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|News > Raf Luyckx|
Pigeon - South
Africa - Long Distance
by Stefan Mertens
Raf Luyckx in front
of his loft
Luyckx with trophies
For this report I went to Belsele, situated in the north of the province
of East Flanders, not so far from Antwerp. I met there with one of the
top fanciers in Belgium, Raf Luyckx. What else can you call a fancier
who went twice in six years to an Olympiad? In 1997 Raf had the "Bleken
Olympiade" (4033826/94) which was the Third Olympiad pigeon for middle
distance in Bazel. This year, in 2001, Raf had the "Blauwen Floeren" (4362528/97),
which was the First Olympiad pigeon for long distance for South Africa.
American fanciers may not know the system for Olympiad pigeons, so I'll explain it. The Olympiade is an organization of the FCI (the international federation). Every member of the FCI may select three pigeons in different categories to represent their country in an international meeting. To be one of the selected fanciers, you must have a bird which flew extremely well for two years. What follows are the selection criteria for Belgium:
Distance: 100 km - 400 km
Number of races: 10
Minimum kilometers: 2000
Distance: 300 km -600 km
Number of races: 8 Minimum kilometers: 3000
Races further than 500 km
Number of races: 6
Minimum kilometers: 3500
All Round Category
Distance Number of races
100 - 400 km 3 to 5
300 - 600 km 2 to 6
more than 500 km 1 to 3
Minimum number of races: 11
The Olympiad pigeons are selected through a coefficient. That coefficient is calculated by the following formula: Multiply the pigeon's place on the result sheet by 1000. Then divide this number by the number of participating pigeons in the race (Up to a maximum of 5000 pigeons)
THE BUTCHER'S SHOP
Raf Luyckx comes out of a real butcher's and pigeon fancier family. Father Jef raced the short distances, and Raf inherited the "pigeon disease" from his father. Since 1959, Raf has operated his own butcher shop in St. Niklaas, and of course the pigeons were sitting at the same address above the work place. Short distance was his favorite game, with only one problem. The pigeons were sitting three high to be clocked, and there were always customers in his shop. In such conditions, the pigeon sport is not so easy.
But for every problem there is a solution, as long as you think logically. Our young fancier put a camera in front of the Sputnik so that he could watch his pigeons when they were training. Also when the pigeons were coming home from the race, the camera showed everything on the monitor in the butcher shop. From the moment that a pigeon arrived, Raf would start running up the stairs to clock his bird. You can imagine that Raf lost a lot of first prizes while he was running up the stairs!
So in the first years, Raf always basketed for Quievrain (80 km), this with the well-known Steppe pigeons. When Raf started basketing for Noyon races (180 km), he bought pigeons from Ben Smet and Fons Jacobs. Later on Raf basketed for Dourdan races (350 km) and at that time bought the whole loft from Werner Van De Wiele. This fancier had direct Janssen pigeons, and Raf remembered that there were youngsters from the world famous "Oude Stier."
Business was super, and our successful butcher bought a very nice house in Belsele. It didn't take long for very nice pigeon lofts to go up in the garden. Before Raf moved from St. Niklaas to Belsele, he bred a round of youngsters from all his best pigeons. Afterwards, he had a public auction with 12 pigeons in bis, as the youngsters he had bred guaranteed to bring quick success in Belsele. But Raf's high expectations didn't come true. At the new loft, Raf couldn't win a single prize. He'd had super results in St. Niklaas, and now with the same pigeons and the same methods, the name Luyckx was not on the race sheet.
Even the scientists he consulted did not know what the problem was. The problem was finally narrowed down to "earthrays" which were creating an unusual loft climate. Some adjustments to make a little "thing" disappear in the ground solved the problem.
Now it was possible to make a new start. Theo Van Puymbroeck, who at that time was the loft manager for Jozef De Cock (Temse), secured a full round of Broeckx pigeons for Raf. After a very strong selection, there were only ten pigeons which survived. The "214/90" (line "Olieman"--Super '73) with "Asduifje 603/90" produced top birds for Bourges and Argenton. But the quality of that line became even more appreciated when they produced "De Floeren 842/91" who became the father of the First Olympiad Pigeon for South Africa.
The train of success was again on the rails, and Raf pressed on for more top quality birds. Quality…or is it luck?…is sometimes hidden in a little corner. Raf bought one youngster from Paul Poppe (Zele), and that youngster became "De Limoges" with the following top results: 22nd National Limoges out of 8507 pigeons; 8th National Limoges out of 8362 pigeons; and 38th National Montauban. Believe it or not, that bird came back from the race with a broken buttock. That bird must have a great character, and it is no wonder that he became a top stock bird in the breeding loft.
Another topper is the "336/92" from the strain Willems-Thone' (through Edgart Dusart of Lanaken). With that breeder it is always "Bingo."
Also the pigeons of Ludo Claessens (Putte) have been more than successful. "Voske 419" and "Schone Vos"-both children of "Voske 54" gave more than one top bird and a number of provincial winners. It is no wonder that our friend Ed Minvielle, always looking for the best pigeons, bought those two top breeders.
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There are 18 couples in the breeding loft. Ten of those are in a special "breeding box." In that "breeding box," there are two boxes built above each other, and every breeding cock is paired with two hens.
While one hen is closed up in a box, the other hen is with the cock. Together with the cock, the hen can do what she wants. This party takes about one to four hours. Then that hen is closed up in her box, and the other hen is freed so that her party time can start. Each hen spends time with the cock twice a day.
The only problem can be when the cock loves only one hen. Then it is up to the fancier to solve this problem. Raf then takes the favorite hen out of the box, and when the cock is paired up with the other hen, his ex-favorite hen goes back in the box. The system of alternate "free" and "closed" within the box stays in place until they breed for about eight days. After that the boxes stay open all the time.
The cock goes alternately to breed in both boxes, and together they breed four youngsters. When the youngsters are big enough, and the cock starts to "chase" again, the fancier needs to be very attentive because it's possible that the cock will once again chose a favorite hen.
Normally, the eggs from the first round go under the widowers. Afterwards the breeders may breed their youngsters themselves, and the eggs from the following round go under other pigeons. Meanwhile, there are ten new hens for the breeding cocks, and a new cycle can start.
STRONG AFTER MAY
The widowers are coupled at the end of November. They breed two youngsters, and then there is a winter program. This means that there is a "purging with barley" for 14 days . It is unbelievable that after five days, the pigeons moult a lot of down. They really change and become nice and pink in the breast. At the same time, there is Biochol from Oropharma in the drinking water. After that 14-day period, the menu changes, and a winter mixture from Versele-Laga is now fed. This winter mixture is fed until the end of May.
In mid-March, the widowers are coupled again and may breed for five days. The eggs are then taken away, and the cocks are on the widowhood system again. Raf Luyckx says, "Because I feed the winter mixture for a long time, the results in the beginning are not so good as the fanciers who feed a racing mixture right away. But when I change my feeding program, the results go up and they stay up the entire season. During the racing season, I feed a sport mixture, but the widowers can always find some barley on the ground. After the arrival of a long-distance race, the widowers get a depurative for two or three days. After that, I feed a lighter mixture, and the last days before basketing they get a racing mixture."
"How much do I feed? That's hard to explain. I have my own system, and this is with a 'little' and a 'big' soup spoon. I don't use extra maize or peanuts to feed, but I use sneaky-mixture. After their daily training the widowers come into the loft, where they can eat and drink for about a half hour. Afterwards, the widowers are closed up in their boxes for the whole day."
"At basketing," Raf insists, "I never show a hen. I only show the nest bowl. It is important to basket the widowers very calm."
Raf explains his system further: "About one month before the first coupling in November, I treat for five days against trichomonaisis and coccidiosis with Tricho Plus and Coxi Plus. Before the racing season starts, I visit a vet. Normally, I treat again for five days with Tricho Plus."
"During the racing season, I have a three-week cycle. This means in week 1, I treat one day with Tricho Plus, in week 2 I treat one day with Coxi Plus, and in the last week I treat one day with Orni-Cure. Then I start the cycle again."
"When the pigeons arrive, for two days I give them Colombine Tea with Bio-Lyt (electrolytes). This is always in combination with honey."
"The last two days before basketing, I give vitamins. Here I alternate Colombine Aminovital or Omniform. I also give them on a regular basis a mixture of different oils called Form-Oil. On the day of arrival, and on the day of basketing, they receive an eye drop that is cortisone free."
SOME TOP BIRDS
"Bleken Olympiade" 4033826/94
3rd Belgian Olympiad pigeon middle distance Bazel 1997
1st Ace Pigeon '95 and '96 long distance FCD
1st Tours 130 pigeons; 1st Tours 140 pigeons; 4th Bourges 270 pigeons; 9th Bourges 807 pigeons; 73rd Bourges national 12682 pigeons; 4th Bourges 242 pigeons; 8th Bourges 1115 pigeons;106th national Bourges 11943 pigeons; 5th Tours 272 pigeons; 16th Tours 988 pigeons.
1st Vierzon 235 pigeons; 1st Vierzon 708 pigeons; 17th Vierzon 7056 pigeons; 1st Tours 344 pigeons; 2nd Tours 841 pigeons; 3rd Tours 2731 pigeons; 1st Argenton 510 pigeons; 11th national Argenton 3333 pigeons
One of the best Barcelona pigeons in Europe. Won once the 16th national Barcelona and once the 21st national Barcelona, always against more than 12,000 birds.
"Blauwen Floeren" 4362528/97
1st Olympiad Pigeon South Africa Long Distance
1st Limoges 560 pigeons;1st Chateauroux 372 pigeons;1st Limoges 199 pigeons; 2nd Limoges 3680 pigeons; 6th Brive 329 pigeons; 6th Cahors 163 pigeons; 11th Souillac 351 pigeons; 12th national Limoges 11799 pigeons; 19th national Limoges 10737 pigeons; 45th Souillac 2515 pigeons.
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