Etienne sold his entire team of old birds older than 3 years (born in 2009 and earlier) in late 2012. This was obviously a great loss for the team, as almost the entire breeding team (except for Yelena, which returned from an auction in bis) and all of his best racing pigeons (except for Montali, also sold in bis) were moved to different lofts. These pigeons were the bricks and mortar of the breed of Etienne Meirlaen. They have won several national and international prizes for the fancier from Deurle-St. Martens Latem, and some of these pigeons were regarded the best of Belgium, winning national ace pigeon titles KBDB!
An entirely new team for the future
Any fancier knows you should never sell the foundation of your bloodline, only the youngsters. Strangely enough, Etienne did just the opposite. However, he bred a number of young birds from his best pigeons before they were auctioned. These were without doubt talented young birds, but that does not guarantee that they can bring an equally talented group of descendants as the previous generations.
He started the 2013 season with pigeons from 2010. This group of three year olds and younger pigeons were fairly inexperienced in the long distance competition. Still, he was able to close the season with a 13th place in the national long distance championship. This was an unexpected result and it was a promising achievement for the seasons to come.
1st + 2nd National Pau, the first great achievement of the new generation
Etienne Meirlaen did not have to wait long for a first success with his new team. He had an outstanding result in the race from Pau, with a first and second national prize. It was a very tough race in excellent weather conditions, but there was a strong wind coming from the north and the northeast. His pigeon Marco was the first to land in Deurle at 21:41’19”, covering 904.759km with a velocity of 1009.42 m/min. Marco originates from the same line as Monar, winner of a first international from Narbonne. In other words, the Meirlaen family knew that they could expect their pigeons to land very early. The second pigeon Cor-As from Pau was clocked three minutes later at 21:44’48”, but Etienne had not seen him come home, because he was taking care of the control ring of his winning pigeon. Cor-As achieved a velocity of 1005.51 m/min.
It quickly appeared that Marco and Cor-As were the fastest two pigeons in their basketing club in Ghent, and they were also the fastest two pigeons in Belgium according to the PIPA website. This was an exciting 30 minutes for them, because there was still a chance that another pigeon would eventually claim the national first prize. Eventually, they knew it was time to celebrate another great victory. This is the third national victory already between 2011 and 2014. It illustrates how talented the Meirlaen pigeon family really is. This is their impressive palmares:
1st National Pau 1,928 olds in 2014 (with Marco) 1st National Cahors 8,348 olds in 2012 (with Conar) 1st International Narbonne 13,779 olds in 2011 (with Monar) 2nd International Tarbes 12,537 olds in 2009 (with Starlight) 2nd National Pau 1,928 olds in 2014 (with Cor-As) General Champion Belgian Entente in 2011 1st National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2009 (with Perpignan Lady) 1st Nationale Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2008 (with Cor) Winner Golden Wing 2006 Barcelona club Bruges Best Long Distance Pigeon of Belgium in 5 nationale races in 2010 (with Fenomeen) 2nd National Champion Long Distance KBDB 2010 3rd National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2008 (with Asduivin) 5th National Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB 2010 (with Fenomeen)
Marco and Cor-As take the win
Etienne had basketed four pigeons for Pau, three of which have been able to win a prize. Let’s take a look at the preliminary results:
Pau Club Gent 75 olds: 1-2-10 (3/4) Prov 341 olds: 1-2-22 (3/4) Nat 1,928 olds: 1-2… (expected top 50 and ¾) Intnat 8,302 olds: 6-8… (3/4)
Their young racing team (mainly two year old pigeons) had another great result in the race from Montauban the following day, making this a highly successful weekend:
Montauban club Eeklo 243 olds: 2-5-10-12-21-35-44-58-61-71-75-79 (12/17) Nationaal 5,933 olds: 7-18-53-59… (expected top 100)
The first pigeon from Montauban was another direct son of the indispensable breeding dam Yelena!
We take a closer look at the two national winners from Pau, which have both completed the flights from Vierzon and Limoges as preparation.
In 2014: Pau Nat 1,928 p. 1 I.Nat 8,302 p. 6 Limoges 896 p. 90 Nat 18,390 p. 928 Vierzon 668 p. 167 In 2013: Poitiers 721 p. 24 Perpignan 223 p. 36 Bourges 718 p. 54 etc…
Sire: Brother Luka BE07-4278521
A full brother of the extreme long distance champion Luka (1st in the club and 30th Euro-Nat. Biarritz, 450th Nat. Barcelona 12,998 p. in ’05, 230th Nat. Barcelona 12,612 p. in ’07. He stems from the line of the world famous Klamper of Cor de Heijde x a crossing of Vermote-Florizoone). An invaluable breeding line for Meirlaen for the extreme long distance.
Dam: Sister Marathonlady BE08-4358903
A full sister of both the golden breeding dam Marathonlady (1st Grand Marathon prize KBDB as a yearling, and the dam of today's stock dam Yelena) and Perpignan Lady, 1st National Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance 2009. This bloodline plays a role in almost every important victory of Meirlaen.
You can find the complete pedigree of Marco here.
This great racing bird had to leave the national victory to his loft mate Marco. Cor-As is a highly talented long distance pigeon, and winner of the following prizes:
’14 Pau Nat 1,928 p. 2 (behind loft mate Marco) I.Nat 8,302 p. 8 ’11 Limoges Nat 14,679 p. 224 ’12 Narbonne Nat 6,583 p. 297 I.Nat 13,092 p. 361 ’13 Poitiers Nat 13,813 p. 480 ’13 St.Vincent Nat 3,738 p. 294 I.Nat 10,907 p. 836 ’12 Cahors Nat 8,348 p. 725 ’11 La Châtre Zone 7,487 p. 835 etc…
Sire: Son Cor BE09-4302935
A direct son of 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2008 Cor BE05-4344528 (3rd Nat. Perpignan 7,752 p., 25th Nat. Barcelona 11,484 p.) x 3rd Nat. Ace Pigeon Extreme Long Distance KBDB 2008 Asduivin BE04-4391334 (44th Nat. Barcelona 11,484 p. and 54th Nat. Perpignan 7,752 p.). Asduivin is also a half sister of Starlight, winner of a 2nd Internat. Tarbes 12,459 p. ’08, a 9th Nat. Montauban 7,203 p. ’09, and a 21st Nat. Montauban 5,438 p. ’08.
Dam: Blue 513 BE07-4278513
Originates from the golden Marseille line. Her sire is a half brother of Monar (1st Internat. Narbonne 2011) and Marseille (1st Carcassonne and 2 x 1st Marseille, won in three consecutive seasons).
You can find the full pedigree here.
The interesting thing about these pigeons is that the four parents of the two national winners were all sold in the internet auction of 2012. In other words, the new owners of these four pigeons now have the sire or dam of a national winner in their collection.
Long distance and extreme long distance
The Meirlaen pigeon family focuses entirely on the long distance and the extreme long distance. Many fanciers have been wondering about Etienne’s approach and so we will briefly discuss his way of working. Etienne has used every possible method in the past, just to keep things interesting in the racing loft. He has had an early breed with a second pairing in late March or early April, two breeding periods of 10 days before the start of the season, a pairing in early February, raising a youngster before going into widowhood, etc. He never really noticed a significant difference in performance during the season with any of these methods. The only difference was the time of the moulting period, which would start sooner or later depending on the method he was using. Etienne also thinks people are thinking too much about whether or not to show the partner before basketing. You can do this for a select group of pigeons, but it is hard to manage with a team of 50 or 60 widowers. This means Etienne will sometimes show the partner, and sometimes not. In 2014, the racing pigeons could brood two times before the start of the season, but they did not raise any youngsters.
The only thing you have to keep in mind is that pigeon racing has evolved over the years. Today, you are required to take great care of your pigeons and to feed them well. A veterinary surgeon will be consulted if the pigeons do not perform well, just to see if they are in good health. There is a preventive check-up before important races sometimes as well. However, there will be no treatments unless on the advice of the vet. Good nutrition (Versele and Mariman), recovery and some vitamin supplements before basketing are important, as well as keeping an eye on your pigeons when they are training. You can see that a pigeon is in great form if it enjoys its training flights, any experienced fancier knows that. The results in the race will tell the rest. Throughout the summer, plenty of pigeon are basketed for the races, and the more you select, the higher the quality of your collection, which you can judge by their results.
This is the approach of Etienne Meirlaen. It has allowed him to make it to the top in the national long distance and the international extreme long distance. His first and second national prize from Pau show once more that pigeon racing is all about quality and top class pigeons. Only the truly successful racing pigeons deserve a seat in the racing team of Meirlaen in Deurle. Congratulations to the entire team. Etienne, Yvette, Aline, and Michel, many congratulations on this double national win!