Mathieu Westhof standing in front of his beautiful loft , Neeroeteren (BE)
Mathieu is an employee at the Fortis bank in Bree. His job responsibilities consist mainly of insurance and mortgage loans which implies that he also has to work outside the office hours. Mathieu is married and has two children who are nearly graduated as a nurse and an educator.
He started racing pigeons together with his late father who passed away when Mathieu was 17 years old. He continued to take care of the pigeons with his brother Jos, who was 12 years old at the time. Pigeon racing was nothing but an occupation, athletics was Mathieu’s main hobby back then: he achieved silver and bronze at the Belgian championships (800m and 1500m) and he was a member of the national team. He was clearly a high level athlete since he was also Belgian record holder in relay racing: 4x 800m and 4x 1500m. He was in the top 5 of Belgium of the above mentioned distances from 1980 till 1986. After he had suffered many years from his Achilles tendon, Mathieu decided to quit in 1988.
Switching to pigeon sport
He built his own loft with bricks in 1990. It was built on top of the garage where the Westhof family lives at present and he already started racing in 1991. Continuing to race in the lofts of his mother together with his brother was not compatible with his work and family. Mathieu and his brother Jos each started racing at their own residential address but they still breed pigeons together.
They kept about 8 pigeons of their father’s: the breeds: Harie Geraerts Neeroeteren, Vansweefelt-Vancluysen, a Janssen-hen through a Dutch colleague of their dad.
Furthermore, Mathieu and his brother got 2 very good hens of Harie Geraerts and they fetched a round of eggs at Staf Haex’s in Munsterbilzen who possesses the strains Vansweefelt-Grondelaers and Stoces. They also got some pigeons at Michel Colla’s in Munsterbilzen who possesses Stoces, Rijckaert- and Matterne- pigeons, a cock from Leo Vanreyten in Rotem. They also obtained a halfbrother of the 1st national ace pigeon middle distance 1988 of Roger Persoons at Staf Haex’s.
Mathieu could start right away with these pigeons. Later-on, they fetched other pigeons at Jaak and Peter Croimans and Jaak Claessens Neeroeteren, Vancraybex-Goffiongs in Munsterbilzen with success. Each year, they buy a coupon from a local well-performing fancier.
The main stress is on racing old pigeons and more in particular: racing cocks on widowhood. Young pigeons can go their way, he does not expect anything from them which is why their performances are mostly inferior.
They have to start performing as a yearling. The breeding loft is populated with 16 breeding couples. Inbreeding is not practised very often, it did work out for a couple of times but only a nephew and a niece.
Every year, the racing team consists of about 25 to 29 widowers and about hundred young pigeons are raised. However, a lot of them is lost in training races. Sometimes, Mathieu has just enough cocks at the end of the year to fill the loft.
The widowers are accommodated in 1 loft of 4 x 1.7m in which 29 nest boxes are installed. All of the pigeons are put together: speed as well as middle distance racers. Mathieu applies the simplest system: all pigeons leave together, come in together, they get a filled feed box and they share food boxes and water bowls. Mathieu barely cleans since he suffered from the much feared pigeon fanciers lung. He tries to stay in the lofts for as short as possible.
After Mathieu has released the old pigeons in the morning, he is off for work. The pigeons return to the loft when they want to. In the evening, they are free to train but the window stays closed for 1 hour after which it remains open until it grows dark allowing the birds to go in and out as they please. The young pigeons are released when Mathieu is back home at a reasonable time, otherwise they stay in. It does occur that the young birds are only released twice a week.
All the pigeons are coupled around November 27. Mathieu also breeds a round of youngsters out of the best widowers. Hens are taken away when the youngsters are 16 days old. They are coupled once again at the end of February, brood for about 5 days and are then raced on widowhood as from April 1 until August 8, after which they have the opportunity to raise a nest. To keep busy, some of the hens are raced until the end of September.
Before the cocks are basketed, the hens are released in the loft. Within 5 minutes, all the cocks are in the baskets. When they return from a race, they can stay with their hen until Mathieu comes back from the club.
Food and medical care
The pigeons receive a purification mixture on Sundays, they get a filled feed box of sports mixture on the other days of the week. Nettle tea with garlic oil and brewer’s yeast on Mondays and they also receive some vitamins once a week. Electrolytes after the race. Mathieu only treats the birds when they are not healthy and solely if the vet advises him to treat them. He gives the birds a 5-day-cure against tricho every two months.
1st National ace pigeon Speed KBDB 2006
In 2006, Mathieu obtained the 1st national ace pigeon speed with "de Rokko": 5150951-04 a dark scaled cock who really rushed home to his hen.
Results 2004 - 2nd series youngsters : 2 prizes out of 5 races with 1 x 5th
Results 2005 - 14 prizes out of 20 races with 2 x 3rd 8 x per 10
Results 2006 - 16 prizes out of 21 races 12 x per 30 (complete list of achievements goes with the picture)
In 2000 - 2nd national champion speed old pigeons
In 2002 - 12th national champion speed old pigeons
In 2006 he has achieved: 2nd provincial ace pigeon speed yearlings Limburg and 6th provincial champion yearlings as well as the provincial ace pigeon speed old pigeons.
1st national ace pigeon speed
1st provincial ace pigeon speed KBDB 2006
His grandfather on father’s side descended from a half brother of the national ace pigeon middle distance of Roger Persoons coupled with a hen of Harie Geraerts (Neeroeteren).
His grandmother on father’s side descended from my progenitor: 5072025-93, a blood line of Harie Geraerts, Staf Haex in Munsterbilzen and Leo Vanreyten in Rotem. The nest brother of this hen obtained a 1st prize for 9 times, a brother obtained 5 times a 1st prize, …
Moeder: she was a gift of Thieu Vliegen from Neeroeteren when he decided to stop racing a few years ago. Descent is unknown.
Results 2006 "Rokko"
Laon 1 - 363 pigeons
Chimay 1 - 333 pigeons
Laon 1 - 145 pigeons
Laon 1 - 131 pigeons
Mettet 2 - 339 pigeons
Laon 2 - 285 pigeons
Chimay 3 - 571 pigeons
Chimay 3 - 112 pigeons
Chimay 5 - 231 pigeons
Vervins 6 - 297 pigeons
Vervins 7 - 283 pigeons
Chimay 10 - 354 pigeons
Chimay 11- 225 pigeons
Mettet 24 - 241 pigeons
Chimay 33 - 254 pigeons
Chimay 41 - 420 pigeons
Mathieu’s brother Jos scooped the provincial ace pigeon speed with a nephew of Rokko in 1998. During the previous years, he was qualified every year in the provincial championships starting in 1994.
Mathieu participates in speed and middle distance racing. Stress is on middle distance racing. As far as this discipline is concerned, he has achieved several ace pigeons and super ace pigeons in large provincial combined play during the last couple of years.