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A special loft
for the hens
For this report we went to visit the son of a very famous fancier. Personally,
I'm convinced that it is not always easy to be the son of a famous sportsman,
because people will always compare you with your father. Look at cyclist
Axel Merckx, who is the son of the world-famous cyclist Eddy Merckx, or
look at the sons of all famous footballers. People (and the press) will
always compare, and in most cases also conclude, that the performances
of the son are not always of the same level as those of the father.
In a certain way, this is normal because top sportsmen are not born every
day. Also, in the pigeon sport, we can certainly compare the performances
of famous fanciers and their sons (or daughters), and again we can say
that there are big differences. Big differences because not everybody
has the "magic touch" to race pigeons on the highest level. But with one
fancier we can certainly say that this guy-although he's only 35 years
old-has reached the same level as his famous father. Here we're talking
about Sébastien Casaert … son of Maurice Casaert from Néchin.
It was a very rainy afternoon when I visited Sébastien. For me, it was
the first time that I visited him, and I was very impressed by the very
nice, restored farmhouse he lives in. Together with his wife Anne and
his son Hugo (9 years old) they're living in a "personal paradise." A
lot of space and a nice garden with impressive lofts. Sébastien is without
any doubt a guy who knows what he wants, a guy with a target before his
eyes! Curious as we are, we asked about the name Sénéchal.
First we thought it was the last name of his wife, but again we were wrong.
Sébastien explains, "The second name in our combination is the name of
Francois Sénéchal. Francois is a very good friend of my father and a very
busy businessman. When he lived in Leers-Nord (a village in France) he
was looking for a loft manager. He couldn't find a good one, and my father
said as a joke, 'Take Sébastien.' After a little discussion, I decided
to do it, and believe it or not Francois Sénéchal became one of the top
fanciers in France. We raced only during the holidays because I was only
14 years old. Francois Sénéchal was extremely happy and since then we
have been friends for life. Nowadays Francois lives in the south of France
and comes here only to watch the birds come home. I raced with Francois
till I was 22 years old.
I became loft manager for Mr. Hétru (Kain) and again we raced superbly.
The relationship between Mr Hétru and me was not that good, and after
one year we decided to stop our partnership. I was home for only one day
when Silvere Toye (Otegem) phoned me. He asked if I was interested in
working for him, and after a few conversations the deal was made. People
who followed the performances of Silvere a little bit knew that Silvere
couldn't complain about my help. I started with Silvere in 1996, and at
beginning of the racing season of 1999 we stopped our partnership. The
reason was the rebuilding of this farm and the idea to start racing pigeons
under my own name. I explained everything very well to Silvere Toye. He
understood my decision and we will be friends for the rest of our lives."
We're now speaking about the year 2000-the first year that the name Casaert-Sénéchal
came on the racing results. Sébastien explains, "One thing I made clear
to myself is that there are also other things in life besides the pigeon
sport, and therefore I decided to stop being a full-professional. I'm
concentrating myself on one or two disciplines in the pigeon sport and
I try to be one of the best in that category. The fact that I also have
a full-time job doesn't make anything easier."
Aviaries for the
At work on
"When I moved to this place," Sébastien continues, "my plan was to be
the best with the young birds on the national races. The national races
with young birds are always races around the 500km-ideal for the birds
of my father. Therefore, I weaned a few rounds from his loft in my new
lofts. But I wanted to make these birds stronger, and therefore I went
to three other famous lofts, namely Georges Bolle (Kortemark), Gaby
Vandenabeele (Dentergem) and Eric Limbourg (Brussegem). I crossed all
the strains, and in 2003 I was able to start with a very nice team of
young birds. Facts are facts, and I must say that they performed very
well. I was very satisfied."
"In 2004 I followed the same system," Sébastien says, "and the youngsters
performed very well again. Locally, I won almost everything but there
was a lot of west wind and due to that I was not in a good position
to make top performances at national and even provincial levels. Because
of this, I decided to race with year birds also, and in 2005 I started
the racing season with a team of eight yearling hens and 12 yearling
cocks. That year, I became 10th national champion KBDB with the year
birds. In 2006 I started with 22 widowers and 12 hens, and again I was
very satisfied of the results. [See the results at the end of the report.]
I became 6th national champion KBDB great middle distance, won five
provincial races (two times Chateauroux, La Souterraine, Limoges and
Bourges for youngbirds) and 16 times first (without doubles)."
"At the end of November the breeding season starts, and everything that
has feathers on his or her body is coupled," Sébastien explains. "But
I don't couple every pigeon at the same time. No, first I coupled one
loft of widowers and all the breeders. The eggs from the breeders go
under the widowers, and the breeders can immediately start a second
nest. At the same time another loft of widowers is coupled, and again
I put the eggs of the breeders under the widowers. When the eggs are
put under the widowers, the breeding hen goes in the direction of the
aviary, and another hen comes on the breeding loft. At the same time
the racing hens are coupled, and again I put the eggs from the breeders
with the racing hens, and the breeders can start a new nest again. That
last round is bred by themselves. By following this system, I have from
each stock cock eight youngsters with two different hens, and this in
about one month's time. When you do this two years in a row, then you
know the quality of each cock and hen. Those who are not satisfying
are selected out."
"After they have bred youngsters the widowers go to an aviary," Sébastien
continues. "There they stay until the beginning of April. During their
stay they receive a lot of Colombine Tea made fresh daily. A very light
meal is on the menu, which is a depurative with a little maize. During
their two-month aviary visit, they are also vaccinated against paratyphus.
Before the vaccination I treat with Cosumix. The vaccinations are done
with the product Zoozalt. I find their stay in this aviary is very important.
I see this as a kind of 'nature-cure.' Oxygen is the best medication
a fancier can give, and since I follow this system I found that I have
fewer problems with ornithosis. I cannot prove it in a scientific way,
but experience never lies!"
"Normally, at the beginning of April, they come again into their loft
and are coupled," he says, "but in 2006 I waited until the 15th of April.
When they're coupled, they may nest for four or five days, and then
they're on widowhood. In 2007 I organized the second coupling on the
1st of April and on the 8th they were already basketted for their first
race. The purpose is to basket the widowers weekly. Only when they had
a very bad or a few hard races, then I would let them recuperate for
one week. If people ask me if the programme for the widowers is not
too hard, then I always answer 'Je suis un joueur' (I'm a racer)…"
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"Before the racing season starts," Sébastien continues, "I always visit
the vet. Mostly, I only treat against trichomoniasis, with a product based
on ronidazole. For the rest there is not so much worth mentioning. I give
the most common by-products like electrolytes, vitamins and brewer's yeast,
and concerning the feeding I follow the Modern System from the firm Elite.
This feeding system is based on three mixtures: a protein mixture for
recuperation, a protein poor mixture for the following days, and a mixture
very rich in fats for the last days before basketting. Personally, I feel
good about this system. I can work with it and that is very important."
"I follow with the hens approximately the same system as with the widowers,"
Sébastien explains. "The hens are closed up in a special little loft [see
pictures]. Before I had this loft, I closed them up in a box, but the
hens became too 'sexy' and they paired up very quickly with each other.
Since then they're sitting in this special loft, and now I don't have
that problem anymore."
"When the hens were coupled the second time in April," he says, "I didn't
let them come on eggs. No, they went directly on the widowhood system.
The widowhood system stops around the second week of July. Then they can
come on the nest, and the last nationals are flown on that position. The
ladies train once a day around the loft, and for the last two years I
have had the problem that they don't train very well. Sometimes after
five minutes they're already on the roof. I don't care, as long as the
results are superb."
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"Being successful with young birds has everything to do with the health,
the condition of the babies," Sébastien asserts. "Therefore, you have
to be very careful that nothing goes wrong. Don't ask me for a formula.
Every year it is different. This year I haven't had any problems so
far. They received only a five-day treatment against tricho and were
vaccinated against paramyxo, paratyphus and pox. In other years I would
already have had a visit from the young bird disease. I expect it back
this year at some point."
"My purpose," Sébastien continues, "is to race the youngsters weekly
for 400 km races. To be successful at this distance, you have to darken,
and I can say that the curtains stay closed till the 1st of June. Cocks
and hens stay together till the first weekend of July and afterwards
they're raced on the 'open-door-system.'"
"At the beginning of May, when the weather conditions are good, I start
to toss them," Sébastien explains. "Once 5km, twice 15km and then they
go with the club to 80km. Afterwards direction short distance and middle
of July they go already to the 300 and 400km races. A few weeks later
we have the nationals for the youngsters. Young birds may not rest and
have to be basketed weekly. Between two nationals I basket them for
a 300km race. They have to stay in rhythm! For the rest the same system
as with the old birds is followed."
SOME TOP RESULTS IN 2006
1st Chateauroux against 7495 birds with "Slim" (also fastest against
1st La Souterraine against 5621 birds with "Vince" (15 minutes in front
and also fastest against 9103 birds)
2nd Chateauroux against 11,526 birds with "Stan"
3rd Chateauroux against 3391 birds with "Vera"
4th national Limoges against 15,364 yearbirds with "Vince"
5th Chateauroux against 7495 birds with "Xavi"
7th Chateauroux against 2953 birds with "Anneke"
8th Chateauroux against 3391 birds with "Sharon"
9th Chateauroux against 7495 birds with "Betsy"
10th Bourges against 6725 birds with "Hugo"
6th national champion great middle distance KBDB 2006
1st provincial general champion KBDB great middle distance 2006
1st provincial champion yearbirds KBDB great middle distance 2006
1st provincial champion youngbirds KBDB great middle distance 2006
1st provincial ace-pigeon KBDB great middle distance old birds 2006
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