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  News > Henri and Danny Van Avondt

Henri and Danny
Van Avondt:
1st National Ace Pigeon KBDB
Great Middle Distance

by Stefan Mertens


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Henri and Danny
Van Avondt




Henri Van Avondt



Danny Van Avondt

The racing hens


Racing hens'

Haacht: Searching for the best ace bird at the great middle distance, we discovered the famous father-son combination Henri and Danny Van Avondt from Haacht. To know the exact details to win this ace bird competition, we studied the rules and criteria from the KBDB and read the following: "Ace bird great middle distance: the best 4 results with the same bird, prizes in the first 10%, with a minimum of 1.800km on races between 350km and 600km with a minimum of 250 participating birds and 20 participating fanciers per race. This championship can only be won by old or year birds."

Well, following these criteria, "Million" (B06-2075050) from Henri and Danny Van Avondt turned out to be the best bird, and this with a coefficient of 1.833%--a coefficient which is a lot higher than the earlier years, but all this has to do with the cancellation of a lot of races due to the bird flu. Because of these cancellations, many occasions to make a better coefficient disappeared from one day to the next.

The fact is that this title was won by a top colony. The name Van Avondt is certainly not a "one-day-fly" because their result list, with national and provincial top results, has more than an impressive look, this with 83 places in the first ten prizes on national or interprovincial races with as the top result the first national La Souterraine against 13,708 birds in 2002!


To know more about the history of this loft we spoke with father Henri, who says, "My whole life, I'm between the pigeons. Grandfather, father… they were all fanatic pigeon fanciers. As a little child I followed the pigeon sport, but to say that I slept between the pigeons would be exaggerating. I had a lot of interests but during the night I was certainly not dreaming of the pigeon sport. This all changed when I was around 16 years old. More and more, I was present at the lofts, and when I was given the responsibility for one loft, the 'pigeon virus' had definitely found a new victim. For years I raced in partnership with my father."

"In 1964 I moved to this house," Henri continues, "and in 1965, in the loft in which nowadays the widowers are still housed, I weaned the first round out of the breeders from my dad. Short distance was the only thing we knew, and believe it or not, but at the end of the season I was already the champion with the young birds in our club. Then, the pigeon sport was at its highest level. In those days nobody spoke about pedigrees. The only things that counted were superb results and championships."

"A good ten years later," Henri explains, "in 1976, my son Danny also showed interest in the pigeon sport. When he wasn't in the house he was in the pigeon loft. Because I still had to work, the help of my son was more than welcome, and of course that was directly translated into better race results. But you know those young guys. Short distance, that was fun…middle distance, that was something for the real pigeon fancier!"

Henri confesses, "In the beginning, I didn't favor changing distance, but to satisfy my son I let him basket some birds for a race further than Paris. We were more than curious as to how this would end, but after a few races we could already conclude that our birds could win also top prizes on those 350km races. After racing a whole year at the middle distance, my son wanted to compete on one of the most famous races of Belgium, namely the Bourges national. Also here, our short-distance birds didn't disappoint us because we won the 19th national against thousands of birds. We tasted the 'winning mood' on those races, and since 1984 we have told the short distance goodbye and concentrated on the middle- and great-middle-distance races."

Aviary for the hens

In the
widowers' loft



"Our short distance birds did their best," Henri says, "but when they had some heavy races in the wings, we saw that this strain of pigeons could use more power. Therefore, we invested in 1991 with Gommair Verbruggen (Scherpenheuvel). It had to be the month of October when we bought a basket full of eggs. The youngsters born out of those eggs were not raced but went directly to the aviary. There they could grow out. In 1993, we gave them all a box in the breeding loft. That investment was one of the best deals I ever made, because now so many years later we still see the results of the breeding capacities of those birds."

"Of course we invested also by other fanciers," Henri elaborates, "and we can say that we were successful with the pigeons from Gebroeders Aerts (Bevel), Derwa Albert (Herent), Walter De Rijck (Nijlen), Van Leest-Peeters (Nijlen), Baertsoen (Brasschaat), Engels (Putte), Ysschols-Janssen, Alfons Wuyts (Heist Op Den Berg) and last but not least Gebroeders Herbots (Halle Booienhoven). We must say that the last years we were most successful with the pigeons from Herbots Gebroeders."

At this moment the Von Avondts have 30 breeding couples in their loft. Certainly the line of the "Oude 88" and his son the "003-94" are the base birds . For their own use they breed two rounds every year. Breeding couples who have already produced good youngsters stay together. The others are coupled with a different cock or hen, and better breeding results are then of course expected.


The widowers are housed in two lofts, and when we opened the door of the lofts 30 heads were turned to look in our direction. "These are 9 two-years and 21 year birds," says Danny. "For years we have adhered to the principle that a race team has to be built up by a very young team. Our pigeons have to fly a lot, and due to this hard racing schedule, we only want our birds to fly for four seasons. That is one season as a young bird and three seasons as a widower. Once they have fulfilled their years as a widower, they can be moved to the breeding loft.

Danny continues, "The widowers are coupled at the beginning of December, may breed a couple of youngsters, and before the hen lays a second time, she's already moved from the loft. A lot of fanciers couple their birds again in mid-March or at the beginning of April, but we don't couple our birds again. No, after their youngsters are weaned at the end of January, the cocks are on widowhood until the end of the racing season, and then we are talking about mid-August. We tried this system for the first time in 2007, and we must say that we're very satisfied with it. We'll do the same in 2008 and after that season we'll make a final decision.

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Danny explains, "After the last national race-Gueret, in mid-September-we put the new year birds between the selected older widowers. To make sure that everything goes well, we couple the new cocks to the hen that is already used to the box in the widowers loft. You understand what I mean? When a widower is selected out, the hen continues to stay in the loft and is then coupled with the new guy. Then they can brood for five days, and then they're separated till the winter coupling in December. We're a little bit afraid that our widowers would get into top condition during the winter period and therefore they don't train around the loft from October till mid-February. When they're not breeding they receive a moulting mixture, and a lot of natural products like garlic, Biochol, Sedochol, Aviol go into the drinkers or onto the mixture."

Above the
widowers' loft

A youngbird loft

Inside the
youngbird loft

Youngbird loft
for second round

"In mid-March," Danny says, "once the weather conditions are good, we start the first training tosses. The hens come for three days into the loft and several times a day, the cock is tossed. After a few short-distance races, it goes to middle distance and then to great middle distance (races between the 400km and the 600km). For a few years, the widowers were only basketed every 14 days for this type of race, but now we let them fly two races in three weeks' time. Every thing depends how hard the race was, was this race flown in light or very hard circumstances. It is up to the fancier to decide to basket, yes or no."

Danny explains their system this way: "I can tell you already that you will not find a lot of secrets. Due to the fact that our pigeons get a hard racing program, we feed them of course very well. We don't look at a grain more or less. On the menu we have always a racing mixture, only the amount is adapted. How much we feed depends on a lot of things. What are the weather conditions, did they have a very hard or a very easy race? In fact we have one rule… we make sure that the widowers eat till the day of basketting. This is in our opinion very important. Widowers that don't eat enough will never get into top condition, and widowers that aren't in top condition will never eat enough."

"Of course we give by-products," Danny says. "These come from the firm Herbots, and every week we work with electrolytes, brewer's yeast, vitamins and oils. A minor (but for us important) detail is that when an oil mix is given on the mixture, we feed the widowers afterwards again but then with clean food. You see, we give the oil as an extra source of energy, but we have seen that when you put oil on the mixture the widowers will eat always less. Therefore, after we have fed the mixture enriched with oil, we wait an hour and give some more mixture so that the widowers will eat again. Try this at home… you'll see!"

"On the medical scene," Danny continues, "we have complete trust in specialized pigeon vet Raf Herbots. On his advice we decide to treat the race birds or not. Typically, we treat against canker every two to three weeks for two days. Against ornithosis we treat only when Raf Herbots advises this. In 2007 we had a very bad race from Vierzon. After that race we treated our birds for several days. It's lucky that we did that because I believe that due to the fact that we treated in time, we created in a certain way the top condition in our loft. Believe it or not, but after that treatment, we were able to leave the medication closet closed for the rest of the season."

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and ventilation


Japanese trophy


Danny explains, "We also expect results from our young birds. From the first young bird race they have to perform, and this is the case until the last national race, at the middle of September. For the young cocks of the first round, the racing season ends at the middle of August. For the cocks of the second round and the hens of the first and second rounds, the season ends after Gueret National, at the middle of September. We select our future widowers purely on racing results. Not that they have to put weekly top results on paper, but we like to see them a few times at the top of the results sheet. If they can do that, then we know that they have the qualities to perform as a year bird and an old bird. For our young birds, we follow the same system as with our widowers."

"Of course the young birds are darkened," Danny elaborates. "This happens from the beginning of March until the middle of July. After darkening, we give them extra light until the end of the racing season. Also, the future widowers follow this system. During the racing season, we don't toss our youngsters a lot. Only after a bad race or a race flown in very bad weather conditions do we train our youngsters a few times during the week. We only do that to give them new courage."


"De Flor"


"Witpen Pareltje"

Favorite Cock

"Million" is in other words the national ace-bird great middle distance (B06-2075050). This very nice checquer's father is "De Flor" (B04-2180228). "De Flor" won 527th national Bourges 48,553d., 377th national Argenton 23,078d., 3rd Sens 207d., 82nd Vierzon 6,201d., 5th Blois 1,112d., 584th Chateauroux 11,526d., 267th La Souterraine 3,482d., 25th Chateauroux 9,432d., and 123rd Montlucon 7,381d. The father of "De Flor" is the "Geschelpte Engels II" (B97-2174326). That cock won 12th Argenton 9,094d., 6th La Souterraine 2,263d., 24th Vierzon 16,828d., 27th Issoudun 1,614d., and so on. Mother of the "De Flor" is "Zus Geschelpte As" (B98-2245478). She won 60th Argenton 20,538d., and 5th Blois 1,385d.

Mother of "Million" is "Geschelpt" (B05-6079766 - direct from the famous middle-distance loft Baertsoen L en M from Brasschaat). "Geschelpt" is a daughter of his famous "Cippolini" (won 6 x 1st) who was coupled to the top hen "Sonka" (B04-6205201 - 2nd Dourdan 1,075d., 4th Orleans 1,524d., and so on).

Results for "Million": 2nd Sens 564d., 24th Sens 877d., 33rd Blois 1,601d., 315th Bourges 26,984d., 12th Sens 602d., 13th Sens 388d., 3rd Laon 249d., 10th Soissons 596d., 38th Soissons 752d., 11th Sens 438d., 16th Blois 2,836d., 15th Chateauroux 8,218d., 166th national Bourges 16,023d., 3rd national Argenton 5,927d. and 189th national La Souterraine 4,314d.

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Charles Siegel and Son Inc.

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