The un-crowned King in the Belgium pigeon sport.
Not many champions in the pigeon sport have the courage to explain how their birds are fed and what they do with their pigeons to become every year one of the greatest champions. A journalist must never repeat things he hears of others but must give the readers, of his journal, the true facts as they are given to him. And must not write down fantastic stories which are worthless to his readers but must help the novices in the pigeon sport as much as possible so that he can improve his performances.
Underneath follows an article was given to us by Jules Ryckaert, a phenomenal champion, in his own words and will show how to manage the birds to perform better in the near future and many will accept this wise advice.
This is the method of Jules Ryckaert and is guaranteed to bring success.
It is no kids play to give a summing-up of my experience in the pigeon sport. My meaning is, not to give a boring scientific explanation, but through the medium of concrete facts about the formation of a strain, the management, the showing of the hens, before a race, etc...etc...
The racing of pigeons is sometimes the easiest and sometimes also the hardest of all sports. To succeed with them one must have pigeons from a good origin and be able to keep them in good health in a natural manner. All other things one can learn through years of experience. In the first place our aim must not be to make money out of the pigeon sport but keep the sport pure, in view of promoting and development of our pigeon sport. Amen.
Jules RYCKAERT Jean-Marie, Petra and Robert VERCAUTEREN.
1. The forming of the strain : One can only form a strean by breeding supper-pigeons, pigeons that are better and stronger than their parents and grand-parents.
To give an example : I bred my "Late Tiger" out of brother and sister. He was beter than his Sire which won 12 first prizes.
The "David" was bred by the "Bult" paired up to its own nest sister and the record shows what a fantastic racer it was. As a stock-bird it bred, when paired up to 6 different hens, first prize winners on all distances, i.e. 1st Arras 110 km. and also 1st Narbonne 877 km.
My best friend Jos. Symons warned me to make sure that the descendants had to be better, otherwise you go backward instead of reaching the top. By experience I have found out that not all pigeons are suitable for inbreeding. But if you can get hold of such a pigeon than the way is open for a strain forming of which is worthy to be called a SUPERSTRAIN.
On this manner I bred my "Snelle Fondduif" ( Fast Long Distance pigeon) which could win prizes from 100 km. but also from 800 and 900 km. Such pigeons one can send for several weeks to the races because they recover quicker from their exertions. The way I race my youngsters is as follows : The first few races I send them unpaired every other week from the beginning of June till the end of July from 100 upto 375 km. When they return from the race at the end of July, they are paired with old hens and race them every week, for example :
10-8 Argenton. . . . . . .525 km.
17-8 Arras . . . . . . . . .110 km.
24-8 Bourges . . . . . . .452 km.
31-8 Breteuil . . . . . . .190 km.
07-9 La Souterraine . . 561 km.
14-9 Arras or Breteuil. 190 km.
20-9 La Souterraine . . 561 km.
With success. Indeed, they thrive on it. In opposition to what is always thrust upon us, to save the youngsters. I must admit that my best old birds are always the ones that flew as youngsters more than 3.000 km.
As an example :
The "Tipsy" flew as a young bird 3.280 km. and won 8 prize from Argenton (525 km.) and the 7th prize from Angoulême (657 km.). As a yearling it won 1st prize from Châteauroux and again first from Angoulême and was 3rd in the natioanal. This pigeon never missed a prize upto Saint-Vincent (907 km.)
The "Bliksem" was also a super-pigeon. It won as a youngster two first prizes, after it had flown 2.700 km ., and won also : 1st Dourdan, 1st Argenton, 1st Narbonne.
The "Atoom" won as a young bird : 4th from Bourges 452 km., and 14th from La Souterraine and as a yearling 1st Bourges Prov. after this 1st from Vierzon 444 km. and 8 days later 7th Limoges 610 km.
I always give such pigeons the name of SNELLE FONDDUIVEN (FAST LONG DISTANCE PIGEONS), because they always fly at the front on all distances and in all weather circumstances.
2. Feeding : They always have the same feeding, consisting of about 15 % pulse (of many different kinds) and every day a handfull of small seed (a handfull for every 20 birds) and every week the self-prepared tea made out of 10 different kind of herbs, e.i. :
"The self-prepared tea"
250 gram. Straight leaf ferns - Tanacetum.
250 gram. Water cress - Myriophyllum.
250 gram. Rhubarb (Chinish) - Rheum officinale.
250 gram. Dead nettle (only the plant) - Hreb Lamium Album.
150 gram. Boldo leafs - Boldo.
150 gram. Dead nettle (only the flower) - Foli Lamium Album.
100 gram. Fraxines leaves - Frainus.
100 gram. Candular - Calendula.
250 gram. Borrago (only the flower) - Borrago.
100 gram. Mallows - Malva Foli.
Those herbs can be obtained from every Herbalist, the directions for preparing are as follows :
Fill a pan with 10 litres of water, boil it, once it boils add two soup-spoons of herbs, simmer for 15 min., pour through a piece of lace and delute till one has 10 liter again. When one gives this in the drinker every week for two days the birds will be in super-health, what can be noticed by the white powder on the feathers and on the beak. Give them also curly kale, summer and winter. In frosty weather when I can't obtain curly kale I give them grated carrots which they like very much. I will not maintain that this is the reason of my success, but in my opinion it plays an important roll. My pigeons are enslaved to it and will even eat it before they go into the basket.
3. Must one show the hen, yes or no ? As we speak about basketing, the first thing we ask ourselves is : If it is really necessary to show the hen.
The fanciers who have tried out this method, came to the conclusion that it makes no difference at either 100 or 900 km. in the results. The experience has learned me that not showing is the most advantageous method and also the easiest. Especially when the birds are participating every week in races. They don't become passionate and would not waste their strength in the basket through fighting with other cocks. It has naturally more influence in races were they are kept in the race pannier for a few days. It is the best method to bring them with all their strength to the race point and to higher their love for home when they return because they know that their hen is waiting for them and can stay with her to satisfy their urge. When one shows them the hen before they go to a race they become so cunning that they know it is only a game and that the hen is taken away as soon they are home.
My experience is not to show the hen. The disadvantage of showing the hen is : When the hen is not too passionate (which very often happens when the hen has laid an egg in the aviary), that the moral of the cock that is sent to a race that may turn out to be a hard one, is dropped to zero. But when he has not seen his hen he will nourish the hope of seeing his hen again.
These are some experiences and facts I have picked up during my more than 25 years in the pigeon sport and I always have made use of.
Don't think that I have no experience with other methods, I have tried many of them. I could go on and write a lot about the management and the feeding of the birds, but I hope that what I have written will help you on the road to success. If you will follow my advice I am sure success will be round the corner.
Wishing you a good racing season and much success is my best wish to all my fellow fanciers.
Left to the Right : Jules RYCKAERT, Jef SIMONS, Professor Alfons ANKER AND Raoul VERSTRAETE