Tremelo, Belgium – This village can not only boast housing the most famous Fleming (Father Damiaan, sanctified in 2009), but since last weekend, with the partnership Soeteweye and Son, they also have the latest national winner of the 2012 season in their midst!


Indeed, with their hen ‘Guéretje’ Michel (65) and Robby (44) Soeteweye put the national victory against 17,007 young pigeons to their name… and that was the absolute crown on a very good season.
With combined efforts, the old loft of grandfather Eduard was moved from the other side of the street to the present address and in 1978 Michel and Robby made a fresh start there. The base of the colony was formed with the names Willy Meuris from Terlaenen… Eric Goovaerts from Baal… Raymond De Haes from Baal… Firmin Van Loock from Houtvenne… Luc Tielemans from Putte… Cyriel & Karl Lambrechts from Berlaar… Wim De Troy from Berlaar… Dirk Vervoort from Heist o/d Berg… Dirk Van Dyck from Zandhoven… and Frans Dockx from Schriek.

The 2012 season was started with a team of 20 widowers and 73 young pigeons. The strategy they had decided beforehand was… that the birds that didn’t go into the loft quickly enough on returning from a race would as punishment be send to the nationals for young pigeons.

On 15th December, widowers and breeders were coupled for an early round and the young were weaned when they were 22 days old. The sexes stayed together until the first race from Soissons, after which they were separated. They were darkened from 1st March until 21st June but they didn’t receive extra light after that.

In spring, when the weather gets better, training is started… 2x with the car to Bossut (30 km)… 2x Momignies… 2x Soissons… then the national and provincial program… and after the last Soissons (18 August) they (5 cocks and 3 hens) were basketed for the national Guéret.

After the sexes are separated, the young birds are raced on the sliding door method. Notable is that every young pigeon has an old and a young partner. At basketing, the old partner comes on the scene and they stay together for about 1 to 3 hours before the young pigeon is put into the basket (for Guéret this was from 11 am to 5 pm). On coming home from the race, only the young partner is waiting for the returning bird. The moral of this story… the old cock or hen knows ‘the job in hand’ better than a less experienced young pigeon. The young birds are also motivated with hiding bowls… slanting planks… and other dark corners.

The national winning hen is the ‘Guéretje’ (B12/2111366), who certainly put a respectable distance between not only the the young pigeons but also the old birds. The hen came in a straight line over the woods (the perfect line) and flew like a bullet to the sputnik. Robby missed the arrival because he had gone to look on the computer how the race was progressing… and suddenly there she was, as fresh as a daisy.
The ‘Guéretje’ was a decent prize winner… but highly motivated, she surpassed herself last weekend. One cock and two hens had made a nest together and all three were sitting. The cock only on Thursday… but the two hens were jostling each other to keep the eggs warm. It proved the perfect formula to conjure up a stunt to top the charts!
We also have to mention the father of the ‘Guéretje’ is a real topper! During a fantastic career he was basketed 55 times and won 47 prizes per ten… or in other words: the story of the apple not falling far from the tree.
Michel and Robby are always racing in the first drop and they are certainly not afraid of this challenging position!
Using a strong selection doesn’t only keep the colony in check, it also ensures that the quality of the pigeons stays high. Of the 33 hens that started the season, only 17 were left after six races.

After returning from a race (Soissons 18th August) and as a preparation for the national flight, the pigeons were fed three times with Luikse mixture + sport mixture. After that three times with Gerry Plus (according to the expected weather circumstances)… then until basketing a mixture of ‘Turbo Energy’ (Matador) + ‘Top Energy’ (Van Robaeys).
Medical care is exclusively in the hands of vet Raf Herbots. This meant every two weeks a supporting treatment against trichomonas, alternately through the drinking water and the feed… and 1x a month a few days treatment against bronchial infections.

Also noteworthy is that Robby bases his breeding techniques primarily on the eye-theory of Josef Hofmann. A good correlation… a full circle… and a good 5th ring are the absolute essentials to get a place in the breeding aviary!
New pigeons are first inspected with ‘the eye glass’.