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  News > Luc Crucke
  Luc Crucke :
1st National Ace Pigeon KBDB
Great Middle Distance

by Stefan Mertens


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  for larger version

Luc Crucke

Outside Crucke's

Loft within
a loft




Inside the

Accordion door





Closed door

Asper: It must have been the second year that the KBDB differentiated between the small middle distance and the great middle distance. For the championship ace-pigeon great middle distance, you have to take the best four results, specifically on races between 350km and 600km. In total, you need 1800km and it must be in the period between May 13 and August 19. The winner of this championship in 2006 was Luc Crucke.

The winning bird, named "VIP," is a grizzle cock. He won with an extremely low coefficient of 0.2405%. His top results of 2006 are: 1st Chateauroux against 3,665b., 1st Bourges against 1,752b., 1st Orleans against 465b., 2nd Argenton against 4,104b., 3rd Chateauroux against 2,793 birds, 4th Blois against 1,245b., and 11th Chateauroux against 4,349b.

The "VIP" was bought as a young bird by Charles Van Lancker (Oudenaarde). His father is the B04-4063763 "Grijzen" and comes out of B03-4201126 (1st Argenton against 5,130b.) X "Vuilke" (B00-4351569). His mother is B00-4056976. She comes from the coupling B96-4055590 X B95-4056356. The "VIP" is already sold to a fancier in China. In the national championship "VIP" won over the birds of Louis Van Den Eynde (0.7752%) and André Charles (1.0072%).

Another top bird of Luc Crucke is without any doubt the "826"( B05-4113826). He became 3rd provincial ace-pigeon with the following results: 8th Argenton against 4,104 birds , 8th Chateauroux against 3,114 birds , 33rd Chateauroux against 4,349 birds - 19th Bourges against 1,752 birds - 9th Vierzon against 786 birds.


Luc explains, "I must have been 14 years old when I started racing pigeons. I still remember an old bathroom was standing empty and I decided to rebuild the 'littlest room of the house' into a pigeon loft and a new 'love' was born. A few years later I stopped racing pigeons and I started cycling, but at a certain moment I liked to go to discothèques more and this couldn't be combined with cycling. I had to choose and I chose the discothèques. So I could go out dancing with the result that the pigeon sport came back into my life."

"In 1970 I moved to Asper," Luc continues, "and I became the neighbour of Jules Van Caeneghem. Jules was the best short- and middle-distance racer in the area and I bought a lot of birds from him. When Jules died in 1984 I bought all his pigeons and the breeding out of his birds was very successful. With the line of the Van Caneghem birds I won in 1987 the 1st national La Souterraine. In 1988 I clocked the 1st international Dax and again a year later I became 2nd general champion of Belgium. In those days everybody gambled a lot on their birds and I could earn nice money with the pigeons. In October 1992 I sold everything. I had too many birds, the pigeon sport was no hobby anymore and a divorce forced me to make this decision more quickly. If I think about those days then I can say that I had very good birds. Pigeons like my "Orleans" were real dream birds."

"In 1996 I wanted to start again with pigeons," Luc goes on, "and here and there I bought some pigeons. Immediately I put nice results on paper, but I must say that in the last three or four years, I'm with the big champions again. The reason for this success is the help of my friend and loft manager René Van De Velde. The base is still my old strain, but this time enriched with blood from pigeons from Guido Van Caneghem (Merelbeke), Charles Van Lancker (Heurne), Gilbert Meire (Astene), Johan De Vroe (Merelbeke) and Lucien Verstraete (Deinze)."

Luc is a very nice guy with a nice view on "the meaning of life." Luc says, "I'm 56 years old, I have enough money, a nice wife and all my children are already out of the house. So, why worry? Enjoying life is the only thing that counts. In 2005 I won the national race from La Souterraine against 15,406 youngsters. I'm not a young bird specialist so normally I don't basket for this kind of race. But on basketting day I thought, why not baskett for La Souterraine? I went to the young bird loft and I took two hens with a youngster of three or four days old. I went to the club and my friends asked me what I was doing there. I answered, 'I wanted to go out and therefore I thought why not participate in the La Souterraine race?'"

"My friends laughed at me," Luc recalls. "Two days later it was me who was laughing! I only won one prize out of the two basketted youngsters but it was the 1st national. No, don't think that I'm a miracle man. No, this winning little blue hen (B05-4113825) was out of my best breeding pair. Before La Souterraine she had already won a few early prizes and her nest position must have been very motivating. The winning bird from La Souterraine has been sold to China, to the same fancier who bought the "VIP". By the way, her brother (B04-4201088) became in 2005 the 2nd national ace-pigeon great middle distance with the following top results (no doubling): 2nd Chateauroux 564b. - 6th Chateauroux 5,831b. - 49th Chateauroux 4,854b. - 13th Argenton 5,066b. - 1st Bourges 1,607b. - 1st Vierzon 719b. For the national ace-pigeon only the best four results counted."


Inside the
widowers' loft





A widower's box




Picking stones
and grit



Lots of corn
in the feeders




Crucke's preferred
wing type

The parents of the 2nd national ace-pigeon and the national winner from La Souterraine are the "4532502/00" X "4456901/01." The "502/00" comes from Guido Van Caeneghem. He was born out of a grandson and a daughter of the "Stijve" (the base-pigeon of Guido Van Caeneghem). The "Stijve" was coupled with a daughter of Luc's previously mentioned top bird, namely the "Orleans."


"This year it will be a special season," Luc muses. "It is true that the pigeons are sitting here at my workplace, but I'm going to stop working in a few years and so I have already put my youngsters at my new home address for the second year in a row. So in the coming season, I'll have only 33 old birds and no year birds. The year birds and young birds will be raced under the name of my wife (Mieke Van Parijs)."

Luc continues, "The old birds were coupled very early and before the hens could lay a second time, the hens and young birds were already separated. In the middle of March (this year it was the 12th) the hens came again into the loft and after a brood of eight days the cocks were placed on widowhood. I like to make the first training tosses when the cocks are brooding, and so I wait to couple when the weather conditions are good."

"After a few short-distance races," Luc explains, "I basket the whole group for some 300km races, and then they are basketted weekly for races between 400 and 600 km. Not so easy for widowers to do this, but those who cannot follow select themselves out. After a few years you have a well selected strain of pigeons which can compete weekly on this distance. What I do to be so successful? That is very hard to say. Maybe it sounds a little bit strange but I always say 'as a pigeon fancier you have it or you don't have it!' Why do some guys have the attention of all the beautiful women and other guys don't? Well, they have it and the others don't. Sometimes it is all hard to explain."

"Before the racing season starts, I make sure that all birds are in perfect condition," Luc says. "I do a treatment for tricho and vaccinate against paramyxo. This is all done. As I already said, during the racing season the widowers are basketted weekly. This means that they come home on Saturday afternoon, and on Thursday evening they go into the basket again. So not much time is left to do a lot. Here the pigeons get home made tea from Monday till Monday. This home made tea is my 'secret recipe.' Sorry that I cannot tell it to other fanciers but personally I received it from another fancier and I had to promise that I'll never tell it to anybody. Again, I'm sorry! One thing that I can mention is that I enrich the tea with honey. It's important that you put the honey in the tea when the tea has reached a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. If the temperature of the tea is higher than that, then all the good qualities of the honey are destroyed. So be careful about that."

"I feed a home-made mixture," Luc explains. "I would also like to keep this composition to myself. I have already had visits from several firms to commercialise my mixture, but I refuse to do this. I mix my mixture following my feelings… you understand what I want to say? Let's say that the last two races were very hard races. Well, then I feed totally different than when the pigeons had a very easy race. The base of the composition is the same, but when the races are hard, then they receive more proteins."

"Also when basketting day comes nearer," Luc continues, "I feed otherwise. Then I mix a lot of small seeds in the mixture. These seeds are very rich in fat, and pigeons like to eat them. Every day, and I mean every day, I put a protein mixture called SportsTech on the mixture. This is a protein mixture especially made for sportsmen. On the mixture, I first mix oil and then I mix the SportsTech (1 soupspoon per 10 pigeons). Also the oil mixture is again different. I don't put a commercialised oil mix on the mixture, but every day I mix a different oil on the grains which I buy in specialised shops. As a vitamin complex, I give a lot of Alvytil, which are vitamins made for children."

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Isn't he
looking nice?






Drinking in
the baskets





Crucial products

"Some fanciers say that motivation is very important," Luc explains, "well, I can tell you that here in Asper the motivation of the widowers is the same every week. The hens are sitting in an aviary and on basketting day I release the hens. Some girls fly directly to the widowers' loft. Others first make some tours around the loft and then enter the widowers' loft. When all the hens are outside, I take my basket, enter the widowers' loft and start to basket the cocks. So there is no fixed rule in this motivation. And now it comes: my best cock of 2005 (2nd national ace-pigeon) was always one of the first cocks basketted. The national ace-pigeon of 2006 was always the last one. So, again we have to say that in the case of luck, nobody understands it! When the cocks come home from the race, they stay together a few hours. When I come back from the club I put the hens away. I can say that they never stay a night together. I'm convinced that a widower starts to recuperate when the hen is away. He is not nervous anymore, and he starts to eat and drink again."

Of course when somebody has in two years time once the 1st and once the 2nd national ace-pigeon, people ask what the secret is to breed a top bird. Luc answers, "Well, I don't know. The 2nd national ace-pigeon was bred in my loft, and the 1st was bought. My 2nd national ace was a beauty in the hand. He was 'the' bird in the loft, a real top guy ! My first national ace was more a 'strange guy.' To be honest, if you had asked me in the beginning of the racing season to select out five cocks, he would have certainly been in that group of five birds. He was not my type of pigeon. So, who knows?"

Luc says, "To invest in new pigeons is always good to do, but I don't do it every year. Be careful. I never buy 'a bird' from a fancier. No, when I buy pigeons from somebody then I always buy a whole round. I'm convinced that pigeons have to adapt to their new environment and when you buy a whole round then you have already increased your chance to be successful. It is just my opinion."

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Two champions

One trophy



"The young bird season is not that important for me," Luc emphasizes. "The only thing that counts is that the youngsters get the needed experience. Therefore, they are always basketted for some middle-distance races. The youngsters are not darkened and are outside as much as possible. The whole year they stay together, and they can do what they want. The cocks that are still in the young bird loft at the end of the year go to the loft of the year birds. I don't care if they have won a single prize as a youngbird or not. As a year bird, they have to perform very well or they're selected out."

"Just one thing that I want to mention," Luc says in conclusion, "and that is that the big champions in the pigeon sport have to do more to support the beginners in our favourite hobby. Two years ago I gave 80 youngsters to the youth members of our province, and this was all for free. If a lot of top fanciers would do this, then a lot of young guys would have good birds quicker and wouldn't be so quickly disappointed in our sport."

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