Eric Berckmoes in front of is loft. The breeders are in the back, the 2 sections on the left are for the old birds, and the young birds are kept in the remaining 4 sections.
Erick Berckmoes sold his entire pigeon collection on PIPA in late 2014. He and his family moved from Brecht to Lille. Eric has been through a lot recently, including a (double) theft in 2009, which led him to take on a different approach. "I changed to a significantly smaller team of pigeons: I developed a new team in Lille in the autumn of 2014 that is less than half the size of my pigeon collection in Brecht", Eric explains.
In order to create a new team, Eric started to carefully select a group of summer youngsters, which would serve as the basis for his new team in Lille. As in previous years, his most important bloodlines originate from the lines of Albert Marcelis. These pigeons have allowed Eric to have some very successful seasons in Brecht, including his fantastic year 2005, which saw Eric win a 2nd Provincial Bourges, a 1st and 2nd National Argenton and a 1st and 5th La Souterraine in just a few weeks' time! He promtply became a nationally and internationally renowned fancier, which is not a surprise if you look at his results in Brecht that summer:
Argenton national: 1-2-34-53-60-… (20/28) of 4804 yearlings La Souterraine: 1-5-27-37-66-79-… (15/26) of 3444 old birds
Eric continued to deliver in the years to come, although he suddenly learned about the negative consequences of succes, with his pigeon loft being robbed on two different occasions. His breeding loft, which was pretty much the life's work of both Albert Marcelis and Eric, got plundered over the course of a single night. Thieves tried to rob the loft a second time but they were caught by Eric.
But things would never be the same again after this. Eric really struggled to get over these incidents and their long term effects. Eric and his wife Geert, together with their daughter Zoë, eventually decided to move away. It marked the end of a highly successful but turbulent period in Brecht. "When looking for a new home, one of our main concerns was to live close to a school, and to Greet's place of work. We now live closer to school and to work compared to our home in Brecht", Eric says. "I work as a postman now, which combines fairly well with pigeon racing, which is still my number one hobby. Although it feels like a different experience now", he says.
"I do not want pigeon racing to cause any stress, which I try to avoid at all cost. Pigeon racing is a hobby of mine, and nothing more", a relieved Eric Berkmoes explains. "In Brecht we often had a large audience awaiting our pigeons. Last weekend was the first time since moving to Lille that I had two people coming over to watch the birds arrive home. I told them I did not mind them awaiting my birds, but I was not really that interested. I was only after the first pigeon arrived home that I really started to pay attention."
"I reduced the number of breeding birds to 18 breeding pairs. I no longer compete in every single race, and I no longer like to be the center of attention. In fact, I had second thoughts about this report but I did look forward to a good conversation about pigeons", Erik told us.
Eric is still successfully racing his pigeons in total widowhood. After the provincial race from Chevrainvilliers on 15th of July Eric felt that he had to change things around. He placed all racing birds from two different lofts with 20 and 12 boxes in a single room, in an effort to get the old and the one year old racing birds going again. By the way, the pigeons only did 1 flight from Quiévrain and two races from Noyon in the weeks prior to Bourges II. Keep in mind Eric was racing the pigeons from the nest in this period, towards the end of the racing season. He had already won several national top prizes in the past with this approach, and Eric has yet again been able to get his pigeons to perform at their best.
1st zone olds Chateauroux
The most recent example is BE16-6123115. This hen wins a 1st zone Chateauroux of 1134 old birds with a youngster of 3 days old. "She had some excellent results in the past as well", Eric says. "I no longer keep track of my pigeons' results but I do know that she won a 1st Blois in the club last season, and she has won 7 top 10 prizes over the course of her career", Eric remembers. A pigeon that is able to win top prizes on a regular basis usually originates from a number of high quality bloodlines.
Het BE16-6123115, 1st zone Chateauroux of 1134 old birds, in her nest box.
Sire: BE15-6029663, Jochems-Van Hasselt, grandson Gladiator (Geerinckx)
The sire of this winning hen comes from Eddy Jochems from the Jochems – Van Hasselt combination (Rijkevorsel, BE), and he stems from two direct Geerinckx pigeons. This pigeon is related to several of Geerinckx's most renowned birds, including Gladiator, Willy and Wittekop Sylvester. This shows that he is quite a talented breeding bird indeed.
Click here for the pedigree
(His pedigree says 'hen'. The reason is that when Eric got this pigeon as a youngster from Eddy Jochems, he assumed that it was a female bird.)
Dam: BE14-6302537, granddaughter and inbred to Sprint
The dam comes straight from Eric's own pigeon breed. Sprint appears twice in this pedigree, as does Donkere 18, another of Marcelis's top birds.
Click here for her pedigree
De Sprint, 1st Olympiad Pigeon Liévin 2003, which many of team Berckmoes's current successes are still founded upon
Another top pair that has bred several talented youngsters for Eric is his 'Kweekkoppel', which consists of:
‘De Kweker’ BE13-6024262, inbred Sprint and a 100% Berckmoes
Click here for his pedigree
‘Sneeuwwitje’ BE13-6024488, a granddaughter and inbred to ‘De Leeuw’ of Marcel Wouters
Click here for her pedigree
A look at the lofts where the cocks and hens are currently keeping a nest together
The white bird in the top row is a white daughter of top pair 'De Kweker' x 'Sneeuwwitje'
Eric Berckmoes has had quite a turbulent career in pigeon racing, despite his young age. Be that as it may, he has never ceased to deliver great results. He became a world champion as a youngster, and his team from Brecht claimed several championship and ace pigeon titles and a number of national first prizes. However, since moving to Lille his main concern has been to simply enjoy keeping pigeons. But that does not mean he is no longer ambitious; just look at his 1st prize in the zone from Chateauroux. Those fortunate enough to have had a conversation about pigeons with Eric will not be surprised about his results; he has really mastered the art of pigeon racing. He knows more than anyone else how to get a pigeon to break its limits.