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  News > Roger Desmet-Mathijs
  Roger Desmet-Mathijs:
Champion from a Long Tradition of Champions

by Stefan Mertens


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  for larger version



Roger Desmet-Matthijs
showing a champion

The pigeon sport
is a family tradition


The most famous
bird's name hangs
above the
stockbird loft

The "Klaren"

Some of Desmet- Matthijs' trophies

The Montauban team
from 1999

The Barcelona team
from 1999

Nokere: To rise to the top in the pigeon sport is a hard and difficult job, but to stay there for years is a harder job. Certainly this is the case when we are talking about top results on a national and especially an international level.

A fancier who succeeded very well in this job is without a doubt Desmet-Matthijs from Nokere. Father Valère and son Roger have put top results on paper for decades. This top loft has become known around the world in the pigeon sport. Personally, we were very interested how this strain of pigeons has been build up, because not only in their own loft but also in a lot of other lofts, the Desmet-Matthijs pigeons have been very successful. Here's the story.


Valère Desmet will go down in history as "the little farmer from Nokere." Toward the end of the 1930s, small farmers lived in hard circumstances. They had only some cows and pigs, and every month they had to carefully count their hard-earned money to make sure that there was enough food on the table. Valère worked not only on his own farm, but during the months of July, August and September, he also helped to harvest that which was sown in other fields. It was hard work from 4 o'clock in the morning till 8 o'clock in the evening. Luckily, Valère was not alone. In Marie Matthijs, he found the ideal wife and together they had four children. One of them is Roger (born in 1942) and the man who still puts the name Desmet-Matthijs at the top of the racing results.

The combination Desmet-Matthijs was formed soon after World War II, by Valère Desmet and his brother-in-law Jules Matthijs, who also lived on the farm with Valère and Marie. Valère didn't have a lot of money to buy pigeons, but Jules saved some money and he went to the best fanciers in the neighborhood to buy birds. He went to Gentiel Rensmans (Waregem). Gentiel had the famous Delombaerde pigeons, and from Jan Callens (Waregem) he was able to buy a couple of black birds from the same origin.

In 1946 the "Klaren" was born, and this was the beginning of a superb line of the Desmet-Matthijs birds. The "Klaren" was not a beautiful bird. A lot of fanciers who thought they knew everything selected the "Klaren" out. But Valère and Jules kept the "Klaren" because when he came home he was just like a stone that fell out of heaven. Unbelievable. Race after race, his "success-list" became more impressive, and in 1950 the "Klaren" won the 1st national from Chateauroux. In all, he won in six years' time 66 prizes representing 11 victories. More important was the race-money he won. In total "Klaren" won 500,000 old Belgian francs, and I can guarantee you that was a lot of money in those days.

Once in the breeding loft, the "Klaren" became the father of several top birds and lived to be 21 years old.

Meanwhile, the combination Desmet-Matthijs became the best loft in all of Belgium. Week after week, they put top results on paper. Of course there are always people of bad intent, and on a dark December evening, all the top widowers were stolen. At this time, the "Blesse" and four sons of the "Klaren" were stolen. The "Klaren" himself was not stolen because a few days before he had been moved to another loft to couple him.


But Valère Desmet knew what it meant to "fight back," and with the help of some friends they came back. The hens were not stolen, and therefore Jules and Valère searched for cocks. From Andre De Moor (Scheldewindeke), they bought two cocks, and from Remi Gadeyne (Hooglede) they bought two sons from his famous "Dokus." Daughters of the "Klaren" were coupled with top widowers from some friends. A blue cock from Gaby Verstraete (Balgerhoeke) through Gilbert Van de Weghe (Olsene) was coupled with a daughter of the "Klaren" and they gave "De Genaaide" and "De Rik," two nest brothers that flew extremely well.

The year 1954 was an extremely good breeding year for Desmet-Matthijs. Top birds like "Het Bleekske" from R. Van de Velde and the "Rosten Tanghe" from Robert Tanghe (Roeselare) came to Nokere to breed.

The "Klaren" was coupled to "Het Nootje" from Remi Spiers (Melden) and out of this coupling "De Schonen" was born. There was no end to this success story. The dominance of the combination Desmet-Matthijs was established for years.

In 1955 Jules married--at 40 years old--and he moved to Waregem. With him he took a round of youngbirds and he also raced very well. But unfortunately, his wife died and suddenly all of Jules' interest in the pigeon sport was gone. From that moment Valère Desmet made a racing partnership with his wife Marie Matthijs--a world-famous name.



"De Kapoen"

has an international

Special boxes
for the breeders

Inside a special
breeding box

The aviary for
the stockbirds

One of the
widowers' lofts
above the garage

Inside a
widowers' loft

The view from
a widowers' loft


More and more, Valère basketted for the long distance, and more and more he looked out for ideal crossing material that could win on the longer distances. "De Sproete," a son of the "Zwarte Band" from Oscar Devriendt from Moere, came to Nokere. "De Sproete" coupled with "De Dikke Blauwe" (from a daughter of "De Blesse" with a half-sister from the "Klaren") gave the unforgettable "Draaier" and the "Angoulemeduivin."

Valère Desmet had a nose for super pigeons. From Hector Desmet of Geraardsbergen he bought a daughter of his famous "Prins." Coupled with a son of the "Goede Zwarte," this hen gave him the world-famous "De Kapoen." "De Kapoen" won in 1964 the 1st national St. Vincent, which was a very hard race because only two pigeons came home the same day.

Thanks to the "strange" inbreeding, the Desmet-Matthijs pigeons become stronger and an international reputation was established. A lot of fanciers, even from China and Japan, came to Nokere to buy birds. The little farmer didn't need to work hard anymore to bring some meat to table. "Lucky" we would say, but at the same time those people stayed as they were.

But life can be hard. The national victory of St. Vincent was just celebrated when Valère suddenly became lame. His wife Marie had to make a very difficult choice, whether to sell all the birds, or going further with the help of their son Roger. The second option was the best and Roger, instructed by father Valère, did his best in the lofts. But father Valère died in 1968, causing son and mother to have to go on alone.

If the quality is in the lofts, the results and new successes come. Top birds like "Gendarm" (21 x 1st prize), "De Jempi," "De Mannix," and "De Poitiers" were the new stars. But mother Marie also became ill, and she died in September of 1973. Rogere married Marie Aelvoet in 1973, and together they put the name Desmet-Matthijs at the top of the racing results.

"De Bulte" was from 1977. His father was "De Nieuwe Notekraker," and his mother a daughter from the "Klaren II." "De Bulte" twice won 1st interprovincial Poitiers, 4th national (5th international) Narbonne, and 40th national St. Vincent. After his good performances, "De Bulte" went to the breeding loft and there he became a real top breeder. As an example, we can give you "De Edison" (4200601/90). "De Edison" won the first national Dax race against 3330 birds (2nd international against 12,880b.) and is a grandson of "De Bulte." But "De Edison" was also a very good breeder. A grandson of his--"De Lothar"(4528351/97)--won the 9th national Barcelona against 13,966b. and the 32nd international Barcelona against 28,095b.

The new stars of the 1980s were "De Lourdes" (9th international Lourdes), "De Limoges" (59th national Limoges), "De Cahors" (22nd national Cahors), and the "Urbanus" (23rd national Perpignan).

And it didn't stop with the top results. A nice example is the result of the national race from Dax in 1993. This race was won by "Edison" (1st prize) and directly followed by "Ekimov" (4th prize) and "Baffi" (41st prize).

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A wide-angle view
of the widowers' loft

Roger Desmet-Matthijs'
racing loft

preparing his supplements

The "Gullit"

The "Laudrup"


A look at


A look at


Roger was his whole life a postman. He did this job for 40 years, but on May 31, 1999, he did his last round. From one day to the next, he had more free time for the pigeons, and therefore the team became a little bit bigger. In total 85 widowers (55 old birds and 30 yearbirds) are standing ready.

Roger still has the system like in the old days. Youngbirds are just trained, and they get the time to grow out. Being patient with long-distance birds is a golden rule. As three-year-old birds, they're ready for the hard work, and as six-year-olds they can be transferred to the breeding loft.

Roger has a lot of lofts, and normally the whole loft is basketted for the same race. On March 1st the widowers are coupled. A youngster is bred, and after a second ten-day nesting period the cocks go on widowhood. Before a race, the hens are always shown, and when they come home the cocks and hens can stay together for a few hours.

The first days after arrival from a race, the widowers are fed very light (Versele-Laga Gerry Plus I.C.), and the last six meals they receive a mix from several racing mixtures (Superstar Plus I.C., Champion Plus I.C. and Versele-Laga Sport Extra). Roger likes a lot of mais (corn) in the mixture and not peas. Roger says, "My father said always 'Mais is pigeon food, and peas is horse food.'"

Roger consults with an avian vet, Dr. Wim Boddaert, on regular basis. On his advice a treatment against trichomonaisis or onithosis is given. For the rest, nothing special-a lot of tea and of course vitamins a few times during the week before basketting.


Are we talking about a new star in the breeding loft? If we look at the breeding results of this red cock, then we must certainly say "Yes." The "Gullit" won 153rd national Barcelona and was in 1999 the 5th best Barcelona pigeon over 5 years. The "Gullit" comes out of a grandson of "Oud Doffertje I" (strain VD Wegen ). A nice thing about the "Gullit" is that Roger didn't like that cock. Not that he is not nicely built, but the fact that he is a red cock was the cause. Roger says, "To be honest, if I would have lost him on one race or another I wouldn't have cared, but the more 'Gullit' was basketted the better his results."

But also in the breeding loft the "Gullit" is a top bird. Here some examples. A famous son of his is the "Laudrup" (4528428/97). "Laudrup" won in 1999 the 4th national Barcelona against 13,966 pigeons (also good for the 17th international against 28,095 birds). Another son of "Gullit" is "Petacchi." This cock won the 1st national San Sebastiaan. Another son of "Gullit" is "Red Bull" (45th national Bordeaux against more than 8,000 birds). And out of a sister of all these top birds, Roger bred the "Pozatto."

You see, it is not yet finished with the Desmet-Matthijs dynasty.

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