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  News >Henri Menten
  Henri Menten:
1st National Champion
Youngbirds Short - Middle

by Stefan Mertens


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Henri Menten

The Garden Loft

Herselt. Do you remember that last year we made a report about Jos Van Den Branden (Zoerle-Parwijs)? Jos was in 2001 national champion young birds short- and middle-distance. When I made the report about Jos, I had Henri Menten as a companion to guide me to Jos. In 1999, Henri was already 1st national champion young birds (short- and middle-distance) and is a very good friend of Jos Van Den Branden. And now it comes--one year after his friend, Henri became again national champion. Unbelievable, but true. Here's the story.


Henri, 63 years old, was as a child very interested in racing pigeons. His father was not a fancier, but his uncle Louis Dekkers was one of the top fanciers in the area, on the short distance. Henri raced for10 years in partnership with his uncle, and thanks to him Henri learned all the secrets in the pigeon sport. So, Henri was not a real beginner when he started to race in his own name. In 1973 he built his house and constructed very nice lofts at the same time. Some pigeons from Uncle Louis came with Henri to the new place and a new start was made.

"In 1993, I made the deal of my life," explains Henri when we asked with which pigeons he was more than successful. "I went to top fancier Theo Ijskout (Hulshout) and I bought about 20 Yskout pigeons. The base of my loft is formed with daughters and sons from all the topbirds from Ijskout, and then I'm talking about children from 'Musty,' 'Klein Zwart,' 'Prinses,' 'Superstar' (3rd national ace-pigeon middle distance 1996), 'Witte Bourges' 'Visoog,' 'Playboy.' From the couple 'Zoon Visoog' X 'Daughter Playboy' I bred 'Guylian' (6422538/99), a top racer but also a top breeder."

"Everybody who follows the pigeon sport a little bit has looked with admiration at the results of the combination Van Leest-Peeters (Nijlen). Also I was more than impressed, and on a nice spring morning I visited Van Leest-Peeters. To be honest I was immediately in love with those birds, and when I went home I had a couple of youngsters from the top birds 'Prins Charles' and 'Jonge Bobby' in my basket. And I must admit that the crossing with the Ijskout pigeons was more than successful. So I can say that I have 70 percent Ijskout birds, 30 percent Van Leest-Peeters pigeons and the rest Jos Van Den Branden."


The racing program for old and young birds is everything but heavy. No bird is basketed more than 10 or 11 times in one season. The 12 widowers are coupled on 25 November and may breed a couple of youngsters. On 20 March they're coupled a second time and may brood for maximum of five days. During that brooding period the first training flights are made and in five steps the widowers are training from about 40 km. Normally the widowers are only basketed for Noyon and sometimes on the middle distance. It all depends on the racing facilities. As already mentioned, the widowers are not raced a long time. The first race is the first week-end of April, and by the middle of July the season is already finished. Because of this kind of handling, the career of a widower lasts longer.

"The secret in the pigeon sport," Menten explains, "is the hard selection. And I can say that I select very hard. From the 12 widowers, only three survive. The rest make places for yearbirds. Some of the best old birds go to the breeding loft. I can say that it is rare that I have a widower older than 3 years."


Inside the
widowers' loft


Menten's aviaries

The new youngbird

The loft ventilation


And here in the young bird loft we don't find a lot of pigeons, either. Believe it or not, but only 50 youngsters are weaned every year. Here, too, Henri is a very hard selecter. "Maybe you won't believe me, but the breeding in 2002 was not good," he confides. "From the 50 youngsters, there were 17 that never saw the inside of a basket. Bad feathers, too big, bad wings--I don't allow them in my loft."

"Once the youngsters are 14 days old, young cocks and young hens are separated and they stay separated till the end of the season," Henri continues. "They are never trained together and never basketed together. The young hens are raced at the middle distance and are darkened from March 1 until the end of May. This is long enough, because at the end of August I have already stopped racing them, and then they have moulted about three wing feathers. By darkening youngsters, you have to wait a little bit longer than normal for the condition but this suits well for the middle-distance races."

Menten goes on to explain, "The young cocks are not darkened and are raced at the short distance (Quievrain and Noyon). Once I made an exception for 'Guylian' because when he came home from a short distance race it always took him 10 minutes to enter the loft. For punishment he went to the middle distance and he stayed there the whole season."

"Around April 10th, I start the first training flights for the young birds," Henri says. "In about eight steps they are at a distance of 40 km. Once they have their first Quievrain race in the wings, I stop training them between two races, because youngsters train very hard around the loft. If I raced on the nest, then I would drive more than once a week with my youngsters between two races."

"Motivation is very important for youngsters and therefore I use a kind of open-door system," Menten explains. "Before basketing I put five old hens with the young cocks and five old cocks with the young hens. It is clear that not everybody gets a partner. The offer is limited and being quick is the message. If you're fancier enough, I think you can perfectly imagine what happens at the Menten loft before basketing. One old cock and two young hens or an old hen with two young cocks--motivation is the secret here."

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Feed mixtures are stored in these
special bins.

2nd place winner
in the 2001Olympiad
South Africa

The wing of "Guylian"


Wing of "Annick"


Wing of "Gianni"



Menten continues, "The young birds get the same mixture for the whole season, namely 70 percent racing mixture and 30 percent Super Diet. The youngsters are fed one hour before they train, and it takes until the afternoon to eat everything. In the evening, after the training, they are fed a second time. Although the youngsters are fed enough, I never have problems with the youngsters entering. To land on the roof of the loft is not possible because I put a wire on the roof. And from the first time that they come outside, I use a stick to 'show' them the way."

"The young hens stay during the day in an aviary," Henri says. "The aviary is just behind the loft and is only open at the front. In the evening they can enter the loft were they stay in little boxes. In that way the pairing is avoided a little bit. The young cocks can choose where they want to sit. Or they enter the aviary or they stay in the loft."


The top breeder in the Menten loft is "Guylian" 6422538/99. "Guylian" was 2nd Olympiad pigeon South Africa and has the following results to his name:

20th Sens 2031 p. - 7th Sens 2348 p. - 14th Sens 2885 p. - 8th Toury 1521 p. - 77th Toury 2277p. - 7th Noyon 2363p. - 2nd Noyon 1986p. - 20th Noyon 1353p. - 14th Quievrain 1476p.

35th Noyon 1130p. - 35th Noyon 1447p. - 3rd Sens 493p. - 4th Sens 583p. - 9th Sens 604p. - 24th Sens 632p. - 5th Toury 946p. - 15th Sens 553p. - 1st Noyon 672p. - 105th Noyon 568p. - 2nd Noyon 471p.

His father is "Floere" (Theo Ijskout) 6239874/98. He comes out of "6613575/96" (son of "Ali" (6423607/93) X "Musty" (6303029/92) X "Visoog" 6373739/90 (daughter of "Zwarte 77" X "Bourges duivin").
Mother is "Anke" (Theo Ijskout) 6239868/98. She comes out of "De Playboy" (6423650/93) X "Sylvia" (5299214/96).


"ANNICK" 6130032/02
Father: "Den Berre" 6234227/01 Van Leest-Peeters
Mother: "Betty" 6433125/00 daughter "Guylian"

1st Pithiviers 217p.
4th Sens 1197p.
11th Sens 645p.
14th Marne 899p.
36th Pithiviers 3075p.
55th Pithiviers 1280p.

"GIANNI" 6130026/02

Father: "Zidane" 6433130/00 Son Guylian
Mother "Yasmine" 6383506/98 Theo Ijskout

1st Quievrain 1265p.
1st Quievrain 701p.
2nd Quievrain 607p.
3rd Quievrain 1744p.
9th Quievrain 1550p.
10th Quievrain 532p.
14th Quievrain 1111p.

"DE BOURGES" 6130036/02

Father: "De Witpen" 6422573/99 Theo Ijskout
Mother 6234226/01 "Tanja" Van Leest Peeters

3rd Noyon 731p.
72nd Pithiviers 1255p.
41st Pithiviers 3251p.
14th Sens 2135p.
2nd Bourges 668p. - 77th national Bourges 40.471 p.

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The "011/02"

The wing of "011/02"



To become national champion, you have to take the best six results with 1 and 2 nominated. A minimum of two of the six results has to be won on the middle distance.

1st nominated 2nd nominated 06/09 Quievrain 1550 young birds 9 47 06/16 Quievrain 1265 young birds 1 2 06/22 Sens 1197 young birds 2 51 07/20 Sens 645 young birds 11 2 07/28 Quievrain 701 young birds 1 21 08/10 Quievrain 532 young birds 10 3


05/01 Quievrain 143 yearbirds: 2-3-5-6-7-10-12-15-16-22-27-34 (12/12)
05/26 Quievrain 125 yearbirds: 1-4-5-7-12-20-31 (7/11)
06/09 Quievrain 1550 youngsters: 9-11-47-119-255 (5/5)
06/16 Quievrain 1265 youngsters: 1-2-122-151 (4/4)
06/16 Noyon 1344 youngsters: 3-5-15 (3/5)
06/22 Sens 1197 youngsters: 2-4-51-55-70-111-156-237 (8/8)
06/23 Quievrain 1111 youngsters: 14-17-39 (3/3)
06/29 Quievrain 3075 youngsters: 36-50-96-191-195-226-565-322 (8/8)
07/20 Sens 645 youngsters: 2-6-11-14-25-27-30-53 (8/9)
07/20 Sens 2135 youngsters: 14-69-74-76-409 (5/5)
07/21 Quievrain 607 youngsters: 2-3-20 (3/3)
07/21 Noyon 1143 youngsters: 11-59-73 (3/3)
07/27 Marne 899 youngsters: 3-14-43-110-119-249 (6/6)
07/28 Quievrain 701 youngsters: 1-21 (2/2)
08/11 Quievrain 532 youngsters: 3-10-119 (3/3)
08/24 Pithiviers 217 youngsters: 1-18-42 (3/3)

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