Leekens-Hermans (As, BE) win 1st National Brive 10.082 old birds!

Last year they were crowned in Ostend as ‘national champion KBDB youngsters 2010’, and they didn’t have to wait long for a new top success, which gave them national victory from Brive!


Dirk Leekens and Jan Hermans… well-known figures in our national and international pigeon sport, firstly with Jan as owner/publisher of sport magazine ‘De Duif’, where Dirk is usually the ‘auctioneer’ in the public auctions… but they also cause uproar as a duo in the pigeon sport, where many top successes decorate their honours list. Dirk (51) runs a busy hairdressers… and in-between he is busy with the pigeons, although he can always rely on the help of his friend Willy Smeets. Dirk was born into a pigeon family… both his father, as his brothers, were active pigeon fanciers. When Dirk was just 10 years old his father let him take care of a loft of his own… the pigeon bug didn’t let go of him. In 1981 he moved to As where he bagan his hairdressing business… a year later Dirk got married and also began with the pigeons. From the same generation and area as Jos Thoné, it will surprise no-one that it was from him (and Thomas Peeters) that Dirk bought a share of his first pigeons… especially the ‘grey sort’. He also bought the ‘Orleans’ together with Jos in the auction of Pierre Dreesen from Houthalen… which was coupled with the ‘Golden Lady’ (also mother of the Barcelona toppers ‘Goldwing’ and ‘Silver Shadow’, and the 1° Prov Cahors ‘Wibert’ by Berke Willems)… their first son was ‘Milton’, a real stock breeder, which Dirk later gave to Jos Thoné. They were typical pigeons for say 600 to 800 Km races… but if Dirk dared to enter one of those toppers for Barcelona, he usually lost it. And he didn’t like that… so much so that after a few years he stopped with the ‘extreme long distance game’. So the ‘Milton’ from the Thoné lofts was returned to Dirk… who used him as a stallion for 3 years, as a result of which we can consider him as the stock father of the current middle distance to extreme middle distance team. His preference for his ‘meeuwtjes’ (as Dirk likes to call his ‘grey sort’) caused him to buy the 1° Prov Orleans against  5.277 pigeons, the ‘Lucky Luke’ from family member Luc Liebens… which also became a stock father in the Leekens-Hermans lofts. One of the most famous ‘greys’ from Dirk Leekens is without doubt super hen ‘Vaya Con Dios’ B99-5092258, which didn’t only win an early prize up to St.Vincent, but later grew to be a powerful breeding mother.

A new important introduction came with pigeons out the line of the ‘Kannibaal’ from Dirk Van Dijck, which he bought on the order of his sport friend Claudio Busetti. These pigeons were so to Dirk’s taste that he asked his sport friend if he could breed a few youngsters from them before he passed them on… of the 8 youngsters bred,  7 still reside in the breeding lofts of Dirk Leekens… that says enough! And there are also 3 important pigeons originating from the late Pros Roosen, with ‘Supermama’ B03-5241896 (daughter 1° Nat Bourges), her son ‘Freddy Junior’ (out ‘Supermama’ coupled with the super breeder ‘Freddy’),  and the ‘Blauwe Prins Junior’ B08-5165496 (which is father of one of the pigeons which helped win the national championship KBDB youngsters, the ‘Young Princess’ 027/10). In total there are 25 breeding couples (in addition to a few feeding couples). Via Jan Hermans there was once a pigeon in the breeding loft which was in transit, from which he could quickly transfer a couple of eggs to another couple. Yes… Dirk Leekens believes in ‘good family’, although in the end its the performances that count!

Since 1992 Dirk Leekens has formed a duo with Jan Hermans. The accent of their game lies in the ‘extreme middle distance races’, in other words the races to just over 800 Km, and these are preferred. Simply because at the edge of the country it is extremely difficult to shine in the shorter 500 Km-races, especially if the wind is not blowing in your direction! At that level we can say that Dirk Leekens has a clear view of the pigeon sport… how greater the distance, how less important the location. I’m certainly not a wind racer says Dirk… but seeing as how here we hardly have any club races, I check all the weather sites every week to see which races I can enter my best pigeons for. If you want to win , and want to have a ‘chance’ with your best pigeons… you have to take all the factors into account. That’s why the races up to a Cahors-Orange (say around 800 Km) have my preference!

Dirk calls his racing method the ‘simple widowhood’… which in fact is very close to ‘total widowhood’! This year, 2011, he started with 57 racing couples… and with 130 youngsters (1st + 2nd round together). His old racing pigeons are ‘never’ given a nest… he will only sometimes let a real ‘super’ lay a couple of eggs after the season, but this is more the exception than the rule! By allowing the pigeons to have a nest you teach them to discover the urge for a nest, says Dirk, and so also the urge to mate… although this season he has had more trouble with the pigeons pairing with each other than ever before. Dirk puts this down to the warm and especially sunny Spring, and the number of easy races…  as a result of which the hens can’t get rid of their (surplus) energy. How does he go about things?

Directly after the racing season the young cocks are moved to their future racing loft ( in September)… where there are 60 nest boxes available. Dirk makes sure that the old pigeons are together in the loft so that the yearlings are free to choose their nest box. After moulting has finished they majority have acquired their permanent box. Starting in January, the racing pigeons come together for a day each week, the cocks are shown a hen… they are then locked up with them in their box. The old cocks are usually given their steady hen, unless she has been disposed of course… then a new spouse is chosen for the chaps. Once the pigeons are coupled, this is noted down on paper… if there are any obstinate or headstrong fellows, then they are given a different partner , until it takes. When Dirk sees that they are paired well after a couple of tries, then he lets them out alternately, so that they can learn which is their box as a couple! When the weather is good then the training can start… this year Dirk started at the beginning of March due to the favourable weather. He then takes them to over 20km away a few times… then they go with the big basket up to Fleurus and Namen… and then over Momignies, Chimay and Soissons (240 Km) where they are in the middle distance, and the game can commence! The pigeons are basketted up to La Souterraine at the end of August. The hens usually race every week, the cocks every fortnight. The hens are then given a 500 to 800 Km-race, followed by a ‘rest race’, as Dirk calls it…usually Orleans.

At the beginning of the season the hens have to train with the flag daily for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Once they are in the heavier programme it is harder to keep to this pattern… hence once a week (on Wednesday) they have to train with the flag for a full hour, although this can vary… But that is something that you have to feel as a fancier, says Dirk! The cocks train once a day for a full hour with the trap closed. In the preparatory races (up to the provincial Gien), the pigeons are simply taken from the loft… they are not shown their partner before leaving. When they return home they are allowed to remain together for 2 to 3 hours with the box half open (without nest dish). Starting from Gien the sexes do come together before being basketted… sometimes for  half an hour or longer, as the season progresses.

According to Dirk he always feeds his pigeons plenty and solid (not much is reduced)… if they have to work hard, the food should be matched to this. In the beginning it is not very heavy… as they can’t get rid of all their energy in the shorter races, their tank is not completely empty when they return home. If they come home with their tank half full, they only need to be refilled by a half, adds Dirk. Once they race the longer races  (from the grand middle distance) they are fed plenty and richly. That is then a moulting mixture until Monday or Tuesday, and later a sport mixture (Beyers) supplemented with a high energy mixture…with some small seed, hem pand peanuts for dessert for the last  2 days. By the homecoming, electrolytes are added to the drink water and some oil, protein and energy carriers over the food. There is little or nothing added further to the drink water, except lemon… which makes the water sour, and also keeps ‘tricho’ better under control! Yet every month they are given a pill for trichomonasis… and very occasionally something for the head! In this way they have no problems up to Argenton, some pigeons are unable to race La Souterraine dut to moulting! This is how the national winner of Brive… the ‘Willy’…  was also basketted. This ‘Willy’ is a 100% Gaby Vandenabeele pigeon… a very good pigeon, lies beautifully in the hand, and is very ‘special’ says Dirk. Maybe that is the characteristic of  ‘good pigeons’...that they have something special! He doesn’t enter the trap immediately… last year he won 1st S-Nat Vierzon, after he had also wasted five minutes with a stray youngster which returned home with him. Now also from Brive, he flew 4 big rounds of honour before landing and allowing himself to be clocked! But in plenty of time for the national victory, clocked at 16h 14’ 26” from a distance of 718,084 Km or an average velocity of 1344 m/min! This was not his first big win… take a look at his honours list with us :

-The ‘Willy’ B08-5062128

1° Nat Brive     10.082 p. ’11 (718 Km)
1° S-Nat Vierzon  3.124 p. ’09 (488 Km)
32° S-Nat Jarnac  4.827 p. ’09 (730 Km)
39° Nat Tulle     6.695 p. ’10 (667 Km) etc… 


Father: ‘Sire to Willy’ B05-5148271

100% Gaby Vandenabeele, bred out ‘Son Wittenbuik’ B99-3199783 (direct son of the legendary ‘Wittenbuik 112/88’ x ‘Rosanne 678/95) x ‘Daughter Bliksem’ B04-3001663 (out the superior ‘Bliksem 062/98’ x ‘Crackduivin 930/01’).

Mother: ‘Dam to Willy’ NL05-1656437

Originating from Jan & Rik Hermans, but also 100% Gaby Vandenabeele out the ‘Marcus’ B04-3001638 (son ‘Jonge Limoges 794/93’ x ‘Duvin 987/95’) x ‘Daughter Blacky’ B04-3001640 (out the nest brother of the 3° Nat Ace bird Middle Distance KBDB: the ‘Blacky 417/95’ x ‘Manuela 668/02).

Leekens-Hermans also left with a crack troop, or should we say ‘elite corps’ for Brive, and achieved the following result :

Brive club.  87 o.b.: 1-2-6-12-14-19-22-23-25-27-28 (11/23 per 3)
    Prov.  590 o.b.: 1-4-18... (prognosis per 10)
    Nat 10.082 o.b.: 1-37… (prognosis national ‘top 100’

Dirk also basketted 2 hens for Barcelona… more to do the club a favour, so that there were enough participating pigeons and fanciers to guarantee the future, and this gave :

Barcelona   71 p. 21-22 (2/2)


Last year they were ‘national champion KBDB 2010’ with the youngsters. Although Dirk never really has ‘early youngsters’. The breeding pigeons are normally coupled in the first week of January… and that is just in time for having youngsters for racing the nationals says Dirk.  Once they are weaned, the youngsters are darkened (from 18h to 9h in the morning)… this takes place automatically with roller blinds. The 2nd round is then darkened manually (usually from 19h to 12h in the afternoon) as these times suit Dirk better due to his work at the hairdressers. This 2nd round was only raced in the small middle distance last season, whilst the first round raced the ‘nationals’… with the well-known result. The youngsters are darkened until the beginning of June… and lighting is used from the longest day in order to continue this longest day. In order to have enough couples, the sexes remain together until two weeks before the car race from Orleans, and thereafter they race with the sliding door. Before basketting they come together on Thursday morning… but sometimes Dirk dares to deviate, and he puts the sexes together on Wednesday evening until basketting. Notable difference with the past: his youngsters remain home in between the nationals! They used to have an in-between race, but on the advice of sport friend Ivan Stockmans he stopped last year… in the weekend in between the pigeons train once again up to 2 hours consecutively, whilst the condition is interrupted with an in-between race, and has to be built up again! Dirk doesn’t take the youngsters away to train himself either… he found it was all a waste of time and energy… it they train well at home, then is this unnecessary!  You see, you can learn things from one another… and then from the ‘national champion Long Distance youngsters 2010’, so someone who know what he is talking about! And to know that there are people who waste half a bank account on ‘petrol’ or ‘diesel’ training their youngsters almost daily in full season… wasted energy as shown with the method in As! Although of course everyone is free to adopt his own system… which he feels most comfortable with! The tandem Leekens-Hermans has in any case proved that it can be done differently!


The end?
This national victory from Brive is possibly one of the last highlights in the career of Leekens-Hermans. Dirk is going to stop at the end of the year… and the entire colony will come under the auctioneer’s hammer… yes, everything will go… young and old to the last pigeon, says Dirk! Simply because the ground around the lofts is going to be parcelled, says Dirk… there’s nothing more to it. But I will remain involved in the pigeon sport… after 1 or 2 sabbatical years I will see what the future brings, but in any case the books will be closed behind my house in As! 


A great effort indeed for ''Willy'' well done ......