Stekene, Belgium – An East-Flanders municipality… directly on the Dutch border… and last weekend was the centre of attention in the pigeon sport with the international victory from Bordeaux won by Rik Coppens.

Rik Coppens (73) from Stekene… no, not that brilliant football player… but a virtuoso with the pigeons smartly put a magnificent victory to his name.

And yet, Rik Coppens also used to be interested in football, but in 1994 he decided to exchange football for pigeons. He began with pigeons from Marcel De Maere from Puyvelde… Michel Nachtergaele from Zulte… and Gaby Deleersneyder from Zulte. However, his real passion was the extra long-distance, and for strengthening his bloodline he went to Jef Vandenberge from Landegem… Luc Van Coppenolle from Ouwegem… Gerard Serraerens from Belsele… and Gerard de Bruyn from Stekene.

Rik began the 2012 season with a team of 30 couples on total widowhood.
The racing team is paired for the first time on 25th November and ideally rear one youngster. At 14 days old, these youngsters go to the loft for cocks with the cocks, which means the hen can become involved with one or more new cocks. This ensures that there is rivalry among the racing team.

When the young birds are weaned, cocks and hens are separated and there is no second pairing. Cocks and hens are taken out by car a few times…and flew 1x Quievrain… 1x Noyon… 2 to 3 times Angerville… Chateauroux… then followed the race from Bordeaux.

Cocks and hens change lofts by way of a rotation system. After the cocks return from a training flight, they are fed ‘volle bak’ (full tray). Then the hens return and they get the remainder of the feed + a supplement, thereby getting a lighter feed than the cocks. Rik doesn’t use a feeding container but puts the feed on the floor… to assess their appetite. He gives the birds extra feed while the appetite lasts. Also the pigeons don’t get drinking water in the loft but through a drinking channel on the outside of the loft (like on the pigeon baskets). Easy to change and never any spillage in the loft.

Rik is a ‘no-nonsense’ fancier and is against giving medication. In spring he gave his pigeons an 8-day treatment against trichomonas, and later on one more tablet. So far nothing has been given against bronchial infections.
Or is that so? In his old conservatory, Rik has a clinic with two sections! One section is an old pigeon basket in which birds are put (head illnesses) that have to heal by themselves. The other section is a large fridge, in which the hopeless cases disappear!

The winner of last weekend is the ‘Bordeaux International’ (B10/4000655), a first class cock that already showed his talent with 108th national Cahors against 8,401 old pigeons, and who last weekend not only won 1st International Bordeaux against 10,169 old pigeons, but was also the fastest of the entire contingent of 21,582 Bordeaux racers!


The winning cock is a blue checker… handsome… well-balanced bird of medium size. He has a beautiful wing and above all a very clever head.
Before basketing, he was allowed to be with his own hen and a couple of other ‘sweethearts’, and when he entered the basket, he was very motivated indeed. Rik was convinced that he ‘would make his mark from Bordeaux’… and he did! He rushed towards the sputnik like a missile (1,305.56 m.p.m.) and not one bird of the international contestants could do any better!
It was a skilful victory from a topper that has a lot of potential!