His wife Sabrina provides moral support ("He can use my name"), Stefan does the rest
His first steps
Stefan Machiels knows that in order to become a successful fancier, you have to take one step at a time. He started to gain experience in the often underappreciated sprint competition. This is actually the reason why he switched over to the longer middle distance: he won impressive results in the races from Momignies, Soissons and Toury but no fancier seemed to be impressed. He started competing in the longer middle distance instead, in which he has won quite a number of national championship titles:
12th Nat. Champion middle distance young birds 2009
2nd Nat. Champion middle distance young birds 2011
4th Nat. Ace Pigeon middle distance young birds 2011
8th Nat. Champion middle distance young birds 2012
3rd Nat. Ace Pigeon middle distance young birds 2013
7th Nat. Champion middle distance young birds 2013
10th Nat. Champion middle distance young birds 2013
1st Nat. Ace Pigeon longer middle distance yearlings 2014
Valère took a well deserved win from Bourges against 36,315 young birds
The second pigeon in the race finished only 303.55 metres or 15 seconds behind the winner, after a race of 6 hours and 15 minutes. Valère, the winning pigeon, was really eager to get home. “We had seen him approach another young hen in the sputnik two weeks ago”, said Stefan. This is when he won a 1st club Gien 195 pigeons and a 34th prov. 3,845 pigeons. Stefan placed a cardboard box in the corner of the loft, to give the new pair a cosy place. That very same box had already resulted in the title of 1st Nat. Ace Pigeon longer middle distance.
The young birds were separated again (with the sliding door), after which the box was turned a quarter of a revolution, so that the entrance was blocked. The cocks and hens spend a day in the racing loft every other day and every time Valère entered the loft, he would go and sit on his cardboard box. Stefan opened the box again on the day of basketing, allowing the pair to enter their new home. However, he could not believe what he saw when he returned to the loft a few hours later: Valère was sitting on top of the box, and another cock was sitting inside it. The two had clearly been fighting. Stefan took away the second cock and turned the box another quarter of a revolution, so that no other pigeons could get in. Valère showed to be quite annoyed, and this paid off two days later: “By the time I had entered the loft, he was already sitting on top of his box.”
The eye of Valère reveals a high level of intelligence; there were no traces left from the fight
Which of the two is the smartest: the winning pigeon or the fancier? Keep in mind that in 2013 Stefan had the brilliant idea of pairing Blauwe Valère (BE05-5097854) to Goed Grijs (BE09-5021751). Blauwe Valère is the grandfather of such champions as Blue Ace (BE12-500639, 8th nat. Ace Pigeon middle distance KBDB) and Sandy (BE11-5008412, 4th nat. Ace Pigeon shorter middle distance), while Goed Grijs is the dam of Marie (BE11-5006811, 6th nat. Ace Pigeon longer middle distance) and the grandmother of Charlotte (BE13-5024923, 1st nat. Ace Pigeon longer middle distance).
One of the young birds that were bred from this pairing is the sire of Valère. The dam of Valère illustrates how ambitious Stefan really is: he purchased her as a young bird in a young birds’ auction organised by the Hemans-Bonné combination from Loksbergen. Her sire is De Steppe (BE10-5091047), 2nd Olympiad Pigeon Nitra 2012. Click here for the full pedigree of Valère.
Every year is different
“I really struggled with my young birds last season and I decided to have them vaccinated against paratyphoid fever this season”, which he thinks might explain their exceptional results this season. His 2015 young birds were basketed for the first time in mid-May, where they had a flying start to the season:
Momignies (121 km): 307 young birds: 2-7-8-15-16-18-23-24-25-26 (14/28) Soissons (208 km): 183 young birds: 2-3-4-5-15-26-27-28 (11/27)
After that, they were separated and prepared for the national races, with the race from Montargis (3752km) being the final training flight in the week before Bourges. This proved another spectacular race:
Montargis: 153 young birds: 1-3-4 (Valère)-5-6-7-8-9-13-14-16-17-18-19-21-22 (19/24)
The race from Bourges was the icing on the cake:
Bourges nat.: 36,315 young birds: 1-25-27-142-201-233 (11/30)
The race from Soissons, which took place over the same weekend, was quite a success too:
Soissons: 446 young birds: 5-6-7-9-10-11-12-13-16-17-18-19-22 (13 p. within 44 seconds' time and a total of 23/28)
Hay turns a loft into a cosy place
Feel free to take a closer look at Stefan’s caretaking program. After their paratyphoid treatment the young birds were also vaccinated against herpes and smallpox, and they were given a treatment against paramyxo as well. Darkening begins on 14 March (Stefan’s birthday) until 10 June, always from 6pm to 05:30am. The pigeons are also lightened from three weeks before Bourges II, always from 05:30am to 10:30pm. When they return home, they are given Deweerdt BS mixture, as well as Schroeder electrolytes, which are added to the water. Glutamin (Backs) and animal proteins (Schroeder) are added to the diet on Sunday, while their drinking bowl is disinfected with Javel tablets (Satva) of Belgavet on Mondays en Tuesdays. Condition tonic (Schroeder) is added to the drinking water and some condition powder and Omega Oil (Herbots) is added to the grains on Wednesdays. On Thursday, the pigeons are given pure water and pure grains.
The pigeons get Turbo Energy on Saturday and Sunday, Superstart on Monday and Tuesday morning, and Supervlieg on Tuesday evening and Wednesday. A 50% vlieg and 50% Turbo mixture is given on Wednesday evening, followed by Turbo on Thursday (in three different portions). The young birds train once a day (or twice a day during the holidays), for an hour and 15 minutes.
Valère's wing: notice the transition from the 6th to the 7th primary
Stefan took a risk and decided to place his Blauwe Valère in the breeding loft; it was an excellent move. You can read the full story behind Blauwe Valère in a previously published report - click here to reread it. Stefan's best young bird (the BE15-2185827) is another descendant (a great-grandchild) of Blauwe Valère. She has already won a 24/307 Momignies, a 5/183 Soissons, a 7/467 Soissons, a 4/369 Soissons, a 1/951 Soissons and a 5/446 Soissons. She originates from prize winners from her mother’s side as well: her great-grandfather is Kaasboer (BE98-6335690), who needs no introduction. Click here for the full pedigree.
What does the future hold in store? It is impossible to make any predictions but we can make a few guesses. We think that Stefan Machiels/Sabrina Brugmans will add a few more victories to their palmares in the next few years. Would anyone care to take a bet?