Photo report internship at PIPA 8 May-22 May 2011

Professionalism, correctness and a passion for pigeons help PIPA (Pigeon Paradise) to evolve even further. The name “Paradise” made us curious. What does this pigeon paradise look like?

Translated from Chinese - Due to my enormous fascination for the pigeon sport, I left my job at China Telecom in 2011 to come work for PIPA. As you already know or do not know, I am the first official PIPA employee in China. Nikolaas Gyselbrecht offered me an internship at PIPA for two weeks. This opportunity allowed me to get to know PIPA better. I would like to tell you more about my stay with the aid of the pictures below.

A typical Belgian morning: The famous Dr. Carlo Gyselbrecht, father of Nikolaas, comes from the lofts and is ready to start his day of work in the great PIPA-team. 

The sales team in a sales meeting, under the leadership of Thomas Gyselbrecht, busy planning the new auction season. I was there and understood that PIPA is currently the biggest pigeon auction website in Europe. 

Where do the pigeons sold on PIPA come from?

  1. PIPA contacts fanciers who have raced well in recent years to ask them if they are interested in selling performance pigeons.
  2. Or fanciers themselves contact PIPA and offer their pigeons for sale. Only 1% of these spontaneous offers are accepted.

What are the criteria?

  1. Fanciers have to include 1 or 2 performance pigeons with very good results in their selection. The maximum number of pigeons is generally 6.
  2. Direct children of super couples.
  3. Very good pedigrees. By this we mean a.o. certain pedigrees which are hard to find in the pigeon world like direct children from Bliksem from Gaby Vandenabeele. It is of course important that these children are also proven breeders.
  4. In addition to the requirements above the pigeon itself also has to be of excellent quality.
  5. The most important thing for us is the reputation and honesty of the fanciers. Even though some fanciers race well, PIPA will not work with them if they don’t have a good reputation.

Six months before the auction Martin and Vincent (PIPA Agent the Netherlands) visited the fanciers who would take part in the auction.
Shortly before the auction PIPA then sent experts a second time to control the quality of the pigeons.

The screening of the pigeons always takes place before the auction. By chance, Bengt Haeck was visiting PIPA that day to deliver a few youngsters. Nikolaas inspected the pigeons together with Martin. Martin Martens (centre of the photo) is the Chairman of Fond club Eeklo. In addition to doing a great deal of work for PIPA and his club, he is also a very good fancier. In 2010 he was 1° champion middle Distance and 3° in the Long Distance (a tie with the first), and 4° Long Distance champion FVOV from the province with 1° + 2° nominated! In 2008 3° General champion Fond club Eeklo. In 2000 and 2004 he also won the 1° Prov Ace pigeon middle distance KBDB East-Fl, and the 7° National Ace pigeon KBDB 2004.

Martin regularly visits well-known fanciers and has already handled numerous ace pigeons and super breeders. His professional advice allows PIPA to guarantee the quality of the pigeons.

The youngsters auctioned by PIPA have to have very good physical features. A good pedigree, with good results or lineage is also an essential factor. If the pigeons don’t meet these requirements then Nikolaas won’t accept them for the auction.

The work is done, time for a group photo.

Bengt Haeck suggested viewing the PEC (PIPA Elite Centre), in particular the collection of top breeders and their children. Nikolaas gave this tour with a great deal of pleasure. Pigeon fanciers are so certain!

The PEC breeders consist mainly of the De Rauw-Sablon pedigree, which specialises in long distance and grand distance. But there are also a few exceptions. The Knappe is a son of Kaasboer with a Geerinckxs hen. As you know, Geerinckx won Vierzon prov.

Carlo and Georges Gyselbrecht (Carlo’s brother) were busy vaccinating the weaned youngsters (20 days old). Youngsters which by nature are not so good are directly removed .

The last auction of the auction season 2010-2011 consisted of more than 100 pigeons from a 100 European fanciers. All these pigeons were gathered by PIPA in Knesselare. Once the pigeons arrived they were placed in quarantine for 2 days. After the excrement and general condition was examined, the following process began:

1. vaccinations

2. External treatment

3. Treatment for worm infections  

(Take note! To avoid contamination, the pigeons to be auctioned for a certain auction are controlled by the experts, take part in a photo shoot and are then returned to their own loft. It is not until the day before they are to be transported that they return to PIPA where they are transported together.)

Martin took two days to judge the pigeons one by one and gave them points out of ten for the last auction in May. 

During this lengthy process the build, size, the character, the muscles, the tailbone, the balance, the wing, the back, the eyes etc. are all taken into account.

The entire procedure is carefully conducted. Whilst foreign buyers can’t handle the pigeons themselves, in this way we give them enough references.

I took this opportunity to collect as much knowledge as possible from Martin and watch how he judged the pigeons. Martin said: “The first impression of a pigeon is very important to me. Of course, most of the pigeons to be auctioned by PIPA usually give me a good first impression.”

I’m trying to decide which pigeon I will be photographed with. I notice a pigeon from Jos Thoné.

When clients of PIPA come to collect their pigeons they are always given an envelope. Here you can see the sorted envelopes which PIPA gives to its clients. Yue Chai, our multilingual Chinese colleague, is responsible for the classification of the pedigrees and ensures there are no doubles.

With every envelope comes a letter with professional advice that helps the fanciers make their new pigeon feel at home. This letter is also translated.

A tiny stand of PIPA products: PIPA shirt, cap, DVD, etc .

During my stay I also witnessed the shipment to Taiwan. The tasks were divided and everyone started straight away. Pigeons had to be put into the right baskets. People make mistakes, but that is not the case here. Can you imagine that?

Our ever stress-resistant Georges provides food and water for the pigeons so that they can safely endure their long journey in good health.

The transport firm arrived and the pigeons left for their new homes. Have a good journey and arrive safely!

PIPA enjoys a great deal of international interest. As the Chinese proverb goes: “Fame makes people scared like fatness makes a pig scared." (Meaning: Major honours give major burdens.) At the same time PIPA also contributes to the pigeon sport as a news website.

A press photographer from National Geographic visited PIPA to make a report: He was fascinated by the manner in which photo 116 (good clients from Taiwan) was taken.

Last week he also joined a Chinese delegation to visit a few famous fanciers.

PIPA is known for its website, which is updated daily. An entire editorial team behind the scenes takes care of our multilingual website. The planned editorial training was one of my agenda points.

Alexander Mack is a German translator. He and his father (alias SG Mack) come from München. (see centre of photo) 

My two weeks of internship at PIPA in Knesselare ended nicely. What touched me most was the beautiful countryside in Europe and my cool colleagues. Their enthusiasm and professionalism has left a deep impression on me. I believe in such a team and I will fight with you in good and bad days.

The following photos were taken in Ghent.