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  News > Ferry and Francine Lambrecht
  News from Belgium and Europe

Ferry and
Francine Lambrecht:
Loved in Belgium and America
by Stefan Mertens

  LUIK: For our first report about the top fanciers of Belgium, I went to Francine and Ferry Lambrecht from Luik. Luik (or Liege for those who speak French) is situated south-east from Brussels and is one of the big cities in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Why did I first visit these fanciers? Well, the reason is simple. Ferry is already a well known fancier in the U.S.A.


Francine and Ferry
The adventure...

Ferry was born in 1942 in Herstal, a little village in the neighborhood of Luik. His father was also a pigeon fancier, and before Ferry could walk he became infected by the "pigeon virus." Together with his father, Ferry became one of the top fanciers in the well known club "Independant Liege." But friends saw in Ferry not only a super fancier but also a great organizer, and they asked him to join several organizations. At this moment, our friend is still president of the "Independent Liege," the club Hesbaye (a group of 72 clubs), and he’s also one of the people who are responsible for the organization of the national race from Narbonne. So we can say Ferry is a very busy man.

But let’s go back to 1987. In that year Ferry, who is a teacher, got the invitation to go to Louisiana to teach French. Ferry and his lovely lady Francine discussed this invitation, and they decided to accept it.

To leave for America was a hard decision because Ferry had to miss Francine for a whole year. Only at Christmas, she came over to visit her husband. And that was only one thing. Another "heartbreaker" was that Ferry had to put all his pigeons up for auction. Now that strong strain of middle distance pigeons was suddenly available for everybody.

  The American Dream...

When Ferry came to America, he didn’t immediately search for pigeon fanciers. In fact, it was by a stroke of luck that he came in contact with racing pigeons again. Ferry explains: "I was on a visit at a colleague’s house, and I explained everything about Belgium. I showed some pictures, pictures of my house, family, etc….Suddenly there was a picture of me at my loft, and my colleague asked if I was a pigeon fancier. Of course, I answered ‘yes,’ and my colleague explained that her father was the president of the local club. She suggested that her father and I could meet each other, and she phoned him immediately. Within a day, I had visited this fancier, Baltha Hughes. We had a very nice talk about our favorite hobby, but Baltha wanted more. He asked if we could make a deal. He suggested giving me some pigeons that I would race from his loft in combination with him. You can imagine that I agreed immediately. I received from Baltha 12 cocks and 12 hens, and I raced them. That same year, the first season that I had those pigeons, I was champion of the Lafayette club. That was in 1989.

"You can imagine that everybody in the club talked about me. A Belgian fancier, champion in America, for me it was a kind of an American Dream. After I became champion, I received a lot of requests to come over to select pigeons. Everybody thought that I knew the ‘key of success,’ but of course it wasn’t so. But the fact that I had a lot of experience could help the American fancier to be more successful. So I accepted the invitations to select the pigeons of several fanciers, but I had one rule. If I said that they had to separate the pigeon, they had to do that, because otherwise, they keep the pigeon, breed with it, and before they know it they have youngsters again from that bird flying around the loft.

"On which conditions did I select the good pigeons? Of course, you have the so-called ‘first impression,’ and you know better than I, that feeling is hard to explain. What I certainly like is a very good wing with a good ventilation between the last four wing feathers. Third, I like well built pigeons, with a soft feather. You must feel ‘the character’ of the pigeon. Personally, I’m not a promoter of the eye-sign.

"At the end of 1989 I came back to Belgium, but of course I kept very good contact with Baltha. One day we came up with a splendid idea. Namely, we wanted to support the American fanciers. Therefore, we organized a special auction. I collected in Belgium from different fanciers 33 pigeons, all of very good origin. With the proceeds of that auction, the fanciers of Lafayette could buy land for a clubhouse. A year later, we organized another auction to raise funds for building the clubhouse. It makes me very happy when I see what they built up over there, and I must say that I was very touched when the fanciers of Lafayette honored me as Honorary President of the Lafayette Club. I’m very satisfied with what I did over there, and now I go three times a year to visit my American friends."

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Lambrect Lofts

Second start...

When Ferry came back from his American adventure, he had to make a second start. There was nothing left from that good old base, so he had to invest again in new strains, in new pigeons. Ferry and Francine thought very hard before they bought pigeons and decided to invest in those of three top fanciers, namely Jan Grondelaers (Opgladbeek - line "Orleans" and "Driebander"), Jean Claude Debieve (Hornu – in 2000 this top fancier won for the fourth time in his career the 1st national Bourges), and The Brothers Van Gilbergen (Blinkom). Since that first year, Ferry has also bought pigeons from Lambrechts-Lismont (Kortenaken, those fanciers won this year first national La Souterraine), Jos Thone’ (As – the man who became several times General World Champion) and Van Der Wegen (Steenbergen – Netherlands, very long distance racers known all over the world). Ferry and Francine’s goal is to become the best in the middle- and long-distance races, let’s say races from 700-800 kilometers or 425 to 500 miles.

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The Champ:
First Clock and
Pool Bird 

Preparation for the season...

In their very nice loft, there are 24 old birds, 30 yearlings and about 120 youngsters. Ferry races only the cocks, and this is always on the widowhood system. The widowers are coupled on the 26th of November. They breed one youngster, and when the youngster is 12 days old, the hen is separated and the widowers raise the youngster alone from that point. This system is followed to make the widowers more attached to their box.

When the youngsters are separated, the widowers come into a kind of winter regime. This means that they receive a lighter feed. Instead of 100% breeding mixture, they get 50% depurative, 25% racing mixture and 25% Super Diet. During this period Ferry stops feeding when they’re still a little bit hungry. Three times a week Ferry mixes brewer’s yeast and lemon juice on the mixture.

In January Ferry vaccinates the widowers against paramyxovirus, pox, and paratyphus. At the same time he mixes vitamins on the mixture. In February, there is a 5-day anti-canker (trichomoniasis) cure on the program, and if necessary, treatment for coryza (respiratory disease). When those treatments are finished, there is a visit to a specialized vet, to ensure that everything is all right. It is very important to start with very healthy pigeons, because when it goes wrong in the beginning of the season, you can forget the rest. In mid-March, the widowers are coupled again. Five days after the eggs hatch, the birds are placed again on widowhood.

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Ferry checks out a returning race
Racing system...

During the racing season, the widowers are basketed every two weeks. The following system is followed. When the pigeons arrive from a race, they receive a "heavy mixture," namely 75% racing mixture and 25% Super Diet. The day after, they have a "lighter meal" on the menu: 50% racing mixture with 50% depurative. The last days (six meals) before basketing, they have 100% racing mixture.

When the pigeons come home from the race they receive a "home-made" recuperation mix in their drinking bowl. That mix contains one liter of water, one cup of milk, and 1 teaspoon of Lugol (a tincture of iodine). They drink this "cocktail" for two days.

The following two days the widowers are disinfected, once against canker (trichomoniasis) with a product based on Ronidazole, and once against respiratory problems (this time with Suanovil, Linco Spectin, or Erythromycin). The last two days before basketing the pigeons receive vitamins on the mixture.

This is the system of Ferry and Francine Lambrecht. We hope you learned something, and if you have any questions, you can e-mail them through a special link from, by clicking here.

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