May 15th, 1998

Nine Champions Create A Champion
Part 3 of 5

by Bob Kinney

What follows is the greatest undertaking I have ever tackled at one time. I interviewed William Geerts, Belgium; Tony Melucci, Rhode Island, U.S.A.; August Daelemans, Belgium; Horst Hackemer, Wisconsin, U.S.A.; Hans Eijerkamp, Holland; Gary Squibb, England; Campbell Strange, Texas, U.S.A.; and Piet Manders, Holland.

Each a Champion competitor in his area and each a contributor to the excellence of the sport. The assignment was to take a four week old baby (approximately weaning age) and cover every aspect of its handling, training, and education through YB year, Yearling year, and Two Year Old year. In some cases, we deviated from one bird to the entire round in that age group out of necessity, but I am sure what follows will be first of great interest and secondly of educational value. I was surprised at the similarities, and at the differences. One of the great values of this piece of work is the availability of side by side comparison. I do not believe any of these gentlemen would tell you that their system is the only road to success. I do believe they would tell you that having a system and sticking to it is essential.

Q. Now serious training begins - what is the routine, distances and so on?

August Daelemans: Each evening they are put into the shipping crate so they learn to rest, eat and drink in the crate. In the morning they go 15 to 20 miles, then 30 miles, then 50 miles, then 60 miles. They will go out to 80 miles. I train alone so the birds do not come in contact or contaminated with sick pigeons.

Horst Hackemer: Before training, I let the birds loft exercise to take the play out. Later I will take them 5 miles. They may go once or several times until they are coming good. Then to 10 miles and the same thing, then 20 miles and 30 miles is as far as I go.

Tony Melucci: They go 30 miles to start, up 10 at a time, then 50 to 60 miles and get a total of 14 tosses.

Campbell Strange: They start at 7 and get 7 mile jumps out to the first race station. Then the birds are trained (and raced) when needed. Some may go short, some long, some stay home. They are trained as needed 4 to 5 days a week.

Gary Squibb: They started at 20 miles, then go to 35 then 50 miles. They are trained at 50 miles as often as time permits. That means they may go three times a day. Once training begins, loft exercise stops.

Tom Fahmie: 5 mile increments to 50 miles every day. 50 to 60 miles thereafter and 15 miles in the evenings.

Hans Eijerkamp: They go 2 to 3 miles, then 6 miles as a group, then start single tossing at 6 miles, 12, 20, 30, 50 miles.

William Geerts: They go 10, 20, 30, and 50 miles in groups of 30 birds twice a day. Then 50 mile single tosses, then 60, 70, and 100 miles in 30 bird groups, then a 100 mile single toss.

Piet Manders: They will go 5, then 20 in 25 bird groups. Then they are put into 3 bird teams and trained from 40 and 50 miles, then many single tosses from these stations every day.

Q. Racing starts at what distance against how many birds? Did your future Champion win?

August Daelemans: 110 km is our first station (70 miles) against approximately 2,000 YBs at club level and my Champion won.

Horst Hackemer: Since we are talking about a Champion, very likely it has been entered as a baby in a special race and that will be its first race - which is 300 miles against 1,000 birds and it takes second and all the money.

Tony Melucci: It may start at 100 or at 300, it makes no difference. It is competing against 3,000 to 3,500 birds and might win.

Campbell Strange: It will start at 100 miles and fly against 1,000 birds and win.

Gary Squibb: It will start at 70 miles against 1,200 birds in club and win.

Tom Fahmie: It will start at 120 miles against 5,000 birds in combine and it wins.

Hans Eijerkamp: It will start at 75 miles against 5,000 birds, but not win till a little later.

William Geerts: It will start at 70 miles against 2,000 birds at club and take second - August's bird already won this same race.

Piet Manders: It will start at 70 miles against 1,500 birds on the local level and it will take 1st.

Editor's Note: In Belgium, under Union rule, the first race is released al one point. All transports meet here for 3 provinces with a total 45,000 members. 250,000 birds are released at 8 a.m.

In England, 25 Federations meet at one release point for the race. When the truck shows up, it is assigned a release time. Release times are 10 minutes apart and take five hours to get the birds all up.

Q. How many races will the bird go to and what distances?

August Daelemans: 3 times at 70 miles, 1 time at 150 miles, 3 times at 225 miles, 1 time at 300 miles, 1 time at 350 miles and stopped

Horst Hackemer: 5 to 6 races up to 300 miles.

Tony Melucci: 5 to 6 races, but maybe 10 - 4 to 6- 300 mile races.

Campbell Strange: 4, 5 or 6 races - set up so he's ready.

Gary Squibb: We have 10 Saturday YB races and 7 Wednesday YB races up to 250 miles. Our first 5 on Saturday go to Wednesday race and so it is possible they go every Saturday and every Wednesday all season. Those that do are the best.

Editor's Note: We disintegrated here for a few minutes to go to the bathroom and get drinks. Plus I can't find the notes on the last couple of panelists if there were any on this past question.

Q. The bird has nearly completed the molt - what flight condition, if any is your bird kept home from training or racing?

August Daelemans: The molt is very important to the health of the bird. A full wing, without holes, will give you the best performance.

Horst Hackemer: I will not ship in heavy body molt - nor do I like an open wing.

Tony Melucci: Also no heavy body molt, but other than that, I do not pay any attention to flight molt.

Campbell Strange: I want a full wing and don't like to do much with them in heavy body molt.

Gary Squibb: I never look at it.

Tom Fahmie: I never look at it.

Hans Eijerkamp: Our Champion has dropped his 8th flight and is stopped.

William Geerts: I never look at the molt.

Piet Manders: I don't like a hole in the wing.

Q. Your Champion is now ready for the OB Widowhood team. How big is his loft and with how many other cocks is he housed?

August Daelemans: He is put in his loft in the fall with 11 other cocks and the section is 9' x 8'.

Horst Hackemer: 15 birds, totally, per section that is 7' x 10'. When I move the yearlings in, I take the old cocks out, lock up their nestbox and let the yearlings get settled. Then I will gradually move the old cocks back in.

Campbell Strange: 12, total, in the 8' x 11' section. He will be moved in after the last YB race.

Gary Squibb: We keep 6 or 7 cocks to a 9' x 8' section and he's been there all season.

Tom Fahmie: 12 cocks in an 8' x 8' section.

Hans Eijerkamp: 16 cocks in a 12' x 10' section and he's been in there since weaning.

William Geerts: 40 cocks in a 10' x 32' section. Best ones always take the top left or right end holes.

Piet Manders: 9 or 10 cocks in a 10' x 12' section.

Q. When will this yearling Widower be mated up?

August Daelemans: The end of February.

Horst Hackemer: Short distance mid-February, long distance the end of February or later.

Tony Melucci: Second or third week of February, weather permitting.

Campbell Strange: Different dates for different distances.

Gary Squibb: First batch on February 14th, rest 10 days later.

Tom Fahmie: Third week of February.

Hans Eijerkamp: Mid-January for the short distance, mid-April for the long distance.

William Geerts: Mid-February.

Piet Manders: First week of December to raise 2 YBs (1 under pumpers) then separate and remate the first of March.

Q. How many YBs are raised? And when are they put on Widowhood?

August Daelemans: They raise 2 YBs, when on 8 day eggs the hen and nest come out.

Horst Hackemer: One YB raised for yearlings, when down 10 days the hen comes out. On 2 year olds and up, they get two sets of eggs and come out on the second set at 10 days.

Tony Melucci: Same system as Horst.

Campbell Strange: One YB, 10 day eggs and hen are taken out.

Gary Squibb: Same.

Tom Fahmie: Same.

Hans Eijerkamp: Two YBs raised, then next set is raised to 14 days old and the hen and babies go to another loft where she feeds them. The cock is remated and when the eggs are 10 days old, they are removed.

William Geerts: Two YBs are raised, one under pair, one under pumpers.

Piet Manders: See the last answer.