My host Roger Mariën lives at the Geelsebaan 114 and as you can guess, this is the road to Geels. On a cold, chilly Sunday morning I had to leave early because Roger had a meeting in his club in Retie at 10 o’clock. Then naturally you have to get up early. I generally visit fanciers whom I know something about, but Roger is unknown to me, the sprint game is a stranger to me. Maybe I can learn something here.
Fancier by chance
Roger (61 years old) used to work as a mason by a building firm. Working many hours (10 hours per day) was not unusual. Now he enjoys his well-earned pension. There were no real pigeon fanciers in his family, except one. His brother, Hendrik, was gendarme in Grobbendonk and he had pigeons. Roger thought it a peculiar hobby. One day the gendarme had to move house to Neerpelt but he couldn’t take the pigeons with him. His brother took the pigeons to the family home where Roger still lives. Roger was to take care of them and was then bitten by the pigeon bug. The results were not very good because the pigeons resided in the former chicken coop. Roger married in 1971 and the pigeons were put to one side. In 1980 he started racing again, but this time in duo with Fik Berres who only lived 100 m further. The middle distance was raced under the name Berres – Mariën, and with great success. Fancier Frans Mariën from Arendonk (known from Mariën-Meulemans) had delivered the pigeons. That pedigree was of course made world famous by Karel Meulemans. In 1990 Roger started racing independently. He didn’t race the middle distance so as by the duo Berres-Mariën, but the pure sprint Quievrain. In the first instance the pigeons came from Fik Berres and a short while later from Louis Blockx –Slegers from Dessel. After the season Roger was allowed to choose from the pigeons that had proved themselves in the races and he had the ‘luck’ that he found a few good breeding pigeons. The colony was supplemented with a pigeon from here and there. When I speak of ‘the colony’, I am speaking of only a few pigeons. In the winter there were only 30 pigeons. In 1996 Roger was in a dip and got rid of his pigeons. They were given to his brother-in-law. Yet six months later he regretted his decision. The following year he began again and brought his sort back. A few years ago (4 years) a stray came into the lofts. When he reported the pigeon it turned out that it was from Wuyts-Mulders from Beerzel. The owner thought it was too far away and was prepared to send the certificate of ownership. ‘You know what’, said Roger, ‘I have to basket my pigeons for Quievrain and I will take the pigeon with me. They have to almost fly over your loft and then he will return home’. That was correct, but the pigeon ‘983/06’ quickly flew over the loft back to Roger. It sat at the trap in Retie earlier than Roger’s own pigeons. He then telephoned Wuyts-Mulders and received the certificate of ownership. That same year this youngster won several top prizes. She later became a super breeding hen. Wuyts-Mulders was visited a number of times and various pigeons were bought. Now pigeons are even exchanged and they have become close friends. How things can turn out in the pigeon sport!
The big turnaround happened three years ago. For many seasons Roger was troubled with head sickness. One month of racing well and then…trouble. Thick heads and no more nice prizes. It was also the same 3 or 4 years ago. Roger visited the veterinary surgeon Peter Beerten from Geel who diagnosed ornithosis complex. A 20 day cure was given, but as you know…then the sprint races are almost over and the pigeons didn’t make it to the top. Roger would have to change his loft. Then maybe things would go better. A pointed roof was put on the loft and a ventilation strip was put in the ceiling of each compartment and since then there has been no trouble with head sickness. Roger has no trouble whatsoever and he races extremely well. His national title is proof of this.
At the start of the 2010 season only 16 widowers (8 old and 8 yearlings), and 8 yearling hens will be ready for the races. In 2009 there were only 11 widowers (3 old and 8 yearlings) and no hens. Add to these 50 youngsters and only 6 breeding couples and there you have the entire colony of Roger anno 2010. The breeding pigeons are coupled at the end of November. It is in fact 12 couples but the eggs of the best breeding pigeons are immediately placed under other couples in the breeding loft.
The widowers are also coupled and allowed to raise their youngsters. This first round of youngsters is enough for Roger. In the past there were only 40 youngsters, but this has been increased to 50. This year he also coupled 8 yearling hens. Roger doesn’t know exactly how he is going to race them, but they were such good hens. He was even champion of Belgium with them, so what do you do? You race them as yearlings!
The widowers and these 8 hens were then separated after a round of youngsters and since the beginning of February they sit in the open aviary. This is a new aviary and has to ensure good health. They have only been there a few days and Roger already sees a difference. They shine like a mirror and have bright white beaks. In a few weeks they will return to their racing loft to start the daily training. Naturally Roger will firstly consult the weather forecasts.
The widowhood is very simple. Training twice a day. This was not very successful in 2009. The cocks didn’t train at all. Neither did the youngsters. They only flew for 15 minutes and then sat on the grass. Roger took his pigeons away to train them at an accelerated pace, but there was no change. He only basketted 3 pigeons for the first racing day. They did so well that the following week he basketted everything. Three didn’t return, but the marvellous season had begun. They haven’t trained at all from home for the entire year. Later he let the cocks train with the widowers but it didn’t really make any difference. They were more interested in the grass than in training. It was mainly the young hens who achieved the best prizes. Yet they didn’t train that much more.
The youngsters are separated after 2 or 3 races. Cocks and hens then train apart and sit of perches. Two hours before basketting the sliding door opens and they are allowed to be together. After the race they are allowed to stay together until the evening or sometimes even Monday morning. They are not darkened and no other tricks are used. At the end of the season they are left with a nest. The pigeon sport is not simple, yet…becoming champion of Belgium. Even the feeding is simple. From arriving to leaving sport mixture, only at the beginning of the week they are fed less. On Monday there is brewer’s yeast, herbal mix and electrolytes over the food. On Friday it is herbal mix and vitamins. The drinking dish is always filled with pure water. The herbal mix or tea is something special. Many years ago Roger read about this in a pigeon magazine and since then has always used it himself. How does he make it? He firstly takes 6 silver onions, 6 cloves of garlic, 200 grams alum powder and boils it for 25 minutes. He then strains it and adds two bags of pine tea. He boils it again for 20 minutes and strains it. Roger then adds 2 kg Candy sugar and lets it boil for 3 minutes. He lets it cool and adds 3 dessertspoonfuls iodine and the juice of 6 lemons. He now bottles it. It takes him half a day but it lasts a long time. This tea/ herbal mix is used to moisten the feed. This is also given regularly during the winter. Oh yes, it is certainly good for them. Take note, Roger has done this for many years but is not always the champion of Belgium. Don’t expect miracles.
At medical level you haven’t to expect much here. One month before the first coupling they are given something for tricho (Giantel) for four days and this is repeated at the start of the racing season. This is March for the old birds and April for the youngsters. During the season nothing else is given for tricho or the heads. ‘Many people don’t believe me, but it’s true. I used to give something for the heads, but not since I altered my loft. I haven’t given anything else for years. That is the truth.’ The only selecting method that Roger uses is the prizes. He has a notebook in which he writes everything down. At the end of the season he takes his book and selects both the racing pigeons and the breeding pigeons. No mercy, but a rock-hard selection from this brave man.
National champion youngsters KBDB 2009
Momignies 955 p 26th (1st nom.) 8th (2nd nom.)
Momignies 879 p 10th (1st nom.) 5th (2nd nom.)
Momignies 809 p 11th (1st nom.) 75th (2nd nom.)
Momignies 832 p 28th (1st nom.) 27th (2nd nom.)
Momignies 631 p 6th (1st nom.) 34th (2nd nom.)
Momignies 703 p 15th (1st nom.) 4th (2nd nom.)
Honours list 2009 (always raced Momignies)
19/4 Momignies 516 yl 9, 34, 41, 92, 107, 108, 123 (7/7)
01/5 Momignies 215 yl 2, 3, 12, 23, 34, 41, 58 (7/7)
17/5 Momignies 332 yl 8, 17, 23, 26, 42, 69 (6/7)
21/5 Momignies 194 yng 5, 15, 16, 22, 27, 29, 34, etc. (12/30)
24/5 Momignies 287 yl 10, 19, 62, 67, 72 (5/7)
495 yng 11, 12, 13, 34,enz (15/27)
31/5 Momignies 247 yl 7, 14, 20, 34, 48, 77 (6/7)
07/6 Momignies 202 yl 2, 5, 13, 19, 38, 56 (6/7)
583 yng 10, 12, 17, 23, 28, 30, etc. (14/26)
14/6 Momignies 230 yl 6, 25, 30, 47, 52 (5/7)
955 yng 1, 8, 11, 12, 26, etc. (19/25)
21/6 Momignies 197 yl 11, 12, 41, 47, 59 (5/7)
879 yng 5, 6, 10, 22, 42, 43, etc. (20/25)
28/6 Momignies 809 yng 11, 26, 38, 56, 61, 65, 74, 75, etc. (15/25)
05/7 Momignies 179 yl 1, 10, 11, 14, 27, 48 (6/7)
847 yng 3, 6, 27, 31, 33, 43, 45, 50, etc. (19/26)
12/7 Momignies 684 yng 1, 5, 9, 40, 49, 51, etc. (14/26)
26/7 Momignies 832 yng 1, 2, 11, 17, 27, 28, 35, 54, etc. (13/20)
09/8 Momignies 703 yng 4, 5, 16, 56, etc. (14/20)
23/8 Momignies 580 yng 14, 17, 18, 20, 40, 47, 48, etc. (13/16)
30/8 Momignies 512 yng 4, 5, 16, 54, etc. (7/12)
Momignies 879 p -5
Momignies 631 p -6
Momignies 733 p -7
Momignies 684 p -9
Momignies 809 p -11
Momignies 495 p -11
Momignies 703 p -15
Momignies 194 p -15
Momignies 955 p -26
Momignies 832 p -28
A beautiful hen that has won many prizes for the championship and has as father ‘060/03’, a crossing of Gaston Huysmans (Retie) with Louis Blockx from Dessel. The mother is from Juliën Wuytens-Mulders(Beerzel), pedigree Victor Govaerts (Beerzel)
Momignies 179 yl -1
Momignies 84 yl -1
Momignies 215 yl -2
Momignies 202 yl -5
Momignies 515 yl -18
Momignies 247 yl -20
Momignies 230 yl -30
Momignies 281 yl -40
This yearling cock is a brother of previous.
Momignies 703 p -4
Momignies 495 p -13
Momignies 847 p -27
Momignies 832 p -27
Momignies 194 p -29
Momignies 541 p -33
Momignies 631 p -34
Momignies 601 p -36
Momignies 583 p -45
This hen has as father ‘6100125/08’ (see following pigeon) and as mother ‘123/08’ , own pedigree.
Momignies 215 yl -3
Momignies 230 yl -6
Momignies 516 yl -9
Momignies 128 yl -9
Momignies 179 yl -10
Momignies 197 yl -11
Momignies 177 yl -11
Momignies 193 yl -14
Momignies 247 yl -14
Momignies 332 yl -17
Momignies 84 yl -17
Momignies 480 yl -22
Momignies 185 yl -23
Comes out ‘725/07’, own breed x ‘892/06’, stray from Wuyts-Mulders (Beerzel)