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Van Gaver-De Vroe (Moortsele, BE) strong together… their success formula!

Joining forces, and so trying to shine in the ‘classics’ in our national pigeon sport. The perfect solution for people with a busy job, who don't have much time… but so want to add power to their ambitions. The combination Van Gaver-De Vroe are a perfect example of this!

Johan De Vroe and Marnik Van Gaver, have belonged to the top fanciers for years in East-Flanders… Johan in the middle distance and grand middle distance, Marnik in the races of the extreme long distance. In the meantime son Tom Van Gaver has also been bitten by the pigeon microbe… and when Johan De Vroe came to live just one hundred metres away from the Van Gaver family and a pigeon from the Van Gaver family strayed into his loft (which he was allowed to keep), he had not only a ‘crack hen’ in the races, but also a breeding mother worth gold… the link was made which would lead to the success formula that the duo (in fact trio) Van Gaver-De Vroe is today!

An ideal formula as it turned out, certainly for people with a busy job… ‘racing together’ is ideal for practising the pigeon sport at top level, via a kind of division of labour. Johan De Vroe is manager of the firm ‘Dakwerken De Vroe’, which takes up most of his available time, Marnik Van Gaver works by Belgacom, whilst son Tom is a bookkeeper by the police in Destelbergen. After some brainstorming they came to the ideal division of labour which has grown into a success formula. 12 breeding couples reside in the lofts of Johan, 8-tal by Marnik and Tom (usually the test couples). The youngsters from the 1st and 2nd round reside in the lofts of Johan, where they race 10 races above Paris up to the  ‘nationals’ for the youngsters. The youngsters are divided up into 3 groups… one loft races with a nest, a loft of hens and a loft of cocks races in widowhood, coupled with old partners. After the season the cocks move to the lofts of Tom & Marnik Van Gaver, whilst the hens go to Rudi Vandeputte in Lemberge where they are raced until they are 2 or 3 three years old. The youngsters from the 3rd and some from the 4th round go straight to Tom’s lofts, where they are trained from Noyon a few times… let's call it a kind of building 'reserve' for the future as old pigeon! By Marnik and Tom they race then the widowhood with old birds and yearlings… in total there are about 60 to 65 widowers every year. Yet before the start of the season they try to obtain several youngsters from their best racing pigeons. For this, they try to couple their top racers with an extra hen, and do it as follows: the racers are coupled at the same time as the breeding pigeons for the early breed, the first lay from the best racing pigeons are laid under other couples, whereupon they are allowed to start on their 2nd nest straight away, which they then raise themselves and subsequently the hens lay again for the 3rd nest… whereby the eggs are removed after they have been laid, they are not allowed to brood. At the end of March, beginning of April there is another coupling before the game starts and the hens go into widowhood… the eggs from this coupling are also placed under foster couples… so that before the start of the season they already have 8 youngsters from their racing toppers! They stay together for one and a half weeks… some then breed for a few days, others have just started, or have not yet started… but after one and a half weeks everything is removed and the widowers start their racing season. As everybody has to leave early in the morning for their work… the widowers are never let out in the morning. They are not let out on Sunday either, only on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, when they train from home. On Thursday… the day of basketting… they are not trained either. Normally the pigeons are basketted for the provincial and/or national ‘grand middle distance races’ every week… unless it was a very tough weekend, then they are sometimes given a week’s rest… but then they have to train harder during the week. A section of the racing team in also entered for the long distance races, these pigeons then train on Wednesday before being basketted! On Sunday they are allowed to recuperate and do not have to train… they pigeons are given a bath in the aviary, whilst the lofts are cleaned out with a vacuum cleaner and disinfected with ‘Dettol’, the heating plates are constructed as needed and the pigeons can return to the loft … where they then lie on their side, enjoying the warmth and peace… it’s nice to see, says Tom.

Where the youngsters in Johan’s loft are concerned… they remain together until around the 1st of May, then the sexes are separated, and the youngsters are trained to enter their own loft. Around the 1st of June the youngsters are coupled with old partners, and further raced in widowhood… in this way they attempt to race up to and including the last races from Gueret. That’s why a loft is also raced with a nest, in case the widowers have to give up early, a question of not putting all your eggs into one basket!

Robust system

By the basketting there is the necessary variation to keep the ‘motivation’ in the racing team! The first 3 or 4 races the pigeons are basketted without a partner and the doors are ajar, then the boxes are opened full for a month, the following month half of the box is made ‘dark’ with cardboard, after which for a few weeks the hen is shown before being basketted. In this way they can race from April to the beginning of August, and keep the ‘verve’ in the pigeons! On Monday the pigeons have to train for 30 to maximum 45 minutes… on Tuesday they are forced to train for 50 minutes, when the necessary ‘form’ or condition is present then they do this out themselves… on Wednesday it is compulsory training for an hour, and when the pigeons show signs of stopping they sometimes force them to train for one and a half hours… yes, pigeons which are really in form dare to sometimes tease their boss by refusing to enter the loft. Preferably this than pigeons which can’t handle ‘discipline’ or have problems with the intensity of the training given to them… they are removed immediately says Tom. The pigeons eat together from a big food tray on the floor, and there are 2 drinking bowls in the loft. Up until Wednesday morning they are given the low-protein Vandenabeel mixture (Beyers), the last two days it is Matador with a mixture of the ‘Sport’ and the ‘Turbo’. By the homecoming there is ‘Belgasol’ in the water, on other days they alternate with Avidress, Blitzform and Sedochol. In the evening food supplements are added to the feed… the food is then moistened with ‘oils’ or ‘sedochol’ to which ‘Ropa’ , ‘vitamins and brewer’s yeast’ is added alternately, 1 day before basketting it is ‘W.N.’, and by the homecoming it is ‘B.S.’ from Deweerd, whilst also the ‘AV-capsules’ from Dr. Schroeder are used! The pigeons are fed twice a day… the first time with food with the supplements, the second feed is then plain food (without anything added). Every 2 weeks they are controlled by the vet… when they have to act on his advice, it is in pill form so that the pigeons immediately receive the right dosage! Before the beginning of the season the pigeons are treated for 10 days against paratyphoid. followed by the vaccination.

An approach that has more than proven its reliability repeatedly, as in the seasons 2010 and 2011 they were classified in the ‘Top 20’ provincial no less than 36 times!

For an overview of the performances 2011: click here

Stock building

The old strain Johan De Vroe was formed with pigeons out the 2nd round from provincial KBDB chairman Mark De Backer interwoven with pigeons from Gaby Vandenabeele, Gebr Vandenheede, Van Dyck, Eddy & Maarten Leutenez. When he moved to Moortsele 6 yearlings from these Mark De Backer pigeons were put to breed… with overwhelming success. As stated in the introduction, the old strain Van Gaver is based on pigeons for the tough work, with pedigrees so as Gebr. Catrysse, Nouwen-Paesen (with a brother of ‘Miss Perpignan’), later supplemented with pigeons from Verbruggen and E.Goossens. A crossing of these 2 bases produced the ‘droomkoppel’(dream couple) which currently goes through the colony like a ‘red wire’… with no less than 12 direct ‘toppers’ from them residing in the lofts, in addition to 20 grandchildren! Paired with the basis lines were pigeons from Firmin Aelterman (the ‘Asduif’), Andre De Coene (a ‘Son Jumbo’), Etienne Boudewijn (the ‘Grijze Provinciaal’, winner 1° Prov Chateauroux), Gebr Van Der Gucht (the ‘Lucien’: 1° Prov Orleans), Willy Bertin (the ‘Duivin 003/07’), Erik Limbourg (line Floere Perpignan), Mark Van Haute (brother ‘Silke’). At the moment they are also busy breeding for the long distance, for which pigeons have been obtained from Gebr Herbots and Didier De Smet (granddaughter ‘Olympiade’)… wherefrom the yearlings have already been tested from Libourne, Narbonne and Limoges YL.

In fact we can bring the current successful basis back to 3 baselines which demanded a leading role. 

-The ‘Droomkoppel’, formed by the ‘Kleine Schonen’ BE06-4100920 x ‘Van Gaverduivin’ BE03-4152445. They are the parents of the 1° National Bourges 41.783 youngsters in 2008, super crack the ‘Tom’ and the Prinses’. 

The ‘TOM’ BE08-400255. The ‘numero uno’ of the racing team. He has already raced 21 prizes at least per 10 and 15 minimal per 20, generally in the extreme middle distance races: 

 1st club 1.012p La Souterainne 2008
   3rd prov 4.844p
   3rd Nat Z A 7.118p(0,04 %)
2nd club 144p Blois 2010
   3rd prov 2595p(0,12 %)
2nd club 328p Montrichard 2011 (0,61 %)
   32nd prov 3.047 d
6th club 545p Bourges 2009
   192nd Nat 22.499p (0,85 %)
8th club 239p Argenton 2011
   31st prov 2.616p
   71st Nat Z A 4.106p
   123rd Nat 1.1001p (1,12 %)
10th club 347p Chateauroux II 2011
   49th prov 3.172p (1,54 %)
12th club 778p Ecouen 2011 (1,54 %)
20th club 962p Vierzon I 2011
    171st prov 8336p (2,05 %)
13th club 484p Chateauroux II 2010
    97th Prov 4157p (2,33 %)
32nd club 996p Angerville 2011 (3,21 %)
8th club 246p Argenton 2010 (3,25 %)
   31st prov 2.489p
   392nd Nat 10.549p
14th club 416p Chateauroux II 2011 (3,37 %)
   204th Prov 4.571p
   897 Nat 20.517p
23rd club 510p Chateauroux I 2010
   178th Prov 4.815p
449th Nat 20.330p (2,21 %)
99th prov 1.558p Bourges II 2010
   132nd Nat Z A 2.164p
   540th Nat 10.903p (4,95 %)
121st club 1199p Argenton 2008
   404th Nat Z A 8.277p (4,88 %)
48th club 722p Argenton I 2009 (6,65 %)
60th club 746p Limoges 2009 (8,04 %)
17th club 187p Blois 2009 (9,09 %)
30th club 296p Vierzon 2008 (10,14 %)
933rd Nat 9.781p Bourges II 2011 (9,54 %) 

-‘topkoppel 2’ was formed by the ‘Grijzen Provinciaal’ BE05-4032004 (1° Prov Chateauroux 1.683 p.) x ‘Sterke’ BE04-4033172. This couple are parents of a.o. top racer: 

‘The Tiets’ BE09-4164248, a super racing pigeon which raced extremely well as a youngster, as a yearling and as a 2 year old. Raced in 2010 club 12/12 wherefrom 11 races (+ 416km) and  9 prizes at least per 10, in 2011 in 4 tough extreme middle distance races he achieved 2,59%. His honours list up until now (only prizes per 10): 

1st club 56p Vierzon II 2010
   7th prov 874p (0,8 %)
1st club 83p Bourges II 2011
   9th prov 1.224p (0,74 %)
2nd club 108p Blois II 2011
   14th prov 1.526p (0,92 %)
3rd club 239p Argenton I 2011
   16th Nat 11.001p (0,14%)
4th club 130p Orléans II 2010
   13rd prov 1525p (0,85 %)
7th club 962p Vierzon I 2011
   49th prov 8.336p (0,58%)
7th club 189p Argenton II 2010 (3,7%)
   296th Nat 7358p
8th club 732p Chateauroux III 2010 (1,09%)
   333rd Nat 22719p
9th club 364p Vierzon 2009
   108th prov  4228p
10th club 542p Chateauroux I 2010
    185th Nat 18725p (0,98%)
13rd club 253p Blois I 2009
15th club 90p Blois II 2009
    168th prov 1637p
30th club 657p Argenton II 2010
    895th nat 19816p
90th prov 1519p Blois II 2010
26th club 328p Montrichard 2011 

A crossing of the ‘droomkoppel’ x ‘topkoppel 2’ produced a new extra breeding couple ‘Andreas 564/07’ x ‘Prinsesje’ BE08-4002454 (self 11° Nat Bourges 41.783 p., and nest sister of ‘Tom’), which in turn are already parents of a new topper, namely: 

‘The Drinker’ BE09-4164278, a late cock from 2009 which as a youngster was only trained, and has already performed as follows (only prizes per 10): 

1st club 328p Montrichard 2011 (0,30 %)
     20th prov 3.047p
  2nd club 732p Chateauroux III 2010
     8th prov 5547p (0,14 %)
     33rd Nat 22.719p
  2nd club 347 Chateauroux II 2011 (0,58 %)
     26th prov 3.172p
  3rd club 130p Orléans 
     10th prov 1.525p(0,66 %)
  4th club 637p Limoges 
     25th Nat Zone A 6810p (0,37 %)
     109th Nat 14.199p 
  6th club 111p Blois 
     34th prov 1.519p (2,24 %)
  26th club 962p Vierzon I 2011
      239th prov 8.336p (2,05 %)
  32nd club 996p Angerville 2011 (3,31 %)
  15th club 239p Argenton 2011 
      102nd prov 2.616p
      193rd Nat Z A 4.106p
      325th Nat 11.001p (2,95 %) 
  27th club 259p Blois 2011
      257th prov 3600p (7,14 %)

-the 3rd top couple to make its mark on the colony is formed by the ‘Grootten’ BE02-4112593 x ‘Van Schoorisseduvin ‘06’ (self 1° Dourdan, and ‘top-10’ national Bourges) which are parents and grandparents of top racers so as the ‘Provinciaal 109/09’, Black Diamond 419/10’, ‘Den Nationaal 412/10’, ‘Grootten Jumbo 525/10’ etc…

When Van Gaver-De Vroe are now searching for reinforcements their preference goes to lofts where the pigeons are raced almost every week in the grand middle distance, just like by themselves… a sign that these pigeons can handle this labour. It is then also easier to cross such pigeons into their own stock, due to similar characteristics and gifts! The newest acquisitions at that level came from Verreckt-Ariën, Rik Cools, Eddy & Maarten Leutenez (line ‘Bolleken’), Marc Van den Eeckhout, Jan Pappens (line ‘Willy’), and Rudi Van de Putte (top hen ‘Serena 926/09’).

Strong together

Via joining forces, Tom & Marnik Van Gaver, and Johan De Vroe have managed to achieve top successes in the nicest provincial and national classics of our patriotic pigeon sport. Outstanding pigeons at the basis, and a robust planning and division of labour allowed them to do this. Is this not the perfect example for the youth, and for working people… that racing successfully with the pigeons and a busy job can be combined perfectly? In any case it opens perspectives for covering the holiday periods, an excursion or trip … which can be compensated with mutual support. Is this not the formula for our ‘pigeons sport’ of the future? It is in any case the best advert for recruiting members… pigeon sport with combined forces… strong together! In Moortsele this approach has paid off like no other… and allowed Van Gaver-De Vroe to grow into ‘toppers’ at national level! The last word about this is far from said or written… the advance over the last few seasons and the ‘class pigeons’ with which this was accomplished, seem difficult to stop. Here, career planning (via division of labour) forms, just like at their work… the key to success in the pigeon sport!

An overview of the ‘stunners’ in 2010 and 2011: click  here

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