Simplicity is a virtue
After his sale, now four years ago, which left him with nothing but a round of young birds specially bred for the occasion, Gaston Van de Wouwer (74) decided to take things a bit easier. That does not mean that his hobby had been a time consuming operation: Gaston has always adopted a fairly straightforward approach. Pigeon racing has never been a stressful affair; Gaston never even bothered to take his pigeons away for training flights on weekdays. He does not consider it to be very useful. Nonetheless, he has been able to win top prizes almost every single week. What is his secret? Gaston explains: "The 80 young birds that I bred for after my auction, which were all youngsters and grandchildren of my stock breeders, were put together in one loft, where they could choose their own partner. I have done this two years in a row. Of course I kept an eye on them, to avoid heavy inbreedings (brother x sister). The breeding results were fantastic, and my pigeons were better than ever."
The Kaasboer bloodline has yet again proven to be invaluable. A group of 20 hens are currently housed in the racing loft (olds & yearlings), and they were raced in widowhood up until a few weeks ago. They were raced with the nest for the second series of national races. The young birds are now raced in widowhood as well, with an old partner staying at home. Gaston visits the old hens' loft just once a day, to feed them and to organise a training flight afterwards. He now visits them twice a day, because the hens are having youngsters.
As far as medical guidance goes, things are fairly simple. Veterinary surgeon Mariën determines if the pigeons need any treatment at all. The old birds were given just a quarter of a pill of Flagyl, with no other treatments. The young birds were given a quarter of a pill as well, although they did get an additional treatment for their eyes/mucus. Side products include condition powder, vitamineral, syrup, Belgasol (before and after the race), and plenty of garlic. In other words, the number of side products is rather limited as well.
The pigeons themselves have to do most of the work in this team, and only the best are given a spot in Gaston's racing team. The wind is no factor: the pigeons are basketed no matter the direction of the wind. Gaston: "Our pigeons are only raced in summer. If we would decide to keep them home if the wind was coming from the wrong direction, our pigeons would hardly have any racing to do. Every racing bird has to deal with the same wind, and some races are different than others in terms of wind direction." Gaston did not really mind that the pigeon lofts from the western part of Belgium had an advantage in most national races this season. "We have been in an advantageous position for years, and this year we are less fortunate." Win and let win, that is Gaston's motto. He is an honest man who just as much enjoys seeing his opponents win races.
Gaston: "I have also won a 2nd National young birds. Winning the national first prize would have been even better of course but Coenen deserved the win. His racing bird did a great job. I plan on visiting him soon to congratulate him in person!"
The hens' lofts on the left, probably the most copied loft worldwide
Chateauroux III - a great success across the board
It has to be said that the fanciers from around Gaston's neighbourhood were often in a disadvantageous position this season, although Gaston is not a complainer. This happens to every fancier. However, last week's race from Chateauroux was spot on: beautiful weather, high temperatures and speeds of around 1,300 to 1,400 m/min, the perfect racing weather for Gaston's pigeon breed. The numbers do not lie:
2,855 olds: 1-165-204-... 4,631 YLs: 304-.. 17,269 YBs: 2-20-67-193-314-346-833-1200-1271-1550-...
Gaston in the hens' loft, showing his national winner
BE16-6023127 - Maria - 1st National Chateauroux III - 2,855 old birds / 1st PIPA Ranking 5 races Longer MD / 4th Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB
National winner "Maria"
This national winner is one of the big stars of this loft; her palmares this season is nothing short of impressive:
Chateauroux III - 1st National of 2,855 pigeons Chateauroux I - 13th National Zone B1 of 5,075 pigeons Gueret - 4th Provincial of 529 pigeons Argenton I - 30th National Zone B1 of 3,486 pigeons Bourges II - 15th National Zone B1 of 1,561 pigeons
These five top prizes have given her a preliminary first place in the PIPA ranking (5 races longer middle distance). She is currently holding a 4th place in the preliminary results of the national ace pigeon championship old birds longer middle distance.
The winning hen has a magnificent pedigree, heavily based around stock breeder Kaasboer, which is the great-grandfather from both her mother's side and her father's side.
The sire of Maria is a son of Kamiel, a direct son of Kaasboer, a half brother of Laura, 1st National Bourges and the sire of a 15th National Gueret. His dam is Erna (Bart Geerinckx). The grandmother from her father's side has won a 24th National Bourges and she is a direct Kristiaan Hennes (the lines of Deno - Herbots and Vandenabeele).
The dam of the national winner is a daughter of Jasper, a son of Barbara (1st Provincial Montluçon & 1st Provincial Vierzon) x Kristin, the dam of an 18th National Chateauroux and a 60th National Zone Argenton, as well as a daughter of Kaasboer.
2nd, 20th and 67th National Chateauroux of 17,269 young birds
The young birds' results were quite remarkable as well, although Gaston just fell short of a national first prize. The fancier from Berlaar was more than happy with his second place however, which he won alongside a 20th and 67th national. We take a brief look at the three blue coloured hens:
BE18-6063796 - 2nd National Chateauroux
She was the first pigeon to arrive home in Berlaar. She is a daughter of two summer youngsters born in the year of his auction. The sire is a son of Marieke, a sister of Kim, 1st National Gueret, 88th National La Chatre, 35th Interprovincial Vierzon, etc. Marieke was a granddaughter of stock breeder Kaasboer. And she is again related to Barbara (2 x 1st Provincial) from her father's side.
The dam is a daughter of Dina, a sister of that same Kim, now paired to Jan, another grandson of Kaasboer.
BE18-6063712 - 20th National Chateauroux
She arrived home right after national winner Maria. This hen is also a half sister of that very national winner. They both have the same sire, since he is a son of Kamiel, himself a son of Kaasboer and a half brother of Laura, 1st National Bourges.
The dam is a direct hen of Freddy and Jacques Vandenheede (Zingem, BE), a daughter of Sound Of Freedom (son Limoges of De Rauw-Sablon x Antasia) paired to Arina, a top class hen and daughter of Circ Du Soleil x Karisma (sister Mariska). These are excellent origins indeed.
BE18-6063683 - 67th National Chateauroux
The third and last pigeon in our overview. The sire is again a grandson of Kaasboer, through Julia, the dam of Leentje (11th and 30th Provincial Argenton, 64th Provincial Bourges, etc.) paired to a direct cock of fellow fancier Wim De Troy.
The dam is a direct hen of Niels Broeckx (Turnhout, BE), and a full sister of an 11th National Ace Pigeon.
Some results from 2018
And here is an overview of some of the team's best results:
05/05 - Ecouen 588 olds: 3-8-9-16-45-53-... 19/05 – Vierzon Provincial: 2,823 olds: 71-271-... 1,714 yearlings: 27-54-86-155 26/05 – Bourges I Provincial: 2,651 olds: 123-... 3,201 yearlings: 13-75-140-172-... 02/06 – Blois Provincial 2,744 yearlings: 3-105-165-166-177-268-... 1,581 olds: 1-5-54-126-... 09/06 – Chateauroux I Provincial 2,373 olds: 16-26-42-68-... 4,222 yearlings: 4-79-88-244-... 23/06 Argenton I Provinciaal 1,535 olds: 7-21-122-... 3,267 yearlings: 35-148-... 30/6 - Guéret Provincial 529 olds: 3-4-31-... 1,044 yearlings: 50-100-... 30/6 - Melun 420 young birds: 2-10-12-36-... 07/07 – Chateauroux II Provincial 1,067 olds: 41-... 2,394 yearlings: 36-52-... 15/07 – Chevrainvilliers Provincial 5,197 young birds: 70-92-100-287-289-460-512-... 04/08 – Bourges II Provincial 635 olds: 21-... 4,478 young birds: 71-407-447-...
The invaluable bloodlines of Kaasboer and Co. can be found in several other lofts as well, with several references at national level coming in over the course of the past few weeks. Take for instance Norbert Ally (Aarsele, BE), winner of a 1st National Angoulême yearlings and a 5th National Angoulême Old Birds, which are both related to Gaston Van De Wouwer. The same goes for the 2nd National of Van Houdt-Serre, and for this week's national winner from Chateauroux III yearlings of Bart & Nance Van Oeckel (Turnhout, BE). The list of references from recent years just goes on and on.
Kaasboer is no longer with us but he did get a spot in Gaston's living room
A few more years
Gaston is now 74 years old but he does not think about going into retirement just yet. He wants to have a few more strong seasons with a small and carefully selected team of hens, 20 strong. They are basketed using the tried and trusted approach that pigeon fanciers from across the globe have successfully copied over the years. And Gaston has been quite successful in the young birds' competition as well, having won several top results in widowhood with an old partner. And his opponents are more than happy to see Gaston win top prizes, since he is always eager to congratulate his own colleagues as well. We have seen numerous friends and relatives come by to congratulate him on another great result. This is pigeon racing in all its beauty: straightforward but with mutual respect. And that is exactly what Gasotn stands for. Good luck in your next race!