One can say of Jules De Raedt and Prof. Van Grembergen has shown many pigeon fanciers how to manage and race their young birds with succes and what one gains from them.
The partership from Gent have obtained many outstanding successes and we believe that it will take some time before their fantastic results would be improved.
Prof. Van Grembergen who is a Prof. in Zoology at the State University in Gent knows how to treat diseased pigeons and what preventives to give them to combat those diseases. He has helped many fanciers with some good advice.
It would be impossible for Jules De Raedt to find a better partner. They have together obtained the greatest successes. We can remember their 2nd and 1st prize from the Barcelona International races which they obtained with the same pigeon. Those are perfomances, one never can forget. They are the best performances we have ever heard of.
Their greatest succes came, when they won the 2nd prize from Brive, 675 Km. and were presented with a cup by King Boudewijn of Belgium. The first prize was won by Daniel Van Ceulebroek with his 5th Nominated pigeon, but the Kings Cup could only be won with the first Nominated pigeon.
The partnership De Raedt - Van Grembergen was disbanded in 1975 and all their birds were sold in a total sale. The Kings Cup winner was sold for 205.000 B.F. to Lucien Denovie and Joss Deftiage in Belgium.
Prof. Van Grembergen explains underneath his method :
We give him a list of questions and the way he answered them to us will for everyone who reads this article some golden advice.
Prof. Van Grembergen
Q. How do you prepare your racing- and stock-birds, that are intended for early breeding? Are the future breeding pairs given any cures, what cures and when?
A. We never breed early. For race- and stock-birds the feeding is gradually changed from winter mixture to rearing mixture. The winter mixture we are using nowadays, is a wholesome mixture and is not as light as it was in former days (min 10% pulsen).
A few days, before we put the pairs together, a vitamin preparation is given which contains principally vitamin D. (which is very good for the hens)
A cure against Trichomoniasis is given during the breeding period. For the birds that specially kept for breeding purposes, this cure is not repeated.
Q. How do you feed the breeding birds?
A. Birds that are specially kept for stock are given, the whole year, the same commercial rearing mixture which contains about 25 % pulsen (beans, peas and tares).
We never keep them short of food, they are always given more than enough.
With race-birds, which are allowed to breed some youngsters, the feeding must be different, they are given the same mixture but it is given very economically.
We feed twice a day, at 8 a.m. and 5.30 p.m.. This is sometimes altered, through business circumstances, but this is not important.
When the youngsters are about 10 days old, the parents is given an extra handfull of beans in the afternoon.
Q. Do you give the early breeding pairs any : vitaminized minerals, vegetables, vitamins in their drinking water or on the grain or any kind of disinfectant in their drinking water?
A. This question does not concern us, but we will add one thing that besides never using vegetables, vitaminized minerals and disinfectant in the water, we do not believe in them, they always have minerals at their disposal.
Q. When are the early younsters weaned and what kind of a mixture are they given? Are the youngsters from the second and third round placed in the same loft or compartement as the youngsters from the first round?
A. Concerning feeding, they are given, for the first 3 days, only beans and afterwards rearing or racing mixture.
In the racing loft, there are, each year, 5 or 10 youngsters of the second round added to the first round of youngsters.
We take special notice of their health otherwise diseases are unavoidable. We specially keep an eye on Trichomoniasis. One that has the room, which is not the case with us, it is better to keep the youngsters, of different rounds, in a separate loft.
By us, all youngsters that are kept, either for reserve or sale, must stay with their parents in the stock-loft, which always gives a lot of trouble and enhances the danger for the youngsters, we regard it as our first selection (presevation of the strongest).
P.S. In the management on the lofts from the partnership De Raedt-Van Grembergen, each partner does his own part in the management of the birds : De Raedt manages the racing birds and Van Grembergen : the stock- and reserve-birds.
Q. Are the early youngsters given every day an open loft or are they let out at certain times? Do you force them to fly?
A. When I was breeding early youngsters, I would certainly give them an open loft the whole day after they had their morning meal.
But everyone has to make out for himself what he will do. One must take into account the dangers of hanging about on the platform and in the roof gutters. In our opinion the best way is, when they are flying freely around the loft, to give them their freedom, one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon.
Q. Are the young birds separated from each other, cocks and hens in a separate loft? When does this take place and to what purpose? Are they raced on the witowhood system or are they kept for the natural system?
A. We cannot separate the sexes because we have not enough room at our disposal.
That one through separation and putting them together again can bring about an excitation, speak for itself. But on the other way one cannot race them proper in the first few races. When the season advances and the distances become longer, the difference becomes less.
In any case, we have proved, for many years, that one also can race unpaired and not excited youngsters, especially in long distances.
In 1969, we are raced our yougsters better then than all the early bred youngsters in our district.
We do not entice our youngsters to pair up, but if they pair up between each other, we will not stop them, we only try to prevend them from laying eggs by making them take, to pot eggs. When we are flying the last races (Bourges, Angoulême) , there are usually, a few of them paired up.
That one can race youngsters, that are not paired up, we have proved that with an unpaired young hen (it was not even paired up in september). It won : 1st Regional, 1st Provincial and Interprovincial (East and West Flanders) and 5th National in that hard race from Argenton.
We don't use tricks, the only trick we use is, to try to prevent the hen from laying by putting pot eggs in the nest bowl in the hope that they will take to them.
The best perfomances we achieved, with cocks and hens, at the end of their sitting period. We sometimes had top performances with youngsters that had just started to pair up (especially with hens).
In any case, one do not have to be afraid to race the youngsters every week. One can race them every week from either Dourdan or Orléans, and one can them naturally, for a change, race them beyond Paris.
Q. Do you attach much value to the state of the feathering of the youngsters that have to compete in races? Were your best two youngsters also your best old birds and were your best two youngsters widowers or either cock or hens, raced in the natural way?
A. Because we never race our birds for big money we do not take any notice of the state of the feathering. We are not afraid to send them when they are moulting on the head and neck or on only two wing flights and a half tail.
Naturally, one cannot expect much from pigeons in such state (altough there are exceptions) any top performances. In aspect of the performances from the pigeon in question, one must take into account the state of the feathering.
Because we do not breed any early youngsters, we can take no other line of action.
In other words, half the time we could not fly any pigeon, if we had to take notice of the feathering, (spring bred youngsters are moulting permanently). In that case, we could send them when they were feeding youngsters themselves. And that would be at the end of August or September.
It is not so easy to answer your question, what were your best two young birds because we stop our youngsters always early in the season. We can add to this, we only found out, sometimes at the end of the season, that four or five of our youngsters turned out to be cocks.
Q. Do your youngsters receive, during the racing period, any vitamins, vegetables, any special grains, tea, disinfectants or any other products?
A. Yes, a complex preparate (principally B, Group A+D); no vegetables, now and then something extra (rape and hempseed); they are fed twice a day.
Never any tea or disinfectant products. Now and then (about one month) a preventive remedy against Trichomoniasis and Coccidiosis in their drinking water. All youngsters are vaccinated against pox when they are about six weeks old.
Do you attach much value to the origin of the youngsters; were in previous seasons your best youngsters also your best old birds.
A. Origin is a great value.
Foundation of the birds : pigeons obtained from C. Van der Linden in 1951 and 1952. afterwards some from André Vanbruaene (Lauwe) in 1955. I paired up one of his cocks with two different hens ; in the time between I did not bring a single strange pigeon into the loft. I continued to build up my team with my own birds (in breeding). In 1968 and 1969, I crossed a few with other pigeons I obtained, which I crossed again with pigeons from Mr. J. Sotre (Dinant), from which breeding material 50% come to us.
The basic breeding birds were : "Oude Vos (1951) ; "Witslagduivin" (Pied hen) 1951, which bred "Witslagcock" (Pied cock) which gave, in its turn, paired to the cheq. hen from Vanbruaene (1955), bred the famous "Barcelona" (1958), which won in 1962 the 2nd prize from Barcelona International and in 1964, 1st Barcelona International.
I can add to this, that the other youngsters were not tested in this way but were early stopped from racing.
For example : Youngsters that are well built, come from good stock and have thus a passably good chance to fly long distances, don't have to show much. They are stopped from racing before youngsters that were bred out of pairs that were paired up together for the first time. They are not stopped because we are afraid to take too much out of them, but because long distance racing entails too much risks.
We sent youngsters to the first races, not because we wish to win them, they are only sent for training for the long distance races.
I like to see a pigeon that comes regularly in the prize list in all kinds of weather, especially when it is bred from some good stock. The prime condition, that will make me decide to stop a bird is, when it always returns from a race, fresh as a daisy and recuperates quickly.
The best youngsters do not make necessary the best old birds and specially not, when it concerns early youngsters, because they fly above their real sportive value because they are mostly, when they are raced, paired up too early in life and enticed with all kinds of tricks. Out of a group of youngsters, that are bred in the normal breeding time one can expect more good pigeons with a higher average value.