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|News > Petra Van Den Broeck and Willy Van Houtte|
Petra Van Den
this report we have done a double interview. This time we sat around
the table with Petra Van Den Broeck (Denderleeuw) and Willy
Van Houtte (Wevelgem). Petra Van Den Broeck was in 2006 first general
provincial champion KBDB East-Flanders. Willy Van Houtte was named first
general provincial champion KBDB 2006 West-Flanders. Both titles are not
so easy to win because East-Flanders counts 10,000 fanciers and West-Flanders
about 7000 fanciers. This is combined with the fact that you have to classify
yourself in different categories starting from the short to the long distance,
and this with old-, year- and old birds. This is easier said than done
and as we're always looking for the best racers we were curious to know
these two fanciers better.
The first fancier we spoke with is Willy Van Houtte. Willy is a well-known name in Belgium. He's been a top fancier for years-in the last seven years he was five times general provincial champion. We must say that a lot of fanciers have already been very successful with the pigeons from Willy. The other name-Petra Van Den Broeck-is a new name for us. When we went to Denderleeuw we thought we would have a discussion with a very nice lady, but we were wrong. I'm not saying that Petra isn't a nice woman, but we didn't have a pigeon discussion. We spoke with her husband Geert Minner. For this reason, we will mention the name of Geert Minner further in this report and not that of his wife Petra.
Question : Can you introduce yourself? How and when did you start in our favourite sport? Can you name the strains of pigeons with which you're successful?
Geert Minner: "Although I have a very busy job and don't have a lot of free time for the birds, I can say that I'm a very fanatical fancier. Since my 19th year, I have raced pigeons. Nobody in the family had pigeons, and on a certain day I came home with two pigeons which I got as a present from Andre Van De Velde. The two youngsters were put into a little loft, and the first time that I basketted the two youngsters they both won prizes. Immediately, I was hooked on the pigeon sport. But as a young fellow, I also liked the discothèques with the result that pigeon sport came in second place. No panic, though. My father Albert decided to race pigeons, and so the contact with my favourite hobby continued. After a few years, I started with pigeons again, this time together with my brother. But a few years later, I moved to this house, and I started under the name of Petra Van Den Broeck. The biggest part of my colony is based on pigeons from local fanciers, and these are my father Albert Minner (30%), Coosemans Raymond (10%), Willy De Cremer (30%) and the rest is a mix of pigeons from Geerinckx Luc and Bart and my friend Cortvriendt Bruno."
Willy Van Houtte: "I'm 70 years old and have been a pigeon fancier for 40 years. I was a postman, and on my tour I had a lot of pigeon fanciers. One was a real top fancier and that was Roger Van Neste. To be honest, Roger is the best fancier I ever met. Roger was prepared to launch me as a new fancier but before he would give me my first pigeons I had to be his loft manager for one year. I had to learn handling pigeons and from Roger I learned that racing pigeons was not just basketting pigeons, but there's a lot more. Still today I'm grateful to my late friend."
"The first year that I raced youngsters, I immediately became the local champion (in those days a club with 400 fanciers)," Willy continues. "The pigeons from Roger Van Neste were based on crossings from pigeons from Desmet-Matthijs (Nokere), Maurice Verheye, Andre Vanbruaene (Lauwe), Stael-Van Daele (Ostend) and Bekaert-Ghijsen (Aalbeke). The second year that I was a fancier, without realizing it, I made a golden deal by purchasing pigeons by Martha De Simpelaere (Wevelgem). Other successful purchases were from Decroix Brothers (Rumbeke), Maurice Verheye, Verfaillieagier (Wevelgem), Remy De Mey (Booischot), Marcel De Meester (Ingelmunster), Hilde and Antoon Reynaert (Passendale) and Dedeyne Andre (Halluin). One thing that I want to mention is that I was always lucky to have one or more very good breeding pairs."
Question : Can you tell something more about your system with old bird? How do you feed, when do you give medication, etc.?
Willy Van Houtte:
"I prefer to race with widowers. Every year I have 28 cocks and beginning
on the first weekend of April, they see the inside of a basket. Once
May comes, they go to races further than Paris. Widowers are basketted
weekly. If you want to be successful with widowers, then you need to
be punctual. Punctual in feeding, punctual in training, punctual in
everything! I have a fixed feeding schedule. The feeding goes from light
to heavy and from less to more. Personally, I like to work with a Super
Diet and a widowers' mixture. I prefer the mixtures from Versele-Laga.
For supplements, I give on Tuesday Colombine Garlic Oil with Colombine
B-Pure (brewer's yeast), on Wednesday Omniform Oropharma (liquid vitamins)
and the day before basketting Dextrotonic Oropharma (liquid electrolytes).
On basketting day there is pure water in the drinker."
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Willy Van Houtte: "Every year I breed around 100 youngsters. The
youngsters are raced following two systems. The first group is a team
of 12 young cocks. These are coupled at the beginning of May with old
hens, and after five days of nesting they are raced on widowhood. These
12 cocks are darkened from the end of March until the end of May from
6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. They're raced on widowhood until the end of
July. The other youngsters stay together and can do what they want. Those
youngsters are not darkened, and of course they moult quicker than the
darkened youngsters. For the nestbirds, I have one rule. They may nest,
but I don't allow them to have youngsters before July 1st .
Question: Do you do something special during the moulting season?
Geert Minner: "The moulting period is a very important period. Here, fanciers say that during the moulting period the prizes for the next year are won. This sounds ridiculous but there's a certain truth to this. First of all, I make sure that the pigeons are 100% healthy. In the first place, they have to be free of trichomoniasis. Second, I give a five-day treatment with Parastop (Dr De Weerd). I also give a lot of Colombine Tea and Colombine Moulting Seeds, which I enrich with honey. Now and then I change the tea, substituting Biochol in the drinker. And then something special-I am very satisfied with this mixture, and is the following. When I give the Colombine Tea, I put some buttermilk on the mixture. You've read it correctly-buttermilk. The normal commercial buttermilk is what I put on the mixture. I leave it for 30 minutes, and then I feed it to the birds. Of course they must get used to eating that."
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Willy Van Houtte:
"After the racing season, I let the widowers come into the nest, and
they may breed a couple of youngsters. This is good to stimulate the
moult but also good to relax after a very stressful season. After this
breeding, the widowers go in the direction of the aviary. There they
get a moulting mix and each day freshly made Colombine Tea with Colombine
Moulting Seeds. When they're in the aviary, the lofts are cleaned very
well and disinfected with the product called Dettol."
Charles Siegel and Son Inc.