Sleidinge: For this report we went to visit Geert and his son Seppe De Clercq or the national champions KBDB middle distance young birds 2017.
Geert De Clercq has been active within the pigeon sport since 32 years en since 2 years he races under his own name from his own garden in Sleidinge. With such knowledge and such quality on the breeding loft, it couldn’t turn out different than good. And now, the proof has been made in writing.
Geert is a known person within the pigeon sport. Together with his grandfather he raced pigeons from 1985 (when he was 12 years old) until 2001. A busy job, wife, child and own house made the entrance and there wasn’t any time left to race the pigeons any more. The pigeon broker ship was combined with racing the pigeons together with Erik Limbourg, but it started to tickle again to race under his own name again. In 2015 a breeding loft was built in Sleidinge where immediately the best of the best to be found in Belgium, was placed. The idea was to race youngsters and in 2016 the first round began. The discipline was going to be the shorter middle distance and a lot of prizes were won that first racing year. With a price percentage of 65% to 70% on the preparing races we can talk about a success, but a disaster race out of Blois on the 15th of July 2016 broke the dream, only 5 out of the 19 pigeons came home that same day and the atmosphere and confidence on the loft were far away. The same trend was simply being continued in 2017, no, not continued, improved as the big price percentage stayed and on top of this he succeeds in blowing away the competition at the head of the race.
IN THIS WAY YOU BECOME NATIONAL CHAMPION KBDB OF BELGIUM
To become national champion KBDB middle distance young birds, you need to take your best 5 results with your 1st and 2nd nominated young bird. The total distance of the 5 races has to be minimum 1,250km. You can take only 1 race per weekend with a minimum of 150 participating birds and 10 fanciers.
Geert and Seppe won with following results:
Date Race Particpants 1 nominated. 2e nominated
15/07 Fontenay 808b. 80 1
22/07 Fontenay 806b. 16 21
29/07 Fontenay 834b. 14 20
13/08 Fontenay 348b. 2 4
19/08 Fontenay 295b. 4 5
SOME TOP RESULTS 2017
08/07/2017: Fontenay (341km) 726b.: 1-4-9-17-31-54-58-154-160-249-253-318 (12/20)
15/07/2017: Fontenay 808b.: 1-2-4-6-15-24-50-56-6370-80-112-121 (16/20)
22/07/2017: Fontenay 806b: 1-2-3-4-5-16-21-78-127-183-204-233 (14/19)
29/07/2017: Fontenay 834b.: 10-11-14-19-20-23-31-40-42-43-48-55-56-115-126-155-254 (17/20)
05/08/2017: Clermont (213km): 1,260b.: 1-6-7-9-10-11-14-27-28-30-41-47-53-97-116-117-119-332 (18/20)
13/08/2017: Fontenay 348b.: 1-2-3-4-5-7-8-10-11-14-15-21-22-23-32-34 (16/19)
19/08/2017: Fontenay 295b.: 1-3-4-5-8-9-17-18-19-25-27-28-40-47-52-59 (16/19)
26/08-2017: Fontenay 289b.: 1-2-3-5-6-7-10-17-29-33-48 (11/19)
As you see, he doesn’t race a mass of pigeons, rather 20 to 30 that you know very well and can control perfectly than 100 that you don’t know. The amount of losses is also very limited. He started of this season with 29 youngsters whereof 15 direct Guido Van Caeneghem. When the races started, he still had 25 and now he races still 20 of them.
Breeders and youngsters
Geert has a limited breeding loft and has only room for 13 breeding couples whereof 7 are in boxes and 6 in an open loft. The first round of the boxes is being replaced and in about 9 days they all lay their second round. After that second breeding the hens are being taken away from the breeding boxes and every cock gets a new hen and the same round is being bred so he has in about 25 days of time, 4 eggs from each breeding hen. He has 3 times as many hens as cocks to breed with.
The first round went integral to Robby Wilms from the combination Vermeerbergen-Wilms, the second round stayed in Sleidinge. The entire third round also stayed in Sleidinge but after an incident at homecoming of a race, this group of youngsters got scared, some of them stayed on roof tops of the neighbours during 2 days and didn’t dare to come in anymore, they got this afraid that Geert couldn’t get it right again and was obliged to stop racing these youngsters. Geert emphasizes that the confidence of a pigeon is about the most important thing you need, if there isn’t a confidence towards their loft and the fancier himself, you can forget it. That’s why he puts so much effort in raising the youngsters. Geert explains: ‘Youngsters are like puppies, you have to teach them from the very start (good) habits, repeat it often, always the same, and this is how they gain a base confidence in their boss. I train them intensively where I release them 3x at 2km, 3x at 5km, 3x at 10km and so on… And they also have to be home before you, they have to take off immediately and straight to the loft. Except for the first time, they stayed away for at least 40 minutes. I don’t believe in the saying that you have ‘to let the youngsters be’ in the beginning, no, make them clear immediately where they have to be and who is in charge.’
Before they go to their first short distance race they already went to the following places in the same order: Lovendegem, Merendree, Drongen, Deinze, Kruishoutem, Deerlijk and on the parking of Fugare in Kortrijk. The fanciers can put the roadmap of the provinces of East- and West-Flanders next to it. As soon as the races have started off, Geert will drive them twice a week, every Wednesday to the parking of Fugare and every Thursday to Deerlijk, this also to keep up their confidence and this the entire season. They never come out on the day of basketing neither the day after home coming.
Caring, vaccinating, curing, side products
I’m very curious about the way of taking care of the pigeons at Geert De Clercq. As most of us know, he has brought, together with Pascal Gerard, Ig Claudia Smet (founders Etixx), Davy De Vlieger (ex-CEO Omega Pharma now Continental Foods) and Dr. Johan Vandercruyssen, since about 2 years the side products Probelfly onto the market. He has been busy since years with the health of the pigeon and has gained even more knowledge in cooperation with the people behind the brand Etixx from Omega Pharma. Geert swears on a very good base health and to try to keep it, he doesn’t leave anything to coincidence and doesn’t wait it out.
Every pigeon is being vaccinated twice against paramyxo (without herpes), against small pocks with a brush and the in the month of May they got this year Paracontrol from Henk de Weerdt against parathypus. This last one isn’t a vaccination but is being given orally: 1ml direct in the crop.
Before the start of the season they got 1 week a cure of Cosumyx Plus. Geert wants to point out that whenever he gives something, this is always being accomplished with probiotics. Here it is being done by giving of Hepasan (detoxifies and stimulates the liver) and also “PT12” Lactobacilli powder from Dr. Vercruyssen over the food.
Against mycoplasmas and chlamydia, there will be treated every 3 to 4 weeks, (depending on the circumstances), this happens individually by given during 3 days one pill/pigeon, alternating Stomorgyl (Spiramycine/Suanovil + metronidazole against tricho) and Ronaxan (doxycycline). Twice a week they get a capsule Powerfly, this on Wednesdays and Thursdays if they’re being basketed on Friday. Geert hands over the tip that whenever you need to give a capsule, you can dip it first in a glass of water, so it will slide very quickly through the throat of the pigeon.
What the “One Eye cold” is concerned, Geert is of the principal, if one gets it, he wants all of them to get it as quickly as possible so they can be treated together and the disease will be gone quicker. He stimulates it by giving a bath, the virus will go around very quickly and he can treat them all together for about 2 to 3 day by dropping with Virgan. If we’re discussing the eyes, it comes up that direct sun light is very bad for pigeons according to him, this is something that hurts their eyes, that’s why he placed a black windbreaker over the aviaries so direct sun light won’t be able to get to them. This way their eyes can rest after training or a race where it is unavoidable that they get direct sun light.
Darkening is being done by the principle of Rik Hermans, Pulle, and he feels very confident about it. So he darkens from the 1st of April until the 21st of June. Afterwards they are being enlightened from 05 o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock in the evening. But again, be careful which kind of light you use, f.e. TL-lights are really bad as by the flashing light effect they can get eye infections. The best are day-light lamps; this is how you can avoid eye infections. Darkening before the 1st of April is of no use according to Geert, you are already disordering the biorhythm of the pigeons and especially young pigeons need the chance to grow out well first. So he doesn’t darken any sooner, they get as a youngster also as much as they can eat breeding mixture and Geert doesn’t expect them to train early. ‘A healthy, well grown out youngster can get in the air in one to one and a half weeks anyway.’
Geert keeps on emphasizing that a good internal house hold of a pigeons is very important, the barometer here is the eagerness to eat. In the morning they don’t get much to eat and in the evening they get full house, when the pigeons are at the top of their shape they can eat about 50gr per pigeon. Also with the accent on light food, a lot of food but light and this on advise of Robby Wilms and Luc Vermeerbergen. He gives ‘Relax’ from Van Robaeys and the last 4 feedings before a race this is being enlarged with half ‘Turbo’ from Matador. They also get fresh grit (his own mixture from different kinds of grit + extra red stone) every day, fresh minerals and fresh peck biscuit.
They get Alimax from Dr. Vandercruyssen over the food, this is allicin (the natural antibiotics that you can find in garlic), a natural means against E-coli accomplished with the ‘pink powder’ from Dr. Fernand Mariën when returning home. In the water you can find at homecoming Recupfly Boost (Probelfly) for the high quality of sugar and always the ‘young pigeon powder’ from Dr. Norbert Peeters. The day after they get Recupfly powder (Probelfly) over the food (proteins and amino acids) and is the water being accomplished with Hepasan (Probelfly) and Bony SGR (Dr. Boskamp) or “Tollyamin” Dr. Vincent Schroeder.
Before basketing they get “Recupfly Boost” in the water as well as “Sprint Plus” from Dr. Peeters. Almost every day oregano (Optima Forma/Dr. Vandercruyssen, liquid oregano) and Dolosan (Probelfly) is being given over the food. The oregano, by the way, is being given since 6 months now in alternation with Alimax, without an exception on a daily bases, this is very good against E-coli.
He controls closely and reacts rapidly and according to Geert there isn’t any other way anymore, to be able ‘to get along’ you have to have pigeons in top condition with an excellent base health. Over here they got this good base health by giving a lot of natural products.
Quality of the pigeons
It is hard for Geert to give me one name about the ‘base’ of his pigeons. The breeding team exist out of a selection of pigeons where Geert thinks of this is the best you can find in Belgium for young pigeon racing. As mentioned before, Geert has been around in pigeon sport since 32 years and partly thanks to the contacts as a pigeon broker, he got the luck of having many superb pigeons in his hands. The common thing of all of these pigeons is that they have ‘good feathers’, ‘very soft ones and a lot of them’ and a ‘good balance’. The size doesn’t matter, big, small, short, long, .neither the colour of their eyes is something that matters. He was also very lucky being able to form couples together with the best pigeon fancier of the country namely Erik Limbourg. Geert De Clercq had the opportunity to couple pigeons together with Erik during 15 years and learned a lot there in Brussegem. Erik makes use of ‘compensation-coupling’, whereby children are often more beautiful than the parents. Also the help in raising the youngsters from his friends Patrick Draye, Jan Mees and Rudy Denis is something Geert wants to point out. Pigeon sport can be very much fun when you can do this amongst friends in a team.
As last, Geert wants to hand over that it isn’t as easy as it used to be, to race the pigeons. These days everybody has good ones, everybody has enough attention for nutrition, everybody knows their way to side products and decent medical guidance, the one thing that can make the difference these days is being a real ‘pigeon fancier’, to see everything, to observe very well, they do show it, you just have to be able/to want to see it….And make sure you teach them ‘good manners’ from the very beginning, let them hear you from the very beginning, they have to know who’s in charge. Off course, weather, wind and location are an important influencer but these are things that we mostly can’t control.
Geert thanks a lot for this open conversation and we like to wish you a lot of success with your youngsters!
by Stefan Mertens