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Chris Debacker (Beveren-Leie) 1st National Champion KBDB Great Middle Distance old + yearbirds '23

09 Jan 2024

You have one of those expression we all use from time to time. This can be both positive and negative. Once it can be completely disappointing, it can also be a year of great harvest. 2023 is a season of great harvest for Chris Debacker's colony from Beveren-Leie.
To kick off, here is a (brief) overview of the most important titles and nominations already won (when we write this, the season is not yet at its end and not all rankings are known) :

1st National Champion KBDB Great middle distance old + yearling 2023 
2nd National ace KBDB Great middle distance old birds '23
4th National ace KBDB long-distance pigeon '23
6th National ace pigeon Great Middle Distance yearlings '23 
1st Provincial Orleans 7,138 young birds '23 
1st Provincial Argenton 4,396 yearlings '23 
1st Provincial Aurillac 867 old '23
1st Provincial Chateaudun young birds

Impressive ! And these highlights are just a sample of all the victories in club and regional etc... The pigeons fly at the head of the race from speed to one-day long distance, an all-round colony. Visiting Team Debacker, we probed the basis of these outstanding results :

Chris, who is Team Debacker ?

Team Debacker consists of a foursome that works and functions like a well-oiled machine. By way of example, at the time of our visit, Chris was back home from a holiday abroad for a few days. The weekend of Chris' absence had seen 1st prizes played on every flight, showing that, as in a close-knit team, the members replace each other with verve. Roger Simoens (66 years young) takes care of the youngsters and then still jumps in where necessary. Piet Vanwonterghem (66 years young) trains the pigeons, basket the pigeons, takes the "trays" to the basketing hall after the race, and is also the person who takes care of all technical matters, adjustments, changes. He is also a handy guy who, as a carpenter, is the right person for this.Wim Dewitte (56 years young) takes care of the hens and all pigeons in the aviaries. Whereas Roger and Piet are retired, for Wim this is a hobby he takes up in addition to his day job. Wim has years of experience in top-level pigeon care.Finally, Chris himself (55 years young) who, in consultation with my mates, sets the lines and makes the final decisions and he is responsible for the widowers on classic widowhood. Professionally, Chris is director of 2 school-locations where children with disabilities are schooled in kindergarten and primary classes. Chris emphasises the fact that he would not be able to achieve these results without the great motivation and drive of his friends. They consult, make good agreements and encourage each other forward ! They have all taken up pigeon racing in one past or another and now pool all their knowledge and experience in this team.

Are there aftermath of pigeon theft in 2021 ?
August 2021 some 25 pigeons were stolen from Chris' place and not the least. The thieves had apparently done their homework very well and dixit Chris actually stole a line of pigeons and especially those that did or should do it on the heavy middle-distance and one-day long distance. 
Chris had the intention of focusing more on the day long distance as well and the base of these pigeons were stolen. This, in retrospect, caused a delay in building up a team of pigeons for the 600km flights. 
Meanwhile and given the results, we can conclude that this has been digested, but it has clearly left scars on the caretakers and this regrettable theft has only increased their motivation.

 What colony should be taken care of with this team ?
All pigeons both breeding and racing are paired on 25 November. A round is also bred from the racers which are played during the season.
There are 28 couples of breeders coupled together. Three rounds are normally bred from the breeders for their own use. The first leg is put under feeders couples, the 2nd and 3rd round are raised by the breeders themselves. All this results in +- 200 youngsters for own use.
During the season, 36 cocks were played on classic widowhood (with hens staying at home).
There were 24 pairs played on total widowhood. They started with some hens more than cocks but pretty soon in the season this became a balance due to the loss of some hens.
After breeding a pair of youngsters, the racers are housed in an aviary until 1 March.
All this means that during the season there is very good consultation about who trains when and by whom. 
Looking back over the past few months, it is the cocks on widowhood that have produced the strongest results in a system of classic widowhood i.e. with a partner staying at home, no hen for basketing (only the nest dish), rest in the loft during the day. It has been different in the past but there is no obvious reason.
Since 2020, they have also set up a loft in the chaos system (cocks and hens) and have already achieved very good results with this, this season, however, they are outclassed by the cocks on classic widowhood.
The +- 200 youngsters (spread over 3 breeding rounds) are all darkened until the longest day and then lighted. A selection is made of 40 young cocks that are paired with an old hen. These are then also played on conventional widowhood. The other youngsters are put on widowhood and played on the sliding door.
The youngsters are played on speed, middle-distance, heavy middle-distance and national races for youngsters.
The lofts themselves are all made of wood and are kept spic and span. Everything is spotless and what is striking is the relatively limited ventilation in the lofts. Air circulation is almost only possible through the roof and the cams. Chris is critical when there would be too much draught through the lofts and everything is strongly closed. True, there is enough oxygen and there is limited extraction through the roofs. That this (after searching and testing) is the ideal set-up confirms the results.


How are the pigeons followed up medically ?
Chris is an adept at vaccinating the pigeons as much as possible. He is convinced that this is the basis for a sufficiently high resistance against all kinds of ailments. All old pigeons are vaccinated with a combination vaccine paramyxo smallpox. In October, the old pigeons are vaccinated against paratyphoid without prior treatment with any medication. Young pigeons are vaccinated against paramyxo-rota at weaning. Three weeks later they will be vaccinated again with paramyxo-rota. Another three weeks later, vaccination with circo vaccine. Another three weeks later, vaccination against smallpox and another three weeks later vaccination against herpes virus. After several years of implementing this approach, the youngsters are very rarely subject to all kinds of diseases and the team can be kept healthy in a fairly easy way.Pascal Lanneau takes care of this guidance. Pascal visits every three weeks and does a manure check and a general check-up. Before the season, no treatment is given, except for a short treatment to get the heads completely clean. During the season, any intervention depends on two elements: evolution and follow-up of the results and the vet's advice.

 What feed is used, what (if any) supplements ?
The pigeons eat Vanrobaeys feed year in year out. 3 mixtures are fed:
Sport Pro Junior - Revolution nr 49
To the youngsters from weaning till the end of the season

Sport Pro Revolution Ultra nr 53 (a slightly heavier mixture)
To the youngsters the last 3 to 4 feeds depending on the flight and the circumstances
To the widowers the last 4 to 5 feeds depending on the flight and the circumstances

Sport Pro Revolution Light nr 57
To the widowers as a light mixture until Arras-Clermont
Chris chooses these mixtures because they contain the Pro-Immune pellet. They like to eat this and the pigeons are always in a good general condition without having to give many other products for digestion.
Feeding is strongly measured "with the spoon" stresses Chris very hard. This is strictly adhered to, food is not spilled, we try to let the pigeons take enough food until the last feeding because this improves the results and strength during the race.
As supplements, the pigeons receive the Vanrobaeys range of Health Balance without going overboard (E-booster).


Chris, please describe the structure of your pigeon tribe ?
I basically started with speed pigeons from some regional players. This is the basis that was formed a long time ago. In a later phase I added pigeons from very well known names (Vandenabeele, Cools, De Bruyn etc...) but out of fear of forgetting and short-changing people I will describe my strain differently.
Breeder Nick (out of 2 pigeons by Rik Cools out of Kleinzoon Bliksem x Emma as father and Inbreeding Bont Nijlen x Rik Cools as mother) is actually the basic pigeon of the current colony.
4 grandsons out of Nick have their place in the breeding loft and another grandson resides with Rik Cools (and already father of 1st nat Ascendant). These 4 grandsons from Nick are each paired with a different hen.
These grandsons (half-brothers) are coupled to 5 sisters from Georges (Georges Soenens) x Mieke (Rik Cools x Chris Debacker) who flow through the colony as another golden vein. To sum up : the children of "Salomez" with "Zanine" coupled with children of "Mieke" with "Georges" give a great progeny.
This family has produced numerous top pigeons and ace pigeons in the past and is currently doing so even more than ever. Pigeons from this breeding line are therefore further crossed with pigeons from the likes of Willem De Bruyn, Joost De Smeyter, Luc De Laere, Gino Clicque... and a few more players.
A limited exception to all this is Gerik who is this year's 4th national ace long-distance KBDB pigeon. He is the breeding result of a son of Dietje 1st nat Souillac with Erik Denijs x hen of Wilfried Vandemaele (see more on this below).
A not-to-be-missed part of the concept and formation of the strain is the long-standing collaboration with Rik Cools (Ruiselede). It is a clear win-win for both parties. A cooperation since 2005 that has produced top pigeons on both lofts, a national win and has led to both strengthening their strain and achieving top results with each other's pigeons every year. This is only possible when you work together correctly, honestly and well-meaning.

Gerik (BE21-3062501) 4th national ace long-distance pigeon, best pigeon over 5 long-distance flights


It is a very nice cock in the hand. Not big in size but all nicely proportioned his results show, a real topper. Gerik is named after his roots namely coming from Erik Denys who is the proud owner of the national winner Souillac yearlings namely Dietje. Dietje won this rock hard flight and proved to be a strong sire afterwards. Dietje was paired with a hen from Wilfried Vandemaele out of a son of top pigeon Contador (Joël Verschoot) x hen out of the best of Chris Hebberecht. All pigeons that can handle the one-day long distance with their fingers in their nostrils. And Gerik flew a beautiful palmares together in 2023 :


Gilles (BE21-3062790) 2nd national ace long distance pigeon

Another crack on the lofts at Beveren-Leie is undoubtedly Gilles. This 2-year-old cock (perfectly made) managed to crown himself 2nd acebird of Belgium in the heavy middle distance. A guy who never misses his top.

Top references at the ready
Since a couple of years, many have recognised the value of Chris' colony and have reinforced themselves with these pigeons. The list is very long, a few names below illustrate the potentiality of these pigeons:

Jelle Roziers (Berlaar) : wins 2nd national ace GHF yearlings in 2023. Mother of this pigeon is a direct from Chris 


Rik Cools wins in 2023
o 1st provincial Argenton jl - 23rd national : direct Chris
o 2nd provincial Argenton old - 24th national : direct Chris
Annick Goeteyn wins in 2023
o 1st provincial Argenton jl - 4th national : mother direct from Chris
Anthony Maes : Bonte Crack 1st national ace long-distance pigeon came from an hen, direct Chris, granddaughter Nick

We could make this list even longer, but we are convinced that the heir of pigeon fanciers is already more than aware of the quality of these pigeons.
The ultimate proof of the ability and performance of pigeons is still, besides your own performance, that others succeed with your pigeons. This satisfaction within pigeon racing is also great.

An all-round colony floating on a lot of quality a conclusion we can make with much conviction after our visit and hearing the well-oiled machine this team forms around Chris. They are 4 highly motivated colleagues-Friends who realise an unseen season through their dedication and love for the pigeon. Several pigeons top ranked among the ace pigeons, titles in a row and victories galore. 
The result of years of hard focus on good and strongly improving pigeons. Many succeed with these pigeons, which is another pearl in the already richly filled crown. A pleasure to watch them !
Congratulations from the Herbot team !


Geert Dhaenens