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  News > Vrebos, Van Oeckel & Gaie

Kristiaan Vrebos
Jan Van Oeckel
& Gaie Brothers:
Belgian Champions of 2011:
Limoges, Bourges
& Châteauroux

by Stefan Mertens


Click on any photo for larger version 



1st National

Eye of 1st

Wing of 1st

Van Oeckel


Neerijse:  Before the opening race of the long distance season, Brive was scheduled, but the organiser, Entente Belge, decided in winter to replace it with Limoges, which is 70km shorter. This is a change that was very well accepted by the fanciers because the number of pigeons that participated counted 2,500 more than last year!

Regarding weather conditions, Limoges was very hard, with a wind that came from the northeast and temperatures of +- 30 degrees. This was not easy for those pigeons that didn’t have super condition. Before the pigeons began to arrive, many among us already tried to figure out where the pigeons would arrive first and they all agreed that the winner would be in the province of the Western Flanders.

When, several hours later, the temporary result appeared, the Western Flanders scored very strongly but the winner was clocked in the province of Flemish Brabant, in Neerijse. We already talked to many fanciers and everyone agrees that what this blue cock, the B09-2036391 of Vrebos Kristiaan did, was great class. At a speed of 1098.48 m/m, he beat the pigeons of Ignace Pollet (Beveren-Leie – 1087.47 m/) and  Francis Lavenne (Eugies – 1082.02 m/m).


Kristiaan: “My father Jean has been a fancier all of his life.  He used to be a very good short distance racer.  Now he helps me out with my birds because being an independent mechanic, I don’t have much time to spend with my feathered friends.  So I’m very grateful that my father does a lot of work in my loft. Personally I’m not interested in the short distance and so I decided to enjoy the long distances. Of course you need to have the exact pigeons for these distances and I found them with: Kris Hebberecht (Evergem), Louis Vanderwielen (Boortmeerbeek), Delstanche (Waver) and De Graeve-Van Geert (Smetlede).

I own a total of 22 old and 12 yearling widowers. On the program I have races like Limoges, Brive, Cahors, Tulle, etc. To participate to the heavy long distances like Barcelona and Perpignan, I only put in two pigeons. Besides my team of widowers, I also have five hens, which have to race a middle distance or a heavy middle distance every week.

The widowers follow the system of “dry” widowhood to prepare them for the season. This dry widowhood means that they get with eggs twice, once in December and once in April, but never get any youngsters.

When it comes down to the food, I use the method of Matador—never full trough but enough. For by-products I use Zell Oxygen (Herbots) and Optimix (Herbots). On a medical level, I try to use as little as possible. Before the season they get a cure to get their heads clean, with (Soludox) and against canker and during the season I visit the vet every three weeks, one time with Raf Herbots (Velm) or Frederick Oosterlinck (Gontrode). Their advice is very important.


The national winner, “Philippe” (B09-2036391) is a fabulous blue cock. Was this cock specially motivated?

Kristiaan: “I put in eight pigeons in for Limoges. I won four prizes of which three were at the top. On a provincial level, against 1,625 old birds, I won: 1, 11 and 17. To try out, before basketing I showed a hen to four widowers and to the other four just their nest-bowl. Result: among four which won prizes, two saw their hen and the other didn’t. So, from now on I just don’t show their hens before basketing."

Kristiaan, enjoy your fabulous victory and congratulations!

National winner Bourges yearbirds
Fastest against 45,056 birds

Oud-Turnhout: The first national race of the new racing season 2011 knows his winners. Just counted 45,056 Bourges flyers went at 7:45 a.m. in the air and with a strong southwest wind...   

The fanciers who live in the “back” of Belgium felt more stress than normal because due to this wind they were in a “better position.”  Also our national winner in the category year birds was very nervous.  His birds performed very well and maybe this could be his day. Thinking about a national win was not the case but if the pigeons would not have performed well, he would have been very disappointed.

But afterwards the result was more than very good with the national win among the yearbirds and the fastest bird against 45,056 birds.

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Van Oeckel
with 1st National

Bourges winner

Head of 1st

Wing of 1st

Van Oeckel's

Inside Van
Oeckel's Loft

Total Widowhood

“In ’74 I started racing pigeons,” a more than happy Jan Van Oeckel begins his story. “My first results were not so good. One week I performed well, a week later I didn’t win a prize. Everything changed when I selected my breeding birds very hard, and I bought birds from Geerinckx (Wommelgem), Gaston Van De Wouwer (Berlaar). 

 I also received pigeons from my son Bart who also races very well.  Also some birds from friend-pigeon fanciers came in my loft, but don’t ask for names because I’m afraid to forget one.

Before, I was a widowhood racer, but because of my son I started to follow the system of total widowhood. My son says you have pigeons to race or to breed and not for sitting in an aviary. I thought about his ideas and I must say he is right.

For the season 2011 I have 24 couples on total widowhood or in other words 48 birds to race. They are housed in three lofts—one loft for hens and two lofts for the cocks. The hens are sitting in a loft with special hen boxes. The loft has no special floor. When two hens are pairing with each other, I put one of them between the young birds.

In other years the racing team is coupled in January and they can breed a couple of youngsters. This year, due to some health problems, I coupled in February and they could only brood for five days. In April I started to toss the hens and two weeks later I started to toss the cocks.  After their first tosses they went twice to Quievrain (130km), 2 x Noyon (240km) and 2 x middle distance (396km).

After those races the hens flew in two weeks’ time Vierzon (480km) and Bourges (506 km). The cocks followed the same program.  Only the week before Bourges they stayed home while the hens went to Vierzon.

For the rest, you cannot call my system special. Each group trains twice a day and as feed they get 50% Super Diet and 50% breeding mixture. Only the last two days before basketing I feed 100% racing mixture. I never feed in a limited way.  When I feed I‘m always with the birds and I look at what and at how much they eat.

De Raket

The name of the national winner Bourges against 20,637 year birds and with a velocity of 1577.08 m/m also the fastest Bourges flyer against 45,056 birds. “De Raket” is a beautiful checker cock of the larger type. Was “De Raket” motivated? Jan says, “Not that I know.  Just like always on basketing day the hens and cocks come for 20 minutes together. Maybe something happened, but to be honest, if so I didn’t see it.

 “De Raket” has as father “James Bond” (B05-6052007). “James Bond” comes directly from the loft of Geerinkcx LBJ from Wommelgem and comes out of the coupling “Dikke” (3rd ace ZAV old birds ’04) x “Donker 680” (2 x 1st).  Mother of “De Raket” is “B06-6116116.” This hen was received as an egg from Patrick Claes.

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Gaie Brothers


Head of "Seba"

Wing of "Seba"


Head of "Louka"

Wing of "Louka"

The Gaie lofts

1st National Châteauroux 20,139 old birds
Fastest of 44,908 pigeons
3rd National Châteauroux 24,769 yearlings

La BouverieEarly on Sunday morning we arrived in Rue des Chalets Finlandais nr. 20, and the first thing we noticed was the beautiful loft...

Upstairs there were wooden lofts and underneath it, the open aviaries. But when we came closer, it seemed that the aviaries contained different kinds of parakeets. Jean Gaie saw we were surprised and he immediately said: “Yes, we’re both fanciers but besides this, my wife and I love the parakeets. With most fanciers, these aviaries would be filled with breeders but those of this colony are staying with my brother Gaston.” 

To be honest; who doesn’t dream of a national victory from such a race as Châteauroux? Well, this dream came true for the brothers Jean and Gaston Gaie from La Bouverie. With anticipation, they waited for their racers to arrive from Châteauroux, when suddenly, at 13.02 hours, straight from the right direction, “Seba” hit the landing. They soon knew that this was an early bird because after some calculation they knew he raced at a speed of 1141 m/m. Exactly 5 minutes later, it was the yearling “Louka” who arrived at a speed of 1126 m/m.


Gaston and Jean inherited the virus of the father and grandfather. In 1987, Jean started being a fancier and about ten years later, the name of Gaston stood next to his. The colony is mainly based on only one name: Casaert. 

Jean: “We have a lot of trust in these birds, and we bought them from Maurice as well as from Sebastien. We can say that 95% of our pigeons carry the Casaert-blood.  We are in contact every week by phone, and we have already received a lot of good advice from these champions.


We started the season of 2011 with a team of 27 widowers, which stay in one big loft and a small one. “Seba”(1st national) is staying in the big one and “Louka” (3rd national) in the other one. All pigeons breed early and once the youngsters are weaned, the widowhood starts and there’s no second pairing in spring. For two years now I have followed this system, and I must admit it has a positive effect on the results.

We always try to limit the number of pigeons in the lofts. We want to have total control without being a slave to our birds. We prefer to know each and every pigeon in our loft.

There’s nothing special about the care-taking of our pigeons. Our main purpose is the game with the widowers.  Till last week, all widowers had to leave every week, but now they’re divided in two groups to be played every two weeks.

The food we use is the Casaert-mixture. At the beginning of the week, they get the purification mixture of Casaert and then we feed them up with widowhood Casaert. At first, the birds get their food in their boxes, and afterwards some more on the floor. We take our time to feed the birds because we like to observe which eat well and which don’t. The last time they get food before basketing, they still get some rich mixture as dessert.


And then of course…were these pigeons specially motivated?

Gaston: “Seba, who won the national victory, showed signs of good condition because he fought like a devil. Nobody or nothing could get close to his box. Even when I took him in my hands, he kept on fighting. When I noticed, I thought everything was OK.

“Louka” was specially motivated. He sits in a little section next to the youngsters. During the week, a young couple was making a nest at the other side of the sliding door. “Louka” noticed and tried everything to get a glimpse of the youngsters.

Gaston and Jean, congratulations!

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Charles Siegel and Son, Inc.

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