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|News > Antoine Degraeve|
|Waarschoot: We have already known him
for about 10 years, the very personable Antoine Degraeve from Waarschoot.
Not only through our professional life, but also as a pigeon fancier,
we have learned to appreciate Antoine very much. There in Waarschoot and
more specifically in Oostmoer nr.109, the pigeon sport is practiced like
in the good old days. Short distance, and especially the races from Clermont
and Arras, are preferred and already for the past ten years, it has been
very hard to beat the birds of our new Belgian champion. When Antoine
is standing at the basketting table, nine times out of ten he wins the
first prize or a lot of top prizes, and then it's more than normal that
the clubs in his area don't like to see him come...
A few years ago, there was a new club formed, in fact a cooperation between six existing clubs. The result was that from the first season on, every short distance racer in and around Waarschoot could race against a lot of birds. Due to this, we have been expecting the name Antoine Degraeve to appear quickly in the national and provincial championships, but we never saw his name.
When we asked him about this, Antoine answered: "Oh, my friend… I will tell you like it is. Normally I would not send in for all these championships, but the man who bought my ace-bird did it in my name.
So a few weeks ago, I was walking with a gold medal around my neck during the national celebration days. I must say that it's a very special feeling-it makes you wipe a tear away. But you want to know something more? Normally I was also the 1st national champion sprint (to win with the 1st and 2nd nominated bird on eight races), but the man who bought my birds never asked for the other results and therefore I didn't send them in. But to be honest, next year I will certainly be more attentive to see if I will be well classified for a provincial or national championship, because I enjoyed this too much and now I have this taste for more."
DEBAERE x LEGIEST x MATTHEEUWS
Antoine became a pigeon fancier at the side of his father Irené. He explains, "My father was a real pigeon wizard. How many 1st prizes he clocked in his life … it is not possible to count. The pigeons with which he was so successful were like we say 'birds from everywhere.' You know, in those days everybody was a pigeon fancier. There were lofts from door to door. Nobody bought or sold a bird, no… everybody was helping everybody. If you were short a hen, no problem… your neighbour will give you one. Due to this everybody was having birds from everybody."
"At our home," Antoine continues, "we have always been dealing in cattle food, grains and food for small animals. On a certain day we got a visit from the firm Debaere and the representative of that firm was the well known pigeon fancier August Debaere from Nokere. My dad and I were very honored that such a famous pigeon fancier was visiting us. Within no time, we spoke about pigeons instead of the range of feed he was selling. 'Listen,' said August Debaere, 'start to sell our pigeon corn and as a thank you, you may come and pick out some youngsters.' The deal was made immediately, and during the years that followed a lot of youngsters and eggs were transferred from Nokere to Waarschoot. Those Debaere birds were real top birds, and although they were long-distance birds they performed very well on the short distance. But our best Debaere stock bird was received in an unexpected moment. I still remember it like it was yesterday."
Antoine explains, "I went with the truck to Nokere, and when I arrived at the factory of Debaere, a car with a license plate from the Netherlands drove away. I saw August and I joked with him, 'You sold some youngsters-your day has started well.' 'Yes,' answered August, 'but they didn't buy the best one. I will get it for you… you can have it as a gift.' August was away for a few moments, and he returned with a "not so nice" youngster. 'It is a hen out of my "Plastron,"' he said. 'Good luck with it.' I was very proud and I went home with a youngster out of the "Plastron."
When I came home,
I immediately told my story and showed the youngster to my dad. My father
looked at me and said, 'If we have to breed out of such birds, then
we go two steps backwards instead of forwards, but let's try. We'll
put this youngster in the aviary and within a few months we'll have
a look at it again.' A few months later, we took the daughter of the
"Plastron" again in the hand, but this daughter turned out to be a son.
My father was not convinced about the qualities of this bird, but I
convinced him to give it a try in the breeding loft. Lucky that we did
this because he became the best breeder that we ever had in our loft!"
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as simple as possible," Antoine says. "This means that the hen is always
shown before basketting and after arrival of the cock they stay together
for about 30 minutes. The longer the season, the longer they stay together.
Widowers in top condition need to or are obliged to train hard. Hard
training means at least twice a day for 45 minutes. It is not necessary
that they're away for 30 minutes, but when they land on the roof I want
them to fly up again. Just like there's a lot of electricity on the
roof. While they train, the windows of the lofts are closed, and as
soon as I open them I want the birds to enter the loft immediately."
"The fact that the pigeons enter the loft very well is very important
for me," Antoine explains, "because I don't clock my pigeons electronically.
So when the pigeons arrive from a race I still have to run to the loft,
because I'm always joining the fanciers who're watching the birds to
come home, and then clock the pigeon. The fact that I don't clock the
birds electronically also has some advantages. This year I had four
very good widowers. When you saw one, the others were not always far
away. Thanks to the manual clocking I could clock the pigeons which
I wanted to be clocked first, first. You understand what I mean. If
I had two or more pigeons together, then I clocked my ace-bird always
first, because winning the 1st against 300 birds or winning the 3rd
against 300 birds can make a big difference in coefficient at the end
of the season."
Hereby the "234" had a coefficient of 2.86% over 8 races. This was
extraordinarily better than the 2nd and 3rd nominated which are Marc
Capelle (Baudour, 4.14%) and Ivan Vanloffelt (Diepenbeek, 4.31%).
Charles Siegel and Son Inc.
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