Eeckhout Yvan – Ronse
1st National ace KBDB marathon 2021

Ronse: We start our series of winter reports on the KBDB national champions 2021 in Ronse. Ronse, the cycling city par excellence, is located in East Flanders and is also known as the pearl of the “Flemish Ardennes”. Legendary pigeon fanciers such as the late Georges Carteus and the late Maurice Delbar made Ronse famous in the international pigeon world. Anno 2021 another “vedette” makes his appearance, this time it is Yvan Eeckhout who with his “De Mozaiek” (B17-4000733) has the best marathon pigeon of Belgium under the pans.

“De Mozaiek” won:
6th National Perpignan 3,901d.
43rd International 13,274b.         

8th National Barcelona 6,913b.
64th International 16,485b.

A unique performance with also a beautiful story behind it. Yvan tells: “De Mozaiek” flew the first years of his long-distance career only long distance and was a very fixed value. A guy you could count on, a cock that rarely lets you down. This year he was together with only 1 loft mate, namely “Grizzly”, on a loft with 2 departments. The sliding door between both departments was always open so these 2 marathon racers had a spacious department at their disposal. Two cocks on 1 loft and neither of them wanted to be inferior to the others…you can already feel it…those two were more than jealous and angry with each other. That resulted in beautiful results for both because “Grizzly” shone with the 644th Nat. Barcelona and the 249th nat. Perpignan.

I did not see “De Mozaïek” coming home from Barcelona. I went to get a cup of coffee and heard the beeping of the electronic clock when I came outside again. From Perpignan, “De Mozaïek” was home at 7:20 p.m. and he was in such a hurry that he initially missed the sputnik. That is a moment you never forget as a pigeon fancier. The hairs on my arms still stand up when I think back on this.”

Secretaris Belgische Verstandhouding

Yvan has been the secretary of the organizer “De Belgische Verstandhouding” since 1993. For those who don’t know “De Belgische Verstandhouding”, well this is the biggest and most important organizer of national races in Belgium. Famous races like Bourges, Limoges, Brive, Souillac etc… are in their hands. But also, the international races of Perpignan and since this year Barcelona belong to their field. The chairman of the Belgian Federation is Filip Norman. Filip, owner of the printing office “Die Keure” in Bruges, has taken over this task from his father the late Norbert Norman and with Norbert begins the “pigeon story” of Yvan.
Yvan, born in Nederzwalm, followed his great love Brigitte to Ronse and in 1995 they bought their current home. It was Norbert Norman who was the first visitor to admire the new purchase. But Norbert had no interest in how big the living room or kitchen was but stood in the middle of the lawn … looked at the position of the sun and pointed to the attic of the house … “there should be your pigeon lofts” he said and jumped back into his car towards his hometown without even taking one step into the house.  Norbert was always known for his resolute approach and here he did not waste any time. A few days later, a carpenter was at Brigitte and Yvan’s house and 5 large windows were placed in the roof. As a result, the pigeons could be housed long before the Eeckhout family could move.

From the attic to the garden

Yvan: “In 2007, the year I took early retirement, the roof of our house was renewed and so were the lofts. According to the insulation standards of the time, a new roof was placed, and you can already feel me coming, the ventilation of my lofts was no longer good. Several interventions to improve the ventilation didn’t have the desired effect and that’s why, a few seasons later, the widowers were moved from the attic to the wooden garden lofts. From one year to another it went crescendo with results. In the meantime, I have done some more work on my loft and especially the placement of wind-breaking wire seems to have a very positive effect although with great heat it still feels too oppressive. Now my youngsters live in the attic lofts and in the garden, I have two garden lofts, one of 11m and one of 8m. The garden lofts can be ventilated much better. The living boxes are cleaned twice a day. On all lofts there are wooden grates … super … but you must have dry lofts.

The 2021 season

The 2021 season started with a team of 30 old and 14 yearling widowers. Add to those 70 youngsters and you know the number of pigeons to play.
The widowers do not breed in spring. Both old and yearlings are coupled in February and brood 8 to 10 days. The widowers are trained in three to four stages. The farthest distance to train is the French border (27 km). With the club they go to Noyon (145km). After this they go to Toury (310km) twice and then to Limoges, Brive, Limoges and Barcelona. For the day long distance, there are certainly two to three weeks of rest between two baskets and much depends on the difficulty of the races. During those three weeks, there are no intermediate flights.
The widowers train twice a day but it is not an obligatory training. Only then you can see if the condition of the widowers is on point. The training is the barometer of the condition. When basketing, a loft of widowers (on the larger lofts) gets their hen. On the smaller lofts, they don’t get to see their hen. For Barcelona and Perpignan, the cocks received their hen for a full day, and they may also fly out together.
During the winter months the pigeons are also released when the weather is good. This is always with some risk because last winter four widowers were lost and that is probably due to the clam. When taking care of the pigeons, Yvan regularly gets help from Mario Spileers, Nukerke and Yvan wants to thank Mario for this.
Yvan prefers for the long-distance races slow molting pigeons. When a pigeon has exchanged three flight feathers, she is over the top. “De Mozaiek” had changed two pins when it was basketed for Perpignan.
On basket day the widowers see their hen, no special motivation is done. Tried them all at one time or another but usually to no avail.

Feed and medical

The sport mixes of Beyers and Versele-Laga are on the menu. In 2021 the pigeons were fed with different mixtures from light till heavy until the end of June. After that period, they stopped feeding the different mixtures and only the same racing mixture was provided. Yvan does not know why he suddenly stopped feeding from light to heavy, but he could conclude that the results improved when they only fed heavy and that the pigeons kept their condition until the last race.

As far as by-products are concerned, the procedure is as follows. Until two days after arrival of a race we add Hepatoveto (liver tonic) to the feed together with the condition powder of veterinarian Pascal Lanneau. Electrolytes and “recup products” are also provided. Belgavet products are also used. The regular veterinarian is Pascal Lanneau. At the end of May, Yvan takes his pigeons to the vet for a checkup. The vet will also come for the paramyxo and smallpox vaccinations. He also comes for the vaccination against paratyphoid after having given ten days of Cosumix. In 2021 there was no treatment against trichomonas and coccidiosis. No yellow drops are administered. Before the start of the racing season, eight days were treated against respiratory infections.

Of “the old school”

Just like in the good old days, the 14 couples of breeders are paired with “Lichtmis” (February 2). The breeders are re-paired quite often. Family breeding is done exceptionally but then for breeding and not for the racing.

The breeders get five years to prove themselves with different cocks and hens. When pairing, they mainly look at the family. About twenty years ago, the pigeons of friend Joost De Smeyter and Georges Bolle entered the loft. The basis of the current colony is Joost De Smeyter x Georges Bolle via Jan Schepens. “King Joost” B05/4332536 became the progenitor of the colony. “King Joost” paired with “Daughter Irun” of Marcel Van den Abeele became a top pair. Sons and daughters of this pair still form the basis of the colony. At the end of the ninety’s pigeons from Jimmy Brands, Berendrecht, from his well-known grey topper “Museeuw” were added. Hence the mosaic color of several pigeons. There are also the pigeons of Boudewijn Jonckheere, Torhout; Jaak Verschueren, Beveren-Leie and Robert De Clercq, Kluisbergen.

Travelling to learn

The young pigeons are only trained. They are not darkened and can do whatever they feel like. They sit on a dry loft and the boxes are not cleaned, just to get some resistance. Since they act this way, Adeno is almost no problem anymore. The youngsters usually don’t get any medicine, only the obligatory vaccinations. Those that remain at the end of the season have a 90% chance of surviving.

The youngsters that become yearlings must go with the old pigeons but the yearlings do more of the big middle distance. The motto is “we travel to learn” and the results are not important. But as soon as they arrive in Limoges, they must be up to speed.

The selection of 2021 went as follows: they were basketed for the national races Limoges and Perigueux and here they had to show what they could do.