The History of the Belgium Racing Pigeon : Hilaire & Erik Mencke - Geraardsbergen (BE)

The method of Hilaire & Erik Mencke , Geraardsbergen. Everybody knows the famous partnership Hilaire and Erik Mencke which have, with their spartan method, won the most glorieus successes. We have written on a previous page about those fantastic champions.
They have not raced pigeons very long but from the start they obtained some fantastic results. Their method, although a little rough, must be a good one, and showed that they were on the right track. It is worth to read and re-read what they write about their method.

Q. How do you préparé the stock- and race-birds for early breeding?
Are the future breeding pairs given any cures ? I f so, what cures and hen ?
A. We never breed early from our race-birds. What the stock-birds concerns, we have done that already for a few years.
Around l August they are paired up so that we can have some late youngsters. Once they are 14 days old, the hen is taken away to prevent her from laying again. Because the cock is given much as it can eat, it is no trouble for to bring up two youngsters on its own. The hens are kept in the aviary and are fed once a day on a moulting mixture. A fortnight before we pair them up the feeding is gradually increased .till the last week, when they are given, twice a day, a rearing mixture.
The last three days they can eat as much as they like from this mixture. We never give them any cures. The stock-cocks have an open loft, day and night, the aviary in which the hens are housed is open, but covered with wiremesh and is facing South East. Their stay in the open air gives them the strength to resist the attacks from parasites.

Q. When are the birds, that are intended for early breeding, paired up?
A. On l December. The pairs are, for a few hours locked up in their nest-boxes. Those that are given another nest-box than they had before, are gradually let out, taking care that their previous nest-box is dosed. Next day they are let out with the exception of a few.

Q. In case there is severe cold, during the early breeding period, do you heat the lof t or is straw brought into the loft ? Do the breedingpairs stay locked up in the loft or aviary during the breeding period ?
A. Straw is never used and hearing is only used, when the weather is very cold, for three days before they lay their eggs. This is done to improve the regular laying of the eggs. Once the eggs are laid, they are given, for the whole day, and every day, an open loft. We emphasLze: every day. Nothing can make us keep them in. What concerns hearing, they are abie to keep their own youngsters warm. When in summer the weather is warm they stop covering their youngsters when they are ample feathered, but in the winter it is a pleasure to sec how the parents cover their youngsters till they are abie to fend for themselves.

Q. How are the breeding pairs fed during the breeding period ?
A. During the breeding period they receive a commercial cleaningmixture. When they are feeding youngsters they are given a full troug containing the following mixture :
Maize, 35 ; Wheat, 15 ; Barley,10 ; English peas, 27 ; Clipped Oats, 5 ; Rice, 2 ; Milo, 2 ;Sunflower seed, l  and tares, 3 .
Take norice, there is only given fresh food, when everything is eaten.

Q. Do the early breeding pairs receive: Vegetaties, vitamins or ny disinfectant in the drinking water ?
A. They can find greens in the orchard and in the garden, were they walk around nearly the whole day.
Although I give them a full trough of grain the whole day, one stilt can find them roaming about in the garden. I don't give them any vitamin in the drinking water or on the grain. A disinfecring product is never given. The many pigeon fanciers which visit our lofts can bear witness to this.taken away and are placed into the widower loft and the hens stay with the youngsters.
From that moment, the cocks are only flying in the evening, when all other birds are kept in the loft. The cocks fly thus as widowers and their first race is on 15 June. The later bred youngsters have their first race on the 15th of June.

Q. In case you fly the young cocks on the widowhood method,hat are the proceedings ?
A. On the Saturday, from 3 upto 4 hours, the doors between the compartments are opened and they can mess about as much as they like. Once they are competing in races, they are sent every Sunday. A young cock, bom in '69 and flown the same way, won from 15 June to 7 September, in 14 races 14 prbzes. Sometimes, a cock that was placed in another loft was already paired up with another young hen. This sometimes proves to be an advantage, because when one opens the door between the two sections, it starts immediately to look for that hen. In any case, this is a good thing and must be made use of.

Q. Do you attach much value f o the state of the feathering from oung birds that have to compete in races ?
A. When the state of the feathering one can, if the bird is any good, expect some good results. With young birds one cannot look too much at the state of the feathering otherwise one cannot race them very far. Our best two youngsters in 1969 were two cocks, as we mentioned before.

Q. Do your youngster receive, during the racing season: Vitamins, egetables or any special grain ?
A. We know nothing about vitamins, they can find their greens in the garden. We mentioned the composirion, of our feeding, before.
They are fed twice a day and are given, in the evening, the commercial rearing mixture.
We don't use any tea or disinfectant.