The success story of Willy and Ivan Baetens (St.-Niklaas, BE) is based on an invaluable team of breeders

The Bricon Loft of Ivan and Willy Baetens has gained a reputation for its invaluable collection of national ace pigeons and great champions. These pigeons in turn led the way to many more top results and prestigious victories.

The lives of Willy and Ivan Baetens have been marked by pigeons and pigeon racing: it was a hobby, but it was also part of their professional careers. Willy used to build pigeon lofts all across Flanders when he was running a company called Bawibo. His son Ivan founded the Bricon company, which is now the international market leader for eletronic clocking devices. In other words, the two fanciers have earned a living in pigeon sport, which means they know the sport inside and out. The experience they gained came in particularly useful in their career as active pigeon fanciers, where they wanted to play an important role as well. They adopted a professional approach in an attempt to get the full potential from their racing and breeding team, and their approach enabled them to become one one of the most renowned and most successful pigeon families in the Belgian Waasland region.

Their goal has always been to excel in the most important national races. They have several provincial and zonal first prizes on their palmares, and they are hoping to add a national victory to their list of achievements one day as well.
​The old birds' team had a particularly successful 2016 season; their achievements can be found below. They were victorious at club level in the national classcis from Argenton old birds, Limoges yearlings, and Brive olds & yearlings. The team of Baetens did great in the championships as well, winning the following titles:

- 9th Provincial Champion Long Distance KBDB O-Vl
- 12th Prov. Ace Pigeon Long Distance KBDB East Fl.
- Silver Ring young birds long distance ‘Gouden Ringen v/h Waasland’
- Bronze Ring olds & Yearlings Long Distance ‘Gouden Ringen v/h Waasland’

You need a top class pigeon breed in order to be competitive in the long distance at provincial level. It is no secret that Ivan invests in new bloodlines on a regular basis, trying to raise the bar every single season.

An invaluable team of breeders leads to new success

An impressive set of lofts have been built behind the company property of the Bricon company in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. It explains why the pigeon family of Willy and Ivan races under the name of Bricon-Loft. Their breeding loft is home to an impressive collection of top class pigeons, including national ace pigeons and their direct descendants. The team invested heavily in this type of pigeons. A number of birds in this collection are part of a project in which a group of fanciers invests in pigeons together. This project allows the group to obtain some great champions together, and that includes several national ace pigeons KBDB (they have six in total). Their bloodlines are now put to good use through their respective descendants.

The six 1st National Ace Pigeons are Peggy, Elsie, Witpen Rivaldo, Pierre Mistral, Nico, and Red Ace, which was introduced this year. We reckon you are familiar with each of these names, as they have all played an important role in the pigeon family of Joost De Smeyter, who co-invested in these six champions. Here at Bricon the youngsters are mainly used in the breeding loft, whereas the grandchildren are used in the racing loft, as part of Willy and Ivan's extreme long distance racing team. The first descendants of these pigeons were basketed for the first time in 2016, and their results have helped the team to further refine their breeding approach. The fanciers can now finetune their approach regularly, to try and set a higher bar season after season, and to get the most out of their collection of invaluable pigeons.
​Ivan hopes to excel in the long distance mainly with the help of the Fenomeen dynasty, which includes the two breeders 't Fenomeen himself (obtained from colleague and friend Etienne Meirlaen), and his own nest brother Nestbroer Fenomeen.

The different investments clearly illustrate the approach of Ivan Baetens: breeding from super class pigeons, pigeons that have shown to have the talent it takes to win races, and to stand out from the pack. And as we all know, super class birds breed super class birds.

Focus on the national long distance

The Bricon team consists mainly of a team of old birds raced in traditional widowhood, with about 70 widowers and 12 hens. Ivan gave total widowhood a try a few years back as well but that did not last very long. Pigeons that had to spend too much time waiting for their partner would lose motivation eventually, and would give up sooner as well.
This is why he prefers to have the same partners stay at home during the races.
The Baetens pigeons had their share of bad luck in th early 2016 season. A few very unfortunate races in the early season cost him a few good quality pigeons, reducing the racing team in size. And no fancier wants to lose his most talented pigeons, Ivan explains.

The hens are never shown to the cocks prior to basketing, not even with a reversed bowl. The widowers do get fed individually in their boxes, to improve the relationship between the fancier and the pigeon, and to increase their urge to fight for territory. They get rewarded upon their arrival, as they get to spend some more time with their partner, depending on the difficulty of the race and the time of arrival. The racing hens on the other hand can see their male partners before basketing, sometimes up to half an hour depending on the race and on the hen's behaviour.

The young birds are not raced to win prizes; their objective is to gain experience and to log training miles, preferrably in races of up to or just above 450km. A few hens are then basketed for the nationals as well. One of the stars of this season was  Zilveren Ring BE16-4011008, which won: 

 3rd  Prov. Chateauroux III  3,788 p.
28th  Nat. Chateauroux III  14,762 p.
 8th  Prov. La Souterraine   4,390 p.
120th Nat. La Souterraine   16,613 p.
84th  Prov. Blois            4,406 p. etc…

She also won a prize per 10 (within the first 10%) from Bourges and Issoudun. Additionally, she won the Silver Ring long distance young birds in the Golden Ring Waasland competition.

The team focused primarily on the national long distance races of 600 to 800km in recent seasons. New pigeons have also been introduced for races of over 800km, including of course the six different 1st National Ace Pigeons Extreme Long Distance KBDB. The youngsters of these ace pigeons have proven to be very useful in the breeding loft, whereas their grandchildren are expected to play a crucial role primarily in the racing loft.

High expectations for 2017

Ivan Baetens has a clear view on pigeon racing. His loft is equipped with several super class pigeons, including national ace pigeons, prize winners and other great champions. Their descendants in turn have managed to win prestigious wins for the Bricon Loft as well. The team has made some big investments, and now is the time to reap the rewards.

A look at the best results of 2016 with the olds and yearlings

Noyon (195km)
·  ​732 old birds: 11-29-40-96-188-226-277 (8)
·  ​797 Yearlings: 8-18-34-164-290 (6)

Bourges (470km)
·  388 Old Birds Club  : 13-30-32-33-42-123 (15)
· 4032 Old Birds Prov. : 75-222-248-249-331 (15)

Limoges (663km)
·  201 Old Birds Club  : 6-7-8-14-21-66 (11)
· 6279 Old Birds N.Zone B : 118-119-160-235-333-1316 (11)

Chateauroux (516km)
·  470 Old Birds Club  : 12-26-46-91-120-152-157 (10)
· 6692 Old Birds N.Zone B1 : 90-183-353-783-1085-1335-1399 (10)

Montluçon (547km)
·  157 Old Birds Club  : 2-16-31-39 (10)
· 2610 Old Birds N.Zone B1 : 6-141-283-397 (10)
· 9462 Old Birds National : 17-399-819-1230 (10)

Argenton (544km)
·  138 Old Birds Club  : 1-42 (5)
·  206 Yearlings Club  : 11-13-18 (6)
· 1971 Old Birds Prov. : 4-483 (5)
· 2654 Yearlings Prov. : 155-185-275 (6)
· 2478 Old Birds N.Zone B1 : 3-390 (5)
· 9228 Old Birds National : 12-1453 (5)

Limoges II (663km)
·  104 Old Birds Club  : 2-6-7-12-16-22-32-33 (11)
·  165 Yearlings Club  : 1-5-13-18-25-34-38-45 (16)
· 3089 Old Birds N.Zone B : 25-79-96-123-191-282-489-493 (11)
· 3380 Yearlings N.Zone B : 22-43-91-114-176-373-449-599 (16)

Chateauroux (516km)
·   81 Old Birds Club  : 2 (2)
·  173 Yearlings Club  : 3-36-47 (5)
· 6850 Old Birds National : 102 (2)
· 9540 Yearlings National : 297-2192-(5)

Brive (697km)
·   61 Old Birds Club  : 1-3-5-7-17 (10)
·  129 Yearlings Club  : 1-5-6-16-20 (12)
· 2757 Old Birds N.Zone B : 3-13-40-58-258-357-375 (10)
· 2810 Yearlings N.Zone B : 20-32-33-158-277 (12)
· 5952 Old Birds National : 18-62-156-214-801-1037-1100 (10)
· 5929 Yearlings National : 89-132-139-473-769 (12)

Tulle (648km)
·   68 Old Birds Club  : 3-5 (3)
·  106 Yearlings Club  : 12-23 (2)
· 1383 Old Birds Prov. : 57-84 (3)

Bourges (470km)
·  130 Old Birds Club  : 2-7 (3)
· 1204 Old Birds Prov. : 7-25 (3)