Meirlaen Etienne (Deurle, BE) winner 1st international Narbonne 13.779 o.b.!

Call it a victory waiting to happen… for one of the most renown colonies of our country during the last 5 seasons, that of Etienne Meirlaen, possibly the best long distance colony of our land at the moment!

The international Narbonne was a very tough race for the pigeons. Liberated at 7 a.m. with clear skies, the strong northern wind made the journey home more difficult. Only 9 pigeons achieved 1000m/m as average velocity from the total convoy of 22.688 pigeons. Included amongst them then the winning pigeon from Etienne Meirlaen from Deurle, which (clocked at 21h 08’ 55”) completed the 873,923 Km with a velocity of 1029,45 m/min! Good enough for international victory by the old birds, ahead of Garré-Vandenberghe from Vichte in second place and Joost De Smeyter-Restiaen from Melden who make the international podium complete with 3rd place!

We could then set off for Sint-Martens-Latem, a borough known as one of the richest in our country (at Financial level then), due to the many industrialists and other wealthy compatriots who have a luxury cottage, villa or country house along the banks of the Leie. Also at pigeon level there is at the moment one of the ‘richest pigeon stocks’ of our country living here, in the municipality Deurle to be more exact, where we were allowed to visit the brand new international winner Narbonne o.b.… Etienne Meirlaen, a man passionate about the national long distance and international ‘grand distance’!

Victory not unexpected

As we have already written in our introduction… the victory by Etienne Meirlaen can be described as a victory waiting to happen. He was very close numerous times over the last few seasons… lady luck had to be on side side at some time, so that he could collect the well-earned (inter)national victory. Deserved… that much is clear, especially when you closely inspect the following list with the closest places of honour at (inter)national level over say, the last 4 or 5 seasons, whereby we have limited ourselves to the (inter)national ‘top 10’ positions :

 1° Internat. Narbonne  13.779 p. ’11
 1° Internat. Perpignan  3.841 Hens ’09
 2° Internat. Tarbes    12.537 p. ’08
 2° Internat. Perpignan  3.131 Hens ’07
 3° Internat. Perpingnan 3.131 Hens ’07
 3° National Barcelona 12.641 p. ’10
 3° National Perpignan  7.603 p. ’08
 4° National Montauban  9.091 p. ’11
 4° Internat. Barcelona 25.750 p. ’10
 4° Internat. Perpignan 17.624 p. ’08
 4° National Narbonne   6.033 p. ’06
 5° National Montauban  6.654 p. ’10
 5° Internat. Perpignan  3.803 Hens ’08
 6° National Barcelona 12.170 p. ’11
 6° National Marseille  3.586 p. ’09
 6° National Perpignan  7.478 p. ’09
 7° Internat. Perpignan 18.354 p. ’09
 7° National Perpignan  5.547 p. ’07
 8° National Narbonne   7.156 p. ’09
 9° Internat. Narbonne  14.505 p. ’09
 9° National Narbonne   6.033 p. ’06
 9° National Montauban  7.203 p. ’09
 9° National Cahors     7.347 p. ’09
10° National Brive     17.446 p. ’10

Figures that speak volumes… they often say more than words! And when you know that all that beauty has resulted in a series of prominent titles, with the predominant being

1° National Ace bird Grand distance KBDB 2009

1° National Ace bird Grand distance KBDB 2008

2° National Champion Long Distance KBDB 2010

3° National Ace bird Grand distance KBDB 2008

5° National Ace bird Fond KBDB 2010

Winner ‘Gouden Vleugel’ Bruges Barcelona club 2006etc…


Need we say more about this colony which has already been talked and written about many times over the last few seasons?

The common thread which mainly travels through the Mierlaen colony… in other words plays a large part in the Mierlaen top successes, is the combination of the line ‘Marseille’ and the ‘Marathon Lady’ (crossing Van Damme-Boddaert x own old pedigree). In combination with the ‘Gouden Vleugel’, the Cor de Heijde pigeons (line ‘Cor’ and ‘Luca’), the ‘Toye’ (line Invincible Montauban Casaert’ via Sylvere Toye) and a touch Antoine Van Hove’ (a.o. line Laureaat Gyselbrecht)… Etienne Meirlaen put together his own pedigree which at the moment we can consider more or less the best that our country has to offer for ‘long distance’ and ‘extreme long distance’! Now and again he tries to add a drop of fresh blood… and in this way Etienne bred together with the star breeder ‘Topstar’ from Raoul & Xavier Verstraete (with his own ‘Marathon Lady’)… and it is exactly from this crossing that the ‘Yelena’ was born, which coupled with ‘Father Marseille’ and the 'Mont Ventoux 297/00' (father of the 'Marathonlady' and 'Perpignan Lady') … became mother of the ‘3 Musketiers’ from Deurle, wherefrom the ‘Monar’ (What’s in a name, a combination of Montauban and Narbonne) has now taken the lead. Because it was he who signed for ‘international victory’ from Narbonne 2011! He previously flapped together the following impressive series of national toppers :

-‘Monar’ B08-4298283

’11 Narbonne  Nat    6.531 p. 1
              I.Nat 13.779 p. 1
’11 Montauban Club     291 p. 3
              Nat    9.091 p. 52
’10 Narbonne  Club     179 p. 1
              Nat    6.336 p. 11
              I.Nat 13.335 p. 13
’10 Montauban Nat    6.654 p. 571 

He comes self out ‘Father Marseille 222/00’ (super breeder and a.o. father of super crack ‘Marseille 720/01’ which won 2 x 1° Marseille with 46° + 72° Nat. Marseille… and 1° club + 21° Nat Carcassonne) x ‘Yelena 297/06’ (daughter ‘Topstar 129/03’ R. & X.Verstraete x ‘Marathon Lady 386/04’ E. Meirlaen). With this he is a full brother to 


-‘Montali’ B08-4298110

’11 Montauban Nat    9.091 p. 4
’10 Montauban Nat    6.654 p. 12
’10 Tarbes    Nat    4.576 p. 314
              I.Nat 15.035 p. 608
’09 Libourne  Nat    8.729 p. 331
’09 Limoges YL Nat  16.893 p. 836 

And half-brother of the ‘Montauban’ B08-4298059 (out   Mont Ventoux x Yelena)

’11 Montauban Nat    9.091 p. 73
’10 Montauban Prov   1.294 p. 1
              Nat    6.654 p. 5

These ‘3 Musketiers’ all have the ‘Yelena’ as mother, a hen which we can describe as the new discovery for the breeding loft!

-‘Yelena’  B06-4288297

In the breeding lofts of Etienne Meirlaen she is now a.o. mother and grandmother of :

1° Int. Narbonne      13.779 p. ’11
1° Prov Poitiers       2.568 p.
1° Prov Montauban      1.294 p. ’10
4° Nat  Montauban      9.091 p. ’11
5° Nat  Montauban      6.654 p. ’10
11° Nat Narbonne       6.330 p. ’10
13° Int Narbonne      13.335 p. ’10
12° Nat Montauban      6.654 p. ’10
38° Nat Argenton Zone  8.935 p.
52° Nat Montauban      9.091 p. ’11
53° Nat Limoges Zone A 7.823 p.
57° Nat Tarbes         4.812 p.
60° Nat Tarbes         4.576 p. ’10
73° Nat Montauban      9.091 p. ’11
73° Nat Libourne       8.729 p.
92° Nat. Perpignan     6.257 p. ’10
534 Int Soustons      11.030 p. ’09 etc... 

Who doesn’t dream of having such an excellent breeding mother in the breeding lofts?


International victory with 5 flights

Whoever has seen the photo of ‘Monar’ will have seen that he returned home with a flight position considered anything but ideal for achieving such a great performance! By the basketting at the Fond club Eeklo, Etienne handed him over when he had moulted 4 flights… his 5th flight was lost in the basket or on the way home to Deurle. In other words it is perfectly possible to achieve a top performance with such a flight condition, this ‘Monar’ has now proven this… the deciding factor is and remains the ‘condition’ of the pigeon when it is basketted… and that was clearly ‘top’! Yet Etienne also too the flight condition into account, as this was the reason that this top athlete was moved down a place on the nomination list, and was basketted as 2nd nominated.


Etienne describes himself as from the old school… and the pigeons were never coupled until ‘Candlemas’ (at the beginning of February).He  also coupled his pigeons in February this year and let them raise a youngster. That is also probably the reason for the early moulting of the flights by the majority of the racing team! Although we have to add that the Etienne Meirlaen household has tried various systems in the past… winter breeding and then brooding shortly before the season, the so-called ‘dry widowhood’ whereby the pigeons brood for 5 to 10 days twice before the start of the season, and then the coupling at ‘Candlemas’ and the raising of a youngster. There were not any real noticeable differences during the racing season… only maybe where the moulting of the flights was concerned, but as long as he can complete the long distance season, then Etienne doesn’t find this a problem!

Before the basketting the hens are sometimes shown and sometimes not, depending on which other pigeons are in the loft, and the race on their programme. One can’t just keep going into the lofts with a hen. The ‘Monar’ was shown her hen for about an hour before being basketted for Narbonne. Etienne doesn’t know the exact time… as some of the cocks were shown their hens and while these cocks were with their spouse, the yearling nest hens were being basketted for Narbonne. From these, some had not returned to their nest… so it was a matter of walking back and forth from the racing cocks to the loft of the yearling hens to be able to basket a few Narbonne pigeons from both compartments. A total of 43 Meirlaen pigeons (20 o.b. and 23 yearlings) were basketted for Narbonne and they performed as follows:

Narbonne  210 o.b.:

1-3-11-20-23-29-30-31-32-53-55 (11/20)

International  13.779 o.b.: 1…

Narbonne 211 yl:

2-6-7-9-16-19-20-26-29-37-43-45-53-62-64 (15/23)

His first yearling (hen) will be classified around the 20th place national !


How does he do it all?

The maintenance and supervision of such a large colony of pigeons demands a daily input and is a lot of work. Luckily Etienne can rely on the help of (co)carer Aline to help take care of the daily tasks. Although Etienne is considering to stop with the nest game with the hens as this brings a lot of extra work (planning qua coupling dates, nest positions, training)… although he is also thinking of taking a different approach to the nest game, provided that the accommodation and lofts can be adapted… although nothing has been decided at the moment!

What one asks oneself is probably… how do you keep so many pigeons healthy? Where the medical picture is concerned he relies on the services of the vet Wim Boddaert, whose findings and advice are followed meticulously!  Etienne explains how everything is done. By the homecoming there is always a drinking pot (with electrolytes) + some food ready in the living box of every pigeon basketted. When the pigeons return home they are firstly locked in their box for a time, and are given the chance to recuperate somewhat, to eat and to drink. Only then are they given their hen, either in their own loft or not… depending on whether there are more stay-at-home cocks in the loft which have or have not to be basketted a few days later. They are then allowed to enjoy the company of their spouse until the evening or sometimes until the following morning (by a late homecoming in the evening). When they are separated both the cock and the hen are given a pill against ‘tricho’… and if a slight contamination is found by the control then they are given another tablet two days later. Why does he do this? Well, simply because Etienne knows that trichomonasis is often the underlying basis for the emergence of other ailments with devastating effects on the racing condition! Anyone who doesn’t keep this under control by pigeons which have already had 3 or more nights in the basket… is playing with fire says Etienne!

They are also occasionally given something for the heads, but then only a product on the advice of the vet. An annual recurring ritual by the Barcelona team at that level, is a 5-day cure with Soludox 2 weeks before the date of basketting. Etienne makes no secret of this. But this cure is only given once a year! Giving medicine to pigeons often… Etienne has serious concerns about it!  He likes to race his pigeons up to the age of 5 or 6 years … in Deurle there are clappers which even managed to achieve top from Barcelona when they were 7 and 8 years old! If a lot of medicine is given then they are past their best when they are usually 2 years old… maybe you can put this question to the lofts where you can hardly find a 3 year topper? There is always something called ‘natural resistance’… and they should partly cultivate this as youngsters… so as resistance to coccidiosis, and ornithosis ailments… a youngster which is soon sick, is immediately removed.

In short… medical guidance, yes… but then restricted to the necessary minimum, and under the supervision of the vet! How greater the resistance against all sorts of ailments, how less quickly health problems will appear, and how easier it is to get the pigeons into condition, and keep them there! This is the experience that Etienne Meirlaen has gained over the years… and whcih lies at the basis of his top successes over the last few seasons!

And feed? That is always from the firm Versele Laga (Versele and Mariman)… and by-products following the  gamma of Oropharma.

Despite the size of team of pigeons which have to be fed and watered every day, Etienne Meirlaen tries to keep the care as simple as possible. Good food, good training, and the basket as the only executioner… is his motto! At that level Etienne expects a lot from his pigeons… real top prizes are the only criteria for being allowed to remain for the winter! A method which has paid off… and lies at the basis of the aforementioned recital of top prizes up to national and international level! That many bottles of champagne were opened by this new triumph… is then completely normal! Because his dream has finally come true… an international victory, and this from Narbonne! For which a hearty congratulations to Etienne, wife Yvette, and Aline… or the complete ‘Meirlaen-team’!


The preliminary performance list of 2011

Limoges (4 June)  923 o.b.: 1-4-6-14-32-37-54-63-67-68-71-82-84-89-92-93-102… (37/54)

      Nat  19.373 o.b.: 39-56-79-175… (12 pigoens in the top-1000 national, so well over per 20)

Cahors  259 o.b.: 17-20-23-27-73 (5/5)

Montauban 291 o.b.: 1-3-5-9-12-13-18-22-27-41-90 (11/18)

      Nat 9.091 o.b.: 4-52-73… (with the 3 first nominated, the ‘3 Musketiers’ from Deurle at the front)

Bordeaux  188 o.b.: 2-5-6-9-24-29-37-56-57 (9/21)

      Nat  4.866 o.b.: 11-47-74-106…

Brive  491 o.b.: 21-24-29-52-61-146 (6/12)

Barcelona 328 o.b.: 1-6-9-12-13-18-23-24-25-29-46-49-59… (21/54)

      Nat 12.170 o.b.: 6-267-386…

Limoges 783 yl: 9-23-29-71-72-87-88-93… (17/31)

Tarbes-Agen  125 o.b.: 1-2-23-41 (4/7)

      Nat 4.818 o.b.: 71-120….

Souillac  316 o.b.: 7-27-31-42-43-86-101 (7/10)

Narbonne  210 o.b.: 1-3-11-20-23-29-30-31-32-53-55 (11/20)

  International  13.779 o.b.: 1…

Narbonne 211 yl: 2-6-7-9-16-19-20-26-29-37-43-45-53-62-64 (15/23)




vagenende danny

Congratiulations !!! Smile





Nogmaals proficiat met deze overwinning op Narbonne !! Het is een echte crackduif !!


Frederik Leliaert

Proficiat Etienne klasse!

Vriend Lorenzo Wink

Top birds really belongs to Top Fancier ! Congratulations to the Family ! Smile

Dikke proficiat aan het Meirlaen team.
Eindelijk hé mannekes...het moest er eens van komen.
En eens de kop er af is........

Zedelgemse sportgroeten.

D'Heedene Eddy.

Proficiat aan het Meirlaen-team voor deze fantastische zege !

Proficiat een hele mooie prestatie. Alleen jammer dat er geen juist aantal duiven is vermeld.
Totaal oude duiven 13779, maar hoeveel jaarlingen zitten daar tussen van Nederland en Duitsland. Daar was er geen apart concours voor jaarlingen dus staan deze tussen de oude duiven.
Jammer want zo geeft het een vertekend beeld. Desondankt een zeer mooie prestatie.