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  News > DeRijck_Meirlaen_D'Hondt_Leon

Louis Bellen, Johan Bleyen,
Vandyck-DeBeule, and
Gommaire Verbruggen --
Belgian Champions of 2011:
Bourges & Argenton

by Stefan Mertens


Click on any photo for larger version 

The Bellen Family

BE 11-5007170

Wing of the Bourges Winner

Louis Bellen's


Loksbergen: It has come this far, the national races for the youngsters are on the program.  In contrast with previous seasons, this year our young birds didn’t get the ideal preparation. Sometimes it was horrible. Even the week before Bourges, many fanciers had to gamble whether they would put in their youngsters or not.  But we all know that if you want to be on the result from Bourges, the pigeons have to get their kilometres, otherwise it could end badly.

For the organiser of the national race from Bourges, Entente Belge, it was waiting frightened till they knew how many young birds got into the baskets for the race. One day later, they could proudly announce that even more young pigeons got into the basket than last year.  In 2010, there were 30,742 youngsters.  In 2011 they had 31,641 youngsters. Again, proof that Bourges is a true classic in our sport.  Those who can write down the national Bourges with the youngsters on their prize-list write history.


We had to go to Loksbergen to congratulate the national winner with the youngsters: Louis Bellen. Louis is in a wheel chair, and because of his handicap, it’s not easy for him to get into the loft.  He gets a lot of help from his wife, Godelieve, and he wants to thank her for her care-taking.  Of course it’s still Louis who decides what has to be done in the loft, and Godelieve is his ideal assistant.

“You know what I like the most in the pigeon sport?” Louis starts. “Well, that someone like me can win an important race. You’re never lost as a small fancier against all the professionals. I think that’s fabulous. I have a limited installation with 12 widowers, 40 youngsters and nine breeding pairs. I succeeded very well with the pigeons of Paul Van Onckelen (Schaffen – Soontjes pigeons), Jos van Elveren (Glabbeek – Janssens pigeons) and Albert Bils (Miskom).

All birds have to breed early in winter. I’m not afraid to ring a young one of my widowers. My national winning hen was born in the box of a yearling.

I don’t have that many widowers but still I put in pigeons every week on the heavy middle distance. This year I already won 59 national Bourges and 51 national La Chatre with two brothers of the father of my national winning hen.


But let’s talk about the youngsters. As I already mentioned, I wean only 40 youngsters. When these are weaned for four days, they are put outside and they have to learn to be independent.  In this period, I put some garlic in the drinking water every day. In April, their first training flights are on the program and they mostly leave every week. I don’t listen too much to the weather reports otherwise we couldn’t put in any pigeon this season. At the beginning of the season for the youngsters, we also drive with them during the week but once the short distance has passed, we don’t drive any longer.

Louis: “The youngsters had the good condition because the last three weeks before Bourges, my name was always at the top of the result from Chimay, Orleans and Nevers. When I took my youngsters in the hand, the day of basketing, I had the impression that they hadn’t recovered enough from their last race and so this super result from Bourges was a complete surprise.

The young birds were darkened from the beginning of March till the end of June, and now they get some extra light every day from 5 a.m. till 7 a.m. and from 5 p.m. till 11 p.m. They can train twice a day and they are also fed twice a day. I use the mixtures of Anthoons, light at the beginning of the week and the last two days a richer mixture. The by-products I use are vitamins and sheep fat from Herbots.”


The national winning hen (B11-5007170) is well built but rather small. Before she scored that well from Bourges, she wasn’t one of the top-birds of the loft: 99 Reims 612 p. and 131 Nevers 781 p. But she left for Bourges very well motivated.

Louis: “Her steady partner stayed away from a flight and I noticed that she felt unhappy. So I decided to pair her with another young cock on a separate compartment and soon they fell in love. The day of basketing, she could spend the whole day long with her new partner but after a few hours, I put three other hens in the loft, which would have liked to spend some time with their cocks, too. The future winning hen didn’t agree, and she defended her box and her cock like crazy. No other young hen could get close to her new lover.  She left super motivated.  When she got home, I noticed that she didn’t forget about her rivals.”

Louis and Godelieve, congratulations!

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Johan Bleyen
with his winner


Wing of
Bleyen's winner

Eye of

Johan Bleyen's



Lommel: There’s no doubt about it that the loft of Johan Bleyen is the revelation of the 2011 season  at the heavy middle distance. It’s unbelievable what this man has done this year. Some of the top results are 1st and 2nd  zonal Bourges I  8,439 old, 1st  zonal Bourges I 6,043 yrl., 1st  and 4th provincial Argenton 1,259 yrl, 3rd  and 4th national Bourges  24,676 old, 2nd national La Chatre 15,870 old, 7th  national La Chatre 21,180 yrl.  Nice to know--the weekend before Bourges, Bleyen had already won 44 victories (including the doubles). Fabulous!

But we think that the result of last weekend is one of the most beautiful of the Bleyen colony. On one of the longest distances (505.878km) and at a speed of 1132.52 m/m, he left 12,608 yearlings behind! Let’s be honest--this is really great class, a result of which he can enjoy just that little bit more. The stage from Bourges with the yearlings was fulfilled by Dobbelaere Philip (Olsene – 1129.74 m/m) and Wils Albert (Mol – 1127.87 m/m).


Johan: “You can write down that I prefer the pure widowhood with the cocks. I don’t play with the hens and the game with the youngsters doesn’t interest me that much. In 1980, I started the sport but because I didn’t have enough free time, I couldn’t continue my favourite sport. At the beginning of 2001, I started for the second time, and I knew I could only succeed with pigeons of good quality.  So I decided to visit Jan Diels (Vorselaar), Gust Geentjens (Welcherderzande) and on the total auction of Heremans-Ceusters, I also bought 12 pigeons. From Jos Haesendockx I bought another six and the transfer of the six best racers of Jef Henrickx (Lommel) seemed to be a golden deal. These are the pigeons I score with.

Now I already had good pigeons, but the results weren’t that good. As far as I knew, I was convinced that my loft wasn’t ideal. That’s the reason I invited Reind Breman from Genemuiden over to have a look, and he advised me to cover my roof with “boomse pannen” (a kind of tails) and to install floor heating coupled to a hygrostat. After all of this was done, my results got much better.
When you see that the results of the pigeons become better, the fancier even wants to spend more time in his loft. Being the owner of the firm “Acro-bedding” with 18 people under my service, it wasn’t that easy to make the step, but my wife Veerle had the smart idea that she could take over at the firm, so I had more time to spend in my loft.  As you see, the results get better and better.

With a team of 36 widowers, 24 breeding pairs and 150 youngsters, I know how to fill my days. The widowers got paired in mid-January to raise a couple of youngsters.  Afterwards the widowhood started and there was no second pairing. I must say that this system has no negative effect on the moulting.  The pigeons had a perfect wing to leave for Bourges.

I prefer the food mixtures of Matador and I follow their schedule 100%. For medical advice I visit Dr. Norbert Peeters every two weeks.  I prefer to pay an extra visit than to give something without a reason. Already from the first weeks, my pigeons scored at the top and before Bourges, I treated them for the first time for the heads. I treated for three days with a product from Dr. Peeters, and I also prefer to use his by-products.


The national winner is a fabulous chequered cock (B10-5103145).  Before Bourges he did the following program: 2 x Momignies (155km), 2 x Soissons (255km), Nanteuil (294km), 3 x Pithiviers (405km), Bourges, Nanteuil, Chateauroux, 1 week rest, Argenton, 2 weeks rest, Orleans, 1 week rest and then Bourges.

He wasn’t specially motivated, as he always got to see his hen on the day of basketing. I often thought of using another trick, but I didn’t because I saw that the widowers liked to train for one hour or one and a half hours.  So the condition was obviously there.

The week of basketing for Bourges, the days were dark and moist and so I put on the floor heating and some extra light.”

Johan and Veerle, enjoy your victory and congratulations!

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Roger, Thilde,
and Maurice

Bourges old
birds winner

The eye of 2008732-09

Wing of

Vandyck-DeBeule lofts


Geetbets: The national race from Bourges cannot be marked as one of the easiest. The speed of the first pigeons already says enough. Bourges was “hard work.” Only those pigeons that had a super condition and that were super motivated could do the job.  One of those was the “Roger” of Vandyck-Debeule from Geetbest in the province of Flemish Brabant. With a speed of 1147.95 m/m, “Roger”(B09-2008732) was the fastest of all 54,010 Bourges racers. In the category of the old birds, he beat the pigeons of Guido Loockx (Tessenderlo – 1139.46m/m) and Speybroeck Roger (Vinkt – 1128.75 m/m).

First year of heavy middle distance

The duo Vandyck-Debeule is formed by Roger Vandyck and his wife Thilde Debeule, but we also must mention his steady partner Maurice Dewil. With the three of them, they take care of a colony of 70 widowers, 40 breeding pairs and 180 youngsters, so we can’t say it’s a small colony. When we heard this number of pigeons, we thought that Roger plays from the short distance till and with Barcelona but we were wrong.

Roger: “Can you believe that the season 2011 is the first we play the heavy middle distance. For years, we preferred the short and the middle distance. We played from the first till the last flight in all clubs we were allowed to participate. In 2010, we won 23 victories and this season already 18 first and 30 second prizes on our prize-list.

To be honest, the season 2011 was the baptism of fire on the heavy middle distance.  As it seems, our pigeons are capable of doing it too, because now we already won a national victory. Never thought that this would happen!

Our colony is based 70% on pigeons of Lambrechts-Lismont. Via Marcel Lismont we got some Gaby Vandenabeele (string “Wittenbuik”), Grondelaers etc. The other 30% are birds of Jos and Jules Engels, Jef Van Winkel, Willy Christiaens and some fancier friends.


We only play with widowers and our system is not the same as in most lofts. It already starts with the preparation. Our birds get paired early but instead of separating them after their first nest, they can start a second round. After they raise these youngsters, the widowhood starts. Here, we have the advantage that we have four youngsters of each widower, and so we soon know their value to breed with.  The only disadvantage is that they start to moult sooner. Most of them already are on five flights. Some aren’t that far and among these was our national winner. Very different is that our cocks don’t get to see their hens during the season, only their nest bowl.

Here we play with “fathers.” The only thing we do is, before basketing some hens walk in front of the compartment; about five hens to motivate 70 cocks. It all succeeds very well and we feel good about the system as fanciers. We do think it’s important that there’s a good relationship between the fancier and the birds. It’s no exception that I spend an hour in the loft of the widowers to observe them and play a bit with them.  The day of basketing, I never clean the boxes of the widowers. I always wait till just before basketing to do so and when the widower starts to fight with me, I put him into the basket. This is my way to motivate the pigeons and seems to be successful.

The care-taking

This is done like in most lofts. The medical guidance is done by Raf Herbots and also the by-products come from Herbots.  Every week I use 4-Oils, beer yeast and wheat germ oil (the last 2 days before basketing). All of this in combination with the tea I prepare myself with a lot of different herbs. Maybe it’s also interesting to mention that each pigeon gets into the basket with Vicks on their neck. Vicks works on the respiration and it keeps other pigeons away in the basket.

At the beginning of the week, the food is light (Super Diet) and later on the food gets richer (a mix of different kinds of sports mixtures). They all get their food together and as much as they want.


We put in two pigeons for this national race. I already noticed during the week, that my future national winner acted strange. He always wanted to fly into another box to fight. I don’t know why he suddenly acted so strange but it’s a fact that this was his motivation to leave the whole group behind. We saw him arrive straight out of the right direction and he fell on the shelf like an arrow out of a bow.

 2008732-09 “De Roger”
1 National Bourges 54,010 d. 466 km fastest (old + yearling + Young) Speed 1147 m/m
1 National Bourges 9,761 d. 466 km old 2011

3 Toury 108 b.                         380 km
4 Toury 100 b.                         380 km
5 Toury 45 b.                           380 km
26 Toury 156 b.                       380 km
29 Toury 291 b.                       380 km
41 Toury 313 b.                       380 km
45 Toury 246 b.                       380 km

17 Moulins 393 b.                               503 km
78 S.Nat 2.057 b.
66 La Chatre 666 b.                             537 km
244 Prov. 1.589 b.
751 Nat. 15.780 b.
79 Nevers 394 b.                                 456 km
92 Argenton 537 b.                              545 km
431 Iprov. 3.286 b.
1.771 Nat. Bourges 20.000 d.              466 km
Strain: Marcel Lismont

Roger, Thilde and Maurice, congratulations!


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"The Gust"





Wing of
"The Gust"




Verbruggen's lofts



Old love doesn’t rust …

At the end of the nineties, Gommaire Verbruggen was a specialist in the heavy middle distance races. He won several Interprovincial victories on the Centre & East races, but also earned top scores in the national classics from Bourges. Names like the “Teen,” the “Kletskop,” and the “020,” made the Verbruggen pigeon become the most wanted for the heavy middle distances. The demand was big and many fanciers succeeded with those birds even on the long-distance classic races. Gommaire was seduced and started to race the long distances like Barcelona.  His instinct as a professional made him become one of the best colonies of Belgium. Several times he scored at the top on a national level.  Even 1st  National Ace LD KBDB filled his list of honour.

Verbruggen stands for great class and professionalism. He knows what he’s doing and makes good plans, but he always keeps in mind the positive and the negative aspects. This can only be done by the greatest of our sport.

Now, a few years later, he chose to return to the heavy middle distance, because this is a very growing aspect of our sport.  These are the races many fanciers live for, and where they put in their best pigeons and try to score at the top. This is a perfect challenge, and we notice that the majority participate with their complete team. 

Of course, you need to do this with the best pigeons. Early on, Gommaire got the help of his good German friend Rolf Bender of Sinsheim/Hoffenheim. Bender still owns the old Verbruggen strain.  In 2002 he got a whole round with Gommaire. Already in the season of 2010, Verbruggen got about 100 youngsters from Bender and this season about 80. Among these, a valuable group of 2010 birds, and of course the national winner, the 2083023/11.

National winner is “The Gust,” a blue cock, which was motivated by the system of the sliding door. His preparation was: 61 Soissons 1221 p – 52 Nanteuil 649 p – 58 Nanteuil 836 p.  The weekend before Bourges, the pigeons returned from Pithiviers, so no participation to Bourges with the youngsters, but they did fly Nanteuil. The week before Bourges, the youngsters did Blois, a difficult race but here they had enough experience to score within the top of the national race from Argenton.

The origins of “Gust” :
Sire :  4030-07-627 – father Gust
Gr.S. 2214263/02  - original Verbruggen
G.gr.S. : 2061052/94 Top breeder, half-brother Sheena – son Teen x Sheena 
G.gr.D. 6214976/99, daughter Godfather 331/95 x 395/94
Gr.D.  2214259/02, Daughter Schone Blauwe – original Verbruggen
G.gr.S. 2061286/94, Schone Blauwe 020, father 1 S/Nat Chateauroux
G.gr.D. 2137037/01, daughter Sheena Kletskop 277/93 x 311 vd Witpende
Dam : 8978-04-1586 P. Trost
Gr.S. 8978-93-277 Son Olympiade Verona , top-racer with 1, 1, 3, 3, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, ..... out of Olympiade Verona x daughter Turly 
G.gr.S. 845725/96, Olympiade As 1 Nat. Ace 1990 - Olympiade Verona : 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 3 - 3 - 3 - ….
G.gr.D. 8978-91-68 Turly, string Jonge Artiest, Houben JLN
Gr.D.  8978-04-1489 pure Herbots
G.gr.S. 2378722/99, Herbots Brothers.  Grandson Nationaal I, out of son Nationaal I x daughter Musketier IV  ( 1 Nat Argenton)
G.gr.D. 2053634/93, Herbots Brothers, daughter Nationaal I  paired to daughter Hero 19 (19 x 1 – 1 Nat Argenton)

The system:

The youngsters are raced by the sliding door.  They were darkened from March till the middle of June (from 5:00 p.m. till 8:00 a.m.).  Then 4 x Momignies (120 km) – Soissons – 2 x Nanteuil.  Each loft has a little aviary in front so the birds have a lot of oxygen. Once the couples are paired well (at the beginning of July), the cocks and the hens are separated.  They only get together once a week, on the day of basketing for about an hour. According to Gommaire, this is more than enough.  They get the same mixture every day: a sportsmix supplemented with some extra fat and hemp.  After this race from Argenton, the season stops here for Verbruggen.  The birds have enough experience, and with the bad weather of the last weeks, the irresponsible releases and many losses of pigeons, he has no need to continue this year. And you can’t stop the season better than by winning a national victory!

Some top-results of 2011 :
14/05 Pithiviers 1373 Yrl. : 1, 9, 17, 18, 19, 20 ,21, 22, 28, 31, ….
280/5 Bourges I Prov 2,752 Yrl. : 2, 3, 12, 13, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26,  …
CFW 5,761 Yrl.: 5, 6, 23, 24, 33, 37, 40, 41, 43, 61, 63, 87, 90, …
18/06 La Châtre 
Prov 2,521 Yrl. :  4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 31, 44, 45, 54, 55, …
National  21,180 Yrl. : 9, 20, 21, 22, 23, 31, 74, …  (44/57)
02/07 Argenton I
Nat  C 4,979 Yrl. :  9, 12, 19, 26, 27, 44, 45, 54, 77, 82, 87, 90, 94, …
31/07 Nevers 883 Yrl. Prov. : 1, 7, 8, 9, 13, 33, …..
31/07 Nanteuil 649 Youngsters : 1, 5, 9, 10, 14, 17, 18, 22, …..
13/08 Argenton II
Nat : 20,383 Youngsters : 1, 20, 25, 33, 274, 332, 477, 628, 683, 840, 885, 1008, ….. (30/71)

Annie, Gommaire, congratulations !


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