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  News > Kris Van Massenhoven
  Kris Van Massenhoven:
First National Champion
Short Distance
by Stefan Mertens


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  for larger version

Kris Van Massenhoven:
Young and Ambitious

Kris' Lofts

Inside the
widowers' loft

Some widowers
are sensitive to
strangers in the loft

Retie: A village in the north of the Belgian province of Antwerp. Retie-- more specifically Schoonbroek-- can be considered as a "pigeon village." Every year there are 130 fanciers paying their membership, which is higher than average compared to the rest of Belgium. Some of the 130 fanciers are really young guys, and one of them in 2001 was one of the most talked-about fanciers in Belgium. Kris Van Massenhoven is the name. He is 24 years old and his occupation is a fattener of calves. "That's true," says Kris. "I have a farm where the calves come in when they are 14 days old, and they must be fattened in six months' time. This all happens with milk and corn because veal must be as white as possible. I have about 650 calves. I must be honest. It is a job with a lot of advantages and only a few disadvantages. Of course, I have to work 7 days a week, but I only have to work from 5:30 until 8:30 in the morning and from 4:00 o'clock till 6:00 o'clock in the evening. The rest of my time is free… in other words, the perfect job for a pigeon fancier."


Kris' father Alfons is also a fancier. Cows and pigs don't have any secrets for him…but pigeons--that's another story. The change came when son Kris first stepped into the loft. Kris began in 1984 with pigeons as a six-year-old boy. His teacher Frans Proost instilled in him a love for racing pigeons. After school, Kris often stayed in the classroom with his teacher to talk about pigeons. In this way, a new fancier was born. Kris got from his father a loft in the garden. As I mentioned, the first pigeons came from his teacher. His grandfather Jan, a fancier who won many prizes, also gave Kris some young birds.

In 1988, a new loft was added, and five years later another loft six meters long was built for the young birds and widowhood hens. New pigeons were bought and now the base of this loft is formed with birds from his grandfather (strain Jos Wouters) - Jan Van Oeckel - Jos Van Der Veken - Wouters Marien - Louis Van Herck - Louis Van Hove - Broeckx Van Hees and Frans Van Roey.


What are the secrets of this young fancier who is suddenly at the top of the sport? Kris replies, "If I can be honest, such things happen without knowing exactly why. We breed from a very good base. We select our young and old birds very hard. The only judge of this selection is the results. Our vet Dr. Marien is a very good friend, and he keeps the medicines as far away as possible. I know that a lot of fanciers don't believe me, but it is the truth and nothing else but the truth. Every year we visit the vet four or five times, certainly before the racing and breeding season. Normally I do one cure against cancer. Against ornithosis we never give a cure. Last season the young birds didn't get one medication, and those youngsters are now year birds. Those year birds were examined, and believe it or not but the vet couldn't find a single thing. Be careful. I don't want to be seen as a know-it-all, but do I have to cure healthy pigeons because other people don't agree with my system? I'm convinced that the day that I will have to change my system and will also have to color the drinking water will come. It all depends on the natural resistance of my birds--a resistance which I would like to keep as long as possible."


Kris has 16 widowers, 15 widowhood hens, 20 breeding couples, and in the summer around 80 youngsters. The widowers' team does winter breeding and breeds two youngsters. At the end of February, a second coupling takes place and one youngster is bred. When the youngster is ten days old, the hen is separated and for the widowers the racing season is started with a youngster in the box. At the beginning of August, the widowers are coupled again. They breed one youngster and are basketed for the last races. Variation in the racing system must keep the widowers "awake" for the whole season. Kris must be sure that after one or two months the motivation hasn't left the widowers. And we can certainly mention that they have to work to earn their place in the widowhood loft. Every week they are basketed, and if there is a race during the week then Kris is certainly present with some birds. As an example, the "Turbo" in 2001 was basketed 32 times and won 30 prizes, namely 3 x 1st, 6 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd and so on.

When Kris is asked if he needs to motivate those cocks, he answers, "No. Those guys know what it is all about. Before basketing, I just show the nest bowl and the hen comes for about five minutes in the box. I only have one rule, and that is no sex before the race. The widowers train twice a day, and when the condition is perfect they train about one hour without sitting on the roof. If you are a sprint specialist, then you need to achieve top condition early in the year. To support this, I use an old but successful trick. You must know that my lofts are above the garage. In the garage we have an old stove, and this stove works almost constantly during the first weeks of the season. To give you an idea, I took the temperature in the widowhood loft and the temperature in another loft in the garden. There was a difference of more than 10 degrees Celcius."

"Friends say that my widowers receive too much food. You feed them as middle distance birds, they may be right. After their morning training, they receive one soupspoon Super Diet in the beginning of the week or one soupspoon racing mixture at the end of the week. In the evening, they get one soupspoon Super Diet or racing mixture before they train and one soupspoon when they come in. I handle so because I think that pigeons don't like to train with an empty stomach."

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The hens are raced
on widowhood


This floor "rolls" so
that hens cannot mate
with one another

Kris Van Massenhoven's new generation for 2002


In 1991 our national champion began with hens on widowhood. At the beginning of December the hens are coupled and breed a couple of youngsters. A few weeks later, they are coupled again so that they have youngsters from eight days old on May 1st. When the youngsters are ten days old, the cock goes in the aviary and comes only in the evening in the loft to feed the youngsters when the ladies are training around the loft. The hens are raced twice on youngsters, and when they come home from their third race, they find an empty box and they are on widowhood.
Before basketing, hens and cocks come together for about 15 minutes. The farther the season goes, the longer the couples stay together.

And the problem with the hens pairing up with each other? "I don't have a lot of problems," says Kris. "Believe it or not, but when you select the hens very hard every year, then you breed a team of hens which is useful for this system. And of course you don't have to give them the occasion to pair up with each other. When the hens have trained, they enter a central loft. Here they eat and drink. When they are finished, they go to their "hens-loft." Here they don't have any room to pair up. The "seats" are too little for two hens, and the bottom of the loft is made of plastic tubes of one centimeter in diameter, placed slantwise. The hens train once a day and they don't receive corn before they come out.


The season 2001 was not a good year for the young birds. There were a lot of losses. From the 80 weaned youngsters, they could race only 26. There were a lot of losses from the roof and a lot of losses during the first training flights. The reason? Kris says, "I don't know. If I knew, I would avoid it. That's simple." Once the youngsters had their first Quievrain race in the wings all problems were solved, and I didn't lose a single youngster."
"The youngsters are darkened from mid-February till mid-May, from 5:00 o'clock. They wake up with the sun, so in the morning I don't darken."
The youngsters are raced with the open-door-system. On Saturday at noon the door goes open and the youngsters can do what they want for about one hour. The pigeons that go to Noyon are put in the basket and the rest are separated again. At 6:00 o'clock the door opens again for one hour and then the pigeons for Quievrain are basketed. After the race on Sunday the youngsters stay together till Monday evening. Kris continues, "I race the youngsters till mid-September and then I have to stop because they all have moulted five to six wing feathers. The youngsters train twice a day, and before they go out they receive a little bit of corn."

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Kris' 6474843/97--
A top bird whose results
are detailed below

The eye of 6474843/97

The wing of 6474843/97

6446240/98, whose
results are detailed
in Kris' story

Wing of 6446240/98



The national championship can only be won with the eight best results in old birds with 1st and 2nd nominated bird. All races between 50 and 249 km are allowed. In the total of the eight races, you must have raced at least 1000 km. This must have taken place between the first week-end of April and the first week-end of August.

Date and race Number of pigeons 1st nominated 2nd nominated April 1 Quievrain (131 km) 117 2 6 April 29 Quievrain 413 1 4 April 15 Quievrain 242 3 6 May 6 Quievrain 232 3 5 May 20 Noyon (131 km) 459 10 25 May 27 Quievrain 151 2 1 June 24 Quievrain 156 4 2 July 29 Quievrain 245 2 3


Always Quievrain: 1/502 - 1/251 - 1/225 - 1/204 - 1/135 - 1/120 - 1/100 - 1/184 - 1/105 - 1/151 - 2/332 - 2/221 - 2/127 - 2/407 - 2/232 - 2/83 - 2/156 - 2/229 - 2/192 - 2/220 - 2/475 - 2/204 - 2/127 - 2/231 - 3/238 - 3/177 - 3/280 - 3/251 - 3/197 - 3/144 - 3/612 - 3/245 - 4/254- - 4/413 - 4/122 - 4/216 - 4/229 - 5/134 - 5/353 - and so on

Father: 6426807/96 strain De Bie Andre (Retie)

Mother: 6188767/95
Grandfather: 6551664/88 "Kaaie 88"
Grandmother 6252479/88 Jan Van Oeckel (strain Vloemans)


Always Quievrain: 1/339 - 1/254 - 1/124 - 1/203 - 1/133 - 1/207 - 1/407 - 1/413 - 1/259 - 1/56 - 1/105 - 1/241 - 1/177 - 1/156 - 1/204 - 2/134 - 2/50 - 2/184 - 2/151 - 2/972 - 2/239 - 2/199 - 3/242 - 3/232 - 3/105 - 3/423 - 3/393 - 4/156 - 4/454 - 5/123 - 5/135 - and so on

Father: 6427643/96 won from: Quievrain: 1st 144p. - 2nd 201p. - 3rd 766p. - 3rd 160p. -6th 275p.
Grandfather: "Oude Vos" 6412473/84 Wouters Vosselaar
Grandmother 6457910/88 Wouters Vosselaar

Mother: 6427372/96 Herman van Gestel (Retie)
Won 1st Noyon 268p. - 2nd Noyon 978p. - 2nd Noyon 143p. - 27th Noyon 1100p.

"DE PROVINCIAAL" 6264198/99
Always from Quievrain:

1999: 1/808 - 1/559 - 1/557 - 2/1230 - 3/1151 - 3/931 - 4/1265 - 4/503 - 5/637

2000: 1/498 - 1/295 - 1/162 - 2/249 - 2/121 - 3/393 - 4/162

2001: 1/222 - 2/239 - 2/227 - 2/245 - 3/413 - 3/151 - 4/159 - 5/232

Father: 6188712/95 won from Quievrain: 1/804 - 1/528 - 1/576 - 1/363 - 1/383 - 1/237 - 1/236 - 1/807
Grandfather 6577464/92 son "Oude Vos": won in total 22 x 1st prize. Is father of "918/93" (4x1st prize) - "106/94" (5x1st prize) - "712/95" (10 x 1st prize)
Grandmother 6576068/92 Louis Van Herck strain Louis Van Hove

Mother 6427631/96 won 1st St Denis 360p. - 1st Noyon 252 p. - 1st Noyon 205 p. - 1st Noyon 153p. - 2nd Quievrain 849 p. - 3rd Noyon 1475 p. - 11th Quievrain 959 p.
Grandfather: 6551664/88 "Kaaie 88"
Grandmother: 6252479/88


From Quievrain

242 birds: 1-3-5-6-12-23-27-31-36-45-53-58-81 (18)
407 birds: 1-2-6-15-33-40-45 (11)
413 birds: 1-3-4-10-47-123 (6)
232 birds: 2-3-5-22-23 (6)
184 birds: 1-2-14-17-18-44-45-48-5-51-59 (12)
616 birds: 1-3-4-6-8-10-11-13-14-17-19-45-63-69-94-110-112-122-128 (33)
151 birds: 1-2-3-5-47 (5)
156 birds: 2-4-6-7-29-33-35 (11)
402 birds: 1-4-7-9-11-22-25-63-96-134 (16)
56 birds: 1-2-3-4-11-18-19 (9)
295 birds: 3-4-7-10-15-16-31-45-54-71-76-80-91-99 (25)
105 birds: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-13-16-17-31 (16)
229 birds: 2-5 (2)

Noyon 219 birds: 1-3-8-11-16-18-23-31-33-43-58-59 (16)

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