From left to right: Jean-Marie, Kenny and Arnould Raets.
The 63 year old twin brothers Arnould and Jean-Marie have been doing really well in Limburg for many years now. And they had a great start to the the 2018 season as welll, with a fantastic result in the provincial race from Gien, claiming the following prizes against 4,615 old birds in the province: 1, 2, 135, 204, 253, 356, 466, 670, and 1019, or 9 out of 11 per 4. The first and second provincial were in fact their first and third nominated. The provincial winner is BE16-2249108 Strong Lady, and her sire is BE15-2253157, a direct son of stock sire Raket BE09-5078794, the fastest of 23,834 pigeons from Orleans in 2012. The dam of Strong Lady is BE14-2068856, which is also the dam of 't Vaal Kartouchke (1st National C Bourges 2017). This provincial first prize was an excellent start for Strong Lady, and she continued to deliver throughout the season, eventually becoming 1st National Ace Pigeon shorter middle distance old birds.
‘Strong Lady’: 1st National Ace Pigeon shorter middle distance old birds
The parents of 'Strong Lady':
And yet it almost went wrong for Strong Lady. Arnould explains: "She was getting so many great results that I became a bit overconfident. I decided to basket her for the provincial race from Chevrainvilliers on 30th of June, despite the grim weather forecast. And she did not even need another top result. The race was rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday but even then the weather was still too bad. The birds were transferred to Hannut, a few tens of kilometres away from here. They were released only at 6:10pm, and two of our birds failed to get home. Strong Lady was one of them unfortunately, along with 'Sourdora 789' (BE14-2114789). Together they had come in first and second in the provincial race from Gien just over a month earlier. Luckily enough they came through on Monday morning, and our sigh of relief could be heard from miles away I think."
Caretaking and origins
Jean-Marie and Arnould, both retired, leave nothing to chance when it comes to caretaking. With Kenny being responsible for the administrative side of things, Jean-Marie and Arnould clean the lofts twice every single day. "It is pretty much a fulltime job. Everything has to be in perfect order. This is one of our priorities, as is our monthly visit to veterinary surgeon Vincent Schroeder. We rarely run into problems, and we would like to stick with our approach. We have a minor adeno virus outbreak among the young birds every season, and a few one eye cold infections as well, which sometimes tend to linger on."
As far as pedigrees go, team Raets is particularly satisfied with their pigeons from some old Antwerp based bloodlines, including Gaby Vandenabeele, Marcel Wouters, Albert Derwa, Davy Tournelle, and Rik Hermans, as well as from some local players.
Looking after their pigeon breed is a fulltime job for twin brothers Jean-Marie and Arnould.
The breeders are paired in early December; all racing birds are paired in mid-January. Arnould explains: "The racing birds raise 1 youngsters and they do not get paired afterwards. We race both the cocks and the hens but not in total widowhood. Selection is based on the results; all old and one year old birds need to have at least 7 prizes per 10 to get a spot in the team. And several birds have been winning prizes per 100 regularly as well. The more demanding the weather conditions are, the better our birds perform. That could explain why 2018 has been such a great success."
During our interview we would often wander off and talk about 'Strong Lady' BE16-2249108, which is not a surprise. She did fairly well in her year of birth (2016), or at least well enough to become one of the team's future favourites. As a one year old she won 9 prizes per 10, and 2018 was clearly her breakthrough season.
Take a closer look at the results of 'Strong Lady' in 2017 and 2018 here:
|Date of race||Release site||Prize||#pigeons||Distance||Coeff|
Prizes: 10 - Number of races: 10 - prize percentage.: 100,00% - Points: 0,00 - Coeff.: 4,90 - prizes/km: 3026,924