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  News > Andre & Patrick Desmet
  Andre and Patrick Desmet:
1st National Champion
KBDB Long Distance

by Stefan Mertens


Click on any photo
  for larger version

Andre, Madeleine,
and Patrick Desmet

Inside the
breeding loft



Grit for the

Mixtures for the

Aviary for the

Hens in their

Patrick in the
hens' area

Good contact
with the birds

Inside the
youngbird loft

The youngbirds
look very well

on straw

Semmerzake: With fanciers Andre and Patrick Desmet from Semmerzake, the KBDB definitely has as Belgian champion long distance a world name, without any argument. I'm sure that you have already read somewhere other reports about the base and results of this loft. But if you have never heard of these fanciers and you have your doubts about the quality of this top loft, then I will convince you with following performances. From 1990 through 2005 419 first prizes were clocked-all carefully counted. If we take only the provincial results, then we find the name Desmet 524 times back in the first 10 provincial prizes, and among these were 74 times the 1st provincial. And then, there are the national races. Also since 1990, Andre and Patrick won 434 prizes that were among the 50 first prizes in the national races, and among these, they were 13 times the first national and 12 times the 2nd national. Unbelievable but true!

And then the season 2005…. Again, it was a superb one. They counted 23 first prizes during this season, and the most beautiful thing that can happen to a fancier came true, namely winning 1st national champion in their favourite category: the long distance. To win this national championship, you have to take the best three results with the 1st and 2nd nominated birds, and these can be chosen out of the following national long distance races: Brive, Montélimar, Cahors, Montauban, Orange, Limoges and Souillac.


We'll go back to the middle fifties (1955). Andre was responsible for buildings everywhere in Belgium, and therefore he was away from home during the whole week. If he wanted to race pigeons, his lovely wife Madeleine had to be more than just a helping hand. Luckily for Andre, Madeleine was a born top fancier.

Andre says: " On a certain very sunny day we had basketted our whole team for a race from St Denis (240km). There was a very famous reporter here to watch the birds coming home and we were lucky that the birds came home one after the other. It was all blue birds, but the fact that the sun was shining on them gave them the colour of vaal. [Editor's note: the Belgians call silver-colored birds "vaal."] One day later the reporter wrote in the newspaper that he had never seen such an arrival of birds… it was just like a train that was arriving in the station and he used as title the "Vale trein" (translated : the Vale train). From that moment, everybody thought that we had a lot of vale birds but that was a big misunderstanding."

The base of the Desmet colony was formed with world-famous pigeons. The crossing of pigeons from Janssens Gebroeders (Arendonk) X Desmet-Matthijs (Nokere) X Gust Hofkens seemed to be the "golden breed." But to be honest, a hen from a certain Van Lierde from Ronse, who won a national race, was also a superb breeding hen.

As with a lot of fanciers, our friends started on the short distance, and on nine out of 10 races the Desmet birds won several top prizes and always won a lot of money. After a few years, the different clubs in the area had had enough of the Desmet results and closed their doors to these fanciers. André quickly made a decision to try it on the long distance.

The base of his short distance birds stayed, but their blood became enriched with the blood of the Roger Vereecke pigeons. A lot of direct Vereecke birds came to Semmerzake, and again it was bingo in the breeding loft. Especially, the crossing of the "Crack" (Vereecke) X "204" made sure that the name Desmet became known around the world.


In 1992 Andre made a serious decision. Andre explains, "I found it such a shame that at the end of each season all those good young hens were put in an aviary or sold. I found it was more than time to start racing hens also. The first year we started with 12 yearbird hens. One season later, we already had 16, and again a year later we had 32 ladies to basket. And for the season 2005 we had just counted 70 hens on widowhood."

"Concerning the system," Andre continues, "we can tell you that the hens, until last season, were never coupled for an early breeding. During the moulting period, the hens stayed in their loft, and when the moult was finished they got a ticket in the direction of the aviary. But in 2004-2005, the hens were prepared in a different way for the new season." From the 1st of September, the hens went into the aviary, and because the period from September until the end of March is too long to stay in an aviary, Andre decided to couple them at the beginning of December and to let them breed a couple of youngsters.

When the youngsters were 14 days old, all the youngsters went on the floor of the loft, the hens went to the aviary and the cocks could breed the youngsters further. When the hens are in the aviary, this is only during the day. At night they can enter a loft where a moulting mixture is fed. On the 1st of April they are coupled again and after a 5-days brood they're on widowhood. Twice a week they get Colombine Tea in the drinker, and also twice a week Biochol or Sedochol mixed on the corn. About 14 days before the second coupling, the hens are fed quite well so they're truly prepared for a productive coupling.

Hens must be raced weekly, and we must say in Semmerzake that is this also true in the beginning of the season. Once they go to race around the 500km distance, and the weather conditions are not so easy, then it is possible that the hens stay home for a weekend. When the hens are basketted, they only get their nest bowl and their box but don't see their cock. Only when they arrive from the race, will their cock also be present, and then they can stay a long time together, even till the next morning.

Andre says, "To avoid the pairing between the hens, we close up the hens in a box. We can even say that the hens are always closed up in their box. When the hens train around the loft, I stay a full hour outside with a flag to make sure that the hens train very well. When the hens are called in, my son Patrick and my wife, Madeleine, are standing in the lofts and close the hens up immediately. In their box the hens find food and water."

"To be honest," Andre continues, "I prefer to race with hens than with cocks. Hens are so lovely, don't become nervous during their stay in the basket, and it seems to be easier to create the top condition with hens than with cocks. Of one thing I'm more than convinced. Namely, that you don't need to be afraid because of the cocks with hens in top condition."


Ready for the
next season

One of the aviaries

The racing lofts

The aviaries

Feeding from
the outside

Baskets for

A handy elevator

A special sputnik


The widowers, a team of 40, are paired up around the 15th of December and breed a couple of youngsters until they reach the age of 14 days. Then the youngsters are put on the floor of the loft, the widowers go to the aviary, and the hens raise the youngsters till they're old enough to put in the young bird loft.

On the 1st of April, the cocks are coupled again, and just like the hens on widowhood they may brood five days. When the weather conditions are perfect, they do their first tosses. It may sound a little strange, but the Desmets are very careful when it concerns the first tosses of a new season. They prefer to toss the widowers and hens a few times at 20km than to go directly to 50 or 60km.

For the rest, they have the same system with the cocks as with the hens.

The Desmets insist, "To be competitive in the pigeon sport is being present 365 days out of 365 days. We can assure you that if you want to be at the top of the national and international pigeon sport you cannot have 'a bad moment.' The pigeons must be in condition the whole year through. A bad moulting or winter period will guarantee a bad racing season. During the winter our pigeons get a lot of Colombine Tea, and sometimes a little bit of Colombine Garlic Juice is mixed in the drinker.

When the pigeons come through the moult in a very healthy way, then we can say that during the winter period the medication pot stays closed. Only a few weeks before the first coupling do we treat the first time against trichomonaisis. A second treatment against trichomonaisis is made when they brood. During the racing season, the pigeons are treated against tricho every two weeks or a maximum of three weeks. The birds are never preventively treated against coccidiosis or worms. Only when the vet advises to treat we will do that. To be honest, we try to avoid treating a lot. And this is proven by the fact that we have birds at five and six years old that still come out on top in a national race."

They feel the same way about ornithosis. It is a disease which can be avoided by creating superb ventilation in the lofts. The fact that the racing birds stay a lot of the time in the aviary means a lot. It's unbelievable how nice the birds look when they come back from their two- or three-month "aviary vacation."

As already mentioned, a very good ventilation design on the racing lofts matters a lot. In the windows, they have special wire as well as a special ventilation system that can be turned on if necessary. But also here the fancier has to be alert. When the outside temperature is too low, then the ventilation system shouldn't be turned on, because otherwise it pulls in cold air and again that is bad for creating ornithosis. It is the same with a heating system. In all the Desmets' lofts there is a heating system but they are very careful about turning them on.


Every year our father-son partnership breeds around 150 young birds for their own use. The game with the young birds is not so important as the game with the old and with the year birds, but of course they do everything to make top results in this category. Just as with a lot of other fanciers, the youngsters are darkened and raced in the provincial and national races. They're not raced on the open door system or on widowhood, but they race them on nest position. Patrick explains, "The young birds can do what they want. If they want to start a nest we let them do that. The young birds in the best nest position are basketted, and we hope that they win the needed points each week for the championships we want to win."


"Het Briveke" 4010007/03: Comes out of "Super Tulle VII" X "Laat Superke." Won in total 36 prizes, namely: 199th national St. Vincent against 10,624 yearbirds and 19th national Brive against 20,310 old birds.

"De 5000" 4030145/02. Comes out of "De 515" X "083." Won in total 45 prizes, namely 27th national Cahors against 7340 birds and the 5th national Brive against 20,310 old birds.

"Tornado" 4010267/03: Comes out of "Jonge Ronaldo III" X "First Lady." Won as top prizes 63rd national Bourges against 14,207 birds, 6th national Brive against 20,310 old birds, 6th provincial Chateauroux against 2765 birds.

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1. A good loft is for us a very dry loft with a lot of oxygen and with a lot of light. It's our thought but we like a good garret loft more than a garden loft.

2. How to breed good birds? Well, we have one rule! "Good cocks" coupled with "good hens," and when you follow that rule you'll be more successful.

3. How to feed ? Well, we do not feed with a spoon but with our hand. Every bird is fed individually in his box. If it is cold then they need more. If you feed light, then I assure you that the birds will feed "light" when they arrive from the race and that is never good.

4. If you have a bad result, then the fancier has to search within himself for what went wrong. It is not always the fault of the pigeons.

5. On the medical scene, a lot of oversight by the vet and if possible the medication closet has to stay closed as much as possible.

6. The training around the loft happens here, it is mandatory, with the flag. If the pigeons train with pleasure then it is o.k.

7. Punctuality is extremely important. Every day, even on Christmas and New Year's, we are always very punctual in the lofts.

8. Patience is something that a lot of fanciers don't have. Be sure that your birds are in good condition when they're basketted. It is not because your friend the pigeon fancier does something that you must do the same.

9. Motivation is very important but a good bird doesn't need extra motivation. We like to basket our birds so that they are as calm as possible.

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