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  News > Surkijn_Reyniers_VanOeckel_VanRenterghem

Gaston Surkijn,
Henri Reyniers,
Bart Van Oeckel, and
Geert Van Renterghem --
Belgian Champions of 2011:
Argenton, La Souterraine &

by Stefan Mertens


Click on any photo for larger version 

Gaston and friend
with the Argenton

The winner

Wing of
the winner

3rd national

Lofts of
Gaston Surkijn


Lummen, West-Limburg is well known as the cloverleaf, one of the busiest traffic points of Belgium. It’s near Diest, in the line of Tessenderlo. Here we visited a very happy Gaston Surkijn, with only four old birds in the race and he won gold and bronze.  This is wonderful because some weeks ago, on the semi-national race from Jarnac (16/07/11), his old cock, which was the fastest of 3,187 pigeons, was taken out of the results because the bird wasn’t subscribed under his name with the KBDB. Talking about a sporting revenge!

Argenton (557 km): He clocked at 13.43.45  (1620,96 mpm) and 13.45.17  (1613,78 mpm).  Gaston won 1st  and 2nd Provincial Limburg, before the Verboven Brothers, Lummen, who won 3° and 4° place. On a national level he won 1° and 3°; silver was for the Walloon colony Putseys Patte, Houtain, who also have a strong season this year.

Heavy middle distance: Gaston participates in all big heavy middle distance races up to and including Jarnac.  He has a team of 35 widowers. His colony is mainly based on pigeons of fellow fanciers of his neighbourhood, who all play very well like: Verboven Brothers, Molenaers (string Golden Ace – 1 Nat Ace MD KBDB – base Clerinx) – Verreckt Ariën, Jos Das, Ivan Stockmans, and of course the breeding together with his friend Beutels (who also bred the national winner).  In the breeding loft, we find about 15 pairs, and every year he bands about 100 youngsters.

The system of 2011: The racers were paired at the beginning of February and they could raise a youngster.  Once the little ones were 14 days old, the hen moved with one youngster to the compartment of the youngsters.  The cocks had to raise the other one. At mid-April, the first training flights started and afterwards, once Bourges, and every week a group is chosen to leave for a heavy middle distance race like: Bourges, Chateauroux, or La Chatre.  When the birds return back home, they get electrolytes in the drinking water and a mixture of sport and diet to eat. Next diet and about three days before the race, he turns on to a good sports mixture.  When the birds are called inside after the training, they always get some peanuts, and the national winner, the “Slimme” knows this as the best.  That’s why he got his name, which means the clever one.  He often comes to see if there isn’t something extra, and when there is, he’s always the first to get it.

"The Slimme"  5015341/09
Was bred by sports friend Louis Beutels, Lummen.

His most important prizes of 2011 are:
  4 NANTEUIL      135 p (267 km)
 14 Sector west  1170 p
 11 GIEN          152 p (409 km)
 53 Sector West  1058 p
232 Prov.        5950 p
 15 GIEN          101 p (409 km)
 71 Sector West   495 p
186 Prov.        2360 p
  4 BOURGES       488 p (477 km)
 11 Prov.        3541 p
 40 NAT         24676 p
 24 BOURGES       137 p (477 km)
156 Prov.        1342 p
  1 ARGENTON       73 p (557 km)
  1 Prov.         429 p
  1 NAT.         3518 p

Sire: 5046704/07 – 1° Ace 2007 father 1 Nat Argenton
Gr.S. : 5021014/01, Brother Goede hen, directly Molenberghs
Gr.D. 5041832/04, top racing hen with 1, 4, 5, …
Dam : 5039577/08, the Gaston hen, mother 1 Nat Argenton
Gr.S. : 5113995/06, Bl Wpen Gaston – son Bl Verboven x Half-sister Golden Ace 1 Nat Ace MD KBDB
Gr.D. : 5044050/04, Blue 2x1


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Henri Reyniersl

"Black Beauty"

Wing of
"Black Beauty"

Reyniers's lofts

Inside the loft


Lubbeek is situated in the triangle created by the towns of Waver – Leuven – Tienen – Diest . There, in the Ledigheidstraat, we visited Henri Reyniers. For several years, his is one of the best colonies on the heavy middle distance in the large union of Obrafo-Tienen. Henri has been a fancier all of his life, but there was a short interruption (around 2000) because he didn’t have enough time to spend with his feathered friends. Once he had more time and a lot of help from his wife Viviane, he could restart in our sport.  In 2004, he already won 1st  Nat Vichy old birds, also with a yearling hen on nest. She was the fastest of 13,534 p. This year, he already won 1st Prov. Bourges Union Brab against 2,752 Yrl. …..

BLACK BEAUTY  - 2205015/10

This winning hen was played on widowhood.  As a youngster she was only trained with 2 x Momignies (110 km) and 2 x Soissons (200 km), and that’s the reason why she was played more carefully this year than the others, which had more experience. Nevertheless, we already find on her prize-list: 8° Vierzon 239 Yrl, a victory in Obrafo from Bourges against 643 p and 43° National against 12,607 Yrl. from Bourges II. From Argenton, she was clocked at 13h29m35s at a distance of 536,146 km and a speed of 1626,73 mpm.

The second on the stage was the duo Surinx Pletsers, Nieuwerkerken (Prov. Limburg) - , 3rd Roger Grootjans , Kerkom (Prov. Brabant) – 4th J Janssens, Eksel (Prov Limburg) – 5th Herbots Brothers, Halle Booienhoven (Prov. Brabant). A fast race but one by standing and falling because the pigeons had strong wind, dark clouds and a lot of rain.
Between Bourges and Argenton, this Black Beauty was motivated by two short training flights from Gembloux (+-45 km) in the week before Argenton and before basketing she had her partner for about an hour.


Sire : 2052185/07, Breeder, which won 3 Pithiviers 711 p – 27 Nanteuil 595 p – 29 Sens 291 p - … also father of 266/09 (100 Nat La Souterraine 17814 p – 145 Nat Gueret 14245 p.)

Gr.S. : 2244951/04, Blue Top-breeder, basic cock of the loft, grandfather 7, 26 Nat Argenton’07 – grandfather 218/09 (3° Best youngsters of Belgium on the national races) ….
Gr.D. : 2244914/04, Red Top-breeding hen, basic hen of the loft

Grandmother 7, 26 Nat Argenton’07 – grandmother 218/09 (3° Best youngster of Belgium on the national races) ….

Dam : 2052290/07, daughter 1 Nat Vichy’05

Gr.S. : 6355990/04, Breeder, Brother Blauwe As (he was As MD Region Leuven’04 – father 15 Nat Argenton 14534 p….)

Gr.D. : 2244930/04, Anaïs, 1 Nat Vichy’05, fastest of 13534 p. ….


Henri Reyniers has a lot of space and several lofts.  He thinks it’s important that the pigeons have a lot of oxygen. That’s why we find an open aviary in front of almost each loft, and otherwise the front is covered with wire so every compartment has a lot of ventilation. 

From the middle of October till the beginning of March, all pigeons stay in the open aviaries.  They don’t get outside, but they still have a lot of air so they build enough resistance. The racers get paired on March 1st and they can only breed.  In 2011, Henri started with 26 cocks on widowhood and a group of 20 hens also played on pure widowhood. During the week, they can sit on their little shelves in front of their boxes and upon their arrival, their partners are waiting.


A few times each year, Henri visits his vet Raf Herbots, but he keeps the medical care as simple as possible and he only gives something if necessary.  Every three weeks he treats against canker (he sometimes uses ¼ Flagyl – Spartrix or a product from Raf).  He regularly uses Zell Oxygen and Optimix over the food, and once a week beer yeast and yogurt to keep the intestines in balance.

Some results of 2011:
21/05 Vierzon (455 km) – 330 Yrl. Obrafo : 1, 9, 10, 12, 14, 19, 22, 31 (9/18)
28/05 Bourges (457 km) – 1198 Old – Obrafo  : 5, 7,   (4/4)
985 Yrl. : 1, 6, 38, 69, 102, …. (17/24)
04/06 Chateauroux (507 km) – 909 Old : 25, 53, 90, …(5/8)
928 Yrl. : 36, 42, 49, 73, 86, 88, …. (11/17)
11/06 Chateauroux (507 km) – 608 Yrl. : 3, 33, 63, 76, 78, … (11/16)
18/06 La Chatre (522 km) 1091 Yrl. : 10, 47, 102, 117,   (15/26)
25/06 Montluçon (530 km) – 924 Yrl. : 3, 9, 44, 84, 100, … (7/12)
02/07 Argenton  (536 km) 685 Old : 15,  (2/3)
1168 Yrl; : 4, 7, 23, 27,  63, 66, 68, 80, 81, 86, 110, 112, 120, ..(22/27)
09/07 Moulins (495 km) 485 Yrl. : 9, 12, 17, 49, 50, … (8/10)
16/07 Blois (446 km) 255 Old : 7, 11, 13, 63,  (5/7)
269 Yrl. : 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 16, 24, 42, …. (11/17)
24/07 Nevers  (450 km) – 474 Yrl; : 9, 19, 22, 24, 32, 34,   (9/10)
30/07 Bourges (457 km)  643 Old : 27,  49,  (2/4)
769 Yrl; : 1, 2, 11, 26, 35, 46, 47, 91, 93, … (14/24)
1623 Youngsters : 12, 20, 125, 147, 150, …  (15/37)
06/08 Blois (446 km) 243 Old : 2, 55  (4/15)
13/08 Argenton (536 km) 355 old : 1, 21, 41, 47, …. (14/16)
1209 Youngsters: 58, 82, 130, …. (6/22)

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Champion and

La Souterraine winner


Bart's racing loft


breeding loft

Inside the young bird loft

Inside the
old bird loft



Oud-Turnhout: Bart Van Oeckel and La Souterraine -- it seems to be big love forever because already since 2003, he has scored every year at the top of the national results. Let’s see: 36 (’03), 13 (’04), 3 (’05), 1 (‘06), 6 (’07), 26 (‘08), 11 (’09), 10 (’10) and this year  1,  4 and 5 national!  We can easily call him “Mr. La Souterraine”!

These are super results when you know that Bart only started in 2001. Besides two national victories, our industrial baker already represented our country on the Olympiad of Poland (cat. C) with his hen “Miss Poznan.”


Bart started the 2011 season with 41 pairs, which were played on widowhood.

Bart: “I like a system of ‘chaos’ and this means that I have no steady rules. The more irregularity, the more I like it. For example, before basketing, the pairs get together one week but not the other week.  Sometimes I just let them together for two minutes and sometimes for two hours, or they get together on Tuesday or Wednesday but not on the day of basketing…if you know what I mean. Irregularity is regularity! When they get home, there’s no steady system either. The less they fly, the faster they are separated. Some pigeons can still be in the air, when their partner (already at home) moves to the other compartment. I want them to get the feeling that they should hurry home to get cosy with their partner."

"I must admit that I had many losses this year. I started with 82 pigeons, and at the moment there are only  54 left, and hereby my system of chaos manifests itself even more. Some had to look for a new partner, so they were extra stimulated.  Sometimes the partner arrived after a few days and hereby some pigeons got an extra motivation."


"After Gueret ’10, there was a strong selection on the racing loft. The new yearlings arrived in their loft but the sexes remained separated till the beginning of April. I even started the first training flights without the partners seeing each other. The reason why I waited that long can be explained very quickly.  As long as the cocks and the hens don’t get together, the hens will not pair that quickly with another hen. Once they get together, the fancier must pay attention that the hens don’t pair among themselves.  After the racing team did 2 x Quievrain, they could stay together for five days and then the system of chaos was on the rails. Every week middle and heavy middle distance."

"The system of food is the one from Matador and the by-products are those of Herbots. Twice a week, I also use the minerals of Mariën on the food.  On a medical level, there’s a good cooperation with their vet Raf Herbots.
For the two last national races, the team of old and yearling birds was separated into two groups. The first group was paired after Limoges yearlings, and the second group after Bourges II. After Argenton, the first group received a youngster of one day, and the others got a little one of five days last week (after Blois provincial). Well, the 1st and 4th national are of the second group, and the 5th national is of the first group."

The winner is a wonderful blue cock, the “F16” B09-6107016.

Before La Souterraine he already scored with:
5 national Bourges ’11 against 24,676 p.
10 national La Souterraine ’10 4,778 p.
63 national Gueret ’10  2,953 p.
206 national Bourges ’10   17,138 p.
216 national Argenton ’11  11,001 p.
354 national La Chatre ’11  15,780 p.
10 provincial Blois ’10   383 p.
41 semi-national Vierzon ’11   11,062 p.
58 provincial Chateauroux ’10   3,417 p.



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Geert and Annick
Van Renterghem




Wing of "Verona"


Geert's lofts



Inside Geert's loft


Deinze: “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Geert began his story. “Of course, I didn’t expect the pigeons from Gueret so soon. Earlier that day there was a short-distance race in Western Flanders, and the first birds raced at a speed of 1,500 m/m, and I expected the first from Gueret at the same speed. But I was wrong, and luckily I was at the loft when my first was registered. I really can’t explain the way you feel at that moment, and I will never forget the number of the countermark.”


“Before I started with the pigeon sport, I had horses, birds and white pigeons. No racing pigeons but white pigeons to use for weddings.  Every weekend I went to some village to release my pigeons for a wedding. It certainly was a hobby that had its charms, but my colleague, Xavier Verstraete told me to quit these white pigeons and start with the ‘serious pigeons.’  And so I did.  I went to Xavier to get about 10 eggs. The last task of my white birds was to raise the youngsters of Verstraete, and a couple of weeks later, Deinze had a new fancier. A good friend suddenly noticed the pigeons flying around, and he told me he knew Gaby Vandenabeele very well.  ‘I’ll ask him fors ome eggs,’ he said. I thought to myself that this wouldn’t be an easy job, but I was wrong. I was very surprised that I could get some eggs from Gaby. One thing led to another, and now I am in contact with Gaby almost every day. When I have some doubts, I call and ask his advice. I can easily say that 95% of my colony carries the Vandenabeele blood.”


Geert and his wife Annick started the 2011 season with 10 old and 9 yearling widowers, 60 youngsters which were darkened, and 40 that weren’t. All they wanted was to score high on the races from 300 km to 650 km.
Geert: “The season with the youngsters didn’t go as we wanted. Especially the second part of the season had some fatal races and it demanded many feathers. I had big losses, and so I decided to put my two groups of youngsters together, something I would never do.
The young birds have to leave every week, and I try to handle a steady schedule. I use the food of Beyers, especially the Vandenabeele mixture which is almost every day on the menu. For the last four meals, I use Super Widowhood. The by-products I prefer are those of Röhnfried. On a medical level, it’s the same as in many other lofts. Before La Soutteraine, I treated two days with Soludox and then I stopped using antibiotics. At the beginning of the month, all pigeons are treated against canker with ¼ Flagyl or Spartrix. To me it’s very important that I have little aviaries in front of the loft. During the day, the pigeons can choose whether they want to stay outside or inside, and I’m always very surprised when I notice that most like to stay outside."


“The national victory was won by ‘Verona’ (B11-4245831), which is a well-built fabulous hen which was very well motivated. It all started with a couple of youngsters that dropped their eggs in front of the door of the loft, where they started to breed. Because the youngsters are played with the sliding door, the cock was on the other compartment during the week and the hen left her eggs. I took the eggs away and ‘Verona’ (who didn’t have a partner) dropped her eggs in the same corner. She defended her nest like crazy but on the day of basketing, when cocks and hens got together, the cock of the first nest started a fight with ‘Verona.’” Annick had seen it and she helped ‘Verona’ defend her eggs. This must have been the golden motivation because ‘Verona’ raced like crazy to get home.”

Some years ago, Xavier Verstraete mentioned that Geert was a very good fancier and soon everybody would notice him. As we know now, Xavier was right. Well,I want to say that this won’t be the last we see of this colony, and I’m sure this isn’t the last time we will visit this family.

Annick and Geert…congratulations!


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