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  News > Belgian National Winners 2010

Belgian National Winners
K.B.D.B. 2010:
Montelimar, Chateauroux,
and Cahors,
Part 2

by Stefan Mertens


Click on any photo for larger version 

Etienne and
René Bourlard



Winner's loft





other lofts

1st  and 2nd  national Montélimar

Harveng : After the double victory of Christian Harchies from Bourges, category old pigeons, again a fancier has succeeded to put down a double victory. Montélimar had a participation of 7,187 old pigeons, and has been won brilliantly by René and son Etienne Bourlard from Harveng. Fanciers Bourlard are certainly not mayflies, because they already won 1st  national Limoges (2005),1st  national Orange hens (2005), 1st  national Cahors (2006)  and 1st  national Narbonne (2008).

“Just like last Saturday, on all the flights in which we clocked a national victory, the weather was very hot and hard. You could almost think that our pigeons achieve better in these weather conditions.” These are the first words of father René, and through his way of doing things, you can see that he is enjoying it very much. He continues, “It's easy to say now, but we expected a good result on Montélimar. The last week before basketing, the widowers liked to train so much, they would dive much better at the calling in, and they had more assertiveness than before. Why or how did this come? Personally, we think that the warm weather has been a big cause of that.


René and Etienne Bourlard are fanatic fanciers. Guys who know perfectly well what they want, and who are really focused on the long-distance races with old pigeons. They have a widowers team of 44 old widowers, 50 yearlings, 20 old hens and 25 yearling hens. Add to that 140 young pigeons and 30 breeding couples and you have the total pigeon holdings of the Bourlard family.

The strain of this colony is based in pigeons from Marc Roossen (Leernes – bought  a brother of the “Sinistré”, a brother of the “TicTac” and a brother of the “Marseille”), Gijselbrecht-Madeira (Ruiselede – especially the strain of the 1st  international Barcelona) and Yvon Deneufbourg (Estinnes ). As mentioned earlier, all of the focus is put on the game with the old pigeons. The young pigeons do only two or three short-distance races, and the yearling cocks and hens are played totally on celibacy. They do races from 350km till 700km, namely  Orleans, Bourges, Chateauroux, Limoges and Tulle. As an old pigeon, they get for the first time a pigeon of the other sex in their box, and then the serious game starts.

The 44 old widowers team, has been divided into five departments, and will be basketed every time by compartment. “This is perfect for working to a special flight,” Etienne tells us.  No winter breeding for the widowers, but “dry widowhood”, i.e., they can nest two times. The first coupling is on  March 6. Then they may nest on plastic eggs for 18 days. Then the plastic eggs will be taken away, and the hens may immediately lay again. Now they may nest three to a maximum of four days, and then the cocks go on widowhood.

The first learning flight is from 20 km and then it goes over the short distance to middle long distance and long distance. As an example, the team of Montélimar did the races of Soissons (120 km), Nanteuil (170 km), Orleans (315 km), Nanteuil (170 km) and Bourges (385 km).

From Bourges it went in the direction Montélimar, or in other words, three weeks of rest.
Etienne explains, “We give our widowers a lot of rest before they have to do their next job. Two weeks after a heavy race, they can look well-recovered on the outside, but it can't be 100% good on the inside, and the pigeons that can rest for three weeks are most of the time recovered enough. Saturday before basketing, they are trained at 30 km. Not in a group, but each one individually has to sprint home. Their hen is waiting at home, and after their home coming they may cuddle with their hen for a few minutes. Spicy detail--the national winner has done four hours to come home on this 30 km.” 

As mentioned earlier, there is in addition to the old widowers team, another team of 20 old hens. A part is put on Pau (on breeding) and Perpignan (on a youngster of two days), and the other part goes in the direction of Barcelona
(on a youngster of two days old).

For feeding, there is a mixture of sport on the menu. In the beginning, the feeding is done with a shaken spoon and a well-filled spoon when the basketing day comes near.  Medically, Etienne explains, “We follow the advice of  a specialized vet. What this means is that every month for three days they will be treated against trichomoniasis, and against ornithosis every week for two days. This happens always in consultation with the man in the white lab coat.”


René  says, “Our first Montélimar flyer, we didn't seen him coming. Suddenly he was flying above us. We knew that this was one of Montélimar birds, because from the other races, we didn't have any more pigeons left. Our second and third Montélimar flyers came straight out of the right direction. The memory of these race arrivals will stay with us from now on. In total, 12 widowers went direction Montélimar, and in the club we won 10 prizes.”

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Lefevre and Declerq

Loft of
Chateauroux winner


winner's wing

Head of the Chateauroux
national winner

Winner's pedigree

Vichte : Regarding the two national races from Chateauroux, which the KBDB considered promotion races, well we can easily say that the national president Pierre De Rijst and his team have made it.

These two national races from Chateauroux, turned into races with lots of pigeons, and brought some beautiful winners on stage. One of the winners who can be proud of his national victory from Chateauroux is the West-Fleming Christiaan Lefevre from Vichte.
Christiaan (55 years old, and active at the railways) is as they say in the pigeon environment, “a small fancier.”

He is a fancier that is limited by space and because of this, he’s forced to limit his pigeons to 17 widowers (11 old and six yearlings), 100 young pigeons, and 12 pairs of breeders. Small but nice, we notice, because in the strong long-distance locale in Rekkem, Christiaan Lefevre is a tough competitor against the established winners. He became champion long distance (1+2) in 2007, champion yearling long distance (1+2 ) in 2008 and champion old long distance 1+2 (2009).


In the past, Christiaan raced with his father Henri , but in 2002 he started again under his own name. With lots of careful attention, he has built a sturdy strain.  It is a strain that has a foundation of pigeons from father Henri ( strain Kamiel Van Wijnsberghe-Deinze, Baekelandts-Wevelgem and Staelens Lucien-Wevelgem ) and has been strengthened with pigeons from Wed. Duyvetter ( Olsene-ex national winner Brive ) and Kindt Gabriel (Ooigem ). Also, he breeds together with De Clercq-Vermeulen ( Deerlijk ). The National winner from Chatearoux, has been born out of this combination. 


In the beginning of December, the hens go on to the lofts, and the widowers may bring up a nest. Once the youngsters are 20 days old, baby and hen disappear to the young pigeon loft, and widowhood starts for the cocks. Christiaan explains, “In spring, the future widowers are paired up, but they may not breed anymore. Listen ...I act as follows. When I know that on Sunday they will do their first short-distance race, then the weekend before, the hens will be on half box. During the week that follows, vacation is taken, and the first learning flights are done. On Sunday, they race their first short-distance race, and when they come home, they are definitely on widowhood.”

He continues, “Normally, every 14 days, the widowers go into the basket. Only a disaster race or heavy races can get my program in trouble. The widowers are in two lofts, and are not raced by loft. For this reason, I feed all pigeons separately by spoon, and every pigeon has his own drinking pot. In the beginning of the week, I feed a shaken spoon and as basketting day comes closer I feed a well-filled spoon. At the arrival, electrolyte (Recup-Lyt)  are given, and besides that, I give the birds on a regular basis 4-Oils ( Herbots ), vitamins (Dr Lanneau), apple vinegar, elderberry syrup and garlic over the food.  A strict scheme, I don' have.  Most of the time I work by feeling.”

THE “998”

Or in other words, the national winner of Chatearoux. Christiaan says, “ Even though the view from my garden is limited when it comes to seeing the pigeons come home, this time I have noticed him from far away.  I must confess that he was not wrong one centimeter, and that he was still very fast. You could see immediately that this was an early pigeon.
For motivation, I didn't do anything special. Like always, before basketing he got his nest plate, and he could see his hen for two minutes. It's not very special.”

Congratulations, Christiaan !


1st national Cahors 8,622 old pigeons

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Patrick Houfflijn






1st national
Cahors winner






Head of
the 1st National Cahors winner






Wing of 1st National Cahors winner






Houfflijn's lofts






Widowers' loft

Wortegem-Petegem :
Anyone who saw their top result on Brive  was not surprised for a moment that this father-son combination won the national victory from Cahors, against 8,622 pigeons.  For those who missed it, on Brive there were national 16,813 old pigeons in the basket.  The loft Houfflijn won the : 7th ,14th, 40th, 51st, 71st, and 128th  national prizes! Pithy details--in this list, there are the first five nominated old pigeons.

Patrick reports,  “For Cahors, I left my first four arrived pigeons from Brive at home. I replaced them, with two Bourges flyers. My fifth pigeon from Brive went into the basket for Cahors as the second nominated pigeon, and this guy wins the 1st  national! By the way,  I clocked the nominated bird at 17h55min--good for the 91st  national.”


Since the age of 13, Patrick (now 61) has been in the pigeon loft every day. The first steps of his pigeon career were trial and error, and there was a lot of learning money to pay. But Patrick was very clever, and in the beginning of the eighties, he decided to practice the pigeon sport in a very different way. A more fanatical way.

Patrick took some savings out of the bank and went to Kluisbergen, to the well known middle-long-distance flyer Robert Willequet. There he bought the “Old Willequet” ( B 81-4090971 ) ...a beautiful cock, who in
Wortegem-Petegem put some toppers on the world. One of his most famous children is without any doubt the “Limoges” (B86-412078). This beautiful checker cock flew an impressive result list, with top results as the 1st  provincial Limoges 2,336 pigeons, 7th national Limoges 7,776 pigeons, 7th provincial Poitiers against 3,104 pigeons and so on.

When the Limoges got his box in the breeding loft, some hours later he has been coupled with “Geschulpte Witpenne” ( B86-4120478 ). This checker white type hen was a daughter of the  “Langen” ( B85-4233373 ). The “Langen” has won five prizes by the first 100 national, and had a lot of Pol Bostijn blood in his veins.

The mother of the “Geschulpte Wittepenne” was the “Oud Witje” (B78-3168576), a superb breeding mother and daughter of the 2nd  national ace pigeon long distance in1974. (strain Sonneville from Lauwe X V.D. Driessche from Otegem). Out of the pairing “Limoges” X “Geschulpte Wittepenne” , a lot of top pigeons were born, and the foundation for a new top colony has been made. Even now, five generations later, the pairing “Limoges” X “Geschelpte Wittepenne”  is still in many pedigrees of top pigeons.

But these pigeons wanted new blood, and a first investment had been made in 1996-1997 in Dentergem, by Gaby Vandenabeele. Children from the “Blauwe Fideel” (1st  national Brive, 1995), “De Ronker” (1st  national Limoges) and the “Turbo” went into the basket, direction Waregemseweg nr. 166.

 It was the deal of their lives, and the crossing with their old strain and the Willequet pigeons made the results from the Houfflijn pigeons go into the air like a comet. We can describe the strain 2010 as 25% Willequet, 70% Vandenabeele and 5% a mixture of pigeons from Remy Vandecaveye ( Waregem ), André Vaernewijck ( Waregem ), Ignace Pollet ( Beveren-Leie ), J. Lavigne ( Kortrijk ), Garré-VD Berghe ( Vichte ), Devos ( Deerlijk ) and Roger Desmet-Matthijs (Nokere). Especially the pigeons from the living legend Desmet-Matthijs (strain “ Gullit” ), brought a lot of power for the heavy long distance races, like St. Vincent and Barcelona.


Widowers enjoy a not luxurious but well-built wooden garden loft that was bought second-hand from André Van Steenkiste. In total, seven lofts are for 50 widowers (18 yearlings and 32 old pigeons). Three of these lofts have their entrance south-west, and four have their entrance south-east.  Now, to simplify work for the winter breeding, in one year, only the pigeons from the three south-east lofts are paired up early, and in the next year the pigeons from the south-west direction lofts are paired up early.

Patrick explains, “The reason why I do this is for two reasons. At first, I use the widowers as ‘replacement’ pairs for the eggs of my breeders, so that the breeders can immediately start their second round. Secondly, because the widowers are paired up at different periods, the top condition during the racing season comes at different times and that enables me to fly with the best during the whole racing season. The pigeons that don't breed early during the winter may breed a couple of youngsters after the racing season.

Regarding food, Patrick continues, “I use two kinds of sports mixtures (my own composition). The use of supplements is limited. At arrival, garlic-oil and Digestal (Oropharma) go over the food, and electrolytes go into the water. Sometimes, apple vinegar, but besides that, only pure water and pure food.”

On the medical scene, Patrick explains, “I let a friend who has a microscope examine the pigeons for trichomoniasis.  When he doesn't find anything, we don't treat. Against head diseases, I only treat when it is necessary. When the results are not good, we need to take action, but otherwise I have my own method.  I let my friend into the loft, and ask him to indicate the pigeons that went together. When he can't do this, I know that this is a good sign. After Brive, I asked him the same question, and when he was in the loft, he said, ‘They all have hens’ heads.  I can't indicate them.’ Then I knew enough!”

“SON EENSLAG” B06-4142749

Or in other words, the national winner from Cahors.  Patrick says, “His arrival has been one for the books. Not a centimeter wrong, and like an arrow from a bow, direction landing board,  not half a second delay.”   I ask if he was specially motivated.  Patrick says, “ No idea.  Before basketing, he has had his hen for 20 minutes, and that was it. So, we can't talk about a special motivation. Yes, a beautiful story. There is an unwritten law-- that a pigeon that through his first ‘pen’ , and that has ‘a small cutting’ , cannot perform very well. Well, my national winner has such ‘a small cutting’ from his first ‘pen.’ Gaby Vandenabeele couldn't believe it and came looking. As you see, nobody knows it in the pigeon sport!”

Patrick and Dimitri, congratulations again!  And now on to the next important points for the national championship. Because, after your second place in 2006, it would be very beautiful to be honored as the national winner.


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