‘Proving that Two Heads are Better Than One’ Freddy & Jacques Vandenheede of (Zingem,BE)

The Vandenheede family is synonymous with racing pigeons, going back for well over a 100 years. Father of the brothers was Rene Vandenheede a very successful flyer and his colony was founded on the Mencke-Haelterman pigeons and the base breeder was ‘De Zieken’ and since this time a stream of famous birds have emerged from this bird such as the superb breeding pair ‘De Korten’ and ‘Paula’ these birds along with a few local introductions over the years have served the Vandenheede’s exceptionally well for the last 50 years.

Other great birds like ‘De Jonge Zieken’ the next loft standard bearer taking over from his sire ‘De Zieken’ and he sired fantastic birds like  L’Krijt, ‘Kilimangaro’ and from these pigeons birds like ‘Aruba’, ‘Patron’ and ‘Millo’ the 1st National Middle Distance Ace pigeon KBDB were bred. Freddy the younger son took over the loft in 1990. While Jac was competing on his own during this period of time.

    Though it didn’t seem a hugely significant event at the time, in 1994 Freddy stuck up a friendship with Frans Sablon of the De Rauw Sablon duo at a pigeon presentation. This was before the De Rauw Sablon partnership had reached the heady heights of success with their World  famed ‘Dream Couple’ based family. Well this friendship grew and the two new friends  swapped birds. Frans Sablon received a young one from ‘Antigoon’ x ‘Krijt’ and this pigeon was the  Universally acclaimed ‘Freddy’ the ‘Super Kweeker’ (Breeder) the sire of a dynasty including ‘Dromer’ (Dreamer) a truly amazing racing pigeon with a superlative C.V.. While Frans Sablon in return presented Freddy with a son off  the ‘Dream Couple’. So it was clear that both parties benefited from their friendship and in fact did for years as more birds were exchanged over the next few seasons.

   Individually  Freddy and Jacques  flew individually with great success and over the years they have achieved no less than 7 National Victories and both freddy in 2002 and Jac in 2004 had won the  General Champion of the Province of East Flanders. At the end of 2007 the brothers decided that they wanted to compete at longer distances and the decision was made to ‘unite’ their efforts. The race team are housed at Freddy’s while the breeders are  in Jacques experienced care. So Jac makes the bullets and Freddy fires them and boy don’t they just ‘pepper’ the target.

   In 2008 their first season in tandem the brothers won the following:

  General Provincial Champions of the KBDB East Flanders
  1st & 5th Provincial Ace Pigeon Old Birds Middle Distance KBDB
  2nd National Ace Pigeon Extreme Middle Distance ‘Het Duivenblad’
  10th National Ace Pigeon Grand Middle Distance KBDB
  12th National Champions Grand  Middle distance KBDB

   The ‘Bulls Eye’ was well and truly scored from Bourges in 2009 in fact both ‘eyes’ were hit as the Vandenheede’s won a double 1st National for both Old Birds 26,901 birds and 1st National Ylgs 21,972 birds. Both of these Chequer hens had given ample warning to their potential with a sprinkling of good results.

   2009 continued to be another wonderful year for the Brothers. Though not actually winning another National race the Vandenheede birds flew superbly as a team and accomplished results like the following: Cahors National 7,292 birds   31,34,59,73,84....... No less than 5 birds from their entry of 8 in the top 84 placings.

   2010 and the picture hadn’t altered and the partners third National win was accomplished  when a Blue widowerhood cock the sire of which was a son of the ‘Jonge Dreamer’ won 1st National Argenton 5,756 birds. Testimony of the fine results won by the loft the Championship awards quite simply continued to flow:

   1st General Champion FVOV
   1st Champion OVV Inter Provincial Old Birds +Yearlings
   2nd General Champion KBDB  East Flanders
   2nd Grand Marathon KBDB East Flanders
   4th National Ace Pigeon Grand Middle Distance KBDB.

   Surely 2011 couldn’t prove to be so successful?. Well the signs were certainly looking good when Freddy & Jac won another double first  Interprovincial from Vierzon  when the loft finished 1,3,11,32,35,36th against 8336 Old birds. Whilst not to be out done the Yearling placings were 1,2,9,11,12,14,20,27th ... from 4,366 yearlings. The first two birds in each race were ‘Marius’ and ‘Mirthe’ (old Birds) . While the Yearlings were ‘Annika’ and ‘Marloes’.

    In the Yearling National from Limoges 2nd and 3rd National places were won. The disappointment of being ‘pipped at the post’ was largely tempered by the team result with five pigeons in the leading hundred Open places. Without doubt confirming the quality of the lofts fantastic racing pigeons.

   The smile was certainly back on Freddy and Jac’s faces when in the disastrous Tulle National a Chequer hen won 1st Yearling 6,341 birds and not only that but this ‘Little Battler’ was also fastest from 11,465 entrants. The most pleasing thing for the Vandenheede’s was the fact that their latest ‘Champion’ is a full sister to their 2009 Bourges Yearling National winner. The sire being ‘Art Noveau’ who is a son of ‘Gimili’s  grandson of ‘Kanselier’ the full brother to the famed ‘Freddy’. Both of these fabulous birds being from ‘Antigoon’ and ‘T’Krijt’ the birds responsible for countless winning pigeons. The dam of the two National is ‘Jeremy’ a good racer herself and a half sister to the 2000 National winner from Gueret. In her breeding is both ‘Jobo’ another full brother of ‘Freddy’ and  ‘Aline’ a daughter of De Rauw Sablon’s ‘Dream Couple’. Yet another example that there is no substitute for good ‘blood’.

    The final icing was applied to the cake when it was recently announced that the Brothers won 1st Ace Young Bird of the Flanders Provinces. With a bird that won the following positions  10th Bourges 6361 birds,  7th Orleans 3,042 birds and 10th Montrichard 3,091 birds. So the future is looking very ‘rosy’ for the Vandenheede colony.

   Lets now take a look at some of the methods used by the partners. First of all both sexes of  birds are raced but not on the ‘Total Widowhood system’ but on the ‘Stay at home partners’ method. Which simply means that the returning bird always finds it’s mate at home. This is normally racing on Widowhood but occasionally to either eggs or youngsters. The cocks are normally sent racing every 2 weeks. The hens on the other hand race every week for three or more consecutive weeks. Freddy says individual observation is the key here because if a bird shows signs of fatigue or ‘going stale’ it must stay at home. If on the other hand it exercises with vigour and looks keen you can keep it going. The partners say that they write all their findings down in a loft book and it is very informative and more accurate than the memory.

  With regards to feeding the Vandenheede’s like to feed their birds well but normally use a ‘light’ low protein feed and gradually building up the feed by using the stronger Sport mixture. Then for the last couple of days fatty rich food is given. At this time the corn produced by Matador is being used. Namely ‘Start’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Turbo’ mixes.

  On the thorny issue of Medication the race birds are treated against Trichomonasis  after each race treating for either one or two days depending on the difficulty of the race. With young birds they are also treated against ‘head colds’.

  In  the Breeding loft Jac said that they don’t practice much ‘inbreeding’ because they feel that most Champions are the result of ‘Out Crossing’ matings. The way the partners have crossed their own family with the birds of De Rauw Sablon highlights this fact beautifully I feel. This practice has paid rich dividends and I am sure more National victories are in the ‘Pipe line’ for this incredible Vandenheede partnership.