Week after week the 'Tienenverbond' union sees fierce competition in the sprint races from Quiévrain and Noyon, and the Stickers-Donckers combination is the team to beat here. They started competing in the shorter middle distance competition a few years ago as well, with the release site being Souppes-sur-Loing. The fanciers from Lille know the ropes.
The racing pigeons breed young birds in winter. Preparation for next season starts after the young birds are taken away, which takes place in late January. The first week of training serves to gain rhythm but the pigeons are required to train for an entire hour from week two. All pigeons are trained just once a day. The reason behind this will be explained later on.
The pigeons continue to get in shape in early March with a number of short training flights, and the goal is to prepare for the start of the season in mid-March. The old birds are raced in widowhood until early August, after which they are basketed from the nest for the late season races.
The young birds are kept in partly open aviaries. They cannot be darkened, which explains why racing from the nest is the preferred approach for the young birds, which are taken away quite often. Sometimes they are not trained at home for an entire week but taken away or basketed for a midweek race instead. The goal is to learn the young birds to take off and arrive home quickly. Every second counts in pigeon racing.
Running an entire pigeon family can be quite a challenge. This is why good teamwork is of great importance - everyone has a number of tasks to perform.
Teamwork pays off
The secret behind the success story of the Stickers-Donckers combination is a well coordinated team. This is of vital importance, especially when trying to become a top class loft in different competitions.
The combination was formed in 1993 by the then neighbours Gust Stickers (74) and Dirk Donckers (41). Cindy and Seppe joined the team later on, and their help was greatly appreciated. The electricity wires surrounding the loft prevents the fanciers from releasing their pigeons together, as this increases the risk of injuries. Instead, all lofts are trained separately; there are seven young birds' lofts, two widower lofts and two lofts for widower hens. Training these lofts individually takes a lot of work, which again underlines the importance of team work at Stickers-Donckers. Their approach has paid off!
Stickers-Donckers has managed to win no less than 22 prizes in the national KBDB championships since 2011. They were particularly successful in the sprint competition but they have won a few prizes in the shorter middle distance as well. This palmares makes them the most successful sprint team of Belgium over the past five seasons. They are Belgium's number one loft in the sprint, as you can tell from their national titles and Olympiad titles:
1st National Champion Sprint Young Birds KBDB 2011 1st National Ace Pigeon Sprint Old Birds KBDB 2011 1st National Champion Sprint Yearlings KBDB 2014 Winner Golden Pigeon 2013 Olympiad Pigeons in Poznan 2011 , Nitra 2013 and Budapest 2015
The 2014 season was clearly a great success at championship level, with seven top prizes in the national championships:
1st National Champion Yearlings Sprint ’14 2nd National Champion Old birds Sprint ’14 2nd National Ace Pigeon Yearlings Sprint ’14 4th National Champion Old Birds Shorter Middle Distance ’14 11th National Ace Pigeon Yearlings Sprint ’14 13th and 15th National Ace Pigeon Old Birds Sprint ’14
You can read more about their national title in our previously published PIPA report (click here - Dutch only).
Only the very best pigeons will make it to the team. They sometimes have to complete 40 to 45 races in a single season, including mid-week races. This means young birds, yearlings and two year olds have to work very hard, and only the best of them will win a spot in the breeding team. This is the career of a true crack in the team of Stickers-Donckers.
Continue their path
That appears to be the ambition for the fanciers from Lille. The new old birds' racing season has been underway for only two months, and the young birds' season has only just started. Yet, they already have an impressive palmares, with 8 first prizes by 25 May, including four victories against more than 1,000 pigeons. They have won an impressive 358 prizes with 471 basketed pigeons, resulting in an impressive 76% prize percentage!
Click here for the results of 2015 up to 25 May.
Gust, Dirk, Seppe and Cindy are determined to confirm their status as national sprint champions. Their number one goal will be to try and take another championship title, preferably at national level!