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  News > Hoedemakers, Decoster, Maskart and Leekens-Hermans

Eddy Hoedemakers,
Ronny and Stijn Decoster,
Mickael Maskart,
and Dirk Leekens --
Belgian Champions of 2011:
1st International Marseille,
1st National Limoges,

1st International Tarbes &
1st National Brive

by Stefan Mertens


Click on any photo for larger version 


Eye of Marseille

Wing of the

widowers's loft




Geleen:  Marseille was the fourth international race of the 2011 season . After the international victory from England from Pau and Bordeaux, and profit for France from Agen (Tarbes), this time the international victory went to Holland. No less than the President of the  ZLU, namely Eddy Hoedemakers, can place this honour on his prize list. 

He clocked his blue widower at 20h26min17sec for a distance of 875,020 km at a speed of 1085.25m/m. With this, he just has beaten Quix-Widdershoven (Doenrade-Holland), which clocked at a distance of 874,745 km at 20h27min17sec, at a speed of 1083.45 m/m.


When you are the President of well-known organization, you have a lot of friends, which we noticed when we visited Eddy to write this article. There were two phones that rang almost constantly in combination with visits from several journalists and brokers.  It’s no wonder that Eddy didn’t know what to do first. We were lucky he could spend some time with us, so that we could record his story.

“With the arrival of my Marseille racer, I had a bit of luck,” Eddy starts.  “Normally there are many people here to watch the birds coming home, but this time there was nobody, not even my wife.  She was gone for a couple of days to visit Barcelona. Last weekend, I put in pigeons for Cahors and Marseille. When we expected the birds from Marseille, there were two still missing from Cahors.  The windows of the two lofts of the widowers were open, and I was cleaning one loft when I heard a noise in the other.  I thought that one from Cahors returned, and I kept on cleaning. Some minutes later, when I entered the other loft, I noticed the one that was making the noise was one from Marseille. I quickly clocked him (I still do it by hand) and after some calculation, there was just ninety seconds left. Luckily for me ‘all’s well that ends well,’ because this is a unique opportunity.”

Eddy continues, “My colony is mainly based on pigeons of the race of Antoon and Luci Van der Wegen (Steenbergen). My basic pair is the NL84-0106092 (90% race Van der Wegen via Crommetuyn from Velden) x the “NL88-2474180 (100% Van der Wegen). I have already bred several good pigeons like my ‘NL92-1770006,’ which already won 17 prizes of 17 overnight long-distance races with two provincial and 14 national Soustons, one provincial and eight national St. Vincent.

He also became best pigeon of Holland over five years in the competition of the ‘Fondspiegel.’ Also in further generations, the blood of the  ‘006’ remains successful. My first bird from Barcelona 2011 (79 national), grandson ‘006,’ second bird from Barcelona 2011 (95 national), grandson ‘006.’”


“I fully concentrate for 100% on the races of the ZLU,” Eddy explains. “Short distance, middle distance and even long distance--are all taken as training. My team count 35 old and 19 yearlings. I also play with nest pigeons, although that game is not that important. On April 1st, all birds are paired.  The yearlings get to raise a youngster while the old just have to breed. Afterwards they could get once more with eggs, and after a breeding of 10 days, widowhood starts.”

“Maybe you won’t like it,” Eddy says, “but I have no secrets to share. Before the season, the pigeons are set free of the classical diseases, and during the season they regularly are treated against cancer with a product of the vet Schroeder. There’s only one mixture on the menu--M 50-50 Mariman. Only the last days before basketing, this mixture is supplemented with candy seeds. The week before basketing, I also give amino acids (Schroeder).”

“As far as I know, my international winner wasn’t specially motivated,” Eddy concludes.  “Before basketing, he saw his partner for 15 minutes and that was it.”

Eddy, we know you’re very busy.  Again congratulations and enjoy your victory!

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Ronny and Stijn


Head of

Wing of





Roksem: It should happen to you.  A whole career being a super fancier on the short- and little middle-distance, and because some friends challenged you to try and play further, you leave with four yearling cocks to a national race for the very first time in your life. They put in these birds without any ambition, but their blue cock, “Georges,” had his own ideas. He saw the opportunity of his life to make history in the loft of the Decoster family,  and he won the national victory. Talk about a long-distance debut!

All of this happened to Ronny and Stijn Decoster of the West-Flemish Roksem. Father Ronny, who’s retired for the first year, and his son Stijn, who works in construction, already are super fanciers at the short and little middle distance . Arras, Clermont, and Ablis are their kind of races. With a group of 14 widowers (they don’t play the hens), they’re very hard to beat in the club “Wijnendaele” in Torhout.  Because father Ronny has more free time, he’s the one who does the biggest part of the care-taking. His son Stijn visits almost every day, because he likes to know what happens in the loft.


The Decoster colony is based 90% on the old race of the late Georges Deceuninck, the grandfather. These were pigeons without a name, but they perfectly knew how to score at the top. The other 10% are pigeons of fellow fanciers. Stijn says, “I don’t want to mention them because I’m afraid to forget somebody.”

The 16 breeding pairs and the widowers all breed in winter to raise a youngster. Afterwards they are separated, and at the beginning of April the hens return for a very short period (three days) and then the girls move back to the aviary.
The care-taking is always done very punctually. They use the mixtures of Mariman, and twice a year they visit their vet, Wim Boddaert.  Like many others, they use the traditional by-products of which tea is the favourite of Ronny.

The widowers train twice a day, while Ronny is watching them to observe the way they train. Ronny says,  “When I see that they train well during the week, I’m much more calm when I have to put them in the basket. I have to say that the week before Limoges, the widowers trained a bit harder and more passionate than before.”


Stijn continues, “It was not difficult to find a name for our national winner, and it’s also to honor my late grandfather Georges Deceuninck, who’s at the base of our success. I regret that he couldn’t take part in this anymore.”
‘”The Georges” (B10-3068538) is a son of the “ 3204345-01” (Deceuninck Georges), and his mother is the “B09-3061411”crossbred Delaeter Andy x Deceuninck Georges.

In contrast with the rest of the team, “Georges” had three weeks of rest before he left for Limoges. During that period he probably had enough time to build up his energy to leave all 14,000 other Limoges racers behind him.

Results “Georges” 2010:

Arras : 39 against 555 p.

Arras : 269 / 612 p.

Clermont : 160 / 1108 p.

Clermont : 315 / 888 p.

Clermont : 92 / 629 p.

Clermont : 73 / 342 p.

Clermont : 79 / 292 p.

Clermont : 53 / 273 p.

Clermont : 209 / 468 p.

Results “Georges” 2011 :

Ablis : 60 / 469 p.

Orleans : 138 / 440 p.

Tours : 56 / 421 p.

Limoges : 1 / 14,673 p.

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Mickael Maskart
with his wife
and the champion

Tarbes winner

Eye of the
Tarbes winner

Wing of
the Winner





Bruille-St. Amand: A town in the district of Valenciennes, this typical, calm village is in the northern part of France near the Belgian town of Doornik.  There we visited the international winner of Tarbes or should we say Agen.

Mascart Mickael is a man who plays the pigeons purely as a hobby, and now he’s the big winner. His pale cock (FR08-273528) left all other birds behind at a speed of 1333.57 m/m. This is a fabulous result because the Tarbes racers had some extra nights in the basket, and that didn’t make it any easier. The other places on the stage are filled by the Belgian national winner,  Remy Vantorre (Virelles – 1298.85 m/m) and Claude Moreau (Ferriere – 1291.24 m/m).

Because Mickael had put in his pigeons in Belgium, he can’t be found on the national result of France, so there it’s Claude Moreau who has the honor to be the national winner of France.


“Nobody else in my family ever took a pigeon in his hands, but I have had pigeons since I was four,” Mickael begins. “It all started when I found a pigeon on my way to school. I couldn’t take the bird to school, and when I returned home, the pigeon was still there.  I took it home to show it to my father. My father explained some things and built me a little loft. From that moment on, I had the virus and I participated in the first races at the age of 10.  At first I played short distance and then middle distance.  I never was a big champion; I had good and bad seasons.”

“In 2009, I turned to the international races,” Mickael continues. “I got rid of my birds and I chose one hen and one cock out of a group of youngsters with my friend Thierry Fleury (Tourcoing).  I paired these two together, and they became my basic pair. The pigeons of Thierry come of a certain Cloze, but I don’t know more. The last two seasons, I also got a bird from Marcel Lequese (Maubraix) and some Dutch long- distance pigeons, but these are too young to know more about yet. I started the season of 2011 with 14 old and 11 yearling widowers, and I also own about 57 youngsters and 12 breeding pairs.”

“The widowers were paired early to raise youngsters,” Mickael explains, “and before the hens were ready to lay again, they were removed along with their youngsters to the loft of the youngsters. Three weeks before the first race, the hens came back to the loft to breed for two days and then widowhood started.”

Mickael prefers the mixtures of Van Robaeys combined with the by-products of Röhnfried and Natural. “Most of all, I believe in my own vegetable mixture,” our international winner told us.  “A lot of garlic and several other vegetables.  This needs to steep for about one week, and then I use it in the drinking water. On a scientific level, this might be not credible, but I can see that my pigeons feel well with it.”
Mickael says, “On a medical level, I only treat against the usual illnesses. Before basketing, the Tarbes racers got a Spartrix and didn’t get anything for the head.”


Of his training, Mickael explains, “I put in seven  pigeons for Tarbes and they were trained with: 2 x Nanteuil (155km), Pontoise (184km), Etampes (244km), Montrichard (386km), Chateaudun (307km) and on June 19th another Nanteuil. Then some rest before they left for Tarbes.”
“The winner wasn’t specially motivated,” he concedes.  “The boxes of the widowers were half open and the morning of basketing, I opened the boxes completely. A few hours later they got their nest-bowl and then again the boxes ‘half open.’ At last I reopened the boxes completely, and I put a nest-pad in the bowls. That was it, no hens and they got in the basket very calmly.”

Mickael explains, “I’m very glad I saw my winner arrive.  When I found out that there already were two pigeons in France, I prepared everything.  I put my hens in the loft and sat down in my chair in the garden with a nice cigarette.  Suddenly, I saw a pigeon arriving from far away, and after he turned a couple of rounds, he came in very well and I had the moment of my life!”

“I don’t yet have a pedigree of the bird,” he concludes.  “I need some more information from my friend Thierry Fleury, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get it!”

Mickael, enjoy this victory with your family and congratulations!


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Dirk Leekens
with Willy

Wing of "Willy"

Eye of "Willy"

Dirk's Lofts



10,082 OLD BIRDS

As: Now it’s final.  His friends often called him “ Mr. Brive” but with his national victory now there’s no more discussion and Dirk can officially be called “Mr. Brive” now. It all started in 1999 when Dirk won 3rd, 4th and 6th national against 23,842 old pigeons. In 2005 he won national with the hens (2nd national) and now again a victory against more than 10,000 old birds.  On a provincial level, Dirk already won Brive four times!  If he can’t be called “Mr. Brive,” we don’t know who can. Brive is the perfect race for Dirk!


When we ask about the basic pigeons of the colony Leekens-Hermans, Dirk answers: “Two basic pigeons appear in many pedigrees, namely ‘Vaya Con Dios’ (Jos Thoné) and the cock ‘Milton’ (Huyskens Van Riel x Thoné). They both were very exceptional pigeons for the long distance, and they passed on their qualities in several generations. From his fellow fancier, Jan Hermans, they got the blood of the heavy middle-distance racers into the breeding loft, such as two sons of the famous “231” (Jos and Jules Engels from Putte), a son and a daughter of the ‘Kannibaal’ of Dirk Van Dijck from Zandhoven, a daughter of the Nationaal of the late Pros Roosen, and a daughter of the world famous ‘Nationaal I’ Herbots Brothers. I also succeeded very well with the pigeons of Gaby Vandenabeele, especially the line of the ‘Wittenbuik’ and the ‘Bliksem.’ It would be a shame not to mention ‘Lucky Luke,’ a cock of the old Schellens base of uncle Luc Liebens. ‘Lucky Luke’ is father of five different first-prize winners such as ‘Lucky Boy,’ seventh national Souillac against 7,507 p. and 24th national Argenton 5,208 p.”


Those who think that Dirk Leekens is a full-time professional fancier are wrong. First, Dirk is a well- known hair dresser, with a flourishing business in As, and this means that he doesn’t have much time left to spend in his loft. Luckily he has very loyal and hard working people in his business, so he sometimes can spend some time in his loft.

Of course, this can’t happen often because he must serve his customers, and he can’t lose his loyal helpers. In fact, it’s not easy to make the sport as efficient as possible. We must not forget his loyal helper and friend, Willy Smeets, who helps out a lot in the loft and even does the administration--catching pigeons, preparing the hens, releasing the pigeons, announcing the pigeons, etc.  When you ask Willy, it all works out all right. “Here,I want to thank Willy very much,” Dirk emphasizes.

By the example of many others, Dirk chose total widowhood, and he prefers the system.  In Dirk’s opinion it means more pigeons to play with and fewer “useless pigeons.”  Dirk explains, “Before the season, they don’t get a nest, but once a week the pigeons get together one day.  At the beginning it’s half box. An advantage of this system is that the hens don’t pair that easily. The season is started with 50 pairs of racers. The main group is played on races like Vierzon, Bourges till and with Tulle, Souillac and Brive. The hens have to leave every week, and the cocks sometimes get a week of rest.  A lot depends on the results and the conditions of the race. When they arrive back home, the couples always stay together till the day after the race.”

On a medical level, Dirk used to do more--disinfestations, antibiotic, vaccination. But now, Dirk knows better. Dirk explains, “I use as little as possible, but nobody believes it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be interested in the products on the market, and the products they use nowadays against the classical infections like canker, clear heads, paratyphus--nobody is clean of these. I bought a professional microscope, and I learned a lot from Ferdi Vandersanden to examine the pigeons. Canker, worms, and coccidiosis are no longer a secret to me. But for a complete check-up, I still visit Ferdi Vandersanden. If I have to give something, I prefer the products of Belgica-de Weerd.

I don’t give blind treatments, except for a five-day treatment against paratyphus in the second half of the moulting period. At that moment, the pigeons are very weak, and then you have to try and prevent it.”


The national winner, “Willy” (B08-5062128) is a cock with the necessary references. He already won one semi-national--Vierzon (488km) against 3,124 p., 32nd  semi-national Jarnac (730km) against 4,827 p., and 39th national Tulle (667km) against 6,695p.

One hour before basketing, all cocks and hens come together, and this seemed to be enough for “Willy” to win this national victory.

Dirk, congratulations!

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