William Dirix, "The History of Belgian Racing pigeons"

William Dirix, De Panne (BE)

Introduction :
William DiriBorn the 17th of March 1934. Profession: Supermarket Branch Operator.
Became a fancier in 1974.

Origin and development of your strain?
For 18 years I played on the De Panne soccer team so did not have the free time needed for pigeons. During this time I was an avid bird trapper and became a bird connoisseur. In 1974 bird trapping was abolished and at that time I became a racing pigeon fancier. I bought two birds from Lefevre-Dhaenens in Zulte from the “Kapoen” (Capon Desmet-Mathijs line. From Roger Vereecke I got a daughter of ,, Lost Son” and the “22 Hen” (old Dupont strain.) At August Taveirne’s I got a son of the late Theo Marchand’s “Ball” as well as a grandson of the “Vereecke True-Iron” 3064724-57. In spite of the fact that these birds were obtained for long distance racing, their youngsters were terrific flyers up to and past Paris. (Translator’s note In Belgium, Paris is more or less the end of short racing and truck transportation. Past Paris, or “over” Paris, most pigeons are transportated by train to middle or long distance points with two days or more en route. Races “up to” Paris are thus different from “past“Paris and many birds that do well “up to” Paris do not make the prize list “over” Paris and vice versa.)
Tested in long distance racing, these youngsters really showed their breeding, even winning a national race in the hen category.
I got in the public eye thanks to, my sensational success up to Paris, my top prizes from Barcelona the same year, and because my hens win prizes as easily as my cocks.

The prizes won in 1977 were a test with Barcelona as the goal.
In 1977
Flew Barcelona for the first time coming in 77th out of 10,507 birds in this international race.
In 1978:
Two prizes out of three basketed birds coming in 511th against 11,13 1 birds in the international category.
In 1979:
I only tried hens that had scored 4 prizes in 5 races. They won the
Bernard Steverlynck and Son Prize of Honour for the first series of
1st and 2nd nominated hens. They also won the Senator Hilaire Lahaye
Prize of honour for the first series of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd nominated
birds of either sex.
In 1980:
Again won the Michel Steverlynck and Son Prize of Honour for the
first series of 1st and 2nd nominated hens.
I won a total of 11 prizes out of 14 birds sent to Barcelona.
Meanwhile, the same birds won top prizes in other long distance races. One of the hens won the Limoges National Race, hen category, against 335 hens.
And her daughter was the Number One Long Distance Ace Pigeon in the strong De Panne, Coksyde, Newport, and Veurne confederation. Here are a few of the big bangs my weaker sex exploded in 1980. On the 24th of May, with 6 hens:
Chateauroux Provincial Race (161 yearlings and hens : 1st, 2nd, 4th, 18th, 19th and 22nd!
Chateauroux Gistel Club (346 birds) 1st and 2nd. On the 7th of June, with 6 hens:
Brive National (563 hens) 1st, 12th, 28th, 40th, 68th, and 126th! Brive Provincial (1,836 old birds) 1st
Brive National (7,770 old birds) 3rd Total of 12 prizes from 12 birds sent.

was, in his time, the late Theo Marchand’s best flyer. Stolen in 1972, he returned and became Theo’s best breeder. Eighty percent of the birds in Theo’s sale were related to his super stock bird.
He is also brother of Gust Taveirne’s “Orleans” 3387775-78 and half-brother of his famous “One White Flight” 3079342-64, Ace Pigeon in 1969.

“ MERCKXS-hen” 3465 126-74 does not have to bow to any pigeon in the world. She is the mother of the 1978 Limoges National Race winner, hen category, and of the 1980 Brive National Race winner, also hen category.
A 1974 late-hatch, she was trained in 1975
Her flying record:
1976 11-4 Arras 119 birds 12th
16-5 Dourdan 503 birds 8th
23-5 Dourdan 404 birds 7th
6-6 Orleans 349 birds 9th
17-6 Dourdan 343 birds 94th
11-7 Dourdan 169 birds 3rd
25-7 Arras 157 birds 1st
1-8 Arras 82 birds 9th
8-8 Breteuil 76 birds 4th
1977 17-4 Arras 71 birds 16th
24-4 Arras 157 birds 2nd
1-5 Clermont 144 birds 6th
8-5 Clermont 158 birds 1st
22-5 Clermont 159 birds 2nd
12-6 Dourdan 306 birds 1st
19-6 Tours 244 birds 4th
3-7 Dourdan 155 birds 5th
1978 Stocked. Shut up in voliere for seven months. Reared 3 sets of youngsters.

Brought out of stock loft to earn points towards the championship.
16-7 Clermont 161 birds 22nd
23-7 Dourdan 122 birds 4th
5-8 Argenton National 4,020 birds 884th

Now in stock loft. She will never be removed again!

BRIVE-HEN 3151159-77 is one of the 1977 late-hatches reared when “Crack” 3420699-68 was bought. In one week he mated with six hens producing 12 youngsters that in 1980 paid me handsome dividends.

Races out of old lofts. These lofts were formerly used to house poultry. Built on the ground with brick walls, they are therefore very damp. They require warm weather.
The old bird entrance is on the South. Young birds have an attic loft right under the tiles, their entrance faces East. This is my ideal. In the morning they get sun through the entrance and in the evening they get it through the glass in the West side. (You do not need sun from the South and between 12 and 3 pm it is warm enough in the loft anyhow !) The flooring is the same new fiberboard that the nestboxes were made of. They soon became an eye-score. A plastic paint was applied to them the second year without hurting the loft in the least. The birds continued to fly like Champions. (As they say in Flanders, “They flew the tiles off the roof!“)
The young-bird-loft floor is covered with straw. I have no ioftman.
My wife is always interested in how I’m doing but she does nothing in the loft.

- What is your breeders’ feed mixture?
- Do your widowers and stockbirds get greens?
- Which greens - When?
The whole year they get Naturel Breeding Mixture with yellow corn. This is mixed with a light mixture depending on the time of the year; rest, breeding, or race time. Every week my birds get fresh salad from the garden, trussed up with a sting and hung so that the birds can enjoy it.

- Do you believe in eye-sign?
- Give us a clear description of what you see in a pigeon’s eye?
- Wing theories, what significance have they for you?
Eye color is unimportant to me, not even when mating. I like a tiny, lively pupil. I prefer a bird with eye-sign to one without. One can tell a lot about a pigeon’s health by looking in its eyes. Also by looking at the wattles or ceres around the eyes and especially in between the ceres and the eyes, one can ascertain if the eyes are dry or wet. The wing theory means a lot to me; almost all my birds have the Vanderschelden wing type; meaning that the surface of the inner wing is as small as possible, both in length and breadth. The forewing surface should be as large as possible with the four last flights parallel, (ie: no curved chicken flights) as long as possible, well ventilated, preferably with well rounded ends.
When such a bird has a long breastbone with plenty of muscle, and he is out of parents that know instinctively how to find the way home, the chances for success are high indeed

Medical treatment
Yes, I believe in treating pigeons if they need it - but no automatic cures before or after the race season. I have never needed to worm my birds. They are checked before the race season.
if any disorder is present it is then cured.
Dr. Lemahieu is my advisor and I use the stuff he gives me in a little plastic sack. I do find it a pity that fanciers do not know what they give their birds.

- Widowhood with both cocks and hens?
Indeed. Widowhood with hens is initiated as soon as they have a 10 day old youngster in the nest. They see and feed their youngsters in turn. Here is how it works
I use two lofts.
Loft 1 : here the birds are mated and have their nests.
Loft 2 : is rather small and simple: 1 x 2 M (3’4” x 6’8”) with a little fly pen attached that has a chickenwire floor on which pigeons do not like to sit.
There must be no possibility for the hens to snuggle up together. There is a 202 x 20 cm (6’10” x 8”) door in the fly pen to let the hens out.
At 7 am the cocks are released from Loft 2 which is then cleaned and the hens are changed from Loft 1 to Loft 2 where they will spend the day. Loft 1 is then cleaned and after the cocks have flown 45 minutes they are let into Loft 1 where they have the freedom of the loft. In the evening the hens are released from Loft 2, forced to fly 45 minutes and then allowed into Loft 1. The hens are immediately locked in their nest-boxes where they are fed individually.
The big problem arises with the hens in Loft 2. Any hens that are too eager to mate are removed and locked in nestboxes in another loft.
What happens when hens and cocks arrive home from a race at the same time?
Simple: he or she will want to be in the nestbox when his or her mate arrives. In this way he or she will be doubly rewarded.
- Before every race the cocks and hens see each other.
- Both sexes are fed in their nest-boxes.
- Forced flying for three quarters of an hour.
- Whenever a hen or a cock loses weight due to eating too little, he or she is shut up for two days without food and remains home the following week end. This is a fast solution.

Give us any special things to do during the winter months.
Both sexes rear a pair, or even two pairs, of youngsters after the race season. When the youngsters are 20 to 22 days old, all old birds and youngbirds that will be flown as yearlings the following year, are moved to a large loft. Sexes are not separated but they are all shut up for more or less five months without being allowed to fly out at all.
They are fed daily at 4 pm. The loft is bone dry and is not cleaned.
The stockbirds are removed to the stock loft about the 1st of December to be remated.

During the winter, while prisoners, my birds get:
1) Half breeding mixture and half light-mixture;
2) A bath every two weeks;
3) Colombine tea every two weeks;
4) A truss of zurkel greens is hung in the loft every week so that they get all they want;
5) They have several kinds of grit and it is changed every week;
6) A vitaminized mineral mixture is at their disposal all the time.

The winter loft is disinfected with a blowtorch after all the birds have been removed to their regular lofts.
To be successful racing pigeons: beginners can start right off with my system. They must not complicate it or try to do the impossible.