Jan with two of his grandsons
A hard working man
Almost every fancier talks about darkening, lightning (including old birds) and training tosses of 350km and more. The National Champion Greater Long Distance KBDB 2012 is not one of them. During the day Jan Ceusters runs a farm specialising in livestock and cauliflower. On top of that, his son runs a dairy farm where Jan gives a helping hand every day. You can imagine there is not much time left to spend with his pigeons. This means that he has to rely on the quality of his pigeons, as he does not use any artificial methods to boost their performance. He always gives them the same diet: one half of moulting mixture and one half of diet mixture. His birds are treated against tricho one week before Barcelona and they are given a ten day paratyphoid treatment after inoculation in October. That's it. Every day at 5 o’clock in the morning Jan gets up to inspect the stables, he has breakfast, he releases the widowers and then he works on the field. About three to five hours later Jan returns home to call in the widowers. “When I’m out on the field and I can see the widowers fly all over the field I know they are in a great shape. It makes work much more enjoyable.”
Jan had been a fancier a long time ago but he was forced to quit because he spent too much time on the farm. He also had a few growing kids who liked horse racing. That is why his pigeons did not do any races for a few years, although he continued to take care of them. In 2008 he was eager to make a comeback. At that time Jan had a cock and a hen from Jef Vercammen (Koningshooikt, BE). A son of this pair had already won an 80th national prize from Barcelona but he had a hard time in the race from Perpignan. He was covered in hail, which had to be removed with tweezers. The year after this, he was again basketed for Barcelona but he never reached the loft. Luckily enough this cock had two successful full sisters who provided a successful restart for Jan. One of the two hens was paired with Voske, a cock with pure Marc Lemahieu origins (Burcht, BE), which was obtained from his neighbour Herman Vandenbrouck. This pair bred two great new brothers. They won a 12th and a 13th prov. from Bordeaux in 2009 as yearlings. Jan was out on the field when he saw one of the two brothers arrive home; the other bird was already in the loft. Unfortunately Voske died last year. In the meantime Jan did some well thought out purchases, which proves that he knows what he is doing. He bought a cock and a hen from Nico Haesen (Maastricht, NL), which stem from the line of Blauwe Vannoppen of Wijnands & Son. The cock (1438404/06) was later called Blauwe Vannoppen and he was paired with a daughter of Voske. They bred quite a few great pigeons. In 2009 two sons won a first and second prize from St. Vincent in long distance club Bevel. . Click here for the pedigree of Blauwe Vanoppen.
He also purchased a half brother of Biscaya (4406638/03) from Guido Van Den Bulcke (Balegem, BE) which has won a third Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Distance. He is a descendant of a 2nd Nat. Barcelona, a 1st Nat. St. Vincent and many other national champions. Click here for the impressive pedigree. The pairing of Geschelpte As (4315110/04) and the hen that was purchased from Nico Haesen bred 6248507/08. In this loft, it is not unusual that both father and son are born in the same year (2008). This late youngster 507 was trained up to Limoges. Notice that the pigeons of Jan are given their rubber ring only when the important races start. He won a 19th Prov. Marseille in 2010, a 35th Prov. Barcelona (201st Nat.) in 2011 and a 10th Prov. Barcelona (111th Nat.) Barcelona. At the moment he holds the 11th place in the ranking for the Primus Inter Pares title over two years. On the same day when he purchased the Geschelpte As from Guido Van Den Bulcke he also bought two old birds from Mario De Keyser (1998/1999), who assured him that they could still breed. It turned out that only one of the two could fertilize so it was agreed that Jan could pick another bird. This was 4248660/04; a son of Killer, son of the 1st Nat. Barcelona dv. 1998.
A long distance racer needs a lot of pigeons. We hear that a lot from long distance fanciers when they talk about the number of pigeons they have. Jan has three breeding pairs who provide future champions and we have already introduced them to you. A fourth breeding cock was added this season: 6165894/09. As a two year old he won a 19th provincial Marseille against 383 pigeons. This season he did not arrive home after a standard training flight. Jan had noticed that the pigeons had been flying only just above a power line so he tried to find him near the power lines the next day. Unfortunately the 894 did not return that day either. On the next day, when Jan and his son were returning from the field, they found the pigeon walking around in a meadow near the farm. It was the 894 who had broken one of its wings. It meant the end of his career as a racing bird but he proved a valuable addition for the breeding loft.
Approach and selection
Jan does not only have his four pairs in the breeding loft; his best widowers breed youngsters as well. One week after Perpignan he pairs all the widowers, including the young birds of the season that will be part of the team of widowers in the next year. One of the youngsters of the best and most promising widowers are then raised by a different pair, to make sure that each pair raises one bird, which are all kept. By the end of November the widowers are paired again using the same approach. When the young birds are about three weeks old the hens are taken away. The cocks will only see them again when being basketed for the first long distance race. Most fanciers try to keep their pigeons quiet in the basket; Jan uses a different approach. This is obviously a great system: he has won several top prizes, including the title of National Champion Long Distance KBDB 2012:
Barcelona: 11590 p.: 111-580 Marseille: 3245 p.: 80-313 Narbonne: 6583 p.: 90-295
"Late Jonge Vale": the future Primus Inter Pares?
All the young birds that have finished the moult in their year of birth have to race one extreme long distance race as a yearling. Failure is not an option: prize winners will stay in the team, the others are left out. The late youngsters race Quievrains and Noyons a few times as a yearling. As a two year old they are faced with the same challenges as their older peers. This is survival of the fittest, in its purest form. From then on they do two extreme long distance races per year.
The hard working man enjoys his success
Jan Ceusters is a deserved winner for the title of National Champion Long Distance KBDB 2012. He proves that the most important thing is to have top quality pigeons and the rest will follow. After all, pigeon fancying should be a relaxing hobby; it should not be as stressful as your professional life. People tend to forget that. “It gives me a great feeling to be sitting in my chair and to see one of my pigeons appear in the sky”, says Jan. We wish him plenty of moments like that in the future.