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Den Blauwe 122
Hofstade: We meet a more than happy Francois Tobback when we congratulate him with the winning of the national championship...
Francois explains, “This is really the season of my life. I never thought this would all happen in my pigeon career. My wife Diana, who’s also a fanatic pigeon fancier, said that we didn’t have that good a racing season, and when you only look at the first prizes, then I have to say she’s right. Normally we win about 30 times 1st prizes each year, and in 2010 we won only 18 x 1st prizes. So we didn’t win the number of 1st prizes which we’re accustomed to, but on the level of championships we won it all!”
Important detail: Francois was not only national champion small middle-distance, but also 7th national champion great middle-distance and 8th national champion middle-distance young birds! What a season!
THANKS TO THREE TOP BIRDS
To become national champion, you have to take your best five results with 1st and 2nd nominated old bird, this on races from a minimum of 250km and a maximum of 400km. Last season, season 2010, the coefficients of the winners were very low.
The winner was Francois Tobback with a coefficient of 10.,91% (this for the 10 needed prizes), or in other words, his nominated birds won prizes 1/100 which is really super! Second was Lanslots-Dockx (Merksplas – 11,23%), and third Van Mechelen Luc (Oud-Turnhout – 13,22%).
Francois confides, “I must tell it like it is. Thanks to three super pigeons, I won this national championship. These three birds are the “332,” “315” and “122.”
The “332” (B07-2189332) is Tobback’s best bird in the loft and was in 2010 always his 1st nominated old bird. Just for information, in 2009 the “332” was already 4th national ace middle-distance. The pedigree of this bird is nothing special.
The “332” won:
2007: 8 prizes : 2nd Angerville 313b. – 8th Noyon 424b.
2008: 12 prizes : all from Angerville (347km) : 1/156 – 1/142 – 1/195 – 4/188 – 5/124 – 7/224 - 8/146
2009: 10 prizes : 1st Angerville 471b. – 1st Angerville 1,024b. – 3rd Etampes 1.268b. – 6th Etampes 1,736b.
2010: 11 prizes- all Angerville (347km): 3/653 – 4/772 – 7/661 – 7/2,405 – 17/560 – 29/2,983
The “315” (B07-2189315) won:
2007: 7 prizes – 7th Dudelange 915b.
2008: 12 prizes: 1st Angerville 553b. – 4th Angerville 290b. – 9th Angerville 142b. – 10th Angerville 124b. – 38th national Argenton 6,177b. – 938th national Bourges 16,771b.
2009: 7 prizes – 1st provincial Chateauroux 1,467b. – 16th interprovincial Chateauroux 5,264b. – 51st national Argenton 5,034b.
2010: 8 prizes: 18th Angerville 2,405b. – 24th Angerville 2,983b. – 75th Chaeauroux 8,189b.
The “122” (B08-2113122) won:
2009: 10 prizes : 5th Etampes 409b. – 6th Etampes 350b. – 8th Angerville 713b.
2010: 13 prizes : all from Angerville (347km) : 1/491 – 3/2,983 – 1/374 – 3/2,405 – 1/181 – 13/1,637 – 14/1,032 – 17/1,037 – 2/662 – 19/653 – 22/772.
When we ask if all these top birds are still in the widowhood loft, Francois answers, “Yes. Maybe for the ‘332’ it will be his last racing season. I always say when you race you have to do this with your best birds, otherwise stay home. Next season they will again be my first nominated birds, and we will see how they will perform.”
Francois started racing pigeons beginning in 1970. In 1973 he married his wife Diana, and she was immediately a fanatic pigeon fancier. When Francois had to work as a teacher, she took 80% of all the “pigeon work” on her shoulders. Even now she does a lot of work in the pigeon loft.
Through the years the base of the Tobback colony was formed with pigeons of Louis Pepermans (Zemst), Dendooven (Zuienkerke), Hofkens (Merksplas), Janssen Bros (Francois bought four eggs in ’75 and two eggs in ’77 – one of the “Geeloger”), Felix Pauwels (Herne), Flor Engels (Putte), Alfons Vanderperren (Schiplaken), Desbuquois (Kapelle OD Bos), Van Utterbeeck (Boortmeerbeek – very good breeder!). In the mid-1990s, the daughter of Francois and Diana married the brother of Eddy Janssen (Zandhoven).
Eddy is a top fancier on the middle distance in the province of Antwerp and has almost only direct Dirk Van Dijck pigeons. Through this connection, some Van Dijck birds came to Tobback’s breeding loft, and certainly grandchildren of “De Kannibaal” were a very good investment. In 2005 Francois obtained a couple of Marc Vandaele birds through a friend, these being Gaby Vandenabeele pigeons.
“I have two lofts for the widowers, one very big and a small one,” Tobback explains. “The big loft is built of bricks, and the small one is of wood and situated just next to my young bird loft. In the little loft, I have only eight widowers, and in the big loft I have 33 widowers. My widowers are divided into several teams. A team of 16 widowers is raced weekly on the middle distance. Another team of 20 (two groups of ten) has the great middle-distance races on their program. Then five widowers are basketted for the long distance races. The little wooden loft is the loft of my wife Diana, and I must say that my best widowers are always among those eight cocks. Also last year, my best two widowers were sitting between the eight cocks of my wife. Is it because she’s a better fancier or because it is a better loft? I keep it to the readers to answer this question.”
“All birds (widowers and breeders) are coupled at the beginning of December,” Tobback continues. “They all breed a couple of youngsters. I like to breed youngsters from the widowers, because it would not be the first time that the parents of my best young bird are widowers. Even a widower that is not a top widower can be a good breeder. When the good bloodline is present, a fancier may expect everything. I don’t have a special breeding strategy. If I’m successful with the coupling of a certain line, I will try to repeat this as much as possible. Personally, I like the Van Dijck pigeons very much. I always compare them with the pigeons from Janssen Bros. They also like to win top prizes and they cross very easily.”
In the widowhood loft, the hens are taken away when the youngsters are around 15 days old,” explains Francois. “Then it is up to the widowers to bring up their youngsters. When the youngsters are 25 days old, they are weaned and a kind of winter period is a fact. During that period they are fed light and receive a lot of natural products in the drinkers and on the mixtures. During that period, they get for example a lot of tea and liquid brewer’s yeast (direct from the brewery) on the mixture. Every day my wife makes fresh tea, and to be honest when you have given fresh tea and liquid brewer’s yeast for about two weeks, then you’ll see the result of this natural treatment in the birds. They look healthier, have better droppings, and so on. It is hard to believe if you don’t do the test. At the end of March, the hen comes again into the widowhood loft, and after a five-days’ brood they’re on widowhood.”
Francois continues, “My widowhood system is nothing special. Every week I do the same thing. I don’t do special motivation because I race my widowers till the second week of August. This means a long season for those cocks, and if you motivate them too much or a lot, then they would not perform for the whole season.”
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To explain his feeding, Francois says, “I feed like thousands of other fanciers. I start with a light mixture (2/3 depurative + 1/3 Super diet) in the beginning of the week. After three meals I make the light mixture a little bit heavier, and for the last three meals I feed 100% racing mixture. The last meal of this racing mixture is enriched with 15% maize, 20% of a fat-rich mixture, and some shelled sunflower seeds. I feed all the widowers individually, and I give one soupspoon per pigeon per meal. On arrival day, I mix some baby formula powder (the kind you feed babies) on the mixture. This product is very rich in proteins and allows the pigeons to recuperate much better. I mix elderberry syrup on the mixture. In addition, I give Aviol, electrolytes, and again a fresh homemade tea during the racing season on a regular basis.”
“On a medical level the vet is not earning a lot of money from me,” Francois chuckles. “Against trichomonaisis, I treat with Tricho Plus and I don’t treat against ornithosis.”
“The game with the young birds is not the most important discipline,” Francois confides, “but I enjoy racing that young team. Because I want to make nice results, I contacted specialist Gaston Van de Wouwer to know more about the ideal young bird system. But it didn’t work out like I wished. From the first moment I felt that this system was not for me. The game with the young birds is more intense than the game with the widowers, and maybe that is the reason that I was not that successful with the system of top fancier Gaston Van de Wouwer. We made top results, which attests to the nice place in the national championship, but we lost too many young birds.”
“For 2011 we will do the following,” Francois predicts. “The first round will not be darkened, and the second round will be darkened. Previously, we raced the young birds on a widowhood system, but that system will be replaced with the system from the sliding door. I hope we will lose not that many young birds any more.”
Francois and Diana, thanks for the nice afternoon. I hope I will have to visit you again in 2011 to interview you about one or more top performances!
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