Such a shame that the KBDB had overlooked an administrative error and that Danny Van Dyck was not given the recognition he deserved back in Ostend. The error had not been noticed until a report on the initial winner of the title was published. After a complaint against KBDB, Danny was eventually given the title he deserved… but he did not get his moment of glory! Danny has become one of many uncrowned kings, winning his title long after the actual game. Think of Andy Schleck, who was only recently named winner of the 2010 Tour de France thanks to the disqualification of the initial winner Alberto Contador, after a doping offence: roughly 50 pictograms (zero, zero, zero, etc.) of Clenbuterol were found in his blood samples. Both Andy Schleck and Danny Van Dyck appeared in a television programme, along with several fellow sufferers, in a report on the issue. What a shame, but there is no way back: things are what they are…
Coming from a real pigeon family
Danny lives in Pulle, in the region around Zandhoven, which became well-known in pigeon racing thanks to the Van Laer brothers. In Zandhoven, namesake and good friend (but not family) Dirk Van Dyck became world-famous with his legendary ‘Kannibaal’. Today, Danny Van Dyck and his neighbour Rik Hermans have both become one of the leading fanciers of Zandhoven! Anyone who asks a collegue or club member about Danny Van Dyck, would get the same answer: “He is unbeatable!” And when we take a closer look at his impressive list of achievements, there is no denying it. Danny rocketed to the top and took his place among the great. In 2008, he was 2° National Champion middle distance youngsters KBDB… In 2009, he won 1° Provincial and 3° National Champion middle distance youngsters KBDB, as well as 4°, 5°, 7° and 8° National Ace pigeon middle distance youngsters KBDB… And finally in 2010, Danny won 1° Ace Pigeon middle distance of Belgium in the West-European country cup. He delivers consistent performances, winning the national title 1° National Champion Middle distance youngsters KBDB and 5° National Ace pigeon small middle distance KBDB in 2011. Still, 2011 was not the easiest of seasons for Danny, given the numerous hard races in the middle distance for his youngsters. But a fancier who reaches national top-three in the middle distance, in no less than four years, could well be considered a “national top-fancier”!
Specialised in youngsters
Danny (40) is a down-to-earth fancier. In winter, there is hardly time or space for the pigeons, because of his day job: he leaves early in the morning (at 7:30) and returns home at about 5 o’clock. After work, he turns on the lights in the racing lofts for about five minutes, feeds them a little, and the lights go off again… Otherwise, the cocks would start to lose their feathers too quickly. But everything works fine, so he has no complaints! Luckily, he has a great neighbour: Rik Hermans. They both try to help each other whenever possible. But over the weekend, they are rivals battling for victory… In comparison to the racers, there is little difference with his 20 breeding couples, although the lights remain on over a longer period of time in the breeding lofts. The breeders lay their eggs slightly faster, but there is no significant difference in the way in which the youngsters are raised and trained. Danny is actually a “youngster-fancier”. He explains: “For 2012, I have 15 one-year-old cocks ready to fly, but in case their results are not satisfying… I would actually consider only playing with youngsters in the future… consider it an urge for ‘specialisation’!” About 100 youngsters are bred on a yearly basis, 65 are from the first round of the breeders and racers, with a second round from the racers only!
Already at the age of 11, Danny entered the world of pigeon racing with eight youngsters he obtained from his grandfather Richard Van Dyck. A sound start! As a teenager however (1990-’96), he took a few years off, losing his interest in pigeons. But when he moved to his new house in Pulle in 1998, he made his comeback… and how! His first pigeons were purchased from his neighbour Rene Smolders (which are present in his stock to this day), Sus Verlinden and a few pigeons from vouchers, plus some pigeons from Charel Minister. They made the first successes, but there were no real first prize-winners. This changed with the purchase of a cock from Johan Donckers in 2003, which was coupled to ‘Zwartje’ (co-winner of the Championship in Union Antwerp). Additional reinforcements came from Jos Cools, Eddy Janssens, Dirk van Dyck, Theo van Genechten and Rudi Diels. But Danny really hit the jackpot with pigeons from his neighbour Rik Hermans and his n° 1 pigeon breeder, Miel Van den Branden… these were birds with successful lines from Rik Hermans, such as ‘Beautifly’, daughter ‘Skippy’, sister ‘Charlene’, a brother and two direct children of ‘Asduifke’, a son ‘Munli’, a son ‘Jonge Samson’… and the ‘headhunter’ was of course a son of ‘Propere’, who would soon play a key role as the father of ‘Kanon’ and 'Nest brother Kanon’ (the grandfather of ‘Fiano’, see further!). They were an important addition to the talent that was already there, and allowed Danny to aim a bit higher. He made a rush to the top, and was to become one of the main fanciers at national level!
We have now summoned the key players of the moment, ‘Kanon’, ‘Nestbroer Kanon’ and ‘Fiona’! Let’s take a closer look at their achievements:
1° Belgian ace pigeon middle distance Europacup 2010 4° Nat. Ace pigeon middle distance youngsters KBDB 2009 1° Dourdan 1,245 p. 1° Dourdan 1,938 p. 1° Marne 3,040 p. 6° Dourdan 1,962 p. 23° Noyon 1,481 p. 35° Dourdan 1,747 p. 44° Dourdan 1,478 p. 65° Quiévrain 1,654 p. etc.
Already father of:
‘De 743/10’: 4° Ace pigeon Union Antwerpen ‘De 744/10’: 8° Ace pigeon Union Antwerpen
And grandfather of among others:
‘De 780/11’: 4° Ace Pigeon Belgian Master ‘De 774/11’: 1° Dourdan 2,305 p. ‘De 567/11’: 1° Ace pigeon Kempische Fondclub, Winner 1° Argenton (on the loft of Rik Hermans).
His descendant is of course worth noticing as well: family of several famous names and a true winning spirit:
Father: BE08-6269348 ‘Father Kanon’(a direct Rik Hermans-Miel Vd Branden)… as a son of the ‘Propere’ BE06-6212441, he is a brother of 47° nat. Bourges 9,021 p., and 132° nat. La Souterraine 13,469 p.
(a stock father from the lofts of Rik Hermans from the line of the stock couple ‘Jaarling’ x ‘Janssen’, crossed with an Eddy Janssens-pigeon) x ‘Fransien’ BE05-6445543, himself 1° Dourdan 831 one-year-olds (from topbreeder ‘Franske’, an inbred cock coming from Flor Vervoort, from 'Father Fieneke’ x the world-famous ‘Fieneke 5000’… coupled with a daughter of the stock couple ‘Jaarling’ x ‘Janssen’).
Mother: BE08-6297117 ‘Tam Zwartje’, super hen and herself 1° Ace pigeon middle distance Union Antwerpen 2008 and co-winner of 2° Nat Championship Small middle distance KBDB youngsters ’08… coming from the ‘Vechter’ BE03-6290114 of Johan Donckers x ‘Zwartje’ BE06-6370829, 5° Ace pigeon Union Antwerpen (which comes from a crossing Rene Smolders x Jos Cools).
-'Nest brother Kanon’ BE09-6323111
5° Nat. Ace pigeon Middle distance youngsters KBDB 2009 1° Dourdan 1,962 p. 3° Dourdan 1,747 p. 7° Dourdan 1,478 p. 32° Dourdan 806 p. 38° Dourdan 1,245 p. 49° Dourdan 2,644 p. 63° Quiévrain 1,654 p.
He is father of among others:
‘De 747/10’: 1° Melun 718 p., 6° Dourdan 1,875 p., 6° Noyon 1,265 p.
‘De 702/10’: 13° Melun 1,281 p., 13° Dourdan 1,610 p., 13° Dourdan 1,472 p., 13° Dourdan 1,482 p.
Furthermore, he is grandfather of the young top pigeon from 2011, super pigeon ‘Fiona’. This amazing bird performed as follows:
5° Nat. Ace pigeon Middle distance Youngsters KBDB 1° Ace pigeon middle distance Youngsters Union Antwerpen ZAV 2° Dourdan 2,305 p. (after loft companion) 6° Dourdan 2,698 p. 8° Dourdan 1,469 p. 31° Melun 2,013 p. 43° Dourdan 2,063 p. 117° Prov Orleans 4,877 p.
Father: BE08-6338583 ‘Nieuwe Zoon Di Caprio’(a direct Dirk Van Dyck)… talented son from supercrack ‘Di Caprio’ BE05-6045015, and winner of 1° Quiévrain 1,928 p., 1° Quiévrain 1,580 p., 1° Quiévrain 1,278 p., 3° Quiévrain 1,267 p., 3° Quiévrain 658 p., 8° Quiévrain 2,622 p., 10° Quiévrain 881 p., 12° Quiévrain 1,583 p. (a Heremans-Ceusters) x ‘Superke’ BE06-6210001 (daughter of ‘Son Kannibaal’ x ‘Daughter Bourges’).
Mother: BE10-6284748 ‘Daughter Nestbroer Kanon’… and full sister of ‘De 702/10’ and ‘De 747/10’ (see above)… she is hence the daughter of ‘Nest brother Kanon’ BE09-6323111 x ‘Asduifke’ BE06-6370820, himself 10° Ace pigeon Youngsters Union Antwerp 2006 (from ‘Blauwe Cools’ – Jos Cools x stock mother ‘Blauwke’, from a crossing of Rene Smolders x Eddy Janssens).
An interesting anecdote: the mother of ‘Fiona’ was gifted to his neighbour Rik Hermans via a voucher that he had bought. Rik opted for this wonderful daughter of ‘Nest brother Kanon’… she did not become a top pigeon in the races however, and when she did not come home for a few weeks after a disastrous flight, Rik asked Danny if he wanted her back. Danny said yes, and this beautiful bird was soon placed in the breeding loft… where she gave birth to ‘Fiona’! Danny knows the ropes…
If you take a look at the results above, it should not surprise you that ‘Kanon’ and ‘Nest brother Kanon’ are currently used for ‘stallion breeding’… they are a typical example for the strategy behind the build-up of Danny Van Dyck’s stock, in particular with the use of young top pigeons in the breeding lofts… the other birds go to the racing lofts, which could explain why his youngsters perform better than his old birds! Although it is also worth mentioning that he has a strong preference for playing with youngsters anyway. What is his approach?
System: the sliding door
As we mentioned earlier, about 100 birds are bred annually, and the early youngsters (+/- 65) are immediately put to the test. The second round is treated more leniently, and is primarily used to fill empty spaces in the first round. When the youngsters reach the age of six weeks, they get a treatment for ‘tricho’ for about five days. The early youngsters are darkened from the beginning of March (from 17:30 to 8 o’clock) until the end of May, and for the second round, darkening takes until the middle of June. But they are not lightened anymore. If the weather is nice in the middle of April, the training begins. Since Danny has a day job, he trains them in the weekends only; there is no time during the week. They are trained as much as possible, in about 10 stages of maximum 40km (Vilvoorde). Then, it is time for their first flights in the ‘big basket’, usually with about four sprint races, before entering the youngsters for the middle distance races, usually two times Quiévrain and two times Noyon. From that moment on, emphasis is on the middle distance… Once in a while, Danny would enter a pigeon for a ‘national’ race, but this is rather uncommon. So for a fancier with a day job, there is not much time for training during the week. However, this does not seem to have any influence on the performances!
Both sexes are usually kept together until after the first Quiévrain. Then, they are raced with the sliding door… over the entire season. In the lofts, a cozy atmosphere is created with tilted panels, wine crates turned upside down and with a small entrance, to have a few dark and tiny corners in which the pigeons can hide. Before the pigeons are basketed, they come together for about two hours, and after the flight they can enjoy each other’s company until the evening (for a difficult flight), or even until the next day (after a flight with delayed liberation).
For the training at home, Danny can count on his neighbour Rik. Already at 6 o’clock, the young hens are up in the sky, together with Rik's old hens. So Danny wakes up early: his hens should be back in the loft by 7:30, as he has to leave for work by then. Otherwise, the loft would remain open all day long, allowing unknown pigeons to enter, which is not without risk. Hence, Danny wants to have everything in place, and have his hens finish their training before going to work. At around 15:30, the cocks are trained: they are let out by his wife Nathalie, his daughter or his neighbour Rik. By the time Danny arrives home from work, he calls home his young stars, after which his widowers are trained. As we said before, the best pigeons quickly move to the breeding loft, further selection is based on a sharp knife! Danny believes that this is the only way to success!
Before the start of a middle distance race, the young pigeons are fine-tuned. In 2011, this included a five-day treatment with Soludox against head illnesses. After that, there were a few additional three-day treatments, especially after a number of hard races with lots of rain, which were numerous in the 2011 season. Upon arrival, the pigeons are fed with Belgasol and three meals of B.S. (Belgica De Weerd). Before being basketed, DextroTonic and Oropharma is added to their drinking water. And the pigeons are regularly fed with brewer's yeast and apple vinegar in the drinking water... in addition to a daily portion of fresh Grit, Vitamineral and Leckerstein. Their feed is a ‘Jovati mix’ of Ronny van Tilburg from Zondereigen.
In the end, Danny only keeps the pigeons that have won the major part of the prizes, minimum per ten. As a result, there willl never be a surplus of pigeons in the loft, but rather a select group of very talented pigeons, who can really make it! A fancier who reaches the national top-three on the middle distance in no less than four years time has the right to speak! His system proves to be successful, and his title of 1° National Champion Middle distance youngsters KBDB 2011 can be considered a true jewel in the crown! It is a turning point after many years of being at the top of pigeon racing! Congragulations Danny!