After part I and part II of the extended interview where Ulrich Lemmens explains his vision within the pigeon sport was published, numerous positive reactions headed his way and not only positive reactions, also more questions arose. Ulrich had a look at the most important once and tried to answer them in his own specific way.
Q. How did you became a professional?
It was my dream being busy for about two year with nothing else but pigeons, my hobby. The VDAB (ministry of work and education in Belgium) didn’t allow this, as a school leaver has to go and work in Belgium. I made a financial plan and when everything would work out, I would have enough money to pay all my expenses made as an independent. I started up a modest one-man-business to do this for about 2 years with the promise to my parents I would go and look for ‘a real job’ afterwards.
As I still lived with my parents my expenses were very limited, so it wasn’t that hard to pay everything and we were doing what we like the most…PIGEONS…Along the way I was getting more experience and insight in the pigeon world I had the idea that if I could get some good pigeons I could be launched. That’s why I went to the bank to ask for an investment credit of 30,000€…Many will laugh reading this…well my bank director laughed as well! Anyway, I succeeded in getting this loan, I bought some top pigeons with this money and I was really launched…Seven years later I’m still a professional, I’m still expending and I’m still full of ambition. But you know, it could have turned out very differently when it didn’t work out, I would have been stuck with a lot of debts. But without taking any risks in live you get nothing.
Q. What do you consider as ‘milestones’ in your career?
I think that I was especially lucky in meeting the right people at the right time.
First there where my foreign friends where I travelled with.
The first big milestone is certainly Rudi Hendrikx, my father was a customer since day one. This is how I met Rudi (and the entire family). Rudi gave me the opportunity to go to fairs in Portugal, England, Hungary, Germany. That is something I will never forget, he just gave his business as a businessman/veterinary into the hands of young boy, an adolescent. This was my first school of life.
Meanwhile I was busy building, together with my friend Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, PIPA. I did all the marketing for PIPA; flyers, stickers, posters went around the entire world. We went looking for the first pigeons to auction, went on to the road together to fanciers and our finest memory is without a doubt ‘PIPA goes Holland’, together on a journey to the Netherlands to look for investors. This is how I met the Eijerkamp family, Marcel Sangers, Herman Beverdam. We didn’t sleep in the Hilton back then, but in a sleeping bag on the floor at Enrico Doldersum’s house and we had a lunch packet from my mother. Nikolaas got professionally involved after this and our paths diverged.
This brings me to my next milestone, PITTS, through my friendship and cooperation with Rudi Hendrikx I was at the source of articles, news, thanks to the Duiven-Krant. With the support of Rudi I started up PITTS. This was an instant success met as many Dutch viewers as PIPA.
Another milestone was meeting Frans Rondags, he taught me a lot. He gave me the good pigeons and selected out the bad ones over here.
2006: a year to decorate, I managed to breed a lot of good ones, I started to perform very well with this generation of birds. Abba, Avril, Anouk, Anastacia, Shung, Kool, all head racers with as highlight “DE GUST”.
To mention one negative thing I will always remember was 2008, on my father’s birthday (29th of February) a whirl wind took out my aviaries and they were 100m further in the meadow. With the consequence that I lost the base of my first modest successes. I also bought about 20 Houben pigeons and about 20 Verreckt-Arien pigeons and some other individual top pigeons. A serious financial breakdown and above that I lost my loft. This was a signal to build a new breeding loft.
From then on I think everybody knows the going around of Lemmens.
Q. What is the hardest thing about being a pro.
The administration, you have to keep up, the bookkeeping has to be correct. Updating the pedigrees, always you get something new you have to put in Compustam. Complement the results on the pedigrees. And the biggest job is to enter all the results after the weekend, I really hope we will have the same technique as in Holland were they can download the results direct into Compustam.
The hardest thing about being a professional is the fact that the bills have to be paid. Look, a project as my current one is a huge financial effort. If you only trade in pigeons, the money can only come from the pigeons. This is why I am obliged to sell some top pigeons just to keep it all financed. You also have to give the best you have to your customers, I often sacrifice my favourite youngster for a sale, knowing well that the change of succeeding with this one will be bigger than with another one. It is very difficult in finding a good balance between the financial and sportive. Many times one goes on the expense of the other. It would be much easier if I would only have to think about the sportive side. Because turn it as many times you want, the good come out of the good and the sale of a top pigeon or your favourite makes you go back a few steps on a sportive level.
Q. What is your nicest pigeon memory?
Well, I’ve got a few nice memories. This is how I got down flat on my belly in the grass when I saw ‘De Gust’ coming home from Bourges (he won the 1st provincial). But the most beautiful memory is probably my open house…what was going to be a modest view day for about 30 to 50 people it became a mega-event of more than 175 visitors. The report of the open house was even one of the most read articles on PIPA and had the second most reactions of the entire year…That was a real boost, that is why we really going to do that again on the new location (23rd of September, you can already put it in your agenda, the official announcement will follow).
The most beautifull part of that day was that I gave a young bird to one of the visitors. The winner Paul Wijns has some nice top pigeons out of that one. That’s really awesome.
I also had 1 pigeon in a PIPA sale where I promised to donate the money for a good cause, this was St. Gerardus where Dries Herbots went to school. Raf Herbots really loved my initiative that he bought that pigeon himself out of respect. The money went nicely to St. Gerardus…but…the year afterwards Raf won (Kobe&Kato) the 1st Provincial Bourges young birds, well, who was the father…yes, the ‘For Dries’…Then you have to think about it for a minute whether there’s nothing above us.
Fantastic memories !
Q. What do you do against Adeno Coli ?
Knocking on wood, but I never had a real break-out of Adeno. Why? Well, I always follow the same system: at weening the youngsters are being vaccinated with the herpes-vaccin. I wean the youngsters on beech chips that are on the loft for years. I wean them on two lofts (with extra straw) once the youngsters fly into their boxes, I clean these two departments (the lofts are never washed out or something like that), I take the beech chips from the other two lofts and mix them with new ones. So you can take that my ancient beech chips are being renewed for 50% every year. And yes, I do have a youngster sometimes that doesn’t want to eat, but it will be taken out without a doubt. Once I had a new loft with 150 ‘foreign’ youngsters, so none was born in Balen, and I think I took out about 10 in one week and I didn’t have any health problems from then on. What I do give them daily in the water just from the weaning on until the racing is “Herba Aqua Control” (a kind of Avidres).
Q. The amount of races and racing three weeks after each other over 700km, how do you do that? In this very hard flying schedule there is hardly any room for training. They really don’t need it any more. At homecoming they always get the “Koehoorn-Mix” (several products mixed together, see schedule Koehoorn) in the water. There will be also grit waiting, I use about 10 different buckets where I take about 1 part of each. In the evening at about 19h they get half a soupspoon per pigeon 50% 50% Galaxi Breeding and 50% Galaxi Energy. Again one hour later. The next morning they get a full spoon, when this is gone I add two spoons and take away the rest after 20 minutes. Sunday evening and Monday they get Galaxi Light Sport and Tuesday, Wednesday 100% Galaxi Energy. Sunday-Wednesday I add a double doses beet juice in the water (week before Brive until basketing for Tulle). The pigeon train on Monday but when they fall on the loft they can go in immediately, if they train hard that day, they won’t come out again that week. If they only train for about 15 minutes, then they go out again on Tuesday to see whether they recuperated well. I only do this to make sure the batteries are loaded again, not because they need an extra training. Be aware, this Spartan regime can cost some feathers, but for me it is just selection…everyone his own manner….
I attach much importance to the feeding. I always try to make sure the batteries are reloaded again. The feeding is as following, in the morning they get one spoon before training and 2 spoons after training, after 20 minutes I take away the rest. At noon they get a grit mix (always different bucket) and in the evening one spoon, if they eat it all they can have 2 more extra spoons and again I take away the rest after 20 minutes and I put some fresh grit on the loft.
Q. How do you feed?
I am a big fan of the Galaxi mixtures from Beyers that I helped fine-tuning.
After the moulting we change to “Light Sport” and we feed this until after Bourges. When the pigeons get home from Bourges (and every other flight above 7 hours) they get 50% breed and 50% Energy afterwards I change again to Light Sport and the last two days they get Energy again.
The feeding itself is very simple, I give one spoon, when it is gone, they get 2 spoons, the rest is being taken away after 15 minutes and this twice a day. ( 1 + 2 is NOT 3 spoons at once).
Q. That new loft, that must be an entire factory, no?
Yes and no…the racing loft is about 50 metres. But there are for example 4 cuddling rooms, these are only being used at homecoming, during the week these pigeons are on other departments. So 1/3 of the loft is always empty. Then there is also a huge kitchen and were the technical room is. In 2017 there will be 90 (unselected and unexperienced) year birds on the loft and about 150-200 youngsters will be weaned. They also have a lot of room on this kind of loft.
The breeding loft is also about 200+m² but most of the space is being taken in by the (30) breeding boxes. Then there are also 8 lofts with breeding boxes for try-out couples and feeding couples.
At the moment there are 16 pigeons on the breeding boxes and another 30 breeding couples and 24 feeding couples. Again a lot of space in this kind of surface. There are a lot of aviaries to stock the pigeons after the breeding season.
The approach of the new loft was to build a user-friendly, easy, as less work as possible with as much as space as possible and a lot of oxygen for pigeons so they can sit/breed/fly in a as well as possible environment. It is certainly not the intention to go and race with 400 pigeons.
Q. Would like or do you dare to give a list of the products you use?
I think that we are open about that for years now and we don’t have any secrets on that level.
At homecoming (7+ flying hours)
- Entrodex – Videx Jaap Koehoorn
- Ascorbivite – Videx Jaap Koehoorn
- Superpowerplus – Videx Jaap Koehoorn
- Recovery Superior – Videx Jaap Koehoorn
- Carbosol – Videx Jaap Koehoorn
- Protëine Plus – Backs
At homecoming (3-7 racing hours)
- Herbo Recover Plus – Herbovet (Raf Herbots)
- Herbosol – Herbovet (Raf Herbots)
Cures of 14 days (24/7)
- Herbial – Herbovet (Raf Herbots) (2x 14days in the beginning of the season)
- Herbobeets – Herbovet (Raf Herbots) (2x 14 days and 1x 7 days in the high season)
- Herbo Aqua Control – Herbovet (Raf Herbots) = The entire year trough for the birds who don’t compete.
- Herbo Yellow – Herbovet (Raf Herbots) = Yellow drops against tricho
- Aminovit – Herbots Products (beginning of the season)
Thanks again for your openness and honest answers !