Bros. HERBOTS JO & RAF
Superstar of the year Middle Distance
Halle-Booienhoven – For decades it has been a pigeon nest and pigeon sport of a high level is being associated with the name Herbots. Their successful career is being spiced with ace bird titles, Olympiad titles and records within the national championships and in 2009 they became the ‘Gouden Duif’ winner Belgium.
We meet a delighted Filip Herbots who called out 2019 to be the best year out of their career. The youngsters did amazingly well on Bourges II and 8 young pigeons were clocked within the Top 80 national. But the icing on the cake was without a doubt the title of ‘Superstar of the year Middle Distance’ in the Gouden Duif competition!
A solid base
The base of the colony from Jo & Raf Herbots goes back to B86/6260314 “Nationaal I” from Karel Schellens. Top breeder “Yvan” B07/2103401 is a son to B04/3230936 “Son Bliksem” (Gaby Vandenabeele) x B06/2233543 (V.d. Smissen and Sn) strain “Nationaal I” (via Jos Deno). The other top pigeon B91/6371155 “Den 155” (5th Nat. Ace bird Middle Distance KBDB 1995) is a direct pigeon from Jos Soontjens. Top breeder B04/2116092 Kenzo is a pigeon from Frans Nyns, Geetbets and became 1st Nat. Ace bird Middle Distance KBDB 2007. He became father to B09/5163265 “Young Kenzo” and to B16/2146231 who became 5th Olympiad bird cat. C and 12th National Ace bird All Round yearling at Bart & Nance Van Oeckel. “Young Kenzo” became father to B13/2172612 “Young Kenzo Jewel”. “Kenzo” became when he was 15 years old father to, with 2 different hens, the 11th National Bourges and the 22nd National Bourges against 28,446b.
A top breeder of the younger generation is B14/2338770 “New Nationaal 1” and became amongst other father to the 1st National Limoges 10,554b, 2nd Interprovincial Chateauroux 602b, 3rd Interprovincial Argenton 1,155b, 33rd National Libourne 4,354b, 65th National Tulle 7,155b, 65th National Jarnac 5,117b, and so on.
The Bros. Herbots start of the season with a team of 64 cocks and 75 hens who are being raced on the total widowhood system, 200 youngsters and 50 breeding couples.
The pigeons on total widowhood are being coupled on the 6th of December. The eggs of the best breeders go under the widowers and a round of youngsters is being raised. There won’t be a second coupling. In 3 to 5 tosses the cocks and hens are being trained up to 20 to 30 km. Both the cocks as hens are being tossed during the season once a week (on Wednesdays) and are being released with an interval of 10 minutes. They can stay together for one hour but as the season goes on it can be up to 4 to 5 hours. On the day of basketing (Thursday) the cocks and hens don’t come together anymore. When you don’t show their partners anymore at the day of basketing it makes them race head of the race. At arrival they can stay together for one hour at the beginning of the season. And as the season goes further it is possible that they can stay together until the next morning.
They train only once a day and the hens train from 7.30 to 8.30 and the cocks from 8.30 to 9.30. The hens train first, they are being called in and fed on the loft, the cocks come loose and when the cocks come in to eat, the hens go back into the aviary. Father Filip keeps an eye on the trainings very carefully. You enjoy it but you also see a lot, are the words of the patriarch of the Herbots family. Along the season progresses they work on the motivation. Carton boxes come onto the lofts, the motivation boxes are open and once in a while a nest dish is being placed in the hallway in front of the lofts. The boxes of the cocks are being locked fully with two doors during the week and shelves are being placed on the doors. The cocks can only be in their box on Wednesdays and at arrival of a race. The hens are the entire day, with the exception of the hour that the cocks train, in the aviary. During night-time they are on sticks in their loft. They don’t have a lot of problems with the pairing up amongst each other of the hens.
Total widowhood is being played with 10 hens more than cocks and this is ideal to encourage the jealousy. The hens are better than the cocks and race more head of the race. From the entire team of cocks and hens on widowhood 20 go to the long-distance races. The others race the greater middle distance.
Youngsters did great
The youngsters are being bred out of breeding pigeons and the most important racing pigeons. They are being weened at an age of 24 to 25 days. They are being darkened from the 1st of April to the 21st of June. Afterwards they are being enlightened until the end of the season. The training of the youngsters is something they take seriously and in 15 times they go to 30 km. The sliding door system is being applied two weeks before Bourges II. At basketing the young cocks and hens can come together for half a day. The youngsters train from 9.30 to 10.30. It is an obliged training but they have to put in a lot of effort to make them fly. When they don’t stay in the air easily it isn’t a good sign when it concerns their condition.
To stimulate the motivation they get carton boxes and motivation boxes on the loft. During the week the cocks are half-box and the hens are in front of the closed boxes on shelves. At basketing the boxes are being opened on both lofts. The youngsters can stay together from 1 hour to half a day at the end of the season. At arrival they can stay together until Sunday morning.
Geoffrey Janssens is the loft manager of the Herbots colony and is being cheered on from everywhere. He comes out of a pigeon family and Father Patrick is a real good fancier himself. Also grandfather was a sharp short distance racer. Without batting an eye they say at the Herbots family that 50% of the successes is thanks to Geoffrey. He knows all the pigeons inside out. He knows the pigeons when in the air and knows their heritage. He is able to motivate the pigeons in an extra way and more than one pigeon is paired up with this fancier. He is also very strict in a matter of hygiene on the lofts and the pigeons are always taken care of in a very good way is what they say at the club when they go basketing and they know what they are talking about.
Geoffrey a pigeon fancier with a winning mentality and he raises the bar very high, first off all for himself. A loft manager like that is worth gold on a pigeon loft!
But we surely don’t want to rule out Miet and Jo. Those two are of course also busy with the pigeons day in, day out and help Geoffrey wherever they can.
Especially the basketing is something they take on to their account as each pigeon that goes in the basket has gone through Jo’s hands weekly and which races they have to go to is a decision they take mutual with Geoffrey. The breeding is something that takes Jo onto his own account entirely. All breeders are being coupled by him and the 30 breeding boxes are being coupled by himself every 3 weeks, off course with the assistance of Björn and Maarten.
Two base mixtures
The feeding schedule for the old and young pigeons is about identical. The mixtures are from Beyers and AIDI (Eddy Noël) are the two mixtures are being fed. Both the old as the youngsters are being raced every week. On Saturdays at arrival of a race a fat rich mixture is being given and electrolytes (Herbo Recovery) are being put in the drinking water. On Sundays it’ll be 50% fat rich mixture + 50% light digestible mixture (a bit stronger than purification) and Herbo Aqua Control in the drinking water. On Mondays a light digestible mixture with Aqua Control in the drinking water. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays 50% light digestible mixture + 50% protein rich mixture and Herbosol in the drinking water. On Thursday’s it’ll be 100% fat rich mixture with Herbo MMK in the drinking water. The pigeons also get daily fresh grit and minerals.
At arrival they get on Sundays Tarsin (proteins) and 4 Oils over the food. Probiotics (Prodiges), beetjuice (Herbobeets), Sedochol and conditional powder are being given on a regular base. The pigeons never stay home in Halle-Booienhoven. The 20 pigeons that race the long-distance races do 450 km – 700 km – 450 km – 700 km – and so on. The rest of the team are being basketed each week on a greater middle-distance race.
Vet Raf Herbots
We got vet Raf Herbots for a conversation and asked his opinion about the most common problems within pigeon sport.
Adeno: The youngsters are being vaccinated with the herpes / paramyxo vaccine at weening. Two to three weeks later they vaccinate with the regular paramyxo vaccine and another 2 to 3 weeks later they are being vaccinated with the paratyphoid vaccine. Another 2 to 3 weeks later against small pocks. Vaccinating a lot makes the immunity higher. Medicine is ao. Adeno / Coli. For two days the pigeons don’t get any food and then they start with a light mixture. It is an advice to give a lot of fresh grit and minerals. The best thing to do is to lock up the pigeons until a general recovery and to eliminate the most affected ones. Clean, disinfect and scorching the lofts is off course a good idea. Don’t wait to give antibiotics when there is a serious contamination to handle the coli.
Paramixo: Against paramyxo I advise to vaccinate the pigeons twice with ao. paramixo/coli and paramixo/ herpes. What is concerned to booster them, it sometimes helps, sometimes it doesn’t.
Paratyphoid: The best period to treat is February and is recommended to do this every year again. After the treatment with medicines, a vaccination is recommended. Only the racing pigeons? Yes, when there aren’t any other paratyphoid problems on the loft.
Smallpox: Vaccinate each year during the months February/March with the brush is recommended.
Eye drops: We do this three times a week. At basketing, at arrival and in the middle of the week. Linco Spectin is mostly good enough but a lot depends on the resistance of the bacteria.
Yellow drops: They are very effective and one dose a week is sufficient. The best way is to give it via the beak as this is the more direct way.
Trichomonas: Before the start of the season put them free of it (a 10-day treatment) and use yellow drops afterwards. The treatment with a pill is recommended as the correct dose is being given this way. Those who don’t suffer too much from trichomonas race well normally.
Air way infections: Treat when the results set back but don’t cure blindly against it. Medicines against air way infections are Suanovil, Linco Spectin and Tylan. The best thing to do is to repeat the treatment after a bad race.
Feeding supplements: These are important! Both electrolytes and proteins at arrival. Herbochol to relieve the pigeons. Built up with Optimix and Zell Oxygen and the last two days Herbosol or Aminovit. Herbo Elite Pigeons is recommended in the months of June, July and August.
Very severe selection
From the team of 139 pigeons on total widowhood only about 30 to 40 pigeons can stay in the team. The old and year birds are being expected to give prizes per 100. The once who could stay raced minimum 3 times per 100. In 2019 only few youngsters stayed behind and they rather give a chance to a year bird then to an old bird.
The young pigeons are expected to give more than one prize per 10 and also a few head prizes. A youngster that races well is about to be a good year bird mostly. A young pigeon that races many times really early disappoints mostly as yearling but is back mostly as old pigeon.
The breeders are expected to give within a time frame of 2 years usable youngsters. Hand assessment is very important as well.
The ideal pigeon
The ideal pigeon is one with a lot and soft feathers. They have to have a head with appearance and be in balance. They have to be closed really well in the back and have to have a wing where you can’t grab trough and with a perfect ventilation between the four last pins.
Super pigeon to the breeding loft.
A pigeon that raced super over a more than one year goes to the breeding loft. Also the hand assessment is very important here.
An exceptional racer with a marvellous pedigree out of a family that raced well as well draws attention. It is also important that this pigeon fits in the strain. Such a top pigeon is “Suprème” B16/3031667 with a 1st National Tulle 6,206b and a 2nd National Argenton 11,838b.
A family breeding is done with ao mother x son, father x daughter, brother x sister and cousin x niece. The after breed of these couplings go through a very severe assessment.
The pigeons on the breeding loft are being coupled on the 6th of December. They are almost all pigeon of the same type so they don’t have to do compensation breeding. The pigeons aren’t being coupled before the breed. The Herbots team are still very eager to put results on paper. Raising the bar higher and higher is their goal. They like to race a lot of pigeons and the prize percentage is very high.
A top breeding couple is without a doubt B16/2146408 “Son Orange King” x B12/2030127 “Magda” (5th Nat. Ace bird Middle Distance KBDB 2013). They are the parents to:
* B18/2135097 10th Interprov. Chateauroux II 1,131 b, 13th Soissons 1,408 b, 24th interprov. Bourges 1,524 b, 38th interprov. Chateauroux I 1,430 b. Became 5th interprov. Ace bird youngsters middle distance 2018
* B19/2131006 3rd Nat. Argenton 23,260 b at Eddy and Maarten Leutenez
* B19/2131143 2nd Momignies 380 b
* B19/2131144 17th prov. Chateauroux 1,477b. Became 5th interprov. Ace bird middle distance youngsters 2019
* B18/2135143 4th Bourges DH 1,524 b, 11th Soissons 2,512 b, 12th Soissons 1,408b, 18th Sourdun 437 b, 91st nat. Bourges 23,854 b.
B18/2135144 5th Chevrainvilliers 866 b, 14th interprov. Bourges 1,524b.
B18/2135629 1st Interprov. Argenton 695 b, 7th Interprov. Issoudun 1,080 b.
“Magda” became with B12/2030114 also mother to B16/2146100 1st Melun 959 b, 6th Soissons 237 b, 6th Laon 106b.
Cocks and hens on total widowhood are on a loft of 14 m, the young pigeons on a loft of 18 m and the breeders on a loft of 7m. There are also 33 breeding boxes. They are all garden lofts who are isolated really well. The lofts have a planch floor which makes it easy to check the manure. In the middle of the loft there is an airway stretch of 60cm. There are aviaries in front of each loft which are open every day. The widow cocks only come into the aviaries on Mondays to take a bath. The lofts are being cleaned twice a day and taken on with a vacuum cleaner. In a matter of speaking you can eat of the floor. After the breeding period is over the inside of the lofts are broken down and cleaned and disinfected with Dettol. The lofts aren’t being torched anymore as with a manure transportation belt in rubber this isn’t the chosen way to do it. When the pigeons are basketed for a race the lofts are being clouded with Dettol. The lofts of the young pigeons are being cleaned out twice with Dettol.
ARTICLE BY LIESBETH WEYNEN