Leo Heremans (Vorselaar, BE) awarded as First Nat. Champion Sprint Young Birds and winner of the First Nat. Ace Pigeon Sprint Young Birds KBDB 2012

He was the national champion at the sprint for young birds KBDB in 2010. He was the national champion sprint young birds KBDB and the first national Ace Pigeon Sprint Young Birds KBDB in 2012. How does he do it?

Leo and "Bolt", the First Nat. Ace Pigeon Sprint Young Birds KBDB 2012

A brief history

As with many fanciers, Leo got involved in the sport by coincidence. When Leo was still a beginner he obtained the last two pigeons from Paul Huysmans who was getting married and who had other plans for the future. One of these birds, Teentje, bred a young bird that won 14 prizes. From 1993 he raced together with Marcel Mols. They each picked one youngster from each nest. Marcel did Quievrain; Leo raced Noyon and the middle distance. They were first prov. Champion Middle Distance and third Prov. Champion Sprint. Unfortunately Leo was diagnosed with pigeon fancier’s lung and they decided to sell most of their birds. They only kept a small loft of 8 metres long (the loft on the picture above) in which 9 breeding pairs were housed. They soon noticed that the pigeons of Leo were excellent breeders: it did not take long before they had to build an additional loft. Unfortunately tragedy hit in 1997 with the death of Marcel. Ceusters decided to give Leo helping hand and they decided to join forces under the name Heremans-Ceusters.

In the meantime many fanciers had learned that the pigeons of Leo Heremans were very useful to reinforce your existing pigeon breed. Countless fanciers had already been successful with descendants of his pigeons Jan (6113220-02) and Olympiade (6455003-01). The Heremans-Ceusters pigeons were in high demand not only in Belgium but also abroad. Unfortunately it also attracted someone with bad intentions. In 2006 several excellent pigeons were stolen from their lofts. Another attempt was made to steal his hens as well but an attentive Leo managed to avoid the theft with the help of two young men. But the damage was done: Leo lost 20kg because of the stress. He quickly decided to sell all of his birds except for two pigeons.

They took a last round of eggs from their best pigeons before they were moved to the loft of Hugo Vermeerbergen. An additional round of youngsters was moved to this loft as well, because Hugo’s son-in-law was interested in becoming a fancier as well. The total auction took place in 2007. That same year Hugo told Leo that he had too many pigeons; he wanted to give some of them back to him. Leo initially declined: “You can take them back with you. I’m enjoying a life without stress now.” Eventually Hugo promised Leo to help him with the caretaking and Leo gave in. It transpired that Hugo’s son-in-law did not enjoy pigeon fancying after all, so these birds were sent back to Vorselaar as well.

Basis of the breed

Leo thought things through when he purchased new pigeons. All the pigeons in his lofts in Vorselaar are descendants of pigeons that have been breeding several generations of excellent birds. He has a collection of pigeons from Dirk Van Dyck (Zandhoven, BE), the Hasendonckx brothers (Grobbendonk, BE), Maurice Haesendonckx (Bouwel,BE) and Jan Diels (Vosselaar,BE). After a while he started purchasing pigeons from abroad as well with reinforcements from Koopman (NL) and Verkerk (NL). The purchase of his pigeon Olympiade was something special. Gust Jansen from Beerse (BE) had an excellent yearling in 2002, which had just been awarded as second Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB. Gust turned down a generous offer; he did not want to sell the bird. Leo decided to purchase a 50% Olympiade pigeon. He would stay in his breeding loft for one month and in Gust’s loft the next month and so on. The pigeon was awarded the title of Olympiad Pigeon shortly after. Several more fanciers made an offer but they both decided not to sell the pigeon. Nearly every successful pigeon in this loft originates from that bird.

Bolt (6123198/12)

The latest star in a series of superior descendants of Olympiade is Bolt. He won the title of first Nat. Ace Pigeon Sprint KBDB last season with the following results from Quievrain: 2/2707; 3/1881; 7/2507; 8/1701; 12/2131; 15/1914; 60/2838; 76/1276; 143/1566; 217/2183. Good pigeons breed good pigeons is a popular phrase among fanciers these days. Bolt is a textbook example. I give you an overview of some of the champions that were bred by his ancestors: Gebroken Poot: 1/2675 p. Quievrain; Olympiade: 2nd Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB '02, Olympiad Pigeon Liévin '02; Sprint: second Nat. Ace Pigeon Long Dist.; 6049374/02: 3rd Nat. Ace Pigeon Best of the Best; De Jan: First Ace Pigeon Ave Regina '02; Den 444: second Nat. Ace Pigeon Ave Regina '01. Click here to read the full pedigree of "Bolt".

A few tips

There is a lot to be learned from a champion like Leo. That is why we give you a few tips and tricks. Leo's pigeons are very calm in the hand. This is something he works on directly after weaning. In most lofts the youngsters are placed on the floor of their new loft; Leo brings them to their new loft together with their nest. They are not placed directly on the floor but on a wooden board at shoulder height. They can eat out of his hand; he can caress them and pick them up. They can go outside after 25 days, after which they are fed from a wooden board. The widowers are fed with a spoon; sometimes they eat five times from a single spoon. The young birds are kept in Leo’s favourite loft. This is where the 20 best looking young cocks are housed. Twelve of them are paired to an old hen after the second release from Quievrain. They are placed on widowhood after a maximum of five days of brooding. Jan, 444, Nieuwe Olympiade, Bolt, Olympic Sperwer and several other excellent birds started their careers from this loft. “This is what your pigeons need”, said Leo while pointing at his drinking bins. I could not see anything special about it, no matter how hard I tried. “Pure drinking water; that’s all a good sprint pigeons needs”.

The board where the young birds of Leo gather after weaning

The end

This is it. Leo does not feel comfortable anymore in his own loft: he has grown tired of having to drag baskets in and out of the loft and welcoming guests in the loft one day after another. The Heremans pigeon family ceases to exist. The sprint competition will be like a football world cup without the Brazilian squad: one of the strongest teams has abandoned the race.