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|News > Erik Limbourg - 2005|
1st National Ace-Pigeon
Long Distance, K.B.D.B
by Stefan Mertens
Do you know what this top fancier is called in Europe? No… well he is
known as "THE WONDERBOY" and we must say that no better name could have
been chosen. Erik is a real top fancier, a fancier who starts, every year,
racing pigeons on the first short distance race of the season and goes
on till the last race in September. "I only race pigeons for two reasons,"
says Erik. "First of all, I want to win the first prize on every race,
even on the short, middle or long distance, and secondly to breed and
We must say that Erik succeeds very well because in the last years he has won the following top results on a national level: 1st, 2nd and 5th national Perpignan against 7,198b. in 2002, 1st national Marseille against 10,515b. in 1992, 1st national Narbonne against 7,691b. in 1996, 1st national Narbonne against 6,047b. in 1993, 2nd national Bourges against 14,001b. in 1991, 2nd national Argenton against 15,882b. in 1996, 2nd national Narbonne against 8,204b. in 1999, 2nd national Argenton against 3,187b. in 1996, 2nd national Narbonne against 5,037b. in 1998, 2nd national Perpignan against 5,037b. in 2004, 2nd and 7th national Perpignan against 3,808 in 2005, 2nd national Souillac against 5,985b. in 2005, 3rd national Narbonne against 5,619b., and 3rd national Cahors against 8,851b. in 1995.
But we also often find the name of Erik Limbourg associated with ace-pigeons several years back. In 1991, 1st and 2nd national ace-pigeon KBDB long distance with "Alibaba" and "Grote Barcelona."
1994: 1st and 9th national ace-pigeon KBDB long distance with "Nieuwe As" and "Kleine Barcelona" (brother of "Grote Barcelona"). 2005: 1st national ace-pigeon KBDB long distance with "Lucky 77."
A few years ago, we interviewed Erik for SiegelPigeons.com, but after such an impressive season it would be a shame not to do an updated interview.
"What do you think about my new lofts?" asks Erik while he gives me a good smelling cup of coffee. "Nice… very nice," I answer. "But to be honest, I don't see a big difference from your old lofts." Erik replies, "That is true. Loft builder Herman Van Ostaeyen made a very nice copy of my first lofts. A lot of things stayed the same. Only a few details were changed. Now I have only two entries, which service five different lofts, and I have the possibility to ventilate in a much better way. Maybe you know that special 'green' wire screening that I've used. The wind may blow hard outside but you don't feel that wind on the inside of the screen. Well I have the possibility to put those in an easy way in the windows. For the rest, I copied the original design of a corridor in front of the different compartments. A little, but not too much, glass in the roof and a wooden floor (so I still have to clean all the lofts every day). I realised that it can be very dangerous to change totally a loft, but if I see the results won with this new loft then I don't think I need to be afraid that this loft is badly constructed. Also the loft where the hens are raced on widowhood is totally changed. Everything is adapted to make sure that the hens cannot pair up with each other. We will speak later about this hen system."
Erik continues, "I began the season with 28 old and 48 year birds. Before the racing season started, these widowers didn't breed but only nested for a few days. My widowers never breed before the season. You want to know the exact date when I couple the widowers for a few days' nesting? Don't ask me. I never have an exact day in mind. A trip abroad, the weather, the condition of the birds-those are all factors which influence my decision whether or not to couple. Sometimes they even nest twice before the season, but in 2005 it was only once. It was the middle of February when they went together and after 10 days they were on widowhood."
"With a few days of good weather, the first training tosses are set for the program," Erik explains. "At the beginning of April all widowers and hens were trained. They twice at 170km, twice at 335km and then the old widowers went to Vierzon (480km). Two weeks later was the Brive national. After Brive they were basketted for Cahors and then the group was divided into two teams. Team 1, the group with the best widowers, saw the release place Orange and Souillac. After Souillac, the season was finished for those birds, and only a few were basketted for Perpignan. The second team, with widowers who were in a certain way already selected out, flew Limoges."
"With the year birds, the season didn't go as I wished," Erik confides. "A very bad race from Dourdan killed the first condition and it took the birds a few days to come all safe at home. A few days later, I saw that the year birds were very ill. Their head looked twice as big as normal. I went to specialized pigeon vet Dirk Moens, and he recommended to give a mix of antibiotics and no basketting for certainly two weeks. I did as he said, and the year birds were trained again. After a 170km race, they went to Bourges but the condition was more than far off. I already had 15 hens at home before one cock was clocked. Again they stayed home for one week and then they were basketted for Chateauroux (500km). They were unlucky. It was a very bad race and again it took them all their power just to come home. Unbelievable! Again they were treated and went to Montluçon. This time they had a normal race and they distinguished themselves very well. O.K. I said to myself, they're on the right track."
"Two weeks later I saw that the condition was much better and I basketted them for La Souterraine (550km). Believe it or not but again, due to the very bad weather, they had a bad race. Even my best year bird died on the field of honour. Again they got some rest and then they were basketted for Limoges, and this was a race with normal results. But thanks to a tricho-cure (see later in the report) even a blind man could see that the top condition was yet to come, and some weeks later their condition exploded with a lot of top results on the last national races of the season. Then we talk about the 6th international Narbonne and four birds by the first 100, and 2nd national and 5th international Perpignan. And so I can say that the season with the year bird cocks ended well."
STRONG WITH HENS
Erik continues, "I know that in Belgium few fanatic widowhood racers have their questions about the top results made by hens. Certainly the fact that hens can be weekly basketted for 400 till 500km races is considered very suspicious. To be honest, a few years ago I also had my questions till I decided to start also with a hens' team. I can say that I was amazed at how quickly these hens recuperated from a race, how calm they are in a basket ,and how easy they can be basketted for different distances. This season I started with 40 hens. Only six of them were selected out, because they started to pair up with each other, so I could basket 34 hens every week for the whole season. Fanciers who want to race with hens must have a specially constructed loft. Never put some hens in one or another loft. No, you must construct the loft in such a way that they don't have the possibility of pairing up with each other. I have three compartments. One compartment has special hen boxes and a special floor on which it is very difficult to sit. The second compartment is the place where I feed them, and the third compartment is a loft with boxes where they come together with their cock before and after the race. My system is that I always have a number of hens that are paired up with the same cock. Hens are always more jealous than cocks and this you have to play out."
"Before basketting," Erik explains, "I follow this scenario. The first hen comes together with the cock in their box, and after about ten minutes the second hen also comes into the loft. It is such that the first hen and the cock sit together and the second hen is sitting on a perch just in front of the box. After a maximum of five minutes, I take the first hen away and then the second hen may join the cock for about 10 minutes. The hens are normally basketted for the same race and the hen who is first to come home may go with the cock and for two hours. The second hen must sit on the perch in front of the box and after the first hen has enjoyed the cock for two hours, the second hen may also join the cock for two hours. I can assure you that the second hen is in most cases extra motivated for the next race."
"De Blauw 738"
"Some fanciers say that it is impossible for the hens to beat the widowers
on the races of 700, 800 and 900 kilometres," Erik says. "Well, I'm not
sure. I think it is possible but you have to adjust your system a little
bit. I'll explain. In the beginning of the season, you can certainly basket
the hens every week. Short distance in April, middle distance in Mayand
even a 600 km race in the first weekend of June. But then you have to
be careful, and I think the following 'week system' is very good. Week
1: basketting for a long distance race. Week 2: resting. Week 3: a 300km
race. And Week 4: again a long distance race. One thing I have learned
till now is that the hens need to fly a 300 km race the week before they're
basketted for a long-distance race. If you let the hens rest the week
before they're basketted for a long- distance race then you will certainly
make a very bad result."
"Another big advantage on my system," Erik says, "Is that in the loft with the cocks you can always pair some couples and then race those hens with youngsters of a few days old in the nest. This can be done without disturbing the others hens which are still raced on widowhood."
DID YOU SEE IT? ERIK LIMBOURG DIDN'T WIN A PRIZE
I have to ask, "Erik is it true that on a certain weekend you didn't win a single prize?" "Yes," he shrugs. "That news went very quickly around the world. It was the weekend of Limoges for the two-year-olds, a weekend with the best weather of the world. Just counted 10 cocks and 10 hens were basketted for Limoges and three hens (with two really top hens) for Argenton. The fact that I didn't win a single price is a lie. I won in the back of the result a little prize on Argenton. That I only won a stupid prize on Argenton (with only three birds in the race) is always possible, but that I didn't win a single prize in Limoges was not possible! Fanciers who come here to watch the pigeons come home from a race know that I'm not a good 'loser.' The fact that a lot of fanciers quickly went home says enough that I was not in a very good mood. When the first pigeons, which were basketted for Limoges, came home, they didn't got the time to enter their box. Immediately they were removed from the loft. The hens, basketted for Argenton, could enter the loft and could go with their cock. A few hours later, when I had calmed down, I said to myself, 'Erik, the fact that you didn't win a single prize is not the fault of the birds, but yours.'"
" I contacted my good friend Michael Coppens and together we visited the vet Vandercruyssen from Oosterzele. With two hens, which failed on their last race, and two superb cocks (which had flown Orange a week earlier) in the basket I went to the vet. He examined the birds and said, 'These birds have trichomoniasis at the highest level.' 'That is not possible,' I replied. 'Then there are two possibilities,' answered the vet, 'Either you treated your pigeons with sugar water, or your birds are immune to the medication which you're treating with at this moment.' It was more than time to treat and with the needed medication under the arm I went home. I treated the birds and after this treatment my birds got a real condition-explosion. In four weeks' time I won three times the 1st provincial."
"Is feeding racing pigeons an art?" Erik asks. "In a certain way, yes! A lot of fanciers ask me how I feed, and I can never answer this question. Not that I don't want to answer but I feed according to the situation at that moment. The following questions in my mind are daily every day. Which race had the birds behind them? Which will be the next race? How are the weather conditions? How is it with the appetite to eat? How do the pigeons feel when you take them in the hand? All of these things influence my feeding method. I work with several mixtures. There is a protein poor mixture, a widowers' mixture and a mixture very rich in fat."
"When we talk about supplements," Erik continues, "then I can say that I give these products always individually. Why? Well, when you put something on the mixture then I see that the pigeons don't eat so well any more and that is something that I don't want.'
Erik explains, "On the medical scene, I give in February a 10-days treatment against parathyfus with Cosumix or Baytril. After this treatment all pigeons are vaccinated. Also a tricho-cure is made and when I see that the 'heads' are not clear then the tricho-cure is strengthened with Soludox. Also I drop my birds on regular base with Terramycine eyegel."
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What a nice name for this superb widower, a name which is also known by people who visit a casino now and then. "I had a real good contact with this bird," says Erik. "'Lucky '77' is everything except a Rambo-type. As a result, he never defended his box in a good way, and other birds would always fight him out of his box. I had to close him up during the whole day. Only when I was in the loft could I let him free, and I made sure that he stayed the boss in his box. When he was free, he grew to twice his size, just as if he were saying to his loft mates, 'Look how strong I am!. Now you're scared of me! I think the fact that I let him free each day was the motivation for him to come home quickly."
Erik concludes, "Meanwhile 'Lucky 77' has been transferred to Taiwan, but first I bred a lot of youngsters from him. I also bought the 3rd and 4th national ace-pigeon long distance and also out of them I bought a lot of youngsters, and the purpose is to cross those birds and hopefully the crossings of these birds will be successful. You see, the pigeon sport for me is also always looking for better birds.
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