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Cobut Raymond, "History of the Belgian Racing Pigeons"


Raymond Cobut, Anderlues


Introduction

Born the 2nd of November 1923.
Occupation: Medically retired coalminer. Year became fancier: 1948.

Origin of the Cobut strain
- Pure Duray (Ecaussines) via Tilmont (Buvrine) and by buying in the 1951 Duray sale; Cattrysse via Nicaise (St. Denis), Commines via L. Coudou (Herinnes-lez-Pecq) are the foundation of my stock. - Worked 25 years underground in a coal mine which resulted in my being permanently shackled to the necessity of special health care.

Gained international fame thanks to:
- Splendid results in long distance racing for more than 25 years. In the last 16 years won 283 prizes Out of 533 birds basketed for Barcelona, among which 188 were in the top 10 percent.
- Since 1968 12 wins in national races, hen category. This put me at, or near, the top in all of the national championships organized by the Royal Federation of Belgian Racing Pigeon Fanciers, the Belgian Union, Cure-gem Center, etc.
Since 1977 I have played the ,, Polydor “ in the yearly race from Brive in that again and again, in ‘77, ‘79, and ‘80 I had to be satisfied placing second.
However, the “flowers and glory” were finally mine for the Montauban national race in 1980!

Montauban” 21774-74
Sire: “Cahors” 73746-55 BCWFC
Won 17 prizes in long distance racing, among them four from Cahors in the first 100 birds.
Dam: 58294-74 BCWFH (stock hen) old strain 1st regional old bird and 15th national.

Montauban’s” Racing Results:
1977 4 prizes in middle distance including La Souterraine (957 rn/rn or 1062 ypm)
1978 5 prizes in middle distance, among them 85th in Bourges National against 5,080 birds
1979 Brive: 281st national, 8382 birds
Cahors 51st national, 3085 birds
Montauban 156th national, 3224 birds
St. Vincent 390th national, 4930 birds
2nd Ace Long Distance Pigeon Charleroi
3rd Ace Long Distance Pigeon Colombophilie Beige
2nd Ace Long Distance Pigeon Derby Hainaut
4th Ace Long Distance Pigeon Long Distance Friends Club, Liege
1980 Brive: 2nd national, 7770 birds
Cahors 421st national, 4462 birds
Montauban 1st national, 3058 birds



Loft record
A few of the most fantastic successes
1964 Barcelona International (1,000km / 620 miles) 4,000 birds, 16 basketed; 11 prizes: 24, 41, 47, 54, 62, 95, 171, 239, 250, 712, 896th.
1967 Barcelona International 4,876 birds, 29 basketed, 16 prizes: 30, 36, 50, 56, 153, 171, 185, 239, 278, 307, 316, 540, 547, 639, 677, 720th
1970 Barcelona International 6,851 birds, 17 basketed, 11 prizes: 22, 40, 48, 202, 266, 343, 500, 845, 1,113, 1,187 and 1234th.
1972 Barcelona International, 7,293 birds, 42 basketed, 23 prizes: 33, 39, 44, 48, 52, 124, 260, 270, 302, 421, 425, 449, 546, 698, 711, 724, 851, 999, 1,004, 1,081, 1,182, 1,327, 1,809th.
1973 Barcelona International 8,515 birds, 52 basketed, 31 prizes: 22, 26, 35, 49, 70, 75, 96, 180, 182, 184, 239, 288, 289, 296, 446, 451, 524, 545, 655, 667, 686, 770, 774, 857, 957, 1004, 1062, 1323, 1370, 1424, 1456th.
Hens: 4, 8, 16, 34, 66, 108, 142, 148th.
1977 Brive National, 6,137 birds, 79 basketed, 38 prizes, 20 in first 500
2,7, 13, 19, 37, 40, 59, 61, 75, 87, 175, 179, 183, 216, 224, 302, 328, 399, 454, 488, 508, 604th, etc.
Hen category, 463 hens, 35 basketed: 20 prizes, 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8,
9, 10th, etc.
1980 Bourges National 9,113 birds, 48 basketed: 24 prizes, 13, 16, 67, 71, 160, 274, 346, 389, 401, 428, 447th, etc.
Brive National, 7,770 birds, 52 basketed, 26 prizes: 2nd (2nd nomi
nated) 6, 32nd (iste nominated), 133, 155 (3rd nominated), 214, 325, 347, 360, 419, 463rd, etc.
Cahors National, 4,462 birds, 26 basketed, 15 prizes: 10th, 16, 69, 118, 249, 292, 421, 467th, etc.
Montauban National, 3,058 birds, 20 basketed, 10 prizes : 1st (1st nominated), 33, 58, 116 (2nd nominated, 379, 410th, etc.

Lofts
The same lofts for over 20 years.
The widowhood lofts are panel covered brick, nestbird lofts (hens are flown to the nest) are of double eternit walls, also panelled and with a good insulation attached underneath except for the front that has a 50 cm (20 inch) wide opening that stays permanently open.
The roofs have 30 to 40 % slopes. Thus the fronts are much higher than the backs. Therefore, the air over the latticed front openings is free. A special characteristic of the hen loft is the fact that the fly-in window has a 70 cm (28 inch) passage the birds must go through to drop into their loft. The drop is closed on race days allowing each hen to be clocked before she actually enters her loft.
The separation between the passage and the loft is made of wire netting. The lofts face in a southernly direction except that, from sheer necessity, the young birds loft faces East.
The homemade nest boxes measure 60 by 35 and are 40 cm high
(24” x 14” x 16”) and are ordinary wood. Nothing fancy.
There is neither helper nor loft manager.

Stockbirds
- What is your breeding food mixture?
- Are your widowers and stock birds fed greens?
- Which ones? When?
I
use the same mixture for all birds (widowers, natural, and young
birds) with the exception of the widowers’ hens.
The mixture is made up of:
24 % corn (maize)
25 % wheat
15 % vetch
5 % beans
8 % peas
15% dan
8 % cardy
The mixture for widowers’ hens is as follows: one third above, two thirds barley. Never any greens.


Breeding Ace Pigeons
- What is the breeding of your Ace pigeons - national winners?
- Crossing or inbreeding?
Both crossing and inbreeding (though not too close) gave me fantastic long distance birds and stock pairs.
Thus : uncle with niece, aunt with nephew, grandson with granddaughter, have fairly often been tested. Off and on, I try a foundation bird with his granddaughter or an old breeding hen with her grandson. I am not in favor of half-brother with half-sister or father-daughter matings.
A cross that gave me my very best was a couple of my birds mated to birds from Jan Grondelaers in Opgiabbeek. Youngsters bred from these birds were shared in a brotherly fashion.

Theory
- Do you believe in eye-sign or the wing theory?
Eye-sign has, I believe, real value.
Always keep on the look-out for very lively eyes that give a crafty (intelligent) impression. Color is of minor importance, but eyes with clearly defined colors inspire more confidence in me.
Once in awhile one sees a good racer whose eye colors flow together but such birds are exceptions.
For stock birds I like richly colored eyes but ancestory plays the dominant role.
The wing theory contains certain real truths, however all this careful measuring of wings is really overdoing it. A wing must be in proportion to the bird’s body. The last flights must not be too broad. Softness of cover feather and suppleness of flight feathers must never he undervalued, especially in long distance racing.

Feed
- What mixture do you feed widowers?
- Break-down, on a day to day and morning and evening basis.
- Which grains and how much per bird?
The same mixture, already given, for all birds (widowers, breeders, natural, and young birds).
Young birds are only fed once a day, at about 3 pm, however they are given all they can eat.
Widowers and natural-system racers are fed twice daily, the quantity depending each time on their training flights. Stock birds always have food in their hopper.
Be careful with shiny grain. More often than not, this is low quality grain that has been specially treated to look good.
For this reason I take the trouble to buy each type of grain separately and mix it myself.
Whenever I stick my hand into the corn (maize) I want to see little bits of white husk. if they are not there I am immediately suspicious. I give my birds several types of commercial grit which allows them to make their own free choice.
My birds get vitamins in their water every week, both Fridays and Mondays. A good polyvitamin mixture can be obtained through a veterinarian or a pharmacist.

Method
- Natural system or widowhood with hens and cocks?
Widowhood is excellent for cocks but I use the natural system (to the nest) for hens and fly an occasional cock to the nest too. I feel the natural system is very good for long distance racing.
Widowhood method:
- Free loft twice daily.
- When they come in, each bird is fed individually in his own nest box where a small cup is kept for that purpose.
- Common drinking fountain for the whole loft.
- Free in the loft, never shut in nestboxes. The loft is not darkened;
Strong light can be more or less regulated with curtains.
- Hens are not shown before basketing, they are waiting in theii nest compartments when the widowers return.
- On race days toward the end of the season, when the widowers are due from a particular race, the widowers that are to race the following week are released a dozen kms (7 miles) down the road. When they return their hens are also waiting in their compartments. This procedure allows the other birds to stay quietly in the loft on Wednesdas without being disturbed. (Note: Wednesday is the usual shipping day for long distance races in Belgium. Using this system Mr. Cobut does not show hens on the shipping/basketing day, which would excite the whole loft.) I feel disturbing widowers in their loft is not good.
- My widowers do not rear young before the race season, they do however at the end of the season.
- No forced flights mornings or afternoons.
- Any grain left in the hopper is removed after a quarter of an hour.
- Whenever a widower loses weight he is to be allowed to rest, this means he stays home and is disturbed as little as possible.
- Old birds are trained as follows: they go on a couple of training flights and then are sent to 150 kms (94 miles) and then more or less 300 kms (188 miles). They are then ready to take part in races of 400 kms (250 miles) or more. (Note : yearlings are not considered old birds in Belgium).
- it is better not to send pigeons to short races once they have flown in the long ones.


Natural method (nest)
- Hens are raced twice per nest (on eggs and then on a small youngster).
- After the second race the youngster is removed and the next nest begins.
- They do not nest before the race season, thus they are mated very late in the year.

Form
- How do you know that a widower is coming into form, or already is in top form?
Indications of form:
The birds become livelier and fly more eagerly.
Feather colors darken and get a pronounced brightness
Eyes become shinier. They get fiesty and during free loft fly off separately in all directions. Once in top form they seem to weigh less although their volume remains unchanged. Their muscles become more supple and their breathing is practically imperceptable.

Hens
The widowers’ hens go onto eggs twice before the race season but do not rear youngsters. After the season they stay with their mates until the end of November. Hens are shut in a fly pen (voliere), never ía individual cells.
While separated from their mates their mixture is: one part regular mixture and two parts barley.

Vitamins and Trace Elements
A commercial vitamin complex is used twice weekly, Mondays and Fridays.
The recommended dose is not to be exceeded.
Vitamins are to be used but not misused.

Hygiene
I clean all lofts twice daily. Now and then I disinfect with bleach, better known (in Belgium) as Javelwater.
Like al] fanciers I have to deal with the common pigeon illnesses:
trichomonas, coccidiosis, etc. There are satisfactory medications available to cure these things quickly.
Plenty of light and air is important, but watch out for drafts.

New blood
- Are you in favor of bringing in fresh blood every year?
Since 1964 I have not kept a single bird that was not my strain.

Good Advice for Beginners
- What advice do you have for beginners?
- Are you ready to help them as well as to give them advice?
Mv first advice is to start by making a flypen (voliere). The loft can come later.
It is best to get birds for this pen from lofts that have been very successful for several years racing at the same distance the beginner is interested in.
Do not race these birds. Do race their youngsters.
Do not be in too’ much of a hurry. Train well before sending them, to long distances.
He who throws my advice to the wind and tries to race bought birds will find himself, almost every year, knocking at other fanciers doors in search of new birds. Thus he will start from the bottom of the ladder every year.
T am of course always willing to give advice to beginners whenever they ask for it.