 18h; the race was closed the next day at 07u30 for the old birds and at 09u00 for the year birds.
- 97th national 4,272 old birds
- 7th, 37th national 3,424 year birds
- 20th, 97th international 8,444 year birds
With the year birds the ‘Best of Belgium’ signed up for her second top result this season. She was far-out the best year bird on the ELD from Belgium. Only for the national ace bird championship she was beaten by 3 pigeons that raced long distance races of 600 kilometres. Not really something you can compare to each other, is it? But well, criteria are criteria.
In the meantime we arrived at the last international race of the season or the organ point of their season. But yet again, a hard one. Again that western wind that made the large part of the pigeons arrives in the Rhône valley. This meant that only about 100 pigeons made it home the day of release. Also the day after the pigeons didn’t get home in large amounts. But Etienne managed to clock his birds together with is faithful helper Aline, with regularity of the clock. And how! 4 within the first 50 national.
- 7th, 10th, 14th, 45th national 4,620b
- 11/26 per 10, 14/26 per 4
- 22nd, 35th, 49th international 14,673b
With ‘Provincial Pau’ and ‘Diamond Anita’ the two toppers of the season were present again. The necessary second result, was a fact. We like to highlight the next one in the row as well.
- ‘De 183’ (4278183-12) 14th national: We see a son of ‘Klein Fenomeen’ rising. The strain of the ‘Marseille’, but also the strain of ‘Toy’ does appear in this one. On mothers’ side we see the ‘De Gouden Vleugel’ and ‘Marathonlady’.
Mister International 2017
With this last one, the curtain fell over the international pigeon season. This is a season that was being dominated by Etienne Meirlaen and his colony. Etienne was truly outstanding and can be called with every right and reason the man of 2017. In the meantime the focus is already set on 2018. And again a marvellous racing team is being prepared with a lot of attention and care to make it another top season. It sometimes depends on small things, but it is kicking in an open door when saying that Etienne will again be the guy you need to beat.
by Stefan Mertens