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  News > Hermans - Rik

Rik Hermans -
Champion Curegem
Centre Youngbirds

by Stefan Mertens


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Rik Hermans

Jan and Rik



The loft



The old bird


In the old
bird section

The old
bird ventilation

Pulle: Next to the national championship young birds KBDB, there is also another very important championship on a national level for the young birds, and that is the championship of Cureghem Centre. Cureghem Centre is one of the organizations that organizes national and international races. The best known race of Cureghem Centre is the Barcelona International. Next to this “marathon of the sky,” they also organize Argenton (500km for Brussels) and Gueret (540km for Brussels) national.  

 To become champion young birds, you have to score points on the national result of Argenton and Gueret, and this must be done with the first five nominated young birds. We can guarantee you that this is more quickly said than done. In 2008 this championship was won by Rik Hermans from Pulle (province Antwerp). The nice thing about the whole story is that Rik is the only fancier who scored 10 out of 10. He beat the partnership of Timmermans-Reynders (Schaffen – 9 points) and Marc Van Hautte (Smetlede – 9 points). Rik won with a very sharp coefficient because even with only 9 points he would still have been named the champion. For your information, Cureghem Centre also organizes an ace-bird championship which was won by Wim Storms from Berlaar.


The name Hermans is not an unknown name in the pigeon sport because Rik is the son of the famous pigeon fancier and owner of the Flemish pigeon magazine “Sportblad De Duif” namely Jan Hermans (Waalre – The Netherlands). So, Rik grew up in a world in which the pigeon sport and the pigeon business walked hand in hand, and nature must have made a mistake if Rik hadn’t became a pigeon fancier.

Father Jan adores the very long-distance races. Give him St. Vincent and Barcelona, but his son Rik thought in another way about the pigeon sport. Rik wanted to race in his own name at the short and middle distance and wanted to do this with the young birds. Jan couldn’t believe his ears but gave Rik a small loft to do what he wanted to do.  This took place in 1995. Friends heard the news and they offered Rik some young birds. Pigeons from Jos Thoné, Dirk Leekens and Emiel Van Den Branden came to Waalre, and Rik started with a nice group of youngsters.

Other fanciers in the neighborhood heard about the new fancier but they had their thoughts about the whole thing. But a few young bird races further they had to change their thoughts because Rik’s pigeons performed very well. What they didn’t know was that Rik already had some pigeon experience because years before during a whole summer he cleaned lofts of Jos Thoné. He asked a lot of questions about racing systems of Dirk Leekens. He discussed breeding systems with Emiel Van Den Branden, and Rik drank a lot of coffee with specialized pigeon vet Rob Hoekstra (Waalre).

The second racing season (1996) was much better, but to say that everything went smoothly would not be accurate. The necessary analyses were made at the end of the season and some aspects of the system were adapted. For example, during the darkening period it had to be much darker in the lofts and during the racing season the youngsters had to be tossed more frequently. The third thing was that the youngsters had to listen much better.

Certainly, when the youngsters came home from a race they spent too much time on the roof. With the necessary motivation the changes were made, and believe it or not but at the end of the third racing season (1997), Rik had the best young bird of The Netherlands. “Fenomeentje” NL 97-9798841, bred by friend Dirk Leekens, won (without double results): 1st Bohain 1,491b., 1st Peronne 703b., 2nd Peronne 1,358b., 3rd Strombeek 2,005b., 6th Strombeek 2,152b., 23e Strombeek 2,077b., 68e Orleans 1,408b. and so on! Superb results from both fancier and pigeon.

And it went from good to superb, and the season 1999 became an extremely good season.    Rik says, “The racing season of 1999 is without any discussion my best season thus far. With the exception of the first two races, my young birds flew extremely well. When I basketted the youngsters, I didn’t ask myself if I would make a good result but I asked myself how good the result would be. I have never enjoyed racing pigeons as much as in those days. At the end of the season we couldn’t believe our eyes when we analyzed the performances of that young team. When the famous championship WHZB (Wie Heeft Ze Beter) was published, we won in the ace bird category young birds: 2nd national ace young with ‘Kleine Orleans,’ 6th national ace young with ‘Daddy’s Favourite’ and 7th national ace with ‘Blauwe Flor.’”



Rik's landing

Each drinker
is for two

The racing
hens' section


Now we take a step back in time and go to the year 2005. In that year Rik decided to go to Belgium with his family. In February they bought a house in the centre of Pulle. Some rebuilding was done and then it is more then logical that in that year no single feather was basketted. Concerning loft building, Rik copied the lofts of his good friend Kees Bosua from Dordrecht. Rik explains, ‘There are three reasons why I copied the lofts of Kees. First of all these lofts are very practical. This is a loft that is perfect for my system. Secondly, these lofts have, in my opinion, a very good ventilation system, and thirdly the loft builders had just erected a loft for Kees so they still had everything very well in mind for my project.”

Stefan:  Rik, nowadays you race here in Belgium also with old and year birds.

Rik:  Yes … end 2006 we decided to start with old and year birds and we erected a new loft. Again we copied the loft of Kees Bosua. Kees races his pigeons on pure widowhood (partner is not raced), but I decided to follow the system of total widowhood. Listen, I’m not a fancier who concentrates just on championships. No, I prefer to concentrate my efforts on a few races and then try to put a superb result on paper. Races like Bourges I, scheduled for the end of May, are double lined in my agenda. Probably I’m still thinking like a Dutch fancier. They also like to concentrate themselves on a few races.

For the coming season I have 16 widowers and 16 hens. Now I have to say that I don’t follow the system of total widowhood during the whole racing season. If, for example, a hen flies well and her cock is not a good bird, then I leave the cock at home and race only further with the hen.

The old and year birds stay for the whole winter in the aviary, and when the calendar is standing at mid-March, they come into their racing loft. Everybody is coupled and after a five-days nesting they’re on widowhood. After some short-distance races they go in the direction of middle distance. Normally all birds are basketted weekly for races between 300 and 550km. Only when they have had a very bad race can they stay at home one weekend. The widowhood is finished the first weekend of July, and then they can start a nest. The purpose is to basket cocks and hens on a nest of 14 days for the national Bourges race at the end of July.

Stefan:  You say, “I concentrate myself on a special race.”  How do you do that in a practical sense?

Rik: To be honest, it is always more quickly said than done. The top condition is certainly not sitting in a special bottle. No, but I always try to guide the birds to top condition. It all starts with the day of coupling. Those who have already coupled their racers at the end of November or the beginning of December will certainly create the top condition earlier in the racing season than I who couple at only the middle of March. Also on medical level, you can guide certain things. If you wait to treat against ornithosis and just cure before an important race, then the success will be influenced in a very positive way. The big disadvantage of this system is that the results in the earlier races are mostly not so good, but that is the choice of the fancier. Motivation is another trump card. In the first races I never motivate my pigeons.  Only for the special races do I come in with the box of tricks. I say it once again: It is up to the fancier to make a choice and once the choice has been made, you need to go for it.


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Ventilation in
the youngbird

The young birds'

The young
bird section
to be cleaned



Stefan:  And the young birds?

Rik:  That is more my thing. Not that I don’t like to race with old and year birds, but the racing season for the young birds falls in a quieter period regarding my work. Everybody knows that I work together with my father, and in the summer period it is not so busy.
Our stock birds are for 90% housed by Emiel Van Den Branden and for 10% housed by my father.  Both breed the young birds for me.

Every year I wean between 70 and 80 youngsters. In the beginning the sexes stay together in order to learn the environment together, to do the first tosses together.  It all has to be in a very lowess atmosphere. I’m not the fancier who is at the top of the result sheet for the first young bird races in the club. No, I want to perform very well in the national races so I’m not forcing the youngsters from the first races on. But this year the first national race from Bourges was not so good for me. There were two reasons.  First was that the first Bourges race was released in very hot weather and with a north-east wind. Everybody knows that races in such weather conditions never have a happy ending. Secondly, my youngsters didn’t have enough experience, and this is something I have to avoid in the future.

Concerning my system, you would not find anything special. Just as with a lot of other fanciers, I race my youngsters following the open door system. One important detail is that the sexes never come together on basketing day, but on the day before basketing. In the morning they come together, and in the evening they’re already separated. Several advantages of this method are that I have enough time to motivate the youngsters, and secondly that they still eat and drink very well on basketing day.

Of course I darken . The youngsters are housed in a loft with an aviary, and they can choose where they want to sit. Only when they are darkened are they obliged to sit in the loft. When I darken it is very dark in the loft and I darken from 1st of April till 21st of June. I know that I start darkening very late but experience has taught me that the later I start darkening the fewer problems I see with young bird disease. Don’t ask me if there is any scientific explanation for this!

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Regarding feeding, I feed the Plus I.C. mixtures of Versele-Laga. I work with Champion, Gerry and Energy Plus I.C.. The birds can always eat as much as they want for 20 minutes. So I never look at a grain more or less. This is not necessary when your youngsters need to work very hard. Regarding by-products and supplements I often use Biochol (Oropharma), Dextrotonic (Oropharma), Belgasol (Belgica-De Weerd) and Recup-Lex (Hoekstra Rob). On the mixture I add on a regular basis Edele Olie (Comed) and vitaminised brewer’s yeast (Colombine). I also drop the youngsters a lot in the eyes with Clinagel.

When I raced pigeons in The Netherlands I tossed my young birds a lot, but now I live in the neighborhood of Antwerp and here is a lot of traffic. So I don’t toss the youngsters quite as much. This is a pity, because I believe in this system. The more you toss your youngsters the better they will perform. It is all a matter of quickly finding the right direction, and this is an art which can be perfectly learned.

When I raced pigeons in The Netherlands I tossed my young birds a lot, but now I live in the neighborhood of Antwerp and here is a lot of traffic. So I don’t toss the youngsters quite as much. This is a pity, because I believe in this system. The more you toss your youngsters the better they will perform. It is all a matter of quickly finding the right direction, and this is an art which can be perfectly learned.

Stefan:  And every year you invest in new top birds?

Rik:  Yes and no.  Our breeding base is built from four base lines. First, there is the line of our Dutch national ace young bird “Fenomeentje.” Before she was sold to the Far East we bred eight youngsters out of her. Four went to the breeding loft, and out of one we have a superb breeder. A good couple is “Claessens 03” X “Laat Fenomeentje.” The second line is the Dirk Van Dijck pigeons. We have two brothers of “Golden Lady” and for the rest there is a lot of “Kannibaal” blood. The third line is that of “Jaarling Dondersteen” x “Janssen Duivin.” Their children and grandchildren know the way to the top of the race result sheet. Last line is that of “Fieneke 5000” of the late Flor Vervoort. We have different brothers, sisters and children of “Fieneke 5000” in our breeding loft.

Of course, every year we try to enrich our breeding loft, but in most cases we go back to the strain of pigeons we already have. As an example, I take Eddy Janssens (Zandhoven). We bought several pigeons from Eddy but those are all Van Dijck birds. Also from Jos Van Der Veken (Retie) we found what we’re looking for. Here we go back to the Vervoort pigeons. Strange blood would be pigeons from Kees Bosua and Wim De Troy. My father has also some VIP (Very Important Pigeons) boxes. In those boxes we house top ace birds like “Wizard,” “Super Vooruit,” “Blue Magic,” “Kannibolleke,” “Justine” and so on.  Also from those birds I receive some youngsters every year.


TOP 100 NATIONAAL (2006-2008)

8th Nat. Argenton

25,583 b.

9th Nat. Argenton

25,583 b.

11th Nat. Argenton

5,206 b.

23rd Nat. Argenton

5,206 b.

34th Nat. La Souterraine

18,973 b.

40th Nat. Argenton

6,177 b.

45th Nat. Bourges

11,875 b.

47th Nat. Bourges

9,021 b.

47th Nat. La souterraine

4,314 b.

50th Nat. Argenton

5,206 b.

53rd Nat. Bourges

9.021 b.

54th Nat. Bourges

26,984 b.

55th Nat. Gueret

13,303 b.

58th Nat. Bourges

9.021 b.

72nd Nat. Argenton

5,927 b.

73rd Nat. Argenton

5,206 b.

74th Nat. Argenton

14,534 b.

92nd Nat. Argenton

5,206 b.

99th Nat. Argenton

25,583 b.



B06-6212395 “DE START”

6th Ace bird year birds
 Union Antwerpen 2007


3rd Prov. Gueret

1,724 b.

55th Nat.

10,670 b.

1st K.F.C.

234 b.

26th Prov. Argenton

2,088 b.

74th Nat.

14,534 b.

116th Nat. Argenton

5,206 b.

4th Dourdan

1,267 b.

4th Arlon

221 b.

7th Heidelberg

803 b.

9th Toury

1,129 b.

12th Pithiviers

1,440 b.


B06-6148819 “JONGE SAMSON”

1st Montlucon

377 b.

17th Prov.

1,913 b.

53rd Nat. Bourges

9,021 b.

73rd Nat. Argenton

5,206 b.

10th Argenton

174 b.

26th Melun

544 b.

33rd Noyon

1002 b.

38th Toury

1,129 b.

84th Prov. Gueret

1,724 b.

187th Prov. Argenton

2,088 b.

382nd Prov. Bourges

4,602 b.

Brother of :
* 722/05
14th Nat. Argenton 22.000 b.
* 767/05
67th Nat. Argenton 22.000 b.
8th Prov. Salbris 1900 b.


B06-6212418 “ASDUIFJE”

10th Nat. Zone Bourges

4,282 b.

45th Nat.

11,875 b.

92nd Nat. Argenton

5,206 b.

187th Nat. Argenton

5,927 b.

87th Prov. Gueret

1,724 b.

4th Melun

1,704 b.

5th Pithiviers

172 b.


B08-6297245 “BEAUTYFLY”

1st Argenton KFC

426 b.

5th Prov.

3,387 b.

8th Nat.

25,583 b.

1st Noyon

1,389 b.

12th Pithiviers

1,728 b.

54th Noyon

1,862 b.


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Charles Siegel and Son Inc.

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