Hold image Have room for more birds? You might get lucky in Siegel's Pigeon Giveaway!
Search for products or helpful info:
View my Cart How to Shop Online
Home News Catalog Ask Ed Our Loft Timers Contact Us
  News > Jan Vander Bracht

Jan Vander Bracht:
95 First Prizes in 2007

by Stefan Mertens


Click on any photo
  for larger version

Jan Vander Bracht

The loft view


Jan's base hen

Inside the
youngbird loft

Boxes in the
youngbird loft

Ophasselt: Is it a record? Is Jan Vander Bracht the fancier with the most "pure" 1st prizes in one racing season ever? By pure first prizes, we mean that if a fancier wins for example the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize, that this is counted only as one first prize and not three first prizes the way some fanciers count. I don't personally know this to be 100% factual, but I'm sure that no fancier did better than Jan Vander Bracht in 2007. A rumor that once went around said that fancier Willy Hoebeke from Herzele had won 99 first prizes in one season, but in those years there were also results for hens, and because those have not been allowed anymore for the past few years, I'm convinced that Jan has now won more first prizes than Willy in those days. But maybe it is not even necessary to make this calculation.

But now I hear you thinking out loud-How is it possible that one fancier can win so many first prizes? The season is 30 weekends long for everybody. That's all true… but Jan baskets every week for the most famous liberating place in the world of short-distance races, namely Quievrain. He baskets for Quievrain, so no other races, and this is every Saturday evening (with the races on Sunday) in four different clubs. Also on Friday evening, he's standing in line in one club to basket for a race on Saturday.

Combine this with an occasional special Quievrain race during the week, and then you understand that he has a lot of possibilities to win. But in spite of those possibilities, it is a fact that Jan has clocked 95 pure first prizes. Being curious, we went to visit this short-distance loft. We visited him on the last race day (14th of October) of the season and even on this last race day, Jan clocked three pure first prizes. Just one day after the racing season is finished, the season of his other hobby is starting and then we're talking about hunting. Jan goes every weekend to hunt with three friends. No rabbit is safe anymore around Ophasselt!


Jan is the third generation of pigeon fanciers in the family Vander Bracht. Everything started with grandfather Achiel, and afterwards father Zenon took over. For several years Jan formed a combination with his father, who was living on just the other side of the street. But in 2006 Zenon died, and since that moment Jan raced under his own name, but now from the lofts which are located behind his house. Jan explains, "To be honest, I have already raced for several years from here in my garden. Because I was making a combination with my father, I raced under the name of my son Tim. I'm happy that our family lives and breathes the pigeon sport. Also my brother is a fanatical pigeon fancier. He's my number one supporter."

Jan continues, "Quievrain is my favourite race. I never basket for another race. The reason I do this is because of my job. I work with BRANDWEER and I have very 'strange' work hours. I work a whole week from 7 o'clock in the morning till 7 o'clock in the evening. This is also on Saturday. When I have worked a whole week, then I'm at home for a full week. Because I'm working every two weeks on Saturday it is not possible to basket for other races. When the pigeons come home from Quievrain on Saturday, I always have to ask my wife or a good friend to call the pigeons in and to go to the club with the clock."

"What are my base birds? Good question… but don't expect a lot of big names," Jan reveals. "My first birds came of course from my father, and for the rest I have birds from every where. I'm not going to give you a list of names because of the chance that I will forget to mention one or more of these fanciers. What I certainly can mention is that in 1991 I purchased a white hen of a certain Mr. Wilfried Vermeulen from Sinaai. I raced this white hen, and she won the first prize 11 times. Afterwards I put her in the breeding loft and she became the best breeding hen in my loft. Listen, when I buy something it will always be from some fanciers in the neighbourhood. I always buy young birds, and these babies come between my youngsters and then they have to prove that they're worth keeping. When they perform well, they survive, otherwise they're selected out. I never look at pedigrees-results, that's the only thing that counts in my loft.


Jan relaxes
at the loft


Champion's wing

Hens' boxes

The fancier's room

The entrance
to the racing



I really didn't expect it, but Jan, who is a 100% Quievrain specialist, has a lot of racing birds. Jan says, "In total I have 38 widowers. This sounds like a lot, but if you want to basket every week in four different clubs, then you need some birds. All together, I have three widower lofts: one with 20 cocks, one with nine and another one with nine cocks."

"At the end of November," Jan explains, "I couple my 12 stock pairs and the loft of the 20 widowers. When the breeding hens have laid, I take the eggs away and put the eggs under the widowers. The breeders can start a second nest immediately. The 20 widower couples bring up the youngsters of the breeders, and before the hen lays a second time, she and the youngsters are already put into the young bird loft. For the 20 widowers a kind of winter period has started."

"At the end of February," Jan says, "about three weeks before the racing season starts, the widowers are coupled again. With a lot of fanciers, the widowers may brood a few days and are then on widowhood, but here they may breed a couple of youngsters and for the first races they're basketted on nest position. The reason I do this is that I also want to make a good selection with the hens. You understand what I mean. They also have to perform or they're selected out. In the loft of the 20 widowers, I immediately start with hens and cocks. In the other two lofts, I first start to race the hens and a few weeks later (around the middle of April) I start with the cocks. The reason I do this is that I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket. Sometimes in the beginning of the racing season, there are some 'bad races' and if something goes wrong I don't want my whole team to be knocked out."

Jan goes on to say, "When June comes around, the loft with the 20 widowers is coupled again, and they are raced on nest position till the middle of Oktober. So they have several nests till the last part of the season. Once they're coupled, the hen also goes in the basket, and the second part of the racing season starts for the ladies. The first loft with nine widowers is coupled on August 8th and the second loft on August 22nd . Also those pigeons (cocks and hens) are raced on nest position till the last Sunday of the racing season."


Jan asserts, "About the pigeon sport, we don't have to make it more difficult than it already is. My system is very simple. When there's a race then I basket. Here the racers are basketted between 30 and 40 times in one season. Pigeons that cannot follow this system are selected out."

"Concerning my system," Jan continues, "I follow every week just the same process. Upon the arrival of the widowers, there's always a mix of some depurative, sneaky mixture (a mixture with special small, fine seeds that is considered a "trapping mix") and some peanuts in the box. In the evening the birds again get depurative on which I mix some lemon juice and brewers yeast. This depurative stays on the menu till Wednesday morning. Then the pigeons are fed up little by little. As heavy mixture, I use is a breeding mixture. I never use a breeding mixture at 100%. No, I always mix a little percentage of depurative with the breeding mixture."

"I never race the pigeons on hunger," Jan explains, "but to say that the pigeons get as much food as they want would be a lie. You understand what I mean. You want to feed your birds enough but not too much. All widowers are fed individually and this happens with a soupspoon. In the morning this is a half soupspoon per pigeon, and in the evening a full soupspoon. The last named soupspoon is in the beginning of the week more shacked (not so full) than at the end of the week."

Click here to return to top of page.

A "stop" for the
water bottles

Water bottles

Jan describes his medical approach to the pigeons this way: "I treat three or four times in a season an eight-day program against trichomoniasis. I never treat against ornithosis. The reason why I don't treat for ornithosis is that my birds are never in the basket for long and they are always very quick to come home, so the chance that they will become infected is very small. I am sure to be careful, though. If the birds are not performing as I want, I will certainly treat. I vaccinate against parathyphus each year. I vaccinate all the birds when they have youngsters of about 14 days old in the nest This is around the middle of January. Some fanciers give a 10-day treatment with antibiotics before they vaccinate their pigeons. Well, I don't give that antibiotic. Three weeks after their parathyphus vaccination, I vaccinate all birds against paramyxo."

"Motivation is important," Jan concedes, "but only for those who want to make some top results twice or three times a year. But birds which are basketted 30 or 40 times in a season don't need all this 'crazy motivation.' Here we do the same thing every week. Before basketting, the hens are liberated from their special boxes, and from the moment that they enter the widowers loft and enter their box, the widower is already taken away. He has, in a manner of speaking only the time to say 'hello.' When the pigeons come home from a race, they stay together a little bit longer, but after about 15 minutes, the hen is again taken from the loft."

Click here to return to top of page.

Old birds with
big youngsters

Sneaky mixture

Recording the


Every year Jan breeds around 100 youngsters for his own use. Jan describes his scheme this way: "These babies are housed in three different lofts, and believe it or not but the whole year they stay together. So they're never separated. Also the system with the young birds is as simple as possible. In the beginning of the season, the birds are trained as much as possible, but after some races these tosses are stopped. Also the youngsters are as much as possible basketted for a race from Quievrain. A first selection is made after five races. All the youngsters who didn't win three prizes are selected out. After 10 races there is a second selection, and a third is made after 15 races. By following this selection system, only around 30 youngsters are left at the end of the season."


When we asked for individual results we had a big piece of paper set down in front of us. On this paper all the ring numbers of the racers were noted and behind their number 1, 2 or 3 stripes. One stripe was good for a normal prize, two stripes a prize in the first 20%, three stripes a prize in the first 10%. Against how many competitors was never noted; therefore, he had to take all the racing results and that was so many work. We understood Jan and just noted those which he showed us.

4032549/06: won in 2007 just counted 25 prizes (without doubles) whereby 13 prizes in the first 10% and 4 x 1st , 4 x 2nd, 2 x 3rd, 1x 4th, 1 x 5th.

4071604/06: won last season 32 prizes (without doubles) whereby 16 prizes in the first 10% and 6 x 1st, 2 x 2nd, 2 x 3rd, 2 x 4th and 1 x 5th.

4191722/04: won last season 36 prizes (without doubles) whereby 18 prizes in the first 10%: 6 times 1st, 2 x 2nd , 3 x 3rd, 1 x 5th.

The number of participating birds will sound a little bit crazy to you, but this is so in Belgium. A lot of fanciers are basketting only a few birds, but those birds are always well prepared and motivated. So it is not the quantity of birds but the quality of birds which makes the whole thing not that easy.

Click here to return to top of page.

An impressive

Top condition

A healthy moult

42 old birds: 1-2-3-9-13 (5/5)

179 year birds: 2-3-16-53 (4/6)

30 year birds.: 1-2-6-7-8 (7/7)

118 old birds: 1-2-18-19 enz.. (5/6)

46 old birds: 1-2-3-3-5-6-8-9-10 (10/13)

313 year birds: 3-27-32-45 (4/4)

49 year birds: 1-2-7- etc. (6/7)

28 old birds: 1-2-3-4 (4/5)

50 old birds: 1-2-2-4-8-9 (7/8)

38 old birds: 1-4-6-8-11-13 (7/11)

43 old birds: 1-3-4-13 (4/6)

75 old birds: 1-2-17 etc. (6/8)

59 old birds: 1-2-4- (4/6)

160 young birds: 1-2-3-6-9-10-14-15-16-17 etc. (15/18)

260 young birds: 1-2-7-17-28- etc. (9/19)

322 young birds: 1-5-8-8-10-15-17-20-27 etc. (13/19)

37 young birds: 1-2-3-4-5 (7/8)

132 young birds: 1-8-9-10-11-18-19 etc. (12/19)

201 young birds: 1-2-12 (3/4)

171 young birds: 1-2-4-5-6-9-11 etc. (14/20)

189 young birds: 1-5-8-9-12-29- etc. (15/21)

261 young birds: 2-3-8-9-10-11-12-21 etc. (19/24)

207 young birds: 1-3-4-7-9-19-20 etc. (14/21)

206 young birds: 1-2-4-6-13-28 etc. (15/20)

157 young birds: 1-2-5-8-9-11-14-15- etc. (12/20)

100 young birds: 1-2-2-4-5-6-10-11-12-13-14-15-17-18-19 etc. (17/20)

116 young birds: 1-2-6-7-12-25 enz.. (12/21)

283 young birds: 1-2-4-12-12-14-17-18- etc. (20/24)

193 young birds: 1-2-etc. (4/4)

 Entire site contents © 2000 through 2006, 2007
Charles Siegel and Son Inc.

Click here to return to top of page.