Debaene Hubert - Beernem (BE) Top fancier from Belgium

The village of Beernem lies close to the highway to the Belgian coast. Once a year I hop of this highway to have a look at the most beautiful and perhaps even the biggest pigeon loft of Belgium and perhaps even further. The proud owner of this loft is Hubert Debaene.

He is a very friendly man with a big heart for pigeon racing in general and particularly for his own pigeons. His sons continue his business and Hubert is fully enjoying everything that has to do with pigeons. I’m only just wandering around his lofts when he sees me and gives me a friendly welcome. With great pride he tells me his story, a sequence with a lot of successes.

The wonderful year 2009 of Hubert Debaene
With several local wins in no less than 8 national flights, provincial wins on flights from Barcelona and Orange, 3 national top ten places and 7 places in the top twenty (nationally)
1e Fondclub Brive 679km with ‘Casanova’: 07-3048548 71e National against 17.456 p
1e Fondclub Cahors 749km with ‘Little Magic’ : 06-3041814  7e National against 7.347 p
1e Fondclub Orange 786km with ‘Skydiver’ : 07-3048614  18e National against 5.237 p
1e Fondclub Barcelona 1089km with ‘Poker Face’ : 06-3041865 3e National against 13.503 p
1e Fondclub Tarbes 914km with ‘Art’ : 04-3133746 en 5e National against 4.812 p
1e Fondclub Narbonne 888km with ‘Marathon Man’: 06-3041789  15e National against 7.156 p
1e Fondclub Argenton I 520km with ‘Benji-Boy’: 08-3150220
1e Fondclub Argenton II 520km with ‘Lady Gaga’: 09-3104162

Since 2008, Hubert Debaene is, also due to the impulse of his sons, mainly concentrating on the national and international flights. It has to be said: ever since, his achievements have improved enormously.
‘That is correct’ Hubert says, ‘I send pigeons to every national flights. But don’t forget that if I would have sent only 2 pigeons on every flight, I will have had victories on Brive, Cahors, Tarbes and Narbonne, with also two top ten places in the national flight results.
‘I’m afraid I will have to become very old before experiencing another season like this. I’m well aware of that.’
 ‘Gradually we getting the results from our well selected breeding loft”, he continues. “We now know which breed is able to perform and which isn’t”. Once you can breed with pigeons that have proved to be able to perform and that are mostly linked by blood to each other, it can go very fast. On every national flight I can send pigeons of which I can expect to compete with the best pigeons in the race. These pigeons I complete with a couple of two-year old pigeons that still have to prove themselves. That makes a successful team”

‘We play with the majority of our yearling cocks on widowhood‘, without them seeing any hens. Only in the evening they have a little bit of exercise, because they are not very keen on coming back on their lofts. They get the program of the young pigeons presented and they finish the season with the national flights from Bourges and Argenton. When they are two-year-olds, they enter the loft of the widowers and from then on, they have to prove themselves.
Of course, they can’t always win every flight, but we think it is important they show pieces of their talent. Eventually, when they turn three years old, these pigeons really have to perform on the big flights.

We started this system in 2006 and we don’t think it is a coincidence that three super pigeons of 2009 come from these late widowers.
‘Little Magic’:06-3041814 (7e National Cahors 2009 and  86e National Limoges 95e  National Narbonne 2008)
‘Marathon Man’: 06-3041789 (15e National Narbonne 2009, 187e National Cahors 2009 and 85e national Limoges and 13e National Narbonne 2008)
‘Poker Face’: 06-3041865  with 3rd Nationaal Barcelona 13.503 p in 2009 and last year top on Bourges and Barcelona.
One should ask himself, with reason, whether this is the best system for long distance pigeons or not: little training for young pigeons during the summer, introducing the yearlings with the national flights. Only when they turn two years old they have to pass their long distance flight exam, so they can perform in their third year. As you can see, patience is in order.

The early youngsters, on the other hand, are not spared during their upbringing: the lofts are darkened in the early season and every youngster, cock or hen, are sent to every national flight on the calendar: Bourges, Argenton and La Souterraine. However, the cocks and the hens are not sitting together during this period. Their lofts are separated with sliding doors.
Because we always still have our team of late widowers as a secret weapon, we are able to test our early youngsters very intense. The advantage of this method is you can discover good young breeding couples in an early stage. If these youngster do not perform anymore in their further flying career, we still have the knowledge that they can go to the breeding loft.
From the experience we have with this system, we can conclude that the early youngsters to not have any disadvantages. Because not only Casanova’: 07-3048548 (1e Brive in 2009,  71e national 17.456 p), ‘Skydiver’: 07-3048614 (1e Provincial Orange 2009 and 18e national 5.237 p) and ‘Benji-Boy’:  08-3150220 (1e Argenton I YL 497 p in 2009 and  1e La Souterraine against 316 p in 2008) were early youngsters that were sent on the three big national flights.
Hubert’s son John intervenes: ‘If I look at the background of some of our best pigeons the past two seasons, we already discovered several pigeons that can aim high in the national flight results, around the 20th place. ‘However you put it, that’s what it is all about. 99% of the pigeons will never have the abilities to achieve those kinds of performances in that kind of flights and then again, some blessed few do.
‘Our main challenge now consists of becoming an even better team with a larger foundation. We already have those select few that can perform at the highest level, but we need more pigeons that can perform in a constant level. Via selected breeding and in-breeding this is possible, but also through regularly trying out new mixtures among our breeding couples.
‘ And exactly in that breeding process, I try to take control (without saying that I have more knowledge than my father or anyone else)’, John says. “My father still has the final word when it comes to the widower’s loft. But I try to have a little bit more control over the breeding loft. I have read al the theoretical background books of Professor Anker and Steven van Breemen. So I’m allowed to test out every new breeding theory I come up with. Eventually, the only thing that really matters is the result of those theories. It is not always the knowledge that matters; you also have to have a big amount of luck. Some couples match and some don’t.
Basic pairs and top racers
The top couple  is the cock  ‘Artiest-Junior’: 95-3014231 x hen ‘Elona’: 96-3313037.‘Artiest-Junior’ is halbrother of  ‘Jari’ : 92-3115222  2e National Ace pigeon  Fond KBDB in ’95  and ‘Elona’ is a daughter of  ‘Artiest-Barcelona’ : 90-3368746 direct Noël Peiren from Zedelgem who won  4th International Barcelona in ’93. ‘Artiest-Junior’ was bred from  Peiren cock X last daughter of basic cock ‘De Schicht’: 78-3305263.
These are the parents of  ‘Art’ : 04-3133746 with  5e National Tarbes 4.812 p and 12e international  12.849 p in 2009. But he also won  1e interprovincial Souillac 1.291p in 2007, 42e National Souillac 6475 d in 2006 and 45e national Narbonne 6.801 d  in 2008.
‘Zus Art’: 00-3279579 is mother of  ‘Rebel’ : 02-3210133 1e national Montauban Zone A and  5e national 7303 p in 2005.
‘Foxtrot’: 97-3287727, a full brother of  ‘Art’ , is father of  ‘Casanova’: 07-3048548 1e fondclub from  Brive against  406 p in 2009 and  71e national Brive against  17.456p but also from  the hen  ‘Domino’: 06-3041632 1e provincial , 2e national in sector A from La Souterraine against 4909 p as youngster. ‘Rubenilson’: 05-3145180 (won 1e  fondclub Orange in 2008 , 69e  nationaal against 4587 p), another son is  ‘Foxtrot’, father of  ‘Lady Gaga’: 09-3104162 1e Fondclub Argenton against 407 p in 2009, 10e Provincial 2.631 p.
Than I go to  ‘Marathon Man’: 06-3041789 : 1e Fondclub Narbonne , 15e National Narbonne 7.156 p in 2009 at 1300 m/m but also  13e National Narbonne 6.801 p in 2008 at 986 m/m, clocked at  22h11 after more than 15 hours flying. Before also  85e National Limoges Derby 6.016 p in 2008.
Now we see the first inbred pigeons appear: Father of  ‘Marathon Man’ is again ‘Artiest-Junior’ but this time mated to  ‘Inbred Elona- hen’ from  ‘Elona’ with her son and super racer ‘Black Jack’: 00-3225279 (from ‘Zwarte Paanoog Tee’ x ‘Elona’).
This is how the theories of Professor Anker are tested in reality: ‘Split the two pigeons of a super breeding couple apart. Practice intense in-breeding on one or both of them. Bring the results of this in-breeding process back together. There is a lot of chance that this turns out to be a very efficient new breeding couple.
It is, however, not a coincidence that the cock from the famous in-breeding of ‘Elona’ x ‘Black Jack’ met name ‘Inbred Elona’: 03-3180573 is the father of  ‘Little Magic’: 06-3041814 1e Fondclub Cahors , 7e National Cahors against 7.347 p in 2009, but also from  7e interprovincial Souillac 1.377 p in 2007 and 86e national Limoges Derby 6.016  and  95e national Narbonne 6.801 p in 2008.
The mother of  ‘Little Magic’ is a daughter of  ‘Zwarte Monsieur’, another basic cock and father of ‘Rebel’ : 02-3210133 1e national Montauban Sector A , 5e national 7303 p in 2005 matched to  ‘Zus Art’, daughter of  ‘Artiest-Junior’ x ‘Elona’.
‘Skydiver’: 07-3048614 1e Fondclub Orange , 18e national Orange  5.237 p is also from the same breeding lines.. Father  is ‘Zoon Calimero’ , grandson of  ‘Zwarte Monsieur’ and mother is ‘Daughter Lion King’: 03-3180571.
‘Lion King’: 93-3300750 is half-brother of  ‘Artiest-Junior ’and  ‘Jari’  and won  1st prizes himself from Limoges and Montauban (17e National Limoges 9222 p in ’95 en 75e National Montauban 4743 p in ’96 )

The best pigeon of  2009 is:
‘Poker Face’ : 06-3041865 which won on THE MOST IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL RACE OF THE YEAR:
1e Fondclub Barcelona 254 pigeons
1e Provincial Barcelona  1.953 pigeons half an our before the second price
1e Both Flanders Barcelona 1.716 pigeons
3e National Barcelona  13.503 pigeons
7e International Barcelona 27.669 pigeons On top of that, Poker Face was the First cock in the international flight results. Therefore it is very interesting to have a closer look at the genetically background of this super pigeon.
Father  is ‘Brother Manolo’: 02-3210590 , a late youngster of the year 2002 that broke both his legs during a training flight, but was kept anyway because his genetically background was excellent.
Grandfather is  ‘Toontje’: NL 98-9863829, direct Lucie and Antoon van der Wegen from ‘Donkere Barcelona’: NL 87-8791944 who won  6x Perpignan and 3x Barcelona .  ‘Toontje’ NL 98-9863829 became father of 3 Barcelona-pigeons on the loft Debaene:
‘Zwarte Marathon’: 00-3225012 : 119e National Barcelona 11.806 p in 2003 and 126e National Barcelona 12.245 p in 2004.
‘Adelaar’: 00-3225098: 160e national Barcelona 11.806 p in 2003, 439e national Barcelona 12.245p in 2004, 1784e national Barcelona 12.998 p in 2005 and 511e national Barcelona 11.802 p in 2006.
‘Manolo’: 02-3210475 won 3 times on Barcelona p.e. 2007. National Barcelona 12.998d in 2005.
Grandmother of  ‘Poker Face’ is  ‘Victoria’: 00-3225090 won 4e semi-national Bordeaux youngsters  in 2000 and is sister of  14e national St-Vincent 4.222 p in 2002 and  98. International Perpignan YL 4.205 p in ’02.
She is direct from ‘Schone Cendré’ (direct Emiel Denys) x ‘Lucinde’ NL 98-9863808, again a direct Lucie and Antoon van der Wegen pigeon.
Mother of  ‘Poker Face’ is ‘Blauwbonte Perpignan’: 04-3235797, she was bought from the loft of Gerard Latruwe from Ruddervoorde. She comes from a couple of half-brother x half-sister, both from ‘De Perpignan’: NL83-8310766 again from Lucie and Antoon van der Wegen from Steenbergen. An in-breeding couple that was put together by Gerard on the explicit demand of John .
John says: ‘Gerard Latruwe was responsible for several big victories a couple of years ago (such as 2e national champion very long distance KBDB + 2e Primus Inter Pares BBC + 2 provincial wins from Perpignan), almost every time with descendants from that Perpignan’ NL 83-8310766 from van der Wegen That same Perpignan’ NL 83-8310766 did also win 6 consecutive Barcelona flights. As a 7-year old he also got 7th international price from Perpignan against 10.444 participating pigeons. I had also remembered that Perpignan’ NL 83-8310766 was the grandfather of ‘Vliegenier’: NL 88-0881338 (3rd National Barcelona against 7767 participating pigeons and 6th international Barcelona against 26807 participating pigeons in 1994).  I also knew that Gerard bought several pigeons from Lucie and Antoon van der Wegen. In 2004 he still had 3 direct children from that super breeder. I went to talk to him with the following proposition: a mixture of half-brother x half-sister. He agreed with that proposition, with the known consequences.
I don’t believe that in-breeding is no good, provided you do it properly of course.
Because if you cannot start from pigeons of extraordinary quality, you don’t have to start with it. You go backwards instead of forwards.

As said before, ‘Poker Face’ came out of the team of the widower’s en he was raised in 2007 (the season of the bird flu). The final flight of his season 2007 was the interprovincial flight from Souillac. As a two-year-old he was put the widowers loft for the first time. He immediately proved himself as a super pigeon: 9th against 350 pigeons and 316th against 19.084 pigeons on the national flight from Bourges.
With these performances he had proved himself in 2007. This year he started his campaign again with the flight from Bourges, then Tours with as goal the international flight from Barcelona.
Hubert goes on: ‘Never have we seen a pigeon come home from an overnight flight like ‘Poker Face’ from the international flight Barcelona. Normally he is a very calm pigeon. He often just lies in his dovecote; nevertheless he is the boss of his loft. He is a rather big cock, but remarkably light. Another very big advantage of this pigeon is his intelligence: in the preparation flights of 2008 and 2009 he was always one of the first pigeons to arrive back home from flights with a distance like 300 to 450km. There is an enormous potential in this pigeon and as a breeding fancier it is an honour to be able to breed with a pigeon like that. On top of that both parents are relatively young and I think it won’t be the last super pigeon that came from that breeding couple.’

‘I have to say’, Hubert goes on, ‘that top prices and the price for the best pigeon of the season are more important to us than whatever championship. If these first prices in championships come in addition to the individual prices, that is a nice bonus. Regarding this, I always remembered the words of Antoon van der Wegen when we went to get our pigeons ‘Toontje’ and ‘Lucinde’ in 1998.  That season, Antoon was crowned as ‘emperor of the long distance flights’ of the ZLU. Something Lucie and Antoon  also achieved this year. When we congratulated him with this achievement he wasn’t very pleased. ‘Listen very carefully tot this’, Antoon said, ‘and remember it well: Champions are made, but top prices are flown by the real champions. Do not pay to much attention to champions, because if you take other flights for this championship, there will be another winner. Pay more attention to the prices a pigeon has flown. You can congratulate me with that…’’

‘Let us be honest’, Hubert says, ‘If we are able to confirm our results from last year, I will be very pleased. However, that is exactly what I said last year. You never know what the future will bring. 2008 wasn’t a bad year either, with 20 pigeons in the top 100 nationally, 2nd national from St – Vincent, 6 pigeons in the top 100 from national Narbonne (where only 4 pigeons got an average speed of over 1000m/m… That’s when I thought that 2009 could hardly become any better, but look now:  

1st provincial, 3rd national and 7th international Barcelona. 5th National and 12th international Tarbes. 7th national Cahors, 12th national Limoges Derby, 15th national and 18th international Narbonne. 1st provincial and 18th national Orange and all this in just one season. To repeat this performance next year, almost undoable…
‘Perhaps’, John intervenes, ‘but we will at least try. One year can always be a little bit better or a little bit less good than the previous, but in general we have to keep our performances on a high level, otherwise we are not dealing well with our breeding program and then I’m the one to blame and no one else.
With the 8 provincial winners in the last few years and some parents of these pigeons on the breeding loft... There have to come more super pigeons. If not in the first generation, then perhaps in the next one, or the one after that…
From our ‘Artiest – Junior’ and ‘Elona’ there are, without any exaggeration, at least 30 direct children on our breeding loft. From one, the other or both pigeons. These pigeons, coupled to other top cocks and top hens. Normally some top pigeons have to be the result of this selection. Because if we have learned anything from our breeding program the past few years, it is that we can have a lot of faith in our breeding pigeons.
And of course, we keep our eyes open for other very good pigeons in the region. If you take a look at the flight results from the very have Marseille international 2008: From as well the pigeon ‘Pantani’ (Arendonk) as the pigeon ‘Bonga’ (Brecht), we have some descendants on trial on our breeding loft. And you can be sure that we will succeed eventually.

Thank you, gentlemen for this interesting conversation. Until the next big victory, because you are very close to that so heavily wanted big international victory.